Making the Silent Sports Transition

Making the Silent Sports Transition - Gear West

Making the Silent Sports Transition

          (Non-) Winter 2024’s Lingering Aftermath


      Jan Guenther



The question was asked of me, “Jan, could you explain the way you make a transition from silent winter sports to spring outdoor activities?”

My answer?

I am making this project, like I make many, way too complicated. I have suffered writer’s block this past week on how to describe the simple and complex reasons to maintain mind and body motivation from winter into spring. Coupled with this challenge of illuminating how long-term fitness motivation must originate from intrinsic reasons is a simple fact: this winter was a big bust.


Upon Sad Review

Winter was here for a blink, delivering only nine days of cold. Perhaps when this article is published, enough cold weather will appear to salvage the World Cup and Birke ski events. But winter apathy has settled in early. Few of us are eager to resume dryland ski training for next year when winter 2024 did not reward our summer of pole-bounding and rollerskiing.

I may be a bit more jaded because my love for all silent sports mixes with my business of selling silent sports products. This warm winter leaves me particularly bummed. It’s like planning a party and hardly anybody shows. To illustrate my mental winter state, I did not spend the first week of February selling skis and selecting attractive cross-country ski outfits for skiers participating in the Loppet, Mora, and Birke events.


Instead, I drove to Theodore Wirth, home to the World Cup in Minneapolis, with 48 degrees displayed on my car’s dash screen. My workday activities included assisting in the spreading of construction blankets to preserve human-made snow piles (again to protect them from the rain) and leading a women’s cross-country ski training group on a muddy pole hike. My return through the Gear West Nordic and Alpine store walked me by lonely displays of thermal jackets and cozy sweaters. Cyclists were tentatively poking their heads into the bike department, contemplating a bike-early tune.

My point?

Creating a successful silent sport transition this year and to move from winter ski blues into spring smiles relies on some bold plans and their implementation. For me, a satisfying day, week, or season stems from creating contrasts in the things I do. Past winters leave me exhausted for spring, but in a good way. Ski training, ski racing, and working hard in the Gear West ski business create within me a huge sense of accomplishment. I don’t mind functioning a little less frantically and exercising a little less intensely in March. Finishing the winter season fit and healthy from all the cheer that a cold, blustery, and active winter delivers, the contrast of a slower start to spring is a welcome transition.

I am always nostalgic over what is usually an abrupt end to winter since ski season seems to end the Monday after the Birkie is finished.  Usually, a season change can blow away the blues if alternative workout ideas are formed. And the question is: What is your plan and will you act on it?


Getting to the Good Mindset

I view the changing of seasons as a mirror of life. Our brief time here on earth is all about adapting to change. As the old adage says, Accept what we cannot change (weather) and face with expectation and enthusiasm what joy we can create.

My philosophy as I age is, Our enjoyment of life rests on the frame of mind we choose to build. The wellspring for motivation is deep within us and, like anything, positive action requires focus and discipline. I cannot tell you (extrinsically) how to get off the couch in what is termed “duck” weather, and progress on with your workout plan. Desire and developed workout habits stem from your personal reasons to “move” daily and in every season, rain, wind, or shine.

For me, I love feeling healthy and strong. Working out and exposing my body to weather elements adds the color and contrasts I desire to feel in life. I look to participate in unique events and hang with friends who find joy in joining me in a little bit of everything. Fun memories include covering every exposed piece of skin with goggles and face tape when preparing to race a freezing-cold Mora Vasaloppet, or grabbing our dogs and an old soccer ball to make a game of pole hiking on Christmas day in 50-degree weather and mud. Or driving to Leadville to cheer on racers and personally finish the Columbine mountain bike climb and descent, a goal we could not accomplish during our ill-fated race a few years ago.

To enter this new season (or any season of life) with renewed zest, these are my thoughts:


(1): Create Your Big Adventure!

In the past, I have had two extraordinarily different but meaningful adventures. One spring, in honor of those racing the Iditarod while I was plopped on the couch reading, I chose to bike-commute (8 miles each way) to work for the month of March. Nothing big, but different.

I left my car at work to run necessary errands. Under rain, sleet, and snow, I cycled daily. For me, it required much planning in terms of time, clothing, and discipline. But my commuting thoughts and my enjoyment of using equipment I owned for transportation and crummy weather, created super-gratifying memories. The efforts were worth the return.

My big adventure last winter and spring involved an investment of money, expectations, and time. Thus, I had many reasons to inspire my commitment to working out. The Marbella, Spain Half Ironman was my goal to complete in early May.

Additionally, I was to race with my son, a Navy diver stationed in Rota Spain. The race was hilly and very hot, and I had to rent a race bike. My plans to make this early season race successful were based on some foundational workout commitments from which I could not deviate: swimming once a week for one hour, weekly indoor strength work, and cycling in any form (slow or fast; indoors or outdoors) two hours a week and every week through the Birkie.

Fitness, speed, and strength were gained by my ski training and races. After the Birke, I biked in the slush and snow three times per week with a three-hour weekend morning ride (to and from a coffee store), and I started running three times per week. The result? I had a great, although super-tough race, saw my son several times on the course, and enjoyed the contrast of rest and relaxation exploring Spanish mountain towns afterward.

Tailor a fresh adventure to you!

So many options abound for adventures. You could hike, bike, run, ski, or paddle. You may choose a race of a lifetime, explore the North Shore, or push the boundaries of your backyard.  Bring your dog, invite like-minded friends, or build a solo trip. Big or small, find a goal that fits your time and pocketbook, and expands your horizons.


(2): Build “The Plan” to Accomplish the Adventure

Understand that the adventure chosen must be achievable for you. Start the planning now.

      I suggest breaking any goal into 8-week chunks. Habits become easier to integrate into your life after 30-plus days. Then, depending on the duration of your adventure, tack these 60-day plans on top of one another. Setting shorter-term “finishes” to your goals helps make you feel good. Achievements, small or large, contribute to positivity and keep the energy flowing.

Determine a workout plan that best fits your life and schedule. Identify the primary workouts and lifestyle choices you need to successfully complete your Adventure. I term these workout commitments “Non-Negotiables.” These are the set-in-stone choices you must complete to keep this adventure happening. Just like transporting your children to school or attending work meetings, in quest of your goal, there are actions you cannot dismiss.

Review best strategies for handling setbacks. Specifically, note how you will handle those challenging days when lack of desire, bad weather, business, or even sickness derail you. Figure out feasible, rational alternative actions. Avoid creating reasons to quit.

Research the products your adventure requires. What will you need to achieve success?  A personal trainer? Or, a club membership to inspire workouts when the weather stinks?  A bike tune-up? New tires? A super cool waterproof bike pack for commuting? Which fitness plan will keep you motivated and injury-free? Does a nagging shoulder injury keep you from pulling that canoe out of the garage and onto your car roof? Research a good PT or chiropractor to support the body.  

Share your plan. Ask your significant other plus friends to join your workouts, and build enthusiasm. Excitement over something new leaves little time to linger on life that did not go right or to languish in weather that may otherwise keep you inactive.


(3): Remember Your Why When Pushing Yourself Into Action

For me, all my adventures weave in goals of better fitness, nutrition, and contrast into my daily existence. Therefore, to accomplish my Adventure requires a plan that addresses these things. If my transition from winter skiing to spring running involves strengthening my core or glutes, I better build the correct workouts to do so. I will feel better in the long run, and isn’t that the overarching goal?

Naturally, all workouts improve mentally and physically with an educated nutrition plan. I am inspired to stick to a program when I lose a few pounds, reduce sugar, and cut out bags of Skinny Pop at work. If I don’t accomplish my Why, I lose the momentum and will end up wandering off course.

Lastly, the Why-I-do-this creates moods I love to experience. I must remember to enjoy such feelings as tiredness after rising early to complete a workout and finishing a full day of work. Or the contentment of reading a novel on the couch after a blustery day of riding for three hours in the spring cold. And always, the satisfaction of rewarding your body with nutritious food after an outdoor workout.


(4): Carve Out a Daily Gratitude Moment

Take 15 minutes daily and appreciate our opportunities of freedom, an inquisitive mind, and a stalwart body to engage in all adventures.

As many say, we get to do this. We could choose to wallow in front of the TV or computer, but instead, we push ourselves out of our comfort zone because we know the long-term benefits of mental and physical health outshine short-term inconveniences.

I am continually thankful to have found the beauty of outdoor adventure as my source of happiness. Sure, I love to buy stuff, especially new skis, bikes, and Merino wool base layers. But joy for me is using all those toys to help me experience the woods, trails, and snow in fresh creative ways.

As I dive into why we need big Adventures to keep motivation from one season to another, I realize this year — I do not have one!

Perhaps the bewilderment of experiencing the warmest winter in my work life has sapped my energy. I do believe that age is starting to limit my choices. A body that requires more care often chips away at my mental drive.  I must heed my own advice and adapt to my physical changes while still embracing and designing the Big Adventure.

I look forward to making this transition from winter to spring something to write about.

Gear West Videos

How to Stop on rollerskis