As the new class of fresh meat begins their journey this week, I reflect on my journey and all the ways it has changed me for the better. I've met an amazing group of people and become more confident and comfortable with who I am. The most noticeable change, though, is the shape I'm in. I'm in the best shape of my life, seriously. My muscle tone has improved so much and my endurance is better than ever. I'm by no means saying I look like a supermodel or an Olympic athlete but for me it's pretty darn exciting. After the birth of my daughter in 2009, I was having a hard time losing the last 20 lbs. of the 50 I gained. I exercised, watched what I ate but nothing seemed to make a difference. In 2011, I began skating with Greensboro Roller Derby's fresh meat group. What a workout! Nothing compared to the exercise I got here, however, I quickly realized I need to do other things to help make my skating better.
To me, being in derby shape isn't about achieving a certain look or weight, it's about keeping yourself on top of your game and getting better. I started running to help with my endurance and I HATED running. It sucked, I hated it. Did I mention I hated it? I even started doing 5ks to make myself run but I knew it would help me keep going out there on the track. Now that I've been doing it for a little while, I've realized it isn't so bad, especially when I see the results. Another great outside derby workout I incorporated into my life is yoga. It may not sound exciting but it's a wonderful counter to the aggression of derby. Also, stretching is great. It helps prevent injury. Not only that but yoga helps with balance and balance is really important in derby, if you didn't know already.
Lunges and squats should become your best friends. At practice, you'll be doing them a lot. On skates. So the more you do outside of practice the easier it will be to hold a good derby stance and get low when needed. Many university sports teams do preventive injury workouts that involve plyometrics. A lot of jumping, squatting and lunging going on there but it's great to save you from having any serious knee injuries like a torn ACL, which women are more prone to having. Boo genetics. We also spend a lot of time bruising our knees with falls, making them the number one spot for wear and tear. So give some extra love to them. By the way, plyometrics are also great for increasing speed, agility and power. Bonus!
You'll find girls that incorporate weight training, cycling, or aerobics and I'm sure there are those who do nothing outside of practice. It's understandable, with practices running between 3-4 or even 5 times a week depending on the team, you want a few days to relax. To me, doing what I can on my days off from derby is only going to make my practices better and ultimately, me better.
Also, be sure to drink plenty of water, even on the days you don't have practice. Staying hydrated is important in general. So cut back on the soda or coffee or tea or whatever your vice and get some more H2O in there. If you need extra help or if you're interested in learning more about what you can do to improve your game, you'll find many resources out on the web. Check out the Derbalife blog, for example. You'll get tips from derby skaters on how to achieve your goals no matter what they are and great advice on exercise and nutrition.
Love and Derby,
The Worst Noel