Scarpa North America Blog

Multi Sport Mental Toughness

Jun. 12th 2017

Joe Grant running in the Chasm Lake Drainage below Long's Peak. Photo By: Fred Marmsater.

Initially, when I had planned to write this post, I thought that I would be discussing how to make a smooth transition from a winter of skiing to getting back to summer running. After a little more thought, it turns out that this transition has given me a greater insight into how multi sport mental toughness is the key to staying strong, both mentally and physically, while training and competing in more than one sport.

Ski mountaineering is a great alternative to alpine running during the colder, snowy months. The benefits are obvious: it’s a great workout, I get to spend lots of time in the alpine and it’s really fun. Skiing is also typically more in sync with the season and allows for a nice mental reprieve from running. The only real downside is that skiing fitness is quite specific to the activity. The transition to running usually results in a painful couple of weeks of overly eager dirt miles before you are ready for summer long runs.

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This year however, was quite different for me. An injured wrist and some unseasonably warm weather lead me to log a lot of miles in my running shoes, so hopping into some skimo races has been challenging to say the least. I experienced the reverse effects of previous years, where instead of having sore calves and pounded quads as I start up running again, my hamstrings and upper body were so worked from going all out trying to race on skis off of running fitness.

In this situation, it is easy to get in my head and feel disappointed about sub-par performances, let alone being physically destroyed after every race. I deceive myself into thinking that because I’m in shape for one activity, it will seamlessly translate to being good in another.

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The key then is perspective. Since my body will allow me to run, and the running has been great, I should be thankful for that and not put unrealistic pressure on myself to try to perform in skiing.

Keeping a healthy perspective on the type of training you have been doing, how it transfers to other activities or not, and where your fitness is at in each sport is critical to avoiding burnout. Participating in multiple sports is all about versatility, enjoying a change of scenery, and gradually building towards our goals in each activity. Don’t let yourself feel defeated by setbacks and a good headspace will increase the likelihood of future success.

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