Overcoming athletic setbacks in training for the Birkie

Who wants to join me, in my quest to return to physical shape and mental positivity to ski the Birke? Start date is Sept 1 and completion is the week before the Birke!

There are no fitness parameters. All you need is desire and drive to commit to whatever change or discipline needed to reach your skiing goals.

Why I am proposing this challenge? Because I know there is a lot of ‘US’ out there who want to improve our fitness, who love to ski but for one reason or another (and all are important reasons) have experienced setbacks. Last year when standing in line for my Birke bib, I encountered two women acquaintances whose stories filled me with emotion as I listened to their comeback from cancer. With two steps forward to every one step back, they made it to the start of the Korte. Hurdles such as health, relationships, work, kids… can all be setbacks of which we now strive to comeback.

My favorite bumper sticker is pinned to my desk which says, “Oh no, not ANOTHER learning experience! “and it pertains to my May bike accident. I hit the pavement hard on a bike crash and celebrated my 60 birthday, not at my surprise party at GW, but at North Hospital. Plates and screws were inserted into my tibia and broken ribs just contributed to the main and immobility. Three months non-weight bearing was the verdict and at my 6 week check-up, although everything is healing nicely despite my daily attempts to swim, bones at 60 take their own sweet time to knit.

So, my learning experience? To stay positive in this journey of non-exercise. To figure out how to become fit all over again in a smart and healthy way and to see if other skiers would like to joint me.

My choice is either to be super grumpy or embrace this new setback and learn better ways of doing things. There is much to be gained regarding patience and acceptance of things I now cannot control. My goal is share the experience, maybe motivate others and learn from those who have had to overcome more than I. Changes I had to make include postponing an embarrassing number of athletic events this summer such as rollerski training with LNR, trail runs up north, the Lutson 99’er (the first time!) and triathlons leading up to the Madison Ironman. I absorbed a bit of pain to make work happen soon after the surgery and am trying to commit to low carb eating.

There is a lot I could say about this new type of summer thrown at me by my careless cycling mistake, but I look forward to challenge of overcoming a new setback. I welcome those who are facing similar goals, to join me. Details can be worked out later among us, but email me directly at gearwest@gearwest.com and we can create a plan based on abilities. It may include renewed motivation for Nordic walking, or jogging or Roller skiing. Perhaps new trail shoes or sharpened roller tips will jump start the workouts.

Gearwest offers all of that and more. But most importantly, sharing your motivation and goals with a select, supportive group is my offer. We can find ways to work out smarter, introducing improved nutrition, use of helpful equipment and basically just building inspiration and action thru positive Birkie oriented energy.

- Jan Guenther

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