Tag Archives: training

Carry that weight

Last week I noticed we’re spending more on groceries lately. Innocently enough, I asked Horseypants where all the grocery money is going. She says, “Take a side-long look in the mirror!” So it goes…but I thought this skating thing took care of those details. These past few weeks, I’ve been feeling like a guy I once knew,  a guy I’ll call Crossfire. He would consume cubic tons of Bolivian marching powder, in all it’s forms, on a daily basis, all the while cutting and maintaining a figure that would make Jackie Gleason slim by comparison. If you know anything about the physiological effects of nose candy, you’re thinking this is nothing short of impossible. But it is possible and it’s exactly how I feel…despite how much I skate, I need a wheel barrow to cart around ma belly.

"I'm gonna eat your pace line."

I’m just back from a week in Pasadena, California. I was there on business, but my only carry-on was my CadoMotus Travel Bag stuffed with a week’s worth of corporate casual work-wear and spandex. Seriously, I didn’t even bring a brief case, but that’s because I’ve become a simpering, Angry Bird playing, App wetting iPad devotee and no longer feel the need to travel with my “adult viewer,” er, I mean, laptop computer. (We’ve been SO over-sold on technology…but I digress.)

It's quite the tidy bowl I tell you.

3 out of 5 days I was lucky enough to get in a sunrise skate at The Rose Bowl loop (big UP to R (O) (O) (O) (O) GER for the tip!) There’s a great 3 mile loop around the perimeter of the world famous complex.

East side stretch along the golf course.

Along the east side, (I think it’s the east side, as it was closest to the mountains. Might be north…) a 3/4 mile long hill. It’s the gradual kind, it had me crying about half way through. Tree-lined but not too much debris, it was a welcome challenge after having spent much of the winter indoor on flat tracks in Colorado. The West is just the opposite, and I was hitting speeds of 28mph, which got scary on the approach to the parking lots.

The west side...see the cars? They stop for walkers...skaters, not so much.

The first day there I was clearly pissing off the locals by going to the left. The looks said it all. Several of them shouted something, but I couldn’t hear them over the sound of my squealing bearings. I don’t think the hand gestures had anything to do with looking up, despite where their fingers were pointing.

Coming around to the west side (I think).

Nonetheless, I got in a few really incredible workouts. My schedule was such that I skated Tuesday & Wednesday. I rested on Thursday, and by Friday, I was eating that hill on the east side for breakfast.

But it was what I was eating the rest of the time that did me in. Since my wife has scored so well with finding great restaurants in strange cities using TripAdviser.com, I decided to do the same, and man, did I end up packing on the pounds.

If you’re ever in Pasadena, you’ll want to check these spots out:

Lovebirds Cafe: Incredible breakfast burrito. I bought one and it was breakfast one day, lunch the next.

Saladang & Saladang Song: Simply some of the best Thai food in the US. Seriously, the food and atmosphere (particularly Saladang Song) are out of this world and deserving of their Zagat’s ratings.

Smitty’s Grill: this is the one that killed me. I’m still skating off the filet mignon burger. The Chicken Pot Pie is the size of a manhole cover and truly to die for.

Cafe 140: Great food, great atmosphere, with a signature Blue Corn Salad.

Wolfe Burgers: You know it’s good when the entire Pasadena police force is taking shifts on the front dining room and there’s a big guy named Fat Al sleeping at the center table in the back dining room. Another belly bomber of a breakfast burrito, made to order.

And of course you’ve got your Starbucks, Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble and Apple Store all within easy skating distance. But thanks to these restaurants, I’ve now got some work to do. Time to bust out the fitness skates, crank up Something/Anything? on the iPod, and hit the trails here at home. Ah…it’s winter coat shedding time. 12 pounds to go. Let’s see how quickly I can do this. I’ve got a feeling it won’t be such a long time…gotta love inline skating.

Do the namaste

Roll out your stinky mat, light the incense, rub some coriander oil into your pecs and get ready to get downward D-O-Double-G. This is another one of those things I said I’d never do. But here I sit…and I think…they say change comes from within, so the next time I break one off I want to pass a Grant, two Jackson’s and a Hamilton, with interest, ’cause I’ve been holding this exploration for a long time. That’s right Boo-boo…bang a gong and strike a pose as we endure initiation into the world of Yoga. Who’s your Yogi, baby?

A few more inches and I'll never have to leave the house again...

It started innocently enough…Horseypants invited me to attend what her friend Mrs. Needle Pusher (SpeedLord’s Mom) sucked her into…Core Power Yoga. I’d done a Yoga class with her a few years before, so I knew what I was getting into. And since I’m down a few sizes since my Jabba-The-Hutt Mu-Mu wearing days, and I’ve been told that I need to get more flexible, I decided it was time to try again.

My first observation: Yoga isn’t just for unbathed hippies, flatulent vegans or chicks that like their partners hung like a doughnut anymore…not only is my own MILF regularly going, but there were plenty of would-be yogis in what Mr. Needle Pusher calls “distracting” outfits. The talent has really come along since the last time I tried this 10 years ago. But other than the influx of Cougars and Co-eds, not much more has changed, particularly the smell of sweat steeped patchouli and the heat.

The ambient music helped create a mood that allowed me to drop my cynicism just long enough to relax and flow with the experience. We start in Balasana, or Child pose, which I imagine is a very familiar posture for your average practicing Muslim, but instead of chanting prayers toward Mecca you’re silent on your knees, driving your hips and weight down over your heels at the same time pushing your forehead into the mat under you and stretching out your arms on the floor over your head. It creates an expansive cavity for you to focus on your breath and release tension in all of your major muscle groups. It’s very effective as a warm up all by itself.

Child pose...don't eat pork and beans the night before class.

As I’ve come to learn, the practice is centered on synchronization of timing and motion. Timing the motion of your body to be synchronous with your breath. With focused practice, Yoga becomes a moving meditation. In the first few weeks I was moving with nothing like what you’d call Swiss accuracy, but by the third week I began to get just a slight feel for the fluidity that the instructors move with. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but it’s just like those first few times you nail a good double push. You know this can only get better the more you practice, and you start to think about it obsessively, living in anticipation of your next training session to do it again. At least, that’s how I know it’s right for me.

And like skating, you’ve got to start slowly and build a foundation. I’ve chosen to spend time with the breathing, as breath control is something I always struggle with. In Yoga practice, the breath work starts right in Balsana. In pose, it’s simply a matter of taking purposeful long, slow breaths, and timing them so that as you enter a new posture, you lengthen your musculature on the inward breath, and find depth upon the breath release. In some postures, that’s lengthening your spine by lifting your chest to the ceiling as you’re breathing in, and going deeper into a twist or a stretch on release.

A number of these postures were familiar due to the inordinate amount of time I spend being down low as a speed skater or sitting on the crapper. With inline speed skating I’ve built a pretty solid core, so to get down and hold Utkatasana, or Chair pose, isn’t a problem for my quads, but man, it takes on a whole new dimension when you raise your arms over your head and straighten your spine.

Let's see Cheney do this! Heh, heh...

We also use runner’s stretch, and a lot of the Warrior poses put you into a forward lunge that’s familiar. I was surprised at how hard it was to find balance in some of these poses considering the amount of time I spend doing one-legged drills, both on inlines and ice, but I found that as I focused more on my breathing, it was easier to achieve the balance I was looking for. One of the coolest poses is Eagle pose, where you move from the Chair pose to this pose shown below:

Eagle pose: what I usually look like on the floor after attempting a Hawk. To pull this off while standing is a bird of a different feather.

My problem with Eagle is that I can’t seem to get my foot wrapped around by calf, because my blood is tiger’s milk and I have the legs of Adonis. But I digress…The dude in the pic above isn’t fully there, as this one also requires you to get your elbows up to shoulder level. Talk about brutal, but that’s not the worst of it. There’s this inversion pose called Crow pose…

Seriously, WTF am I doing here?

In Crow, you’ve got to balance yourself on the shelf you create with your triceps after you’ve been doing this in a hot room for 45 minutes. This gets slippery…and the danger of face plant is high. Go ahead and try and do this one, naked in front of a mirror (just for added kicks.) Oh, and hold it for a minimum of 5 deep breath cycles. Yeah…Charlie Sheen couldn’t even hang with that s#&t, boyee! It’s Epic!

There are many other poses that skaters can benefit from. And with the Core Power program, they run you through other core building exercises like bicycle crunches. A lot of the poses really stretch out your hammies. After an hour, I’m spent, dripping wet and smelling of rotten feet (but that’s because I hit the Yoga class after having spent an hour on the ice. The chicks really dig the aroma.)

If anything, I’m thinking Yoga will allow me to get deeper in my seat, and improve my core strength, stacked alignment and balance when I’m skating, both inline and on the ice. Am I more flexible? Hard to say at this point. I do know this…I feel a lot more vulnerable, and sometimes really dirty, like I need to take a shower to wash off the ugliness…

I got worried when the instructor introduced herself as Yogi Strap-On Sally.

This might have something to do with Happy Baby pose.

Happy New Year

It’s that time of year when New Year’s resolutions drive the gluttonous masses to get off their asses and into a fitness routine that they’ll maintain for about as long as The Kardashians could keep up with Snookie Polizzi in an all-or-nothing Qwirkle match. Not being one with the patience or intestinal fortitude to watch grossly gelatinous glutes strain against new “form-fitting, not tight” $80 Under Armour in the mad January rush to get ready for “the big Valentine’s 1k,” I work out at home, in a private gym at my place of employment, at the rink, in the street or on the trail.

What the hell can I possibly add to this?

In order to keep my training program on track, I’ve added a new page called…Training Log. The training log helps keep me focused, and it keeps me honest about how hard I’m really working. When I think back on 2010, it was a year where I eased up in a lot of areas. I stopped taking some things too damn seriously. Admittedly I was pretty anal when it came to the amount of skating I do, so easing back some was a good idea. But since I’d stopped tracking my training, somewhere around mid-summer, my skating and attitude suffered. I think I was missing the accountability that a training log affords me. There’s something to be said for having documentation of your effort. To be able to review it compared to your performance, to know what’s working and what’s not. Tracking the time, effort and motivation for each workout is something I need to do, and that’s what this new page is all about. Consider it this inline skaters reality show. It is what it is. So I hope you don’t get all unpositive on me and don’t even see the work I put in, ’cause you know what, you know what? I’ll be like “I’m done with this.” That’s The Situation…I hope yous gets something out of it.

The Sixth Day of Inline Christmas

You want it, you’ve got it…

T’was the sixth night before Inline Christmas when…But wheels they show wear, more rapid than cheese, o’er grater they look to have been shredded with ease. Got a set for outdoor, one more set for inside, and the cost it adds up, from my wife I can’t hide, “Now Matter, now Hyper, now Atom, and Bont! On MPC, on AM Wing, On Gyro and Inlinebus!” They cost so damn much and it’s really no joke, that it’s easy to o’er spend on wheels and go broke. If for indoor they’d require one wheel to conform, for competition to have one wheel that’s the norm in hardness and thickness, and color and flex, then maybe it’s in one less set we’d need to invest. Then come up with a floor coat that’s one size fits all, and adopt it as standard for tracks large and small. Wheel makers could standardize and sell more of a few, and make money at the same time passing savings on to you…dream big.

Your 2010 Speed Geese, they're gonna lay a hurting on Team Sneetches (those star-bellied beetches.)

Boy…my blog traffic is falling off faster than poop through a goose. This “12 Days” thing has been tougher than I thought it’d be. I guess there’s a reason why skate-bloggers really don’t post too frequently…but me, I enjoy the challenge of just trying to finish what I’ve started (and feel good about it!) Today’s featured item looks a lot more comfortable than the weights I used last year…

Note to boot makers, wing tips are going to be huge on the circuit in 2011.

These are the low-profile wearable 5 lb. weights that provide leg strengthening and extra calorie burning during normal skating. Unlike the bulky ankle weights I used this past fall, these distribute weight equally over a larger surface area, freeing ankles from stress and rubbing wounds while providing resistance. The weights are comprised of 1″ sq. x 1/8″ thick galvanized steel plates sewn into a soft nylon/spandex sleeve that secures to extremities using hook-loop-fasteners. Non-slip cuffs on the inside of each opening keeps sleeves from slipping down your leg.

The Seventh Day of Inline Christmas

As before, there’s more…

T’was the seventh day before Inline Christmas…I was off to speed practice so lively and quick, the pace line was swift, even the Fast Kid felt sick; it’s silly t’think at my age I’d compete, with kids twenty seven years younger with much faster feet. But try as I may, try as I might, I hold onto that pace line, I put up a fight. Then with ten laps to go after 90 we’ve burned, the Fast Kid and Coach remind me I’ve much to learn. As they pick up the pace and start pulling ahead, I give all I can to not being lapped instead. Alas I pushed it to fast when it was my time to pull, and at seven to go I dropped off like a fool. When they catch me and lap me with four left to skate, I push through the pain and don’t let them escape. As the speed starts to climb, legs and lungs start to fail, barely finish the drill, this stuff never gets stale.

I came upon this group of seven Swan Uppers when I hit a stray swan that meandered across the Thames River Bike Path.

Here’s one of those bizarre things you learn when using Google to come up with fodder for daily blog posts (I’ll never do this s#!t again)…Swan Upper. No, it’s not a new kind of shoe leather for making exotic inline skate boots, or a strange new type of rare male-enhancement suppository, it’s a job title. These guys count swans on the River Thames for Her Majesty once a year. Seriously…the job dates from the twelfth century, when the Crown went and boldly claimed ownership of all mute swans, because, well, they could. Supposedly, the things are regarded as a delicacy. They’re not supposed to be eating them anymore, as there is a serious conservation effort at the heart of the ceremony these days. But I bet you’ll find the blue bloods in a small, dark, back room off the kitchen at the country house, stuffing their faces in quiet desperation. “I say, finger licking good, eh old chap?” It’s not hard to imagine, considering how close they are to the Frenchies, who still engage in the preposterous practice of eating Ortolan.

So, my Santa list for the day…

For the skater who has everything except the horse he rode in.

This is the low-impact mechanical exerciser that methodically tilts across five axes to strengthen your core muscles, helping improve your balance and posture and relieve back pain. The saddle tilts back and forth, left to right, up and down, and twists in preprogrammed sequences, strengthening your thighs, buttocks, back, and deep abdomen–core muscles that are neglected by traditional training regimens. The gentle swaying of the saddle changes your center of balance and, as you attempt to regain your equilibrium, your core muscles expand and contract. Ideal for both physically limited and experienced exercisers, the device allows you to conduct a 15-minute exercise routine while seated without creating excessive pressure and stress on joints. The exercise routines also provide a beneficial aerobic workout ideal for those who need to maintain low target heart rates. The seven programs (easy, light, moderate, advanced, waist, hip, legs) and nine speeds are easily controlled on the pommel’s LCD panel that also shows calories burned and the muscles being worked during each routine. I wonder if it comes with an expansion slot for the Foo Manchoo Mechanical Bull card. I’d beat 2.7 seconds, that’s fer dang sure. With a set of stirrups and handle to provide stability. (Wonder if the wife and I could come up with some other “excercises.” Hmmm…)29″ H x 18″ W x 35″ D. (77 lbs.)

Bet you’d love to know what this Santa list is costing, huh? We’ll add it all up at the end. Cause you know, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it! “All hail, Her Majesty The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans.”

The Eighth Day of Inline Christmas

And on it goes…

T’was the eighth night before Inline Christmas when what from my blind side crashed into my ear, but a big iron skillet thrown at me from rear. T’was Horseypants’ rage bout what my Ninth Day blog pic is, which I contend was for humor, but she said was just sexist. “Women in panties on skate blogs there’s no place!” She screamed and she swore as she stomped on my face. And as I lie broken, all bleeding and shaken, she said she was sorry, she’d just been mistaken. While she maintained that the pic was just crude and degrading, she could see now, the post was a joke about ‘bating.

"There are eight of us, why do I have to milk it? How do you even milk a Hutt?! I've got a bad feeling about this..."

Wow…took some heat on that one. And you didn’t know it, but you’ve dodged a bullet too. To make up for my boorish post, she originally wanted me to pose in MY underwear and skates and post it here…a piece of man-meat to be ogled and salivated over. Yeah…well not only would that not be the result of you seeing an image like that, but clearly an apology is in order. I didn’t mean to offend women, and in particular any female skaters, and if I did I’m sorry. Women definately belong in the NSC, and when there’s enough interest from the women in our sport, NSC’s said there’s a home for them. It’s only a matter of time, and it will be great to see that happen, really.

So…back to our Santa list, cause there’s still so much to share, and banish those thoughts of FirstLoser in underwear. These next finds are actually something you might really use to work those legs and skate muscles in the winter months…

If I spot one of these bad-boys in Goodwill, I'm all over it.

Available exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer, this compact lateral stepping machine’s side-to-side skating motion develops muscles in thighs, glutes, abdominals, and oblique muscles while improving overall balance. When the exercise session is over, it can easily be folded and stored away. The tubular steel frame has non-slip end caps and a carrying strap, and an integrated computer that tracks number of steps, session time, total steps, and calories burned. You Unfolded: 13″ H x 14″ W x 37″ L; folded: 23 1/2″ H x 17″ W x 14″ L. (19 lbs.)

...but when money is no object, I'ma get me some a dem pants.

This is the only cardiovascular trainer that rotates laterally to sculpt the lower body while delivering a vigorous fat-burning workout. I seriously want to try one of these out. Unlike elliptical machines, treadmills, and steppers that focus exclusively on the front and back of the legs, this patented machine’s horizontal figure-eight motion engages the total leg, zeroing in on hard-to-tone areas in the outer and inner thighs and glutes. While the lateral trainer provides excellent sports-specific training for skiers, golfers, and tennis players, any user will benefit from its superior toning and conditioning. The intensity of workouts is easily adjusted at the turn of a tension knob. An LCD readout displays heart rate, calories burned, RPM, speed, distance, and time. Because the trainer requires no electrical power, it can be set up anywhere (requiring less floor space than a treadmill) and operates quietly. You probably wouldn’t be able to read while you use it, but that’s a sacrifice I’d be willing to make if this really works. 65″ H x 48″ W x 36″ D. (140 lbs.)

Cuckin Fold

Cold weather skating never used to bother me but I guess ol’ fart syndrome is catching up with me, cause as I’ve gotten another year older my tolerance for the cold has shriveled up quicker than George Costanza’s manhood in a cold pool. I want to roll on up inside a warm cavity and stay neatly snuggled beneath a warm downy blanket, only to be coaxed out of hiding by a warm shower or a vigorous rub down. (The later with the former being the ideal of course…)

They didn't tell me the skates came with the latest bluefoot technology.

This is my first winter in boots that were built exclusively for speed. Having ordered my boots 1/2 size smaller than my true shoe size, and after heat-molding them to my feet, I can’t wear them comfortably with socks. Yesterday I figured out just how much I’m going to miss the extra padding and warmth when I’m heading out to trail skate this winter…Mmmm, yeah, looks like I’ll be putting in even more time indoors this winter than I did last year. Could be worse, right?

As a lot of you know, indoor inline speed skating is a lot different than skating outdoors. Almost everything I’ve learned indoors has helped me become a more efficient technical skater outdoors, and that’s the primary reason I love it so much. I don’t leave it all in the rink. The knowledge is portable and adaptable. It works when you work it, no matter where you’re using it. But, of course, you’ve got to think it through, find your strengths and improve on your weaknesses if you want to get faster. Since that’s what I want, that’s what I’ve been doing…thinking about the basics and also doing a lot of foundational drills.

This year’s been great, in that I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress, both indoor and out. Indoor, this was the first year where I’d set and achieved a personal speed goal. Getting that out of the way toward the end of what I’d call the regular indoor season, it was hard not to immediately set a new speed goal and go for it once I hit the one I was shooting for. But I’ve purposely resisted the temptation to push it further before the year is out, opting to simply stop, claim some progress, and set myself up to have something to shoot for in 2011. I’ve still got a lot to work on, that’s for sure, and that’s the reason I’m sticking to the basics for the rest of the year.

I’ve been concentrating on balance, body position and simple mechanics. I’ve also been stretching more cause I’m just not very flexible. Never have been. But anyway…Over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting some great tips from my coach on how to position my shoulders, use my arms and feather step into turns at high speed. It’s been paying off, but it’s a lot of work. It’s required me to break things down a bit and work on my stride in small pieces, rebuilding from the ground up. I’ll admit, it’s easier for me to actually do this because I teach the Rink Rabbits class, and we’re hammering on the basics all the time. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today if it weren’t for the Rink Rabbits.

Here’s a video of one of the drills that’s been very helpful in attacking a lot of my problem areas. Both Speedy Weezy and I watched and listened and tried to do what Mantia was telling us at the Technical Clinic we had with him and his friends back in September

As you can see, I was all over the place with my arms, swinging and turning my upper body. I was also rushing into the crossover, not really getting my weight distributed properly, ending up with a weak under-push. Speedy Weezy was setting up in an A-frame, and bobbing up and down. Having all this pointed out has helped me help us both, and I’ve been able to in turn help the rest of the Rink Rabbits with their problem areas. We’ve all been working hard at fixing these foundational pieces, and for a lot of the team, the work has really been paying off. Young and old, experienced and noob alike, these simple foundational type drills are really proving to be just what the speed doctor ordered. We’re becoming better skaters from the ground up, especially Speedy Weezy, Speed Demon, The Brothers Speed and Speed Lord. They’ve been much more determined to do things right since the clinic. They’ve become very purposeful. It’s been great to watch and be a part of their growth.

So, not wanting to deal with the cold and the wind anymore, I got up at the crack of sanity and went to Rollerland to “treat” myself to a private practice this morning. Armed with a big cup of Starbucks and an iPod full of instructional video clips that Mantia gave us, I set out to prove to myself just how much I want to be a better technical skater. Seriously, my goal is to do these early morning rink runs at least once or twice a week now through the rest of the year.We’ll see how that goes…

Here’s what my workout looked like this morning:

– 100 Laps Warm Up

– Right Leg / Left Leg Balance – 3x each leg

– Base Position Roll – 6x total

– Right / Left Leg Rolling Leaps – 3x each leg

– Large Circle Drill (Video Above) – 1 minute, 3x total

– Right / Left Leg Glide – 3 laps (6 corners each leg)

– Crossover Glide – 6x total

– Right / Left Leg Push – 1 minute, 3x each leg

That took an hour, and I was back to the house well before I needed to be to work. I wonder if I can get the survailance video to see what my form looks like? Or maybe just ask the coach to review it and give me some pointers. In any event, it was a great way to start the day, and I’m really going to make an effort to get more of this training in.

Or…hell, I could suck it up, get used to the bluefoot sensation and give ice a try, but that’s something I swore I’d never do…just like the rest of this stuff.

Happy Thanksgiving – Gobble, Gobble HEY!