Hello again from Grand Cayman. It has been just over a month since I have arrived here and training here continues to be challenging, but despite low hours and a lack of training partners I am getting stronger. I have been working a program that is just like any other skiers; it has high and low intensity workouts, strength training, core strength, and ski specific workouts at its core, but with such high temperatures here I have effectively cut out all the long slow distance workouts (2 hours plus) that filled out my programs over the years. For the first time in three summers I haven’t done a continuous workout over two hours, or a week of training over ten hours during the month of July, a month I used to devote to building endurance during my years racing mountain bikes. It is a bit sad but I certainly don’t regret coming here… my motivation to make up the long slow hours in Canada in September is building every day. All I can say is that I will enjoy the memories of this place as I feel the first cool breezes I have felt in months on the long rides, rolls, and runs to come this fall. However, this is training article not a sob story about a skier who gets wiped by hot weather in a tropical county (who would have thought it would be so hot?) so here’s a fun workout idea for those “hot” days in the summer.
This Sunday I did one my hardest days of training yet and, as most of my training here, it involved a sport I never used to think to do (or could do) as training. I am here as a sailing instructor so I decided that this Sunday I would do some “professional development” as my boss likes to put it and do some laser races (single handed sailboat) with some club members. At 165 pounds (on a good day) I am 15 pounds below the recommended minimum weight for the laser and as I warmed up on the water with a solid 15knots of wind I was reminded why I usually sail a Byte CII (smaller version of the laser which is easily depowered up wind and is designed for lighter sailors) while I hiked my butt out to keep the boat from flipping over. I was tired before the races even started, and when they did things got even more painful as my competitive side came through and I pushed down pain to try to do well, I am a “professional” after all.
Competitive dingy sailing is an amazing core workout, especially on the up wind section where the most pressure is on the sail and hiking out, holding your body outside of your boat with your legs which are under hiking straps, is needed most. As well as hiking which works the fronts of your legs, abs and core muscles, there is the need to pull or “sheet in” the sail and hold it (until your hands bleed) which works the chest, biceps, back muscles and shoulder muscles. Hiking is not entirely a static exercise as your weight must move in and out to account for gusts and lulls while hip movements steer the boat through waves up wind (instead of using the rudder which is slow).
Sailing is obviously not an aerobic sport but it can be a very good test of anaerobic muscular endurance that is far away from the gym, is competitive, and fun. The mini-regatta was my first training session since I got here that I had training partners for; I go surfing with my friends but I don’t think I would consider them training partners, the sport is just to damn chill for that. In terms of hours of training I was probably on the water for three and a half hours, of which I calculated an hour and a half was legitimate core training to mark down in the log. I was tired and sore after the races but needed an aerobic workout to make the day complete so I did an interval session at “the hill” (the only hill on the island I think) which consisted of 1.5 minutes at zone 3 ski bounding with the same time for rest repeated ten times. All in all then with the sail and the run combined I did 2.5 hours of effective training for the day.
Anyway, hope I could inspire some people to dust off their sailboats (or their friends, uncles, distant relatives etc… boats) and go out and do some races or just go out for a rip on a day that most people would consider scary, it’s fun and it will make you stronger for the winter. This picture is of a much more relaxed day at work on the water with a J22 full of kids out for a cruise. It’s one of my favorite pictures of me sailing (I am the one steering) but is the exact opposite of the laser racing I just described (I swear!).