I Did a Thing!
On Saturday, September 14, 2019, I completed my very first inline marathon! After months and months of planning, training, and intermittent panicking, I successfully completed the Northshore Inline Marathon. Even better, I completed it in my best average per mile time for a long distance, and even snuck in just under the 3-hour mark for event completion.
What Training Entails
Here This is the first time I’ve trained for an athletic event at this level, and it definitely took a lot of time and effort both on and off skates. What may have seemed like many, many social media posts of pictures of my skates and “I just skated 6 miles in this beautiful place” took an amazing amount of time in researching, physical conditioning, recovery activities, mindset training and so much more. Here are a few key components that went into completing this inline marathon:
So Now What?
What started out as a big audacious life goal has become the starting point rather than an ending point. I'm planning on another running 5K, and another inline marathon next summer. I also know where I need to improve, like continuing to improve my stride and get better at navigating hills, and I'm excited to keep getting better.
Thank You, Safety Gear!
Today, I went on my first skate since my 10K inline skating event. I went on a different route with a few more hills. On one downhill slope, while I was focusing on technique, my front right skate wheel hit the grass, and I went down. Fortunately, I was wearing safety gear. What could have been a broken wrist, a messed up knee, and a lot more blood ended up being way less dire. It was also a good reminder of how quickly something can happen, and how safety gear makes the end result more manageable.
What The Pros Wear
If you see competitive inline skaters, they usually wear a short-sleeved cycling jersey, biking shorts, a bicycle helmet, wrist guards, and their skates. Most inline events require a helmet and wrist guards. Bicycle helmets are popular due to their aerodynamic nature. These are also experienced, pro skaters who place in world-class events. I am definitely not at this level.
What This Instructional Design Manager Wear
My Outdoor Inline Skating Protective Gear
Here is my current safety gear for when I inline skate (or roller skate) outside:
What Do You Think?
What safety gear do you wear or not wear when inline skating outdoors? Include your thoughts in the comments.
I Did a Thing!
On, Saturday, 6/29/2019, I completed my first inline event! Yes, it was a race. For me, finishing is my winning. Not only did I "win", but I got my best time to date for the distance. I completed 6.23 miles in 50:24, which gives me an average pace of 8:05 minutes per mile. Success!
Why I Picked This Event
In previous blog entries, I have outlined my 3 phase inline marathon training plan. To help measure my progress and stay on track, I included 4 key events in my plans. Completing this 10K skate was the second key milestone in my overall plan. Here are those 4 milestone events:
My Goals and Objectives
For this particular event, my primary goal was to finish the event. I estimated that I could finish in about an hour given my times on previous 6-ish mile skates. I exceeded my own expectations by finishing in less time than anticipated.
Above and beyond just plain finishing, I had a few more objectives:
My Preparation: Training
I signed up for this event since it was nearby and fit in well with my overall inline marathon training plan. To get ready, here's what my physical training looked like from the beginning of May through the event:
My Preparation: Planning
As the event drew closer, I thought about logistical planning. The day before, I picked up my bibs (numbers) and t shirt. That same day, I drove the course. In retrospect, I should have done that WAY SOONER to get a handle on the terrain.
I figured out core logistics of parking, getting to the start line, and getting from the finish line to where we parked. I also enlisted my husband to be my road crew. He drove us to the event, kept us on time, got us parked, helped me pin on my numbers, and brought my shoes to the finish line. He executed all of the plans to get us where we needed to be, when we needed to be there that would have stressed me out on the day of the event.
What Went Well
The event itself went well. I achieved my primary goal of finishing, and even made good time through it all. My nutrition and hydration worked and I didn't feel dehydrated or have what I will politely call "gastro-intestinal distress" on the day of the event. I achieved a personal best time, and I felt good after I finished (perhaps partly because I got to stop skating after doing many, many hills). Post event, I ate a good meal, did some yoga, took a power nap, soaked in Epsom salt, and iced my left knee. Now, a day later, I'm only a little bit sore, which is encouraging.
I also realized how supportive people are at these events. There were some professional inline skaters at the front of the pack, then people who were more recreational. Along the whole course, people were encouraging. This included volunteers directing us the right way, police officers directing traffic, people who passed me, the water station helpers, and people not in the event who were just skating or running by. Everyone had words of encouragement to share. As I was struggling up the last, ridiculously long hill, I heard "almost at the top," "only 1 kilometer to go," "looking good," "you got this," and "you can do this!" That type of support in the moment makes all of the difference. While I pride myself of my ability to power through adversity, voices to help cheer on the voice in my head telling me I'm going to make it help. It also gives me faith in the goodness of the world.
What Could Have Gone Better
While I did drive the course, I drove it the day before the event--which didn't give me a lot of time to course correct my training. During that drive, which was almost an afterthought, I realized that there were a fair amount of hills on the course. I was worried about going down the hills and not totally losing control. I knew how to ascend hills, and though I was not very efficient in doing so, I knew I could complete the course as long as I could navigate downhill stretches.
In retrospect, I would have checked out the course earlier and trained accordingly. I definitely made up time from climbing the multiple hills by doing a little faster downhill afterwards. The last hill was very, very ugly. I definitely need to do more, different terrain so that isn't such an effort--or a surprise.
Lessons Learned and Next Steps
My next inline event is the first Saturday in August in St Paul. Here's how I will change my current training plan to be more successful in that event:
What Do You Think?
How have you trained for athletic events? Include your thoughts in the comments.
My 3 Phase Inline Marathon Training Plan
In a recent blog post, I talked about my previous half-baked inline half marathon plan. I learned the hard way that I need a solid training plan to reach my goals. This time around, here is my three-phase training plan to achieve my inline skating marathon related goals:
Phase III: Game On!
Welcome to Phase III of my inline marathon training plan. This is where, to put it plainly, shit gets real. Now I'm skating and getting ready for a crazy long skate and realizing how far I'm going to go between now and mid-September.
Goals: Skate longer distances outside on uneven terrain.
My Overarching Training Plan for Phase III
I’ve done a fair share of research for books or online resources, and there’s not a thorough roadmap for how to train for an inline marathon available. There aren’t many current go-to websites or a book to help guide the way. I dug a bit more and found useful ideas for how to go about this from a variety of disparate sources. From parts, I’ve cobbled together a plan from the huge body of information available on running your first marathon, websites with dribs and drabs on inline marathons, and resources on physical training in general.
From that I put together a personal training plan for myself that incorporates the following:
Skating Longer Distance
The core part of my plan includes skating outside on a regular basis. My starting point is skating 3 miles, partly because I know I can complete that distance (instead of starting at a mile or so of skating). In addition, my very favorite neighborhood lake with a biking trail is about 3 miles long. I have a whole plan plotted out for skating 3 times per week, which includes two shorter skates, and one longer skate per week. It also includes adding mileage weekly and scaling back a bit every three weeks to gradually build up mileage. I’m also incorporating the taper that running marathoners use which involves reducing mileage just before the event.
Improve Skating Technique
I am pretty tough in general, and I know I can power through many obstacles. However, I’m also smart enough to know that white knuckling my way through an event like this should by no means be plan A. I know I need to keep increasing my overall endurance (building on what I accomplished through the running in the last phase of this process.) I also know that my technique needs some serious leveling up. I need to transition from basically walking on inline skates, to having something that is more recognizable as an efficient stride. I need to get more distance from each stride and be more efficient so I can complete an event that is, to date, about 4 times longer than any skate I have ever done. This includes taking inline skating lessons, doing drills, doing sport specific conditioning, and a whole lot of practicing.
Incorporating Cross Training
I also know I can’t just skate to get ready for this event. First off, sometimes the weather won’t cooperate with my plans to skate outside. This is where running (indoors or outdoors) will be one form of cross training, as will biking (including a spinning class that I have committed to going to with a co-worker of mine—who I think may be trying to kill me aka “give me additional cross training options.”) I’m even planning on doing a roller derby class, which will keep me on skates, but focus more on stopping and starting than logging mileage. I’m also lifting weights, including kettlebell, to round out my training plan. Above and beyond cross training in other cardio activities, I'll be doing activities to help with recover. This includes stretching, foam roller, and yoga on a near daily basis.
What Do You Think
How have you prepared for an inline marathon or other longer event? How did you prepare? Share your thoughts in the comments.
My 3 Phase Inline Marathon Training Plan
I am officially skating an inline marathon! I'm signed up for the Northshore Inline Marathon in Duluth, MN on September 14, 2019. Click here for actual proof of enrollment!
In a previous blog post, I talked about my previous half-baked inline half marathon plan of days gone by. I learned the hard way that I need a solid training plan to reach my goals. In order to get me from being an adult with a relatively okay level of fitness to an inline marathon completer was going to take some doing. Here is my three phase training plan to do just that:
Phase I: Building a Base Level of Fitness
Phase I is all about me getting from being generally active to being more legitimately physically fit. This meant upping my game from my then-haphazard workout regime. Specifically, I needed to do the following:
Building the Exercise Habit
As long as I go to the gym 8 times per month, my employer pays for the cost of my membership. Consequently, I always ALWAYS go to the gym 8 times per month. At that time, I would typically take a yoga class or do a little walking on the treadmill. Even thought I did go to the gym, I needed to make it more deliberate and productive.
To help with that, I joined a 60 day challenge at my gym. This helped me by having me do an initial fitness assessment, build a more consistent fitness habit, and do a final assessment to note progress. It got me to the gym to take classes and try out a few new activities and improve my diet. I also starting doing a couple of home workouts to give me options for when the gym wasn't as convenient.
Making exercise a more consistent habit also included identifying and mitigating factors that would prevent me from being active. This included keeping workout clothes in my car, touring the gym near work so I would feel more comfortable working out there, and incorporating activity into social time with friends. Being more active became the norm rather than a sometimes event.
I have had a FitBit for years, and at that point, I was more concerned with tracking my sleep than paying much attention to steps. Unfortunately, my step count was way down from where I wanted it to be. If I was going to be able to skate 26.2 miles, I needed to be able to walk, then run, long distances. Enter StepBet to help me with goal setting and motivation.
StepBet is and app that organizes 6-week challenges to help individuals increase their overall step count. Based on the current average number of steps you take, StepBet sets two goals for you. One is the goal you need to hit 4 days per week, and a stretch goal you need to hit 2 days per week. The cost to enter a StepBet challenge is $40.00. As long as you complete the StepBet challenge by meeting your goals for each week, you're guaranteed to earn back your $40.00. In most cases, not everyone successfully completes the challenge, meaning that those people who did finish earn back a little extra. In my case, I won just over $50. StepBet established an achievable goal that still pushed me to do more than before, and prepare me to work on cardio.
Increasing Flexibility and Strength
I also knew I needed to increase my strength and flexibility along with my ability to walk further and longer. In addition to doing weekly weight lifting at the gym, I also incorporate more yoga and stretching. Doing more yoga included me creating a 20 minute routine focusing on hips and legs that I could do on a daily basis before bed. I also attended weekly yoga classes at the gym focusing on Yin yoga. In addition, knowing that stretching and recovery would be important, I took a foam roller class to learn to supplement my monthly massages to help minimize injury risks. The stress reduction benefits and the improvement to my sleep were reason enough to keep going.
Getting Used to Inline Skates
For me, spending a lot of time on roller skates is easy. On inline skates, though, just standing up takes more effort. They also put way more stress on the middle of the food, whereas roller skates distribute weight more evenly. I knew I needed to increase leg strength in my feet, hips, and ankles to be successful.
To accomplish this, I went skating at a roller skating rink about every other week. I started skating 10 minutes at a time for 30 minutes per trip. I worked up to being able to skate at least 30 minutes at a time. While there and not skating, I would stand on my inline skates to get my body used to how it felt. I also had three longer skates. During these sessions at US Bank Stadium, I skated for 60-90 minutes at a time and got in about 4 miles of skating per time.
In addition to skating, I also did exercises to build up my ankles. These included ankle circles, heal raises, and standing on one foot. All of these activities helped build up my ability to inline skate for a more extended period of time.
What Do You Think?
What have you done to build up your base level of fitness? Include your thoughts in the comments.
Gearing Up for Roller Derby
In roller derby, pads are not for if you fall, but for WHEN you fall. Keep this in mind as you pick out your first roller derby gear.
Having the right safety equipment is a prerequisite for even entering practice. Your gear will be checked to make sure you're wearing all the pieces and that it's all on correctly. Missing equipment means that you don't get to skate.
Being a sport that not just everyone knows about, it takes a little bit of research to figure out what to buy, how to buy it, and where to buy each item. Here are a few tips to get you started.
What to Buy: Roller Derby Gear List
Here is the gear you need before you can set skate in a roller derby practice or fresh meat program:
Guiding Principles for Buying Gear
How to Choose: What to Look For in Roller Derby Gear
You're looking for roller derby skates, not inline skates or artistic roller skates. Roller derby skates usually have a lower boot than the skates roller skating rinks have for rent. Derby skates are typically sized in men's sizes, and for women, buying 1 size smaller is recommended. Here are few popular skates for fresh meat (roller derby newcomers) that run about $100-$175 : Reidell Dart, SureGrip GT-50 and Reidell R3.
Since concussions are prevalent in roller derby, getting a quality helmet is important. Helmets used for roller derby are not the same as bicycle helmets. Typically a skateboard helmet or hockey helmet works. Measure your head, and use those measurements to make sure you purchase the right sized helmet. A helmet will probably be at least $30. Triple 8, Pro-Tec and S-1 are frequently purchased brands. Personally, I got the Triple 8 Helmet with Sweatsaver Lining.
You can pick up a sports mouth guard at a drug store or big box department store for under $10. Many roller derby skaters grab a mouth guard by SISU. They are lighter weight and you can drink and speak more effectively with one in. These may run around $30 and come in a variety of fun colors.
You need a set of elbow pads with hard plastic on the elbows. Popular brands are Triple 8, 187 and Pro-Tec. Make sure they fit snugly on your elbows. When talking with derby folk about gear, many people have strong preference on nearly everything--except elbow pads. I went with these Triple 8 Elbow Pads.
You need a set of wrist guards that have braces on the fronts. (If you see roller derby skaters clapping, they are usually hitting their wrist guards together.) Ideally, wrist guards should have a brace on both sides for additional stability and protection. I own two sets of Triple 8 wrist guards--one pair of slide ons and one pair that wrap around. It's pretty much personal preference.
Knee Pads: Spend Your Money Here
In roller derby, falling is inevitable, and I almost always fall on my knees. There are also several skills that require you to land on or tap your knee pads. Consequently, knee pads are a good place to buy better gear right away.
Personally, I started with low end Triple 8 knee pads , and I quickly upgraded. I went with 187 Killer Pro Knee Pads. While I ended up spending about twice as much on the nicer knee pads, not damaging my knees is worth way more than that. Some people don't like how far the 187s stick out, so try out different brands or talk with other skaters to see what they like. Pro-Tec, Smith Scabs and Deadbolts are just a few other brands to check out. See the Learn More section for a link to an article including knee pad reviews.
Where to Buy New Gear
Ideally, you'd get a chance to try on gear before you buy it. Be sure to see if there is a roller derby shop in your area. In the Twin Cities, check out Wheels on Wheels. (The owners are involved in roller derby and work by appointment.) General sports stores, or skateboard shops, may have some equipment, but not necessarily the best derby specific gear.
For beginning derby skates, you may want to check out the pro shop at your local roller skating rink. The selection is typically not huge, but you may have a chance to try on skates.
Online, there are approximately 4 bijillion places where you can buy derby gear, including Amazon. In addition, here are a few derby specific shops:
Where to Buy Used Gear
Be sure to check with other skaters. They may have gear that they want to get rid of that can get you started.
Facebook also has several different groups to buy, sell and trade roller derby gear. Here are a few:
What Do You Think?
What are your roller derby gear preferences? Include your thoughts in the comments.
Please note that I'm not receiving incentives from any organization to promote or suggest one product or website over another. These are just my personal opinions, for your consideration. Here are places where you can learn other people's opinions:
Which is Better?
I recently had a friend ask me what I liked more: inline skates or roller skates. Inline skates (which many refer to as Rollerblades, even though that is one inline skate company) tend to have 3-4 thinner wheels right down the middle of the skate. Conversely, quad skates have 4, wide wheels, and bring images of the “brownie” skates people may remember renting at the roller rink. For me, it’s a more complex question based on the type of skating I’m doing.
All My Skates
I currently own three, yes, three, pairs of skates, each of which I love for what they bring to the table:
Factors to Consider
My decision on which skates to use when depends on the following key factors:
Roller Derby Skates: Roller Derby and Indoor Surfaces
I bought my roller derby skates specifically for that purpose. Quad skates are required, and, like most people recommend for derby, they have a shorter boot, fit well, and have harder wheels. Since we’re indoors on a polished concrete floor, the harder wheels make it easier to move fast, switch directions, and stop in a number of different ways. I bought Sure-Grip Rebel Avengers and later swapped out my wheels for Sure-Grip Zombie Wheels.
When at a roller rink, my roller derby skates are the hands-down choice. When indoors on a flat, consistent surface, I practice derby related skills, like plow stops, t-stops, crossovers, and transitions. In roller derby, we do a lot of “edge work,” which means using the insides and outsides of your wheels to start, stop, or turn. At the rink, these same skills enable me to dodge unpredictable children and stop at a moment’s notice.
Outside Roller Skates: Uneven Surfaces
My outside roller skates are basically my starter roller derby skates (Reidell Dart Ombre) with softer, outdoor wheels (Moxi Outdoor Roller Skate Wheels). They enable me to practice derby skills outside while also giving me a little extra cushion for skating on harder, sometimes less well maintained, surfaces. Whether it’s a skate park or a tennis court, these give me the feel of my derby skates with more cushion to make a rougher, yet fairly consistent surface, manageable.
I have also used these skates when I am skating at an outside event where starting and stopping happens a lot. At an event like Minneapolis Open Streets, where they encourage people to walk, bike or skate, made my outdoor roller skates the right choice. Since this involved starting and stopping frequently, and then skating a short distance to the next location, these were the winners. I also wore these around my office on Halloween since there were multiple terrain changes, and I wasn't trying to go fast.
When it comes to trail skating, I have used my outdoor roller skates in the past. Now that I’ve acquired my inline skates for this purpose, I may occasionally use my outdoor roller skates for cross training purposes, but not for most of my distance skating.
Inline Skates: Distance and Speed
While training to do an inline half marathon, I discovered that skating on my outdoor quad skates for a mile or more was less than ideal. Skating on 3-4 narrower wheels, rather than four, fat softer wheels, enables me to go more quickly with far less resistance from the surface. For skating further, and faster, inline skates are the way to go. Mine are K2 Alexis Pro Inline Skates. Since trail skating and skating longer distances involves going in one direction, going a long way, navigating a few terrain changes, inline skates are a better choice. At this point, I am used to moving on roller skates, so I’m currently not as agile on inline skates. As I continue to train more, and occasionally skate on inline skates at the roller rink, I’m sure my agility will continue to improve.
What Do You Think?
Are you a fan of inline skates, roller skates, or both? Share your insights in the comments.
My Relationship with Crossovers
I started roller derby earlier this year. When I went to my first practice, I could stand up on skates, and that was about it. Now, a few months in, I can start, stop and do several basic skills. I decided that, in the off season, I would figure out how to do crossovers—which I managed to do (even a couple of months ahead of schedule.) I certainly do not have the best crossover ever, but I can say that I can actually do a crossover, and now I’m fine tuning as I start to think more seriously about 27/5 (and the million other skills I'll need to master before that can happen).
Regular Practice at a Roller Skating Rink
In order to do crossovers, I went to the roller skating rink 1-2 times a week and skated for about 1.5-2 hours each time. I know that in order to master this skill, I needed to skate, try a few things, adjust, and keep skating and trying it. Here is what worked for me as I worked from not being to stand on one foot to being able to do a real live crossover that is ready to be further coached and perfected.
1. Practice standing on one foot.
I know the first time I went to a roller derby class, during our initial skills assessment, they asked us to skate on one foot, and I couldn't do it. Those were not muscles that my desk office worker body had occasion to use. I started by just spending 30 seconds per day standing on each foot. Over time, I would stand in more of a derby stance and shift my weight to one foot (like I need to do when skating) and stand on one foot that way. Build those muscles that you’ll need to use.
2. Wear knee pads at the roller rink. Always.
I find that if I don’t wear at least knee pads, I’ll either not try anything as much as I should or I’ll fall down and it’ll really hurt. Whether you wear real roller derby knee pads or sneaky little under your pants low profile knee pads, wear something to literally cushion the blow. These are my go to stealth knee pads.
Remember, you will for sure fall down—probably a lot—while learning how to do this, and without knee pads you will be banged up and it will be unpleasant. Your knees will thank you—as will your future better-able-to-walk self.
3. Practice skating on one foot.
If you can't get your weight on your left leg while skating, you don't be able to pick up your right foot and cross it over. Let me say that again because it’s so important: you can’t pick up your foot if you have your weight on it. (That sounds obvious until you start to skate and then, like an idiot, try to pick up the foot that you have your weight on, fail, fall, then wonder, “why didn’t that work?”)
When you go to the roller rink, practice skating on only one foot while you count to 5, then switch feet. This starts to train your body on weight transfer and builds up your muscle memory on how to do the start of a crossover.
4. Work up to skating on just your left foot on the corners.
When you get to the corners at a skating rink, skate just on your left foot and lift up or push with your right foot. Keep doing this until you can hardly stop yourself from lifting up your foot and putting it over.
5. Watch the other skaters.
When you go to the roller skating rink and you’re skating around, look at the other people skating. Take note of the people who seem to do crossovers without even thinking about it. Watch their feet, and how they shift their weight, and lean into the middle.
During this process, do your best not to hate the people who can just "no big deal" do crossovers.
6. Lean into the middle.
It will feel like you are leaning in a cartoonish manner, but do it. the lean, and being on your left foot, makes it possible for you to get your right foot over.
7. Try to do crossovers standing up instead of in derby stance.
Remember those people at the roller rink? Try to mimic their actions and do a “ no big deal” crossover instead of a heavy duty roller derby crossover. Once you understand the basic foot over foot action, you can work your way up to being more powerful.
8. Do "baby crossovers."
Do the "foot over foot" part of the move, then just keep going. You'll get next to no power (which comes from the crossunder work that you left foot is supposed to do), but that's not the point. The point is to get your right foot up and over your left foot and set it down again. SCORE! This part is the super scary bit. Now skate around and do that a whole bunch. This is huge, amazing progress.
9. Do 2 "baby crossovers" in a row.
They will not be pretty, or particularly good, but you will have crossed over. Twice. DOUBLE SCORE! You're really doing these!
10. Practice. Then practice more. Then practice even more.
For 10 minutes (or more) at a time, skate, and each time you get to a place where you have to turn, do 1-2 crossovers. The more you do them, the easier the motion will become. Over time, they will suck less, and then they will be almost tolerable, and then you will start to feel like you get the basic motion, but like they could get better. The more you do them, the easier they will become, and the better they will get.
From Baby Crossover to Big Time Crossover
At first, you'll have to think really hard each time you get ready to to one. Over time, you'll think less and do more. The more you practice, the more automatic they will be come. You'll start to look like your role models at the rink who do them without thinking! Over time, you'll get into derby stance and start to try them that way. One day, you will magically cross under and go "holy crap! That's what that's supposed to feel like!"
What Do You Think?
What advice helped you learn to do crossovers? What was your "ah-hah" moment? Share in the comments.
As you start roller derby, one key skill to master is crossovers. Crossovers are the foot over foot move that makes it possible to go more quickly around the track. At first, they seem insurmountable and impossible. Then, they seem almost doable. One day, a beautiful, magical light goes off and it all makes sense.
If you're not ready for fine tuning information,and you are so fresh meat that standing up on skates is a challenge, check out my 10-tips-for-building-up-to-crossovers. This is how I got from wanting to do crossovers to actually starting to to them well enough to be ready for further coaching.
Otherwise, to help you get from "how the heck would I even start" to "I get it! I get it!", here are three helpful videos to help you make progress. Watch these, and practice, practice practice, and you, too can master the ever elusive crossover!
How To Do A Crossover on Roller Skates
This video is hosted by Gypsy from The Skate Truck NYC. This is a great first video to watch as you're trying to figure what a crossover should look like and how to even starts. The video begins with the off-skates movements and ends with basics on how to put the pieces together.
Stance 103: Crossovers
This video, featuring Rollemite from Derby Warehouse, includes an example of how to do a crossover, emphasizes the importance of weight transfer, and using one footed glides as a building skill. It also includes one drill using a wall for support. I thought that drill was very helpful, and I hadn't seen that in other videos.
Crossovers for Roller Derby
This video features The Neutrino from the Rat City Rollergirls. It is by far the most educational, and entertaining, video on crossovers that I have run across. There are several points that resonated with me: the idea of climbing a mountain sideways, pushing the wall with your hip and modifying your center of balance came together in this video. This video has sparked the ah-hah moment for many a derby skater.
What Resources Do You Recommend?
Did any of these videos help you? What other resources helped you the most? Post your thoughts in the comments.
After my first roller derby class, I took my daughter and a friend roller skating on a Saturday. I was overwhelmed by how hectic it was, and I was ecstatic when they had an adults only skate.--so ecstatic, in fact, that I skated way to aggressively & rolled my ankle spectacularly. I had to skip practice the next day because I had a noticeable limp.
I spent the following week doing everything I could to heal as quickly as possible including elevating, wrapping, icing, bathing in Epsom Salt and even a turmeric poultice. I ended up skating a week later (when I probably shouldn't have) with an ankle brace. Sheer determination, and my awful habit of playing hurt, kept me going.
Why Pre-Hab Exercises
Through this process, I realized that that the best way to heal from this kind of injury was to make efforts to prevent it from happening again. After much researching, I found several recommendations for exercises to strengthen my ankles. These are pre-hab exercises, meaning they are intended to prevent injuries, as opposed to re-hab exercises, meant to help recover from an injury.
They aren't sexy, exciting, or even particularly challenging. However, it's easy to take a few minutes daily to prevent a world of hurt later on. Here are the exercises I do, how many repetitions, and how I fit them in.
Ankle Circles & Ankle Alphabets
I do ankle circles, 10-20 circles, each direction, each ankle. I also do the alphabet with each ankle.
These can be done standing up, or seated. I can do these while I'm sitting at my desk at work, standing on the train platform, or just waiting. Standing up gives an added component of balance above and beyond just the ankle work--and who couldn't use more balance?
Heal Raises & Toe Raises
When it comes to heal raises and toe raises, I either do them for a set period of time, like 30 seconds, or for a set number, like 20. Either way, these are a great way to exercise ankles and calves.
These exercises can also be done whenever you have 30-60 seconds to spare. These can be done while in line (and not even looking very ridiculous), waiting for the microwave to finish or just anytime when you have a few moments with no onlookers.
Single Leg Balances
Single leg balances are helpful for ankle stability, and for overall balance.For roller derby and roller skating in general, in order to do several skills, you need to be able to balance (and skate) on one foot. When I first started roller derby, I lacked the balance and coordination to skate on one foot--much less do crossovers.
You can do these in whatever style you want. sometimes I do them standing up, other times, I do the while squatting. If you want to up your game further, close your eyes, too. (It's amazing how much harder closing your eyes makes it.)
I usually do 30 seconds per leg 1-2 times per day. Typically, I do this in front of the microwave (where I have a timer), while waiting for the train and counting to 30, or while making a latte using the fancy coffee machine at work (which conveniently takes 30 seconds for foam and 30 seconds for espresso).
Brenda is an innovative learning and development leader, instructional designer, and continuous learner.