Take 5: Mud season training with Kim Orr
There’s still snow on the ground but Kim Orr’s mind is already on that other type of skiing.
Come the dog days of summer, the longtime Summit County local takes at least a few trips to Green Mountain Reservoir for water skiing. It’s slightly different than its winter cousin, but both sports have at least one thing in common: You enjoy them so much more when you’re strong.
“It’s nice to be strong enough you can spend a whole day out on the water,” says Orr, a personal trainer with a year of experience at Elevation Fitness in Dillon. “It’s about taking the strength you’ve gained in the gym and applying it to the outdoors, like so many people here want to do.”
Like many trainers, Orr preaches overall strength built through sports, weight training and gym work. But what’s “overall strength” mean in the High Country, where sports like skiing and biking seem to favor folks with tree-trunk thighs and waif-thin arms?
Simple: Overall strength is for everyone, athletes and Average Joes alike. It’s the difference between planning on a 20-mile bike ride and ending with a 5-mile hike-a-bike, or wanting a full day on the water skis and heading home with sore thighs after three passes. Overall strength boosts everything you need for outdoors sports — stamina, power, energy, stability — so that your body is ready for anything your mind can throw at it.
But achieving overall strength isn’t so simple. The first step is finding a routine — and sticking to it. That’s where Orr comes in. Whether you love or loathe the gym, the trainer gave the Summit Daily sports desk a few recommendations for training in April and May. Exercising outside isn’t always an option right now, and so heading to the gym even once or twice a week will keep you on track through the unpredictable snows and rains (and who knows what) of mud season.
Summit Daily News: Before summer let’s talk about your winter. How was it?
Kim Orr: I never get out as much as I’d like to anymore (laughs). But it was a good season.
SDN: What’s the toughest part about transitioning from skiing or snowboarding to biking or running? I think most people assume they’ll be just fine because most outdoor sports favor your legs.
KO: It’s a good time to change things up. Our body, like our mind, gets bored if you’re doing the same thing every day. If you don’t switch it up you won’t see any gains. You have to make things exciting for yourself. In the winter we tend to think about the lower body and summer might be more about the upper body. From my personal experience, a stronger upper body can help with so many things, even an activity like mountain biking. Just having a stronger upper body can help you stay on the trail longer.
SDN: So mud season training is more about overall strength than focusing on a single sport?
KO: Yes — your core, your stability, your balance. I might be weird, but I really enjoy weight training, splitting it up between lower body one or two days a week and then upper body the next one or two days. You have to concentrate on all those muscle groups. To me, it’s a lot more fun to jump on the bike and be strong at the start of the season, rather than people who think, “I’ll bike myself into shape.”
SDN: But is that doable? Say, can a cyclist get ready for mountain bike season by spinning and spinning only?
KO: I really think you need some outside work. You’ll notice a difference. With the legs, like getting ready for skiing, you can do lots of lunges and squats. For upper body, you can work the chest and triceps and biceps. You should also work your back. The trick is to get everything in balance.
SDN: Is training for an everyday activity different than training for a race or competition?
KO: Oh sure. There really is a big difference. Now is the time that a lot of people are working hard to train for the race this summer: a marathon, a triathlon, something like that. You might have done a little bit of training over the winter but now you’re really ramping it up.
SDN: What can everyday athletes do to stay strong from season to season?
KO: Weight training with flexibility. As we get older we tend to lose that, but doing some kind of training rather than none is always advantageous. I know that everyone will never be a body builder, or wants to be a body builder, and that’s not the goal. The goal is to feel strong when you go out there and do it, whether it’s just a hike to Rainbow Lake or anything else.
SDN: Good point. How can you prepare for something like casual hiking in the gym or at home?
KO: When it comes to the gym it’s all about learning to use the weights properly. Right now, you can even get out and just start walking, just start moving again. This time of year you never know if you can get out, so you can always get on a treadmill or an elliptical.
First of all, you need to make time for this, make time for yourself. We’ve all heard it a thousand times but it helps to put it (gym time) on your calendar. If you’re just starting out, even 30 minutes on the treadmill is great, getting to the point where you’re breaking a sweat and can still hold a conversation, but you might feel out of breath at the end. You can even find a buddy, find a friend, and then you can both mark it on your calendar. I used to have a friend who would meet me for a bike ride every Tuesday — rain or shine, we’re doing this. Or, better yet, hire a trainer. Then you’ll be really accountable.
SDN: On the other side, say someone wants to get ready for an early bike or trail race. How can you prepare for the competitive side of summer?
KO: For some people, even athletes, it’s about changing up the routine you’re used to. You might have trained for the same race in the same way for years. If you find a different activity it will surprise the muscles. Maybe you can incorporate a fun ride into the week on your rest day. It doesn’t have to be a complete rest day — just make it enjoyable.
SDN: As a trainer, what’s the biggest obstacle standing between new clients and the results they want?
KO: Just getting started. The weather can be such a big obstacle — your heart wants to get out there and bike — but sometimes we get 10 inches of snow and you just can’t make it. It’s also a matter of training your muscles for a new movement. All winter, if it’s snowboarding or skiing, we’re used to a single type of movement. It’s inevitable that you’ll be sore on that first real bike ride of the season, but you have to get started.
SDN: Finally comes maintenance. How can athletes make sure they stay healthy and in shape for the entire season?
KO: Keeping a record of everything is a great gauge so you can look back and say, “What was I lifting a month ago? What was my time a month ago?” You can do the same thing with biking or running or anything. It’s about keeping a record. There are so many ways to do it these days, and there are so many gadgets to help. I like Map My Fitness when I’m out in the summer. That way you can also see what other people are doing.
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