Caroline Gleich on Fitness as a Lifestyle Tool
As a professional athlete specializing in ski mountaineering, it is of the utmost importance to make sure I’m as fit as possible for the demands on the mountain. My approach to training has evolved over the years… There was a period where I hired a coach, but during that time it was difficult for me to follow a schedule with the challenges of travel and work. It’s good to have some accountability, but it’s also important to listen to your body so you don’t over-train and become injured – something I learned the hard way when, about a year and a half ago, I broke my foot. That injury made me reexamine everything I thought I’d learned about training and fitness.
Now, I have a new approach: fitness as a lifestyle. My training is no longer a regimented program I have to follow. Instead, it’s a seasonal approach, based on listening to my body and getting out into nature. It’s also a perfect fit with Keen’s new Trailfit initiative.
Spring is my favorite season because I can do so many activities. Biking, hiking, skiing, camping, climbing. Summer is a time of
rest and recovery, with an emphasis on listening to my body and having fun. For me, the most important part about training and fitness is getting outside. I do minimal indoor workouts. When I’m very active outside, I like to take a restorative yoga class. When I have more energy, I love powerful Vinyasa flow yoga classes. Fall is a time of change. As the days get shorter, I vary my workouts from rock climbing to hiking to biking. It’s all in preparation for winter, my most active season. I spend long days in the back-country walking around, climbing mountains, with skis on my feet or back. I mix it up on my rest days with recovery walks or runs and yoga.
Having a regimented training program is good if you have a specific goal or time frame, but for me, it’s a tool to mental and physical well-being. It’s a lifestyle choice. I’ve learned that fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t need to involve classes or heavy lifting or even other partners. It can be as simple as just taking a walk.
My neighborhood walks, where I go right out my front door, are vital to my physical and mental well-being. They remind me of being a kid and going outside to play, and one of my life goals is to have fun. They also provide fresh air and sunshine, and a sense of connection to my neighborhood and community. I’m self-employed, and I often spend long periods of time working alone from home. When I’m bogged down with writing, putting together a big slideshow presentation, or filling out spreadsheets and I need a break, my neighborhood walks provide me with a buffer. Walking and getting my body in to motion helps fuel the creative juices in my brain. It is the white space that I need to come up with my best ideas.
For me, fitness has become a way to un-learn the stifling parts of modern living. To re-wild myself. To remember that we are not separate from nature and the earth, that we are creatures (animals) and need to roam free. We tend to overly complicate things in our mind – but putting food and water into a backpack and walking up a trail is one of the simplest activities in the world. The Trail Fit design of KEEN’s Terradora fits perfectly into my training philosophy and lifestyle because it allows me to be prepared for whatever I encounter, on the trail and off. Whether I’m going for a walk in the park by my house in the city or hiking up a 3,000’ rocky peak, it makes my footwear decision simple.
Just remember, physical stress is good for the body. Getting our heart rate up and sweating is what we were designed to do. If it feels hard, then you’re evolving