If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter; now on Derby Girls Blog

Trying to show roller derby in the eyes of others as a sport goes much deeper than debunking what a skater wears or their derby name. In my next post on –> Derby Girls Blog <– I talk feminism stuff. But I’m not very eloquent on the subject so I recommend you also check out –> Fit and Feminist <– for more!

Sit up then T-up to the broad plank and push up to a sprint till you *beep* (test)

My dedicated readers should know by now what a stats geek I am. So when fitness guru Emily Carrnage and the training committee decided it was time for our league to do some fitness testing, I got a little excited.

Then I got a little nauseous.

Why, you ask?

The fact that once you complete your testing, improvement is now EXPECTED for the next test (which is 4 months down the road) puts some pressure on. In addition, with the realization that while these tests are for you to personally set a benchmark to improve from, inevitably others are going to compare and compete. It’s not a bad thing if that’s what you need to push yourself. But also not an idea I’m personally comfortable with, as I feel it can bring on gym intimidation; which is real and something I had a hard time getting over and still sometimes struggle with even now.

However, bound and determined, I went to the test on Monday to push my limits, just to see how far I’ve come. On some, I have a large span for improvement. On others, I set my bar pretty high to improve on. Not a bad thing; it’s just made me start thinking pretty consciously about what I need to do over the next four months. On top of my existing goals, it will be a challenge to work towards improving these as well.

Here’s my stats (NERD POWER) along with some personal observations of my own performance for each test. I’m also including some new goals I’d like to shoot for (I have no idea if my goals are realistic or not, but I need something to shoot for to make me work harder)

T-Test

T-Test
12.8 seconds

I honestly thought I would do better on this one. It’s a series of short sprints where you have to run forwards, shuffle sideways and backwards while touching marked points. Challenging on our slippery venue floor, but when I first saw how the test worked, I thought I would do better.

New goal
11.8 seconds
On better floors: 10-second range

Plank
5 minutes, 15 seconds

Not gunna lie, I rocked this one and I’m very proud of this time. It’s nice to see all the ab work I’m doing is paying off.

New goal
6 minutes

Sprint Test

15 m sprint
3.1 seconds

Sprinting has never been a strong point for me and ironically on my first try, I went into a derby start run with little steps instead of going into a full-out stride. Funny how derbified my head is.

New goal
2.8 seconds

Situps
48 in one minute

My pace for these situps were pretty consistent, so I don’t know if I could physically go much faster. I started slowing down at the 40 mark. So…

New goal
53

Broad Jump

Broad Jump
1.74 metres (That’s more than my height, neat!)

I feel broad jump is a lot of technique mixed in with power. I admit, I pussy’d out a bit. My first jump I gave a hard go at it but my landing sent some jarring through my knees. I still went for a second try (you get three tries for this one) and since I scored the exact same distance the second try, I didn’t bother going again out of fear of jarring my knees further. I need to focus on technique for next time because I know I have power in these legs!

New goal
1.84 metres

Push Up Test

Pushups (from toes)
30 in one minute

Had I done this on my knees, I would have rocked it. But after some encouragement from my pushup partner, I decided to go on toes (we had the option of doing one or the other). However, I still feel I did well. I went until I couldn’t physically push myself up anymore; my elbows were shaking like jello. I ended the set with colourful language out of happiness of being finished.

New goal
Let’s go for my age… 38

Beep Test

Beep Test (Shuttle Test)
43 shuttles, level 6.2

Much to my surprise, I enjoyed this one. I loved how I was forced to lengthen my stride with every level in order to make it to the marker before the next beep. The constant stops and starts were most challenging. After some beep test research, I found out I qualify for the Canadian Military with this score if I were a man. (Level 6 is the qualifier for men. The women’s beep test qualifier was level 4). I now see a trend that my lower body acceleration/power needs to be improved. I know I can push myself harder.

New goal
Level 7

(See male and female standards for these and many other fitness tests here. Which is also where I got all these photos from! You can click on the photos to send you to the source.)

So that’s it! That’s where I’m at. I’m excited to see where I can go. I’m also approaching the end of month 9 of my year of fitness goals & nutrition goals, so I’m excited to explore where I’m at with those come the end of September.

Tales of a knock-kneed skater

Example of knock knees. Click the photo for the source

**UPDATE April 18/12: I came across this article by Bonnie D Stroir on how to train knock-knees away! Read and enjoy!

**UPDATE Jan. 5/15: Check out this article by Roller Derby Strength and Conditioning on how training your glutes, hamstrings and stretching your hip flexors to combat the problem.

My junior high and high school running coaches tried desperately to break myself of the habit of my running style. A style so unique it gave me the nickname ‘Ducky’ through the rest of my running career (and was even yelled out at my wedding in an attempt to embarrass me).

I essentially ran with my thighs close together and with every stride my lower legs would kick out to the side, emulating a duck in a fast walk.

Unfortunately, my coaches weren’t helpful to me in trying to break the habit; only saying ‘don’t do it.’

Bad advice given the fact I had no idea I was doing it; it seemed comfortable and natural to me. In my mind’s eye my form was as good as the next runner’s.

Attempts at putting a video camera in front of me and running me through various stride drills and lunges to figure out what I was doing to cause the strange motion came up futile. Of course I was going to concentrate on form with a video camera in front of me… But put me back on the track for a 1500m and you’d see my feet popping out with every stride like little whack-a-moles.

Fast forward to my first days in derby and in every photo you see me with my knees pointing in. (Further enhanced by wearing knee pads, of course.)

Below is a lovely gallery of my various knock-kneed styles… Notice the position of my thighs, my knees and my lower legs showing my duckiness.

My first bootcamp where I was doing my 25 in 5, I was told by my lap counter I looked like a deer when I skated because of my strange style.

A strange style with no clue how to fix.

What’s even stranger is when I stand with my feet close together, my legs themselves bow out, while my knee caps point in!

Ugh, my knees are hideous. DON’T LOOK AT THEM!

How can I be knock-kneed and bow-legged all at once?

Confused. But the positioning of my kneecaps don’t lie; they definitely are pointed inward.

Internet research brought up many answers ranging from surgery to special inserts to strengthening exercises to adjusting plates to adjusting trucks.

But the answers I found were so varied, I found it difficult to find a solution to my problem.

But is it a problem?

Granted, there are some practices where if I don’t stretch my shins and ankles before we start our warmup, I’m in pain in my lower leg area trying to push my extremities in positions they weren’t intended to go. But it’s easy enough to push through and stretch out after drills.

I’m not really losing speed… I think I’m fast enough. But maybe with better form I’d be just a hair faster to push past that blocker.

Could this knee issue be the reason for my elusive sliding-all-over-the-track problems I’m having?

Long story short, I’ve found ways to work around my duckiness as long as I’m diligent. But it wasn’t until I went to Rollercon and took an edging class that I realized how much my buggered knees was affecting my cornering.

Class is in session, readers! We’re going to talk briefly about edging and how it affects your skating.

When skating, you have two edges you need to worry about…

Your inside edges: POWER

Your outside edges: CORNERING

Effective skating is all about mastering your weight distribution on your edges.

Mastering your edges is all about weight distribution in your foot and where you place your knee.

So if you want power (like duck walking on skates. Ha!) your weight should be distributed like this:

INSIDE EDGE POSITIONING FOR POWER
Weight in big toe, knee over big toe.

Example of a left foot inside edge positioning

Shifting your weight and knees in this position when you push with that foot, will boost your power.

If you want cornering, you’re more dependent on the foot that is inside of the corner:

OUTSIDE EDGE POSITIONING FOR CORNERING
Weight in pinky toe, knee over pinky toe.

Example of outside edge positioning for a left foot.

Picture 50 or so skaters in a medium-sized conference room practicing single-footed edging. Many skaters were new to the concept, myself included, and it was the first time I consciously thought about such ideas.

But I learned 2 things…

1. Because of my natural knock-kneed skating, inside edges are a breeze.

2. Because of my natural knock-kneed skating, outside edges are a BITCH!

Then many lightbulbs and synapses went off in my head.

And then I started looking at bout photos of myself.

My left knee around corners, which should be over my pinky toe and possibly beyond, is straight up and down!!!

(See the above gallery and take a close look at my left foot and knee)

Well that’s just ducky.

While it’s not ‘wrong’ per se, I have to wonder how I would skate if I could instinctively put my cornering knee in such position? How much more acceleration can I gain if I really push my weight to my big toe and position my knee effectively, without going too far in, which is my natural duck-style instinct?

So now what am I going to do about it?

Well, I have a plan:

1) practice outside edging before every practice and really push that knee over to get it into my muscle memory

2) daily 100 second wall sits to strengthen my quads more and I can concentrate on pushing my knees out over my toes.

3) daily side lunges, really working to push my weight in my feet and knee position as if I was cornering in my skates

I really hope to see some improvement as a result. I guess we’ll see. If you have a knocked-knee problem (with solution) I’d love to hear about it! Or tell me your knock-kneed success story!

Check out this post by Eight Wheeled Adventures about her experience with knock-kneed skating. (Aug, 2012)