Lessons from a Broken Toe

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. However, by kicking off 2019 with a ski trip, I focused in on some very important lessons for the year.

Create a game plan. A ski resort has beginner (green circles), intermediate (blue squares), and expert (black diamonds) slopes. The visibility, winds, temperature, and quality of the snow on each trail can change dramatically throughout the day, depending upon the sun and weather conditions. The lifts typically operate from 8:30am to 3:30pm. So, it’s important to survey the territory, carefully read the trail map, analyze the relevant factors that affect the playing field, and develop a strategy that will maximize your success.

Know your limits and when to push them. I can ski the green trails. I can ski the blue trails. My skills and abilities have proven time and time again that I can get down these slopes in one piece. But I don’t ski the black diamond trails. I always have been afraid of them. I’m worried I’ll fall and break a hip or worse. Truthfully, I’m disappointed in myself. I’ve never even taken the steps to learn or try. I simply self-selected out. That’s not the way I want to live. I’m going to ski a black diamond this season.

Take a lesson or a class. No matter how long you’ve been doing something, getting a few new ideas or pointers can really change your game and bolster your performance. I’m a solid, intermediate skier, but tips from experts help improve my techniques, speed, and confidence. And so, this year, I’m going to learn and do new things!

Ask for help. Even though I’ve been skiing for thirty-five years, I only ski three or four days per winter. The people who work at these resorts have far more daily experience and knowledge than I ever will. (I even met a man who skis about sixty days per season!) So, this year, I’m going to seek advice from and ask for assistance from resources who know more than I do. (After all, I can’t be great at everything!!)

Take the trail less skied. It’s so easy and common to follow the masses. But straying off course can be exhilarating. Veering off the beaten path can result in less crowds, more fluffy snow, faster lift lines, and more fun. So, every once in a while, take the chance and try a new approach.

Go with the flow. There are times to buck the system and there are times to go with the flow. During a well-earned lunch break, we stopped at one of the mid-mountain lodges. I had a craving for a hotdog. To my horror, a Hebrew National footlong dog was priced at twelve dollars!!! (At Sam’s Club, you can buy a package of fourteen jumbo franks for $12.98.) I was beyond annoyed, but had to eat. I refused to let the “highway robbery” ruin my day and will make better dining choices next time.

Take time to enjoy the scenery. Snow-covered mountains, azure blue skies, and pine and aspen trees all make for a beautiful view. As much as I love skiing, pausing to take in the landscape is important too. All too often, the details and “to do” lists of life distract us from the bigger picture around us. Meditating, breathing, and appreciating the sights and sounds of nature can rejuvenate the soul. I will take time to “smell the coffee” every day.

Get healthy. It’s difficult to ski well if you are not healthy or are out of shape. People do it all the time, but they don’t perform at peak performance. I held my own this trip, but was reminded daily that I (and my ski clothes!) do better when I’m ten to fifteen pounds lighter. And so, this year, I’m making my physical health a priority.

Hydrate. Whether you’re hanging out in the hot tub, wrestling with the altitude, sweating through a workout, or just running around, remember to drink lots of water. Your skin and body need it!

Dress for success. The first morning on the slopes this week was six degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). The high of the day was twenty-two. The thermal underwear, neck gator, gloves, socks, top, pants, jacket, hat or helmet, boots and goggles all mattered. If your body is not warm and comfortable, you won’t be able to ski — or do much else — well. I was grateful to have upgraded my winter wardrobe over the past couple of seasons, but must follow suit for my business- and casual-wear.

One final thing worth noting….

When I arrived at the resort hotel earlier this week, I had a mishap in the bathroom. While unpacking my toiletries, I accidentally kicked the leg of the vanity. The ensuing “snap, crackle, and pop” sounds and excruciating pain announced that I had broken a toe. (The purple color also made it pretty obvious!)  I nearly had a heart attack. We had just arrived. How was I going to ski???

Luckily it was the toe to the right of my pinky-toe on my left foot. And thankfully, my ski boots are a tight fit. The broken toe would be protected by those on either side and would be immobilized once wedged into the boot. And thus, despite the great difficulty in getting the boot on and off without screaming, I successfully managed to ski pain-free.

The experience taught me that Advil, icing, and sheer determination can get you through anything. So, in addition to lessons above….Ski, even if you break your toe….