Whistler, Haig & Keeping my Immune System Happy

Spring is over, which means training is getting more ski-specific while intensity and strength are getting harder. I was up at the Haig glacier last week which was a ton of fun, and there’s also an NST/Alignment camp going on right now in Canmore. It’s been awesome to get to see so many of my friends and teammates from across the country, many of whom I haven’t seen since mid-winter!


So happy to see these speedy women again.

Training in June kicked off with a mini on-snow camp in Whistler. Our club Whistler camp ended up being canceled, but the coaches suggested we head down to Whistler independently if we wanted to, so Katie, Olivia and I decided to do just that.

Whistler delivered its typical crazy mix of fresh snow, pouring rain, and sunshine, but we were nevertheless able to get in some solid training while enjoying the low altitude and humidity. Although having the full team and coaches there would have been great, it ended up being a lot of fun running the workouts ourselves. There’s something to be said for getting athletes to give each other technique feedback and training support– it makes us think more critically about what we’re doing.


One of the sunny days!

One of my favourite things about my teammates is that we can push each other and be really competitive at the right times, but also not make a big deal about the results (we’re not here to win training!). This allows us to identify each other’s strengths and weaknesses logically, and use them to help each other without any pressure to win. A great example of this is during speed workouts; my new teammate Katie is really good at high-speed striding up hills (and I’m not), whereas I’m typically stronger in offset speed. This means we get to take turns working on each other’s weaknesses, making us each become faster than we would be alone!


Thankful for this teammate and longtime friend!

I love spring skiing because it’s a great time to work on technique. Another bonus is that lots of snow time means those rollerskis can stay hidden in the basement for a little while longer than usual. I don’t mind rollerskiing but I find that when fall comes around it can be tough to stay motivated if I’ve done too much early in the season. To prevent that I try to keep it limited in the spring (my teammates can attest that I go to somewhat extensive lengths to avoid it this time of year).


Hard to beat days like these.

After the Whistler camp, I had a solid recovery week. My original plan had been to train for a week right after Whistler and then go into a recovery week, but once I got back to Canmore I realized I was too tired (physically AND mentally) to train properly. A rest week ended up being a good plan, because it took me 5 days of easier training until I felt snappy and fresh again. I was able to bounce back by the end of the week and enter the next training block feeling healthy and happy!


One of my favourite views

The month finished with a 5-day stint at the Haig Glacier. I haven’t been to the Haig in a couple of years, and I forgot how much I love it up there. The simple rhythm of training, eating, and sleeping makes it really easy to get in the hours and stay focused. Unfortunately, I got some foot pain the last couple days of the camp and had to ease off skiing, and I also got a cold right after the camp. Dealing with small injuries and getting sick can be frustrating, but I’m really glad that I have great teammates and coaches who encourage me to train smart. Fortunately after some rest, my foot is back to normal and my cold is on the mend! 


How I feel when I’m sick.

Getting sick is something that happens quite a bit to xc skiers. We’re constantly stressing our bodies, which includes our immune system. It’s no secret that most xc skiers are quite particular about staying healthy (we’re the ones you’ll see wearing a mask on airplanes or pulling out hand sanitizer at a restaurant), but despite our best efforts, sometimes germs squeak by. More than all the hand sanitizer in the world, I’ve found so far that the best trick is to just keep my immune system as strong as I can, with:

  1. Sleep, sleep, and more sleep– In high school, I found that if I didn’t sleep enough for more than 2 nights in a row, I would get sick ASAP. Tot this day, sleep is the #1 key to keeping my immune system happy.
  2. Hydration– Drinking lots of water and sport drink during workouts is a must.
  3. Recovery food– Eating something right after workouts is something I’ve improved a lot on in the past few years, and it’s made a big difference in keeping me healthy, increasing the amount of training I can handle, and my brain’s ability to focus (hello afternoon homework sessions).

Sometimes, though, I can do everything right but still get unlucky and end up sick.  When that happens, my go-to’s are:

  1. Sleep– As much of it as I can get!
  2. Relax– Being stressed won’t help my immune system, so I’ll usually curl up in bed and watch some Ellen or SNL.
  3. Hydration– Usually this means drinking a lot of tea (decaf… so I can sleep even more!).
  4. Lots of food– Even though I’m not training, my body needs lots of energy to fight off the virus.
  5. Take some time off training– Some people can (allegedly) train through a cold without prolonging it, but to my disappointment I’m not one of them. I usually need to take 2-5 days completely off when I first get sick and I wait until I’ve been symptom-free for 2 days before getting back into any hard intensity, strength, or volume.


Overall, training been a ton of fun this past month. I’ll be heading home to Athabasca next week for some Saskatoon berry eating and low-altitude training, and otherwise it’ll be a fairly standard upcoming few weeks in Canmore!



2 thoughts on “Whistler, Haig & Keeping my Immune System Happy

  1. Wow this is a great piece.
    I notice this in my own daughter.
    More ironic because she is related to you. Your mom’s dad’s brothers ,sons daughter, lol
    She is a soccer player who trains year round,and suffers in the exact same ways. It amazing to read it ,kind of like Matisse diary…..I will share this with her.
    Your older and obviously have a wealth of experience to share.
    Thank you for this

    • Thanks so much for the kind words Darren, that means a lot. That’s great your daughter plays soccer, I used to play soccer when I was younger too! My Mom Jennifer says to say hi to you and your family!

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