Archive for July, 2011

Random Derby Wisdom

Derby wisdom comes at odd times and places.  Like sitting on the floor after a scrimmage, sending snarky #FML texts to our strength and endurance coach. Here’s the thing: I don’t enjoy scrimmaging.  I love derby, don’t get me wrong. I love watching it, talking about it, playing and practicing whatever there is to practice. I don’t mind getting hit or getting knocked down, and I love knowing that those sore muscles and bruises came from really hard work. But I’m not consistently effective in a scrimmage situation, and I don’t completely know why, other than inexperience. And it’s hard not to let it get to me; hard not to let the memory of suckage carry over to the next scrimmage, no matter how much I try to pump myself up.  This is one of those I-never-played-a-team-sport things, I’m sure, and it might have as much to do with sports psychology than skills, but walking out of a scrimmage feeling like the Queen of Suckistan makes for a very snarky Snarker.

Yeah, so the cure is more scrimmaging, right? Bring it on, yo. Whatever. It can’t get worse, and I’ll take that.

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Eating for derby?

On the heels of my mega-week of derby, I’ve been thinking a lot about a grey (for me) area between nutrition and medicine in the context of sports.  How far should we expect nutrition to take us on a daily basis, where should we start thinking about adding nutrients to fill in the gaps, and then at what point do we turn to medicine to intervene where the nutrition and supplementation regime isn’t doing the job? Add glucosamine when the knees start bothering me?  Take extra vitamin D to strengthen my immune system? I’ll totally pop the Airborne when I feel a cold coming on, but I have a sort of knee-jerk reaction against enriched foods, vitamins and other supplements for daily nutrition.  When, you know, there’s all that food GROWING IN THE GROUND RIGHT THERE. Full of nutrients, full of things that science is still discovering we need. So yeah, I’d really rather stick with that gorgeous fresh green stuff, if that’s possible.

The growth of the vitamin store market over the last few years makes me a little queasy, and I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what I think about it, but I know my discomfort has something to do with the way they pop up so close to restaurants that sell factory-farmed, factory-created, artificially colored and flavored and constructed pseudofood. I mean, if we were all eating from gardens and farms, would we need all these vitamins?  Of course not… but I also know it’s not possible to get every macro- and micro-nutrient that we could use through food, and everyone needs/wants a different nutrient mix.

So there’s a market for all these vitamins, but there’s also a market for empty-calorie foods, and judging by their growing proximity to each other, it seems like it’s an overlapping market.  (it used to be that the vitamins were just filling up the co-ops and natural food stores.. these new big-box vitamin chains are showing up in malls and in the big commercial areas of town, next to the fast food restaurants and other bg box stores)  What gives? Not that this is the riddle of the sphinx, but it’s all just so obviously screwed-up.

I’ve been really sore lately after workouts and derby as I’ve ramped up the intensity of everything this spring/summer.  My quads ache, my knees pinch in the morning and during lunges, and it seems like it always hurts my abs to laugh.  And with my limited knowledge, I start wondering about how I should be better managing things like antioxidants and glucosamine and other alternatives to just popping another ibuprofen or naproxen.  I mean, I’m not opposed to taking NSAIDs after a game or for an injury (even a particularly hard fall on my ass), but I’d rather not make it a daily habit (and I haven’t yet).

If there’s something I can do to speed healing, I’d love to check it out.  But I wonder where I can go for trustworthy information about nutrition, because those vitamin stores really creep me out.  I’ve been interested in Derbalife (an Herbalife distributor by and for derby girls), but I’m having a hard time getting to any concrete information about their program, other than references back to Herbalife products/publications.  There are testimonials and such, but no info about what/why they recommend, how it’s tailored to an individual, and where the sales/marketing pitch ends and sound science/health/medicine advice begins.  This girl is *SO* not down with the “just drink this twice a day and swallow these pills and that’s the program kthxbai.”  Not happening here.  I might go back to reading Jillian Michaels’ Master Your Metabolism, now that I’m really locked in to thinking about that stuff again, but I’m hungry for recommended reading from other derby folks.  Email or tweet or fb comment me w/ suggestions, and I’ll plug them into a separate post later on.

I really should be upfront about the fact that food and I don’t exactly have the model relationship… let’s just shorthand it to love/hate and be done with it.  But seriously, the focus on nutritional information can be bad for that relationship, so I can understand why some people would rather swallow a handful of pills than keep close track of their food. I just think there’s a better way for me, and I’m still trying to figure out what that is.

OMG CAMP, part 1

I attended a Blood & Thunder camp last week in Waterloo, IA, and I’ve hardly come down from the derbyhigh (and don’t want to!), but I’m totally panicking about losing all the information I absorbed over those four intense days (well… three full days plus a morning… we did hit overload by Sunday at noon).

So here’s a sort of capsule of what I gained from the experience, a summary with a little reflection but one that will no doubt change throughout the coming months as I think and practice more:

  1. Rules should be broken, sometimes.  This goes for persistent advice as well as the rules of play. Derby stance is a contextual goal; get low when you’re racing around, when you’re in the pack as a blocker and want to be the most stable, but jammers need to fuck with elevation, be unpredictable once they hit the pack.  Sometimes derby stance is not where you should be.  Likewise, minors aren’t always to be avoided; sometimes you should take a minor intentionally, whether at the start by intentionally poodling or after a hit OOB by cutting one skater.  Knowledge is power, with the rules; the more you know, the more power you have to make split-second decisions about how to handle different situations.  And yet still, top skaters have some concerns about the ethics of pushing into the gray areas of the rules… or relying on that type of strategy too much.  So there’s a limit, somewhere, to keep an eye on.
  2. Derby is a sport, yo. Coach Pauly talks about derby girls vs. derby skaters, and the inevitable tension in new leagues as they try to figure out which they’re going to be.  The attention to hydration, nutrition and training (strength and endurance, skills, and gameplay) throughout the week should make clear to any “derby girls” (as opposed to “derby skaters”) that they’ve signed up for a sports training camp; this is work, not play.
  3. Strength and agility are king. You simply can’t be effective out there if you can’t manage quick changes of direction, can’t turn or be turned in any direction and recover quickly, sprinting to the next place you need to be.  Though more scrimmage time is the only thing that will build awareness and condition game-situation responses, you’re crippled on that track without agility. Drills that focus on the use of toestops and quick stopping (hockey stops, power slides, or tomahawks) should be built into practices as well as skaters’ on-your-own practice.
  4. Derby girls, on the whole, are EXCEPTIONALLY generous.  Four coaches with a stake in keeping secrets just opened up and shared gobs and gobs of information about strategy and plays that they could have kept to themselves.  They’re excited by new leagues, new skaters; excited to share and to listen to our perspective on derby. Skaters will help each other with drills, give tips and suggestions and encouragement.  Rockstar skaters put themselves in the middle of drills (OMG I just practiced a can opener on Shenita Stretcher!) and there’s very very little diva behavior in a camp like this (so little that it would be really noticeable if someone pulls anything like that).
  5. Yes, it’s possible to skate for 9 hours a day for three days, and not get sick of derby(!)  Sure, there were moments when I didn’t think I could get up off the track because my legs were so sore; moments when the speed got too fast for me to keep up and shoot backwards through each person in the paceline, and I had to take a break.  But never did I question my love for this sport, for skating and competing and fighting my way through a line or pack.  If anything, I think the total immersion and exhaustion and amazement only helped to shut off the part of my brain that questions my own skills, and allowed me to dig deeper and push myself to do things my brain would have questioned.  The moment of deciding not to try out for the camp bout team, after assessing the play level of the other campers, was a little heartbreaking.  But it was the right decision this time… because there is SO going to be a next time.