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Physiology, confidence, well being

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
As a counter position to LM's well commented post on fear and apprehension. What mechanism best explain what happens when we set ourselves to ski well, and we do?

Wearing the red coat of the patrol sets me up to "look good". And I find I often do. Or at least it feels that way. (not always mind you)

In example,
On Sunday I was placing a "thin cover" sign at a "pitch" location where a novice couple had paused to consider the options. I heard general expressions of anxiety between the couple over what was before them. I like to be able to bolster the timid, but could think of nothing useful for the soft, heavy snow with forming bumps.
Completing the sign placement, I clicked back into my bindings. I smiled at each of the guests, turned to the fall line and then kicked up my heels, lofted the first bump, clearing the exposed rock I had been marking. I then boogied down through the bumps, suprising myself with feeling good.

I hope the couple got as much out of it as I did.

For myself, I would have taken a less dramatic version of the descent.

Is it just the ego or the "power of positive thinking"?
On analysis, my turns and actions were spontanious. I had not selected a line. My thought was to ski well, to demonstrate "Fun skiing" in hopes of inspiration.

To put it in prespective, My 12 year old daughter who was shadowing me, skied the same pitch without comment. Oh well!

post #2 of 22

Skiing rule #1: "Its all in your head"
Derivative from rule #1: "Aggressive skiing yields better performance"

post #3 of 22
have to echo VK's. when i get my head into SKI AGGRESSIVE(ski first, think later) mode, i invariably ski much better.(according to me, anyway.)

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 01, 2002 10:29 AM: Message edited 2 times, by ryan ]</font>
post #4 of 22
Being watched.
post #5 of 22
I guess you are talking about FLOW STATE. Flow state usually occurs when the demands of a task pretty much match, but do not surpass the skill required.

However, potentially anxiety provoking scenarios can be turned into "flow experiences" by becoming immmersed in the activity {plant, edge, turn} by paying attention to, as opposed to worrying about your environment, and enjoying the immediate experience, instead of imagining what sort of wipe out you will have later on!

Physiologically, endorphins, the pleasure hormone are present. This can have an interesting effect on pain and fatigue. Endorphins are our natural opiates. When they are present, muscle that may hurt under normal circumstances will feel, temporarily, just fine.

Not to get too geeky, but since you are pretty much on a "high" , physiologically and psychologically, your body turns off the mechanisms associated with anxiety, one of them being the over production of cortisol.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
For pete's sake LM! Your making me feel like a sliding chemistry experiment! .
Our slogan could be "Better skiing through Chemistry". (All jest, thanks for your perspective).

I have noticed that I have several internal functional modes.
Inattentive: Often punctuated by suddend "get offs".
Aggressive: as indicated by VK and Ryan. Which helps in "tough" situations or conditions.

Additionally there is a "Look good" mode
as mentioned, and supported by WTG. This mode tends to pinch my butt cheeks together and keeps my shoulders square to the fall line, and my hand motion restricted to pole flicks etc. I would love to get a picture of what it really looks like

After it's too late, there is the oh! oh! mode, but that's different.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 01, 2002 11:30 AM: Message edited 1 time, by CalG ]</font>
post #7 of 22
It's not all about looking good. Trying to look good without having the goods never works. It must come from within.

Tool #2 is a kick-ass tune playing in your head as you ski. Aerosmith works for me.
post #8 of 22
Mia Culpa! I'm studying for some rather geeky exams, and sometimes the only way for it to make sense to me is to put it in the "vernacular".

But, hey, you used the "physiology" word in your subject header!

I was just talking to a friend about a more obvious aspect of this whole thing.

If you are tense, or anxious, its reflected in your muscles. Excess muscular tension drains energy, which causes fatigue. Fatigue can lead to negative thoughts which cause anxiety.

So, if you are skiing well, you are, duh, probably relaxed, which means you will have more energy, and be less anxious.

And so on, and so on and scooby dooby dooby! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #9 of 22
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>If you are tense, or anxious, its reflected in your muscles. Excess muscular tension drains energy, which causes fatigue. Fatigue can lead to negative thoughts which cause anxiety.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Tense/anxious -> excess muscular tension -> Fatigue -> anxiety

It seems like another case of chicken and egg here.

lets see if I can solve this loop:

1. Thinking too much causes anxiety
2. Anxiety causes excess muscular tension
3. Excess mascular tension causes fatigue
4. Fatigue increases anxiety.
5. Loop through steps 2 - 4 until you become a basket case or a crash puts you out of your misery.

Conclusion: Don't think and ski

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

In the case of, "looking good", There is thought and anxiety, but on a different subject than "terrain vs ability". Rather like the young suitor who does something to catch the attention of the other.

Why should the "flow state" have an upper limit at ones previous ability level? Are we not allowed to surpass ourselves, even for a moment?

Several times during my life, I have felt a certain end to the snow dependent joy of skiing. When the snow is marginal, lift lines really suck! Right now, I ride a crest (for me) of expanding ability. Now too, the real satisfaction comes while watching myself competently negotiate snow covered terrain that is on the edge of my comfort/ ability zone.

The bonus is when I suprise myself.


post #11 of 22
I'm not sure where to jump in here, however, Vk's list (vide supra)seems to summarize the gist of the thread so I'll go from there.

1. Thinking can be the source of anxiety or pleasure. It comes down to what it is that you're thinking of and how you deal with it.

2. No. Better to say: excess anxiety results in excess muscle tension. Some anxiety can be fine with or even enhance musculoskeletal performance.

3. Hard to argue with that. I don't know of any reports to the contrary.

4. Again, it all depends on what you do with that sensory information. In ultrarunning there is the following aphorism: pain is mandatory, suffering is optional. If you're getting tired, think happy thoughts! [img]smile.gif[/img]

LM. It's not the body that regulates cort production/synthesis, it's the brain.

Endorphins certainly have an effect on the stress axis in some animal models, but this effect on humans was at one time quite controversial and I don't know whether or not this issue has been resolved.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 01, 2002 08:08 PM: Message edited 1 time, by BadRat ]</font>
post #12 of 22
Trying to figure out where I said, or even implied that we are "not allowed" to supass ourselves, but anyway, in answer to your question, flow state does not necessarily have to have an upper limit at one's previous ability level.

[QUOTEHowever, potentially anxiety provoking scenarios can be turned into "flow experiences" by becoming immmersed in the activity {plant, edge, turn} by paying attention to, as opposed to worrying about your environment, and enjoying the immediate experience, instead of imagining what sort of wipe out you will have later on!] [/quote]
post #13 of 22
yeah LM you think way too much on this forum!

Can't ya just be like everyone else and just post about really important exciting stuff like putting down the safety bar on the lift? And puleese, get rid of all those borrrrinng ACL threads. There making us all think too much! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #14 of 22
Back to CalG's original post:

I think what you did was a gift for those folks. It was an intuitive decision to make a statement to them about who you are with the mountain, who we are as a culture, and to show them what skiing could be. You were being a good host.

I will never forget images like that when I was a kid--that inspired me and were transcendant and led me to a life of poverty as a ski pro.
post #15 of 22
But a very inspiring ski pro, Weems! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Geek stuff aside, what you did, Cal was beautiful, its sort of a gift that keeps giving.

That happened to me at The Loaf. A mountain ambassador non verbally guided me down a trail I was apprehensive about. The next day, I did the same thing for some friends.

Perhaps, some of us are sometimes at our best, not when we are trying to impress, but trying to inspire others.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
This was the line that led me to an upper limit. Upon rereading it I am only confused It reads circular to me.

" Flow state usually occurs when the demands of a task pretty much match, but do not surpass the skill required."

Mia Culpa"? I asked! Thank you for the response I am not put off by techno talk, I am an engineer type. I usually blame myself (or my equipment) when I don't feel or do well, Now I can blame it on chemistry! Perhaps we could just order up a level 7-8 pill when we get our day ticket and lesson

The imagery of "good skiing" is a constant inspiration. It helps me transcend my opinion of myself. In the lift lines, The guys tend to .. eh.. er.. umh. "evaluate" the gals.
riding the chairs, we notice "good skiing"

This year, during a SP training session, a group of us were handed off between several mentors. After the day was over I was chatting with one of my "Over 50 class mates". He remarked that he really wanted to ski like one particular trainer, a less than 30 year old race type, real aggressive with an over eager attitude.(a great skier!) I responded "Not me!" I want to ski like the 50 year old I am and cited one of our other mentors of that day as my model. To each our own.
But whether images of our selves or others, I too feel they are some of the strongest inspirations to continue the work of sking better. For me, these images are more significant than dealing with my fears.

Two ends of a teeter board, and we can't sit on both ends at the same time. I prefer to sit on the fun side!

Too bad about your poverty, I feel your pain!


post #17 of 22
Thanks Calg and LM

I'm not really in poverty from skiing. I'm in poverty from raising triplet boys!!

And I'm not really in poverty.....but I will be soon!

Pass the hat! and cry me a river.
post #18 of 22
Interesting "looking good" for others. I have been in many PSIA clnics the last few years, I like to ski with these buddies. It is a gentle "competition".

The last few days I have been lucky to ski with my brother. Last time was once last year, and before that was 12 years ago. He only skiis 3 times a year now, but when we were both younger, we skied 30-60 days together, him as PSIA, me as NSP.

The "looking good" factor kicked in for me. He was always the leader(slightly older also), but the last 2 days, the roles were reversed. Up until this trip, if I entered a mogul field, whatever technique I started with, I did the entire run. This time, I varied everything, and had fun!! It wasn't the usual "fear/anxiety" issue, or PSIA clinic competition.... it was pure "looking good" for my brother. Maybe some of that, "your younger brother made it" feel.

To put it into terms for Lisamarie(said with affection), I was able to maintain an "external" view of the ski run, and not an "internal" one. I knew my feet would do the right thing, I was able to look ahead and enjoy/plan.

This "external" view while skiing has relaxed me in the runs that start to go south.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 04, 2002 03:16 AM: Message edited 1 time, by KeeTov ]</font>
post #19 of 22
I love this thread because it points to one of the unstated or understated truths of the attraction of skiing. Everyone can be his or her own hero, because of the real or imagined admiration of others. This is like the little kid playing basketball and doing the play by play while he toasts his imaginary opponent. "He shoots. He scores. The crowd goes wild."

In skiing it is also special because of the sense of heroic and sacrificial risk.

I often and consciously evoke this while teaching. When I give a student a compliment, I will put in the language of the superhero that they hope to be at that moment. I don't say, "Nice turns in the bumps." I say, "You're an ANIMAL!" And sometimes I'll get THEM to say it. In Italian. (When Tomba started winning big--after about his fourth victory in a row. He exclaimed, "Sono una bestia!" --I am an animal! Very cool.)

We're all a bunch of show-offs. Watch me, mom. Watch me.

I love this because it is not only the gift for the watcher, but it is the re-emergence of the child in the performer.
post #20 of 22
Weems, you nailed it exactly.

It's true even when skiing alone with no other eyeballs around for miles. Nothing, but nothing, motivates as well as "self-perceived" heroics.
post #21 of 22
I definitely second (third?) the notion that when I choose to ski aggressively, I ski much much better. My breakthrough came during college, when I didn't give a crap about anything. I wrecked and wrecked on the ski slopes, pushing the envelope, getting better, but never being injured. That conquered the fear factor for me; of course, who knows what would have happened had I gotten hurt. (That is one thing I won't think about, so it won't jinx me.)

Anyway, when I ski well, it's a matter of thinking/feeling, "Attack!" That must put my body in the right position or something (forward, not back), and I am able to "proact," not react.

At the other end of the spectrum is thinking about what I'm actually doing. All the talk on these boards actually got me to take a lesson last month, which is something I'd never done. I learned by skiing with guys who were better than I. I was prepared for the lesson in that I knew I wasn't going to have instant results, but boy, was it ever a downer. I couldn't keep my tips uncrossed! Heck, I couldn't even zip my coat properly. All the thinking and analyzing screwed up my timing, my feel, everything. It stunk. I'm glad I did it, because I learned some things I can work on, but it was not an enjoyable few hours.

(Which leads into one of the threads about why people don't take lessons ... I know I should, but with the limited time and large investment that skiing already requires, why spend it doing something unpleasant? I do understand why, theoretically, but I can already ski, without fear, anything that doesn't involved cliffs or blue ice -- I may not do it with perfect form, but I am not an idiot on skis either. It's fun, and it's way cheaper than perfect form. Again, I fully understand the arguments for continuing education on skis, and I agree, except that reality gets in the way.)
post #22 of 22
My most recent experience of what's being discussed:

Met a new friend at the end of the ski day on my last day of the season (Tuesday). An ex-racer, a previous member of an instuctor's team (instructor trainer and demo team member) in Europe, and a nice guy. We decided to ski a run together so I took off making the best turns I could. He follows and quickly passes me through a field of off-piste spring bumps. I step it up multiple notches to try and keep up and ski way out on the edge, requiring multiple balance recoveries (while he never gets off balance all the way down). I manage to hold on and stay close.

As condo neighbors at Solitude we mutually decide we should ski together whenever we're both there.

I am reminded that no matter how agressively I ski on my own, following a great skier pushes you to new heights.

I want to ski the same run with him a few more times as I know I can nail that terrain at the higher speeds and tighter lines with a bit more practive following him.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 04, 2002 01:15 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Si ]</font>
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