At the start of the year, I decided to set myself a Half Marathon goal but was unsure how my running fitness would be affected by our six week overseas ski holiday. This would have an impact on how quickly I could get into the real work towards achieving my goal, particularly if I lost a lot of fitness during our trip.
Now that we have returned home, I have had a chance to take stock of my current fitness level and the results are interesting, although probably not surprising. I have maintained – and possibly improved – both my strength and endurance, and I have lost a lot of cardio fitness. I am also a little surprised to realise just how much sitting at a desk all day for work impacts my health.
Strength and Endurance
Before we went away, I was struggling to run more than 12 km on a long run day. Today was two weeks back and I just ran 16 km with ease.
During our trip, we did a lot of full ski days. Generally, we skied 9 am to 3 pm and clocked up between 50 and 80 km of skiing each day. This is basically a lot of squats and ab crunches at an easy and consistent pace. (If you’re not a skier, it’s helpful to know that you bend into a turn – like a squat – while leaning your hips to one side or the other. There is also a bit of an ab crunch and twist at the same time while you turn your skies from side-to-side but keep your upper body facing downhill.) Over the course a few weeks, my legs got used to doing several hours of consistent exercise.
While my endurance got a boost, I never pushed hard enough while skiing to get out of breath or raise my heart rate very high. Because it’s fairly easy to lose cardio if you aren’t maintaining it, mine has taken a real hit. I’ve done a few interval and speed workouts since being back and have gotten out of breath really quickly. During my last two ParkRuns my legs have felt fine, but I wasn’t able to push any faster because I was breathing heavy.
Daily Holiday Activity vs. My Desk Job
There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about the damage sitting at a desk can do to one’s health. And I know they say that while regular exercise helps, sitting is still really bad for you. That said, I’ve still always felt that because I work out most mornings, I have a fairly active lifestyle and for the most part I counter-acted my desk job. Which is why I was genuinely shocked by my post-holiday weight gain.
While we were away, I ate and drank a lot – and not always the healthiest food either. After all, après is an important part of skiing and there was beer and nachos to be had. Despite this, I didn’t gain any weight – because I was skiing and walking almost all day, every day.
In the first week we were home, I returned to my pre-holiday work out schedule, eating patterns and desk job. I also put on 2 kilos. (Okay, I may have been eating a little more than before the holiday, but still not as much as when I was on holidays.)
I’m not too concerned about the weight and I’m sure I’ll get it back off again, but I was shocked by how quickly it loaded on just from being less active and sitting at my desk. I also have less energy than when I was active every day and I’m not sleeping as well. And while, in hindsight, this is all fairly obvious, it has still been an eye opener to have a direct comparison in my own life and with my own body.
Have you ever been surprised by something you’ve learned about how your daily habits affect your fitness?
If you want to read more about my goal or training plan you can find them with the following links: