Make It Happen
If we allow it to happen, Masters can find many reasons to feel sorry for themselves. Start with the simple reality that being a Master athlete forces us to accept the inevitable decline of our performance capacities for the rest of our lives.
Sure, if we get on a good roll with fitness and health, we can do a nice job mitigating declines for a few years. For a special few (you undoubtedly know someone who fits this description), it’s possible to see that roll extend to a seemingly endless decade or more. But make no mistake, the realities of aging will eventually catch up to all of us given enough time.
It is very easy to bemoan these realities and succumb to the dreaded “I’m too old for this” mantra of futility. It is also easy to cry in our oatmeal about the seemingly non-stop parade of health woes that plague Master athletes. And it is easy to shrug our shoulders and question continued devotion to this sport when snow/weather is clearly going to be an uphill fight for the remainder of our lifetimes.
Some will undoubtedly give in to this bucketload of negatives. Next winter, they’ll simply stop taking part in cross-country-ski events, stop paying attention to winter fitness, stop working on technique, ski less and less – they’ll quit. But you don’t want to do that. Literally every research study done on middle-age and senior pop- ulations shows the massive health benefits of exercise and maintaining overall fitness. Every hour you devote to getting out the door in any season is arguably going to deliver a better return than any financial investment. Maintaining our bodies positively impacts literally every aspect of our lives.
Winter is one of the hardest seasons for most people in snowy regions to maintain fitness – except when they ski. But even for those who do ski, maintaining motivation to get out the door in less-than-perfect conditions can be daunting. This is where maintaining cross-country-ski dreams matters. Whether it is a few cross-country events or a couple of self-made challenges such as big tours or hut-to-hut adventures, you don’t light a fitness fire without a spark. We all need goals.
Absolutely the era of climate chaos our planet has entered will continue to pose unending challenges for a relatively delicate sport such as cross-country skiing. We do need snow to ski; that’s an undeniable fact. Further, it is also true that Nordic events will be in a continuous state of evolution for decades to come in response to these challenges. But that is all the more reason to be an active willing participant in the sport that still is surviving today.
For the coming year, I urge all Masters to embrace a philosophy of “make it happen.”
If your body isn’t cooperating to your satisfaction, change it – deal with it – or get help to find an answer. But don’t allow yourself to “feel old,” make excuses or quit.
Use the snow that comes (even when it’s in April instead of January!). Find ways to support the ski areas and retailers in good times and bad. If events in your area aren’t inspiring you, get involved and find ways to re-ignite your passion. When you have a great ski season, enjoy it for all it’s worth. When it’s a drag season, still find some way to get out to ski.
Above all, we all need to be steadfast, determined and pragmatic about climate chaos. Our sport has no option at this point but to focus on mitigation and resiliency. The world at large faces many life-changing choices, challenges and crisis in the coming decades, but for cross-country skiing, the crisis is already at our door.
Make it happen, folks.
Research supports the massive health benefi ts of exercise and maintaining overall fi tness.
Setting goals and self-made challenges help keep cross-country-ski dreams alive.
Masters skiers the world over need to embrace a philosophy of "make it happen."