Posts Tagged ‘ training ’

2012 vs. 2011

The last year has been a bell-shaped curve for me, in some ways. Certainly my conditioning is back down where it was last year, and I’m pretty sure I’m in exactly the same clothes. But in my head, it’s a sea change.

This time last year, I was so frustrated, so unhappy with derby and my own skills/performance, but unwilling to leave it and spiraling about what to do next. I turned to the gym to “fix” me, made a sort of enemy out of my body, and spent the next 6 months mostly setting really high bars and constantly chiding myself for not reaching them, chasing after league- and team-mates who could then and will always run and skate circles around me. It wasn’t enough that I did what was asked, or that I was improving, or working hard — very hard. I found incredible pain in the unchanging view of people’s backs (when they were even in sight), and in what felt to me like constant failure. It’s a matter of perspective, of course; I was upright, skating, playing, rostered, voted captain. I was still in the game. But I felt, week after week, like someone had made some big mistake in giving me those spots.

So I hit the gym a little too hard, and wound up with a relatively minor overuse injury that nevertheless kept me from doing the half-marathon in May that I’d registered and trained for. I trained through it, but was so frustrated by the way it limited what was still such a new routine, and what I knew was an unsustainable schedule. But I pushed on. Bouts, bouts, bouts. And the combination of derby drama and derby suckage kept pushing me, making me want to hide at a training camp (yay, Blood & Thunder!) until I got stronger. I nurtured that thought often. It was scary, facing that pack every week, wondering what feelings chasing them would bring up.

It wasn’t all unhealthy stuff, though. I did find all sorts of awesome good-for-me things in that time: It turns out that I love to cycle (though not so much the indoor cycle trainer), and I’ve gotten so much out of training with a group of strong, amazing women I met through one of the local bike shops; I had a blast creating and living through MegaDay (a 9-hour training day of boot camp, running, biking, Pilates Reformer, sled sprints, treadmill hills and weights), even though it came from a not-so-healthy headspace; I still love running (slowly) when it’s good (and it’s usually better than I think it’s going to be); and I learned once and for all that I do my best when I have a coach or trainer nearby to push me beyond what I think I’m capable of. And I definitely learned that I have to stay away from the scale when my thoughts start turning on me.

Because I still see myself in two very different, mutually-exclusive ways: the couch potato and the athlete. Unhealthy and healthy, weak and strong, hidden and brazen. That duality is always there, and it means that derby is a constant challenge. Is the athlete showing up today, ready to work? And when she does, then it’s easy to lose focus on *my* goals, *my* pace, and start comparing my skills to someone else’s. One of these things is not like the other. Worst game ever.

So here we are in late February 2012. The draft was kind to me, and I’m more grateful for it than anyone can imagine. And I’m the better for a year of overtraining and a few too many post-practice sobfests. I’m aware now, if nothing else, of how much my own framing of derby situations affect my mood. I learned a bit about how to get more out of shorter workouts. I have a few more tricks up my sleeve with respect to both nutrition and training (and recovery), and I have a much better sense of the landscape of my own brain when it comes to how all this stuff makes me feel — and how damaging bad feelings can be to my training. That’s the biggest lesson of the year, I think.

So here’s to you, 2012.

May you be filled with positive powerful messages, delicious healthy food, pukeworthy awesome training, more/new amazing derby and cycling peeps, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Oh, and bourbon (of course).




I suppose it’s possible that I put my cranky pants on today, and I may get flaming arrows from every side on this, but this image, posted by a Facebook friend earlier today, got me sort of worked up. This is SO MUCH not my idea of positive messaging from a supposed “health” company. Getting the body check and disturbingly rapid-fire pitch from a *Derbalife rep at regionals was a red flag, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.

*Derbalife = Herbalife distributors/representatives who work within the roller derby community, as far as I can tell. I have no position on the product or program itself; I haven’t tried it, and currently have no interest in trying it. This isn’t about the quality of any product itself, it’s about the message.

I’m going to fast-forward through the arguments here: that the U.S. has an obesity problem, that it has a lifestyle-related health problem, that it has a food problem, and that it has a near obsession with diets. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But the bottom-line is health. We want people to be healthy and active and live long lives. If you don’t believe that — if you believe it’s about thinness and appearance — then stop reading now, this isn’t the blog for you. I don’t even want to engage in that debate.

This one picture represents a huge problem I’ve had with a diet and so-called “health” industry — this company included — that shames women into buying their product (I’m looking at you, Women’s Health magazine). Images like these are not helpful. Shows like the Biggest Loser show wasting truckloads of food to tempt contestants or to demonstrate some point are not being helpful. The cringe-worthy home movies of participants are not helpful. SHAME IS NOT PRODUCTIVE, PEOPLE. That whole eat in front of the mirror trick? Doesn’t work. Shame isn’t empowering. But they know that. It keeps them in business. Shame = $$$.

Gah. I have no idea how healthy either of these women is. Not for me to judge. Also, INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION. I’m also not so naive as to assume that either photo is unretouched. But I do know that if this is what D/Herbalife stands for, then I want nothing to do with them.

I’m not a ranter, and I may regret this later on, but right now I’m horrified and I just couldn’t fit my horror into 140 characters.

Hey Perseverance

I have something to confess:  There are some days, as many as a couple a week in a tough week, when I seriously think about quitting derby.  Sometimes no more than a fleeting thought, sometimes more.

It’s not because I don’t love it (I do!), or because I’m not having fun (I am!), or for any of the other reasons that certainly could push someone to quit derby. What gets hold of me on those days is something like a rock in my stomach; the realization that I’m working SO hard — on the track, in the gym, on the trails outside running, skating and on the bike, doing hard offskates workouts even on practice days  — and yet despite all that, good derby still feels so far away for me.  The feeling of struggling so hard only to still feel like I’m trailing the team/league is crushing. Watching my teammates build fearsome derby bodies and minds in training is thrilling, but it’s also just hard sometimes to feel left behind.  Yes, I know it’s not about keeping up with people.  Or about being fastest or smallest or quickest off the line, and yes I know I bring different skills to the table. But being at the back of the pack in a group run, every time? It fucking sucks.

You could say I have a history of avoiding this sort of struggle, bailing out of activities that require this much work just to be mediocre. Most sports growing up, definitely dance, my super-science-intensive undergraduate program, etc.  I’m trying to learn to appreciate the effort and the incremental changes that I know I’m making, but there are days when it takes a really firm digging-in of the heels (and the encouraging words of teammates) not to walk away from derby.

I thought I’d have a bit of a leg up with roller derby as opposed to other sports because of the skating, but lots of girls started with a lot less experience on skates 8 months ago and have already surpassed my skills. They’re leaner, faster, (younger, for the most part) more agile, and their bodies respond to training much more quickly. I can work my ass off training for a few months and still find I’m behind everyone else… and I have to be ok with that, or I can’t do derby. The work is long-term, and has to be as much about the day-to-day as it is about goals — which will COME, in their own time.

But I do love it. As elusive as it might be, I love it and it’s worth it, and so is the effort.