You may be reading this post/article because you are a fan of the Liftopia Blog and you’re reading through various posts. I like it too because of the great tips, advice and information. But you may have come to this point because you have been pulled in by the title – “How to Pace Yourself for an 8 hour Day on the Slopes.” You are looking for the quick, magic answer, not unlike the “Get Your 6-Pack Stomach in 6 Weeks” or “Lose 30 Pounds in 30 Days” efforts.
Well, I don’t have a quick answer, but I do have a short one—common sense. The first assumption and obvious point is that you will take a break (ideally 2 or 3) at different points in the day. It is absolutely mandatory to take a lunch break. Skiing and boarding are great workouts and burn lots of calories, but you also have to get food energy to feed your muscles and keep from getting “wobbly knees.” I suppose you could eat on the chairlift (I have), but there’s nothing like a hot lunch like a stew, soup, hot sandwich on a cold winter day. Fluids are lost during prolonged exercise and outdoor activities at elevated temperature so you also need to drink fluids and re-hydrate for endurance.
To pace myself for 8 hours on a weekend day, I like to break the day into parts (as a Canadian Ski Patroller, I’m on shift all day on a Saturday or Sunday): 2 hours of skiing and then take a coffee and snack break. Back out again for another 2 hours then come in for lunch. After lunch, I’m back out again with a break at some point. Of course, a really cold day can shorten the time out, and timing is always altered for me by an incident on the hill.
As I mentioned in my first post of the season, “Getting Ready for Ski Season,” skiing (and boarding) is tough on the body and the knees in particular. If your first day on the slopes is going to be 8 hours, good luck! You really need to work up to it with a few half days at least. And if you are going for 5 days of 8 hour skiing, i.e. a ski vacation, you really need to have a few full days beforehand. You’re looking forward to standing on top of the mountain and then descending on that long 90 minute to the bottom or valley. You have to know that your legs will be burning well before you get to the bottom. Take a break; rest; replenish and get ready for another long run.
As a frequent skier, I like to be on my game and ski well. It’s expected in the Ski Patrol. I ski better when I am well rested, have had a decent meal beforehand, and have drunk some fluids. I’m not a kid anymore either, so I need those short breaks too. Most not good things, i.e. incidents, happen on the hill later in the day, the time when people are tired and are trying for “one more run.” Pace yourself and your last run will be as good as your first run.