Goodbye Summer…

My last post generally discussed the end of the 2013 outdoor inline season.  This post will probably downright lament the same.  Yesterday, it got cold here.  For the first time since early spring, I dragged my Pea Coat out of the closet because the short walk to work from where I park in the morning would be brisk enough to require protection from the elements.  Then, over lunch, it snowed.  It was only flurries, but it was still demoralizing on its own.  Any outdoor skating will now require thermal compression gear.  This is the hardest time of year for me.  I am trying to switch gears, stay positive, and develop a training plan that will both fit with the busyness of home life and the restrictions of the weather.

Focusing on training now is hard because there isn’t a real goal.  With the impending demise of the Roller-Dome, the first race of next year will likely be the Chicagoland Tour, unless I manage to get to Apostle Island.  That means I have 10 months of training before the next race.  I find this realization a bit hard to swallow.  Realistically, the next race is Roll for the Roses, but, as a 10k, it is really just a warm up for the marathons.  So, 10 months… Now what?

Weights:

I am working in consistent weight lifting this year.  Unlike last year, where I spent two months in a build phase, I am going to incorporate weight lifting with other forms of training.  My first weight lift was a couple of weeks ago.  I have had three or so sessions so far with weights.  I have learned a couple of things very quickly.  First, I am not far off of my lifting progress from last year.  I started conservatively at 130 pounds.  Three lifts in, I am ready to aggressively increase the weight for squats and Romanian dead lifts.  However, it is hard to find plates for my standard set.  More on this in a moment.  Second, I need to get or make a squat stand.  Event with straps, I struggle to hold on to the barbell for the duration of a work out and get through all of the sets I want to get through.  My hands and fingers cramp and get weak.  This may only partially be a grip strength problem, as I have had problems with my wrists from my former life as a high school gymnast.  A squat rack will mostly eliminate this problem because I will not have to lift the bar with my hands as much.  It also means better form on my squats.  Third, I think Olympic power lifts need to be added to the plan.  This necessitates the switch to Olympic lifting equipment.  I have tried power cleans with my standard bar and the bar doesn’t move correctly to be able to work good form in the lift.  I am going to keep practicing to get the bounce and lift form, but won’t really be able to incorporate this kind of lift until I get an Olympic weight set.  In addition, it is easier to get plates for Olympic bars in large quantities, which helps with my concern about aggressively increasing weight for my lifts.  Finally, I need to figure out a plan.  I have been working with super sets of hack squats with Romanian Dead Lifts and curtsy squats with Poliquin squats.  I will be investigating my options.  I like super setting, but I need to make sure I am getting as much out of the lifts as I can when I only lift one day per week.

Off Skate:

Be it dry-land drills or slide board, off skate is necessary for functional training in the off-season.  I want a day to focus on off-skate.  I am working on building a new slide board after my other one died after a tough off-season last year.  Sadly, it wasn’t capable of keeping up with the “speed skater power,” or, at least, that is what the guy who made it said.  The new slide board only cost about $30, so, really, there is no excuse not to build one.  However, the parts can be hard to find.  More on that in a future post.  I will also be adding weighted low walks to the list of off-skate drills.  I tried them once with 20 pounds in each hand.  It will certainly be worth it.  More on dry land in the future as I work things out on this front also.

Volume Cardio:

Much like early this year, I want to incorporate volume cardio in my training.  I learned that spending time away from dedicated cardio while competing in endurance events doesn’t net good results.  My best marathon time last year, oddly, was the Metrodome Marathon, but my best finish was the NorthShore Inline Marathon.  Finish time doesn’t matter as much as finish place, so I need to be in physical condition that will allow me to skate with the fast guys, which means I need more cardio.  Right now, that will involve spending a lot of time on the bike in the trainer for long duration rides or interval sets.  Regardless, I think this is part of what was missing in my game last off-season, so I want to make sure this is included.

Skating:

The Roller-Dome dies this year, and the Dome season is only scheduled to go until December 27.  I made it there on October 14, 2013, for the season opener.  I went out to skate some intervals, get my feet back, and just to enjoy rolling in the dome.  I got out there and decided to time trial a half marathon.  I did 35 laps in 46:40, which is a new solo personal best for the distance.  The dome is deceiving though.  The average pace was just short of 17 miles per hour, which felt pretty good.  Total, I tracked 72 laps in the dome, right around 27 miles.  Not all of it was at speed, though.  I am hoping to get to the dome at least 2 more times before the end of the year.  We will see.  Otherwise, inline skating will be limited to making public sessions at the nearest roller rink, or skating with Team Rainbo for their indoor practices when I am in Chicago.  Otherwise, I am stuck hanging up my inlines until the weather breaks in the spring.

Ice, though, is a viable alternative.  I invested in an entry level pair of fixed blade long track skates, and I am hoping to skate at the local outdoor rinks that seem to be set up all over town.  This will at least let me practice technique, and get me on skates of some variety to train for next summer’s inline season.  Also, the Metro area has a lot of options for ice, as the Roseville Oval is close enough to day trip on occasion.  They also have speed specific practices and classes that may also be an option for winter cross training.  Either way, this is something I will explore, though, at heart, I will always be an inline skater, and will continue to train for marathon events.  Moving to the great white north has required I be a little inventive with my training, and I think I can benefit from the cross over between disciplines.

Getting on Schedule:

I noted at the beginning of this much longer than expected post that life is a lot more hectic than I expected.  That said, I am aiming to train a minimum of 3 days per week.  Day 1 is weights, though I am still deciding on a routine.  Day 2 is off skate, which will be mostly slide board, plyometrics, and dry-land drills.  Day 3 is volume cardio, which includes time on the bike or skating in some form, but could include running, stairs, or other cardio workouts.  This unscheduled schedule is the best I can do for the moment.  What is important is that I keep training.  I would hate to have made it as far as I have this year, increasing average solo speeds to around 15.5 miles per hour, placing well at events, sticking with the fast advanced packs, only to lose it all due to not training in the off season.  In ice speed skating, your summer makes your race season.  In inline speed skating, your winter makes your race season.  Now its time to do work.

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