Tag Archives: slide board

Off-Season 2014-2015, Get At It!

The NorthShore has passed, my chest cold thing is finally gone, I have skated maybe three times, the race wheels have been put away until next year, and now we have nothing to look forward to but the long, cold, dead Minnesota winter.  There is a reason, besides keeping warm, Russians drink heavy.  If I lived in Siberia and had to look at that much snow, cold, and ice as that climate is known for, I would be driven to excessive consumption of alcohol also.  But, all of this time stuck indoors with not a lot to do means plenty of time to lift heavy stuff, binge watch bad TV while spinning on the bike, and think about whether I have enough clothes to keep warm while trying to ice skate.  That is pretty much what my off-season will look like.  Until the cold really sets in, I plan to try to skate on the weekends.  The sun sets too early to permit skating during the week right now.  As a result, training for next season starts right now, because your off-season is what makes or breaks your race season.  So, here is the plan:

After considering what I did for off-season last year, it wasn’t sufficiently structured, and my goals for working out during the week were based on an otherwise hectic life schedule.  This year promises to permit a lot more focus in my work out schedule.  Through the end of the year, I am going to continue to skate as much as possible, but realistically this will only last a couple more weeks until I convert my on-skates time to ice or indoor rink sessions/practices.  Since this will occur mostly on the weekend, that leaves me with 4-5 week days to fill with some training. Weight lifting provided some big gains for me over the last two years.  This was accelerated after I switched to an Olympic weight lifting set and built squat stands.  My goal is to get 3 days of lifting during the week from now until the middle of January, lifting heavy and adding weight weekly to every lift.  Every 4 weeks, I am going to deload, and give myself a rest to avoid overtraining.  I ended the off-season lifting 235 for my Dead Lifts and Romanian Dead Lifts and lifting 185 on my squats.  This year, I am going back to some older lifts and adding some new ones.  I am also changing up the way I am lifting.  Pat of the goal this year is to build power in addition to base strength.  One way of doing this is adding tempo to your lifts, or basically performing the lifts faster.  I am going to deload a bit at the start, and increase the pace of my lifts with the goal of adding power training to my base strength training, and, just maybe, spend a little less time lifting.  I am hoping to do the following three day schedule each week:

Day 1:

A1 Rear Squats
A2 Poliquin Step Ups
A3 Splits Squats

B1 Dead Lifts
B2 Romanian Dead Lifts
B3 Kettle Bell Swings (Set of 10)

C1 Core

Day 2:

A1 Over Head Press
A2 Curtsy Squats
A3 Power Cleans

B1 Barbell Row
B2 Weighted walking lunges (12 to 14 reps)
B3 Glute Bridges with Stability Ball

C1 Core

Day 3:

A1 Rear Squats
A2 Poliquin Step Ups
A3 Kettle Bell Swings (Set of 10)

B1 Dead Lifts
B2 Romanian Dead Lifts
B3 Dips

C1 Core

As you can see, it is a mix of standard lifts with some Olympic power lifting and, shockingly, some upper body work.  I am learning how important posture is to overall fitness, and seeing that I sit for 8+ hours a day at the office, I thought it would be good to add some upper body exercises to balance out my build.  These lifts are also, largely, compound lifts, meaning they work a lot of different muscles at the same time.  My goal will be to do 2 rounds of each super set, then follow it up with core work, likely P90X Ab Ripper X, because it hits everything in the core.

Aside from weights, I am planning on spending a lot of recovery time on the bike, grinding away on my heart rate Zone 2 target rides.  The gola here is base cardiovascular fitness, something that gets neglected over the winter months.  Beyond that, I am developing an off-skates program that will include plyos, dry-land drills from the Mantia Clinic, and slide board.  Ideally, I will take one to two days off per week.  I hope it will make for a productive off-season.

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Event Report: Mantia Clinic

There have already been two very good reports on this Clinic here and here, and I don’t want to regurgitate a review of the entirety of the event.  However, I do think it is worth posting what I learned, in addition to a little about the event, and some pictures/video.

This was a unique clinic, as I understand the clinics that Joey typically run are optimized for indoor racing around a 100m flat track that typically take place in roller rinks on coated wooden floors.  Pretty much the entire group in attendance at this clinic skated outdoor over marathon distance.  His original intent was to run the clinic at the Roseville Oval in Roseville, Minnesota.  However, the weather didn’t cooperate, and we ended up using the back-up location at a nearby elementary school.  While the venue ended up being indoor, the clinic focused entirely on technique, including the double push.

Joey Mantia working with skaters in Roseville, MN.  Image courtesy of www.inlineskatempls.com

Joey Mantia working with skaters in Roseville, MN. Image courtesy of www.inlineskatempls.com

We did two sessions, and at the start of each session we started off with dry land training.  Joey showed us the basics of body position and focused heavily on weight transfer.  He said that the core of efficient skating is weight transfer, and many of the drills dealt with balance and weight transfer.  We spent a lot of time off-skates in the skater squat, which looks something like this:

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I say something like this because I am not as low as I could be.  If you look very closely at the picture from the front, you can see that my knees are collapsing in a little bit, notably on the right side.  I shot these pictures after a heavy lift/plyo work out, so I was a bit rickety.  Everything in skating basically starts from here.  The only significant variation in body position is how deep you sit in the skater squat.  As for the actual weight transfer, there were a couple of terms that kept coming up that are good points to focus on.

First, “leading with the hip” is something often said by coaches, but something I didn’t really understand until asking for clarification during the Clinic.  The idea of leading with the hip is really a way of communicating where your body position should be when balancing on one leg in the skater squat.  The hip should be positioned to the outside of the foot on which you are standing.  The idea here is all about where your center of gravity is to distribute your weight so you can remain balanced and used weight transfer to generate push power.  It should look something like this:

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The picture on the bottom shows the concept of leading with the hip better than the picture on the top.  You can see my hip position is beyond the outside of my foot.  This also helps to line up my nose, knees, and toes.  That is the second term that is often used in describing technique, and something that came up over and over again during the clinic.  The concept of “nose-knees-toes” describes the position your body should be in during the glide phase of the push when skating.  The idea here, when looking at your body position from the front, is to see your nose, knees, and toes aligned vertically.  Neither of these pictures show this position adequately.  The picture on the top shows good knee-toe position with my head a little far to the right.  The picture on the bottom shows good alignment of my nose, knees, and toes, but my balance is off.  Ideally, your nose-knees-toes should align perpendicular to the ground, or as Joey says, “imagine a line from your foot to the ceiling lining up your nose, knees, and toes.”  This is a great way to think about where your body position should be, even if these aren’t the best examples.  Weight transfer is the next part of the drill, and this basically requires you to shift your weight between these two positions stalling on one foot.  As a check for balance, it helps to lift the opposite foot, or recovery foot, off of the ground.  If you are well balanced, you should be able to lift the opposite foot off of the ground, but do so without a jerk or jump.  It may look something like this:

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This image was created from some video of my dry-land skating.  You can see the the nose-knees-toes alignment here, but another important technique issue comes to light when reviewing the video.  The hips and shoulders should remain steady and on the same line.  I discussed this in my post about slide-board earlier this year.  This is accomplished by engaging the core and focusing on lateral movement through the hips.  You can also see here how leading with the hip works, as my hip on each side moves past the center-line over the foot.  It isn’t perfect, though, as there is still some weakness in my right knee and a slight hop on raising my foot off the ground that causes my hip to shift up slightly on each side.

Weight transfer is what allows you to put power in the push without expending extra energy.  It is pretty much the Holy Grail of skating.  So much so that you could skate only with weight transfer on classic push and add the double push to average 18 miles per hour.  Well, at least he can.  These drills provided me with very concrete examples of where my technique is failing.  You can see this stuff in books and on the internet, but it never really sinks in until someone coaches you and/or you see it demonstrated first hand.  The key to fast skating over marathon distances is efficiency.  Something I have known and been working on, but these drills are the tools that will hopefully make me more efficient, and, as a result, faster.

After all of the off-skate work, we got on skates and basically did the same set of drills standing and then rolling.  We also did a lot of drills to make us aware of our edges.  The idea here was to get better on our skates, work balance, and be more in control of the skates rather than having the skates be in control of us.  Joey mentioned that Justin Stelly doesn’t have to train very hard to be fast because he is so good at controlling his skates.  He makes a good point, and being able to control my skates is something that I need to work on.  I am planning on adding a lot of these on-skate drills to my training.  Looks like I will be in the market for some cones.  I was only able to capture video of the first half of the day, but you can see the drills in the following video:

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Joey and a couple of the guys that organized the clinic.  He had some really interesting insights on the sport, on the coaching situation for US Speed Skating on the ice side, and his plan to race indoor and outdoor nationals this year.  I am glad to see he is staying so active in the inline community, as it seems that some of the Olympians that have made the switch to ice haven’t done much for inline since finishing the Olympics.  Of particular note, Joey says he doesn’t think inline should be trying to be in the Olympics because of the limited number of medals.  I think he is right, too.  His analogy was that if it were a winter sport, it would already be in the program, but since the summer program is so packed, you would be taking medals away from other sports, and “if wrestling isn’t safe, no one is.”

The afternoon started with more dry land and then back to skates.  The dry land session was a rehash of what we did in the morning and was very helpful in solidifying the drills to memory.  The afternoon on-skate session dealt with double push.  He showed us a lot of drills originally designed by Eddy Matzger.  It was a great session, and I realized, in the room full of local skating luminaries, that we all have things we need to work on.  Following Joey’s philosophy, you have to work hard at the things you are bad at doing in order to get better.  There are a couple of videos floating around YouTube of the event and there are several posted in InlineSkateMPLS that are worth checking out.

After the afternoon on-skates session, Joey did some question and answer and then demonstrated some drills and technique on the slide board.  The most shocking thing I learned during the Q&A was that Joey doesn’t lift weights.  He has legs like tree trunks, but doesn’t lift.  I was, and still am, shocked.  The secret to his strength is isometric and plyometric exercise.  He does wall-sits to failure, which, for him, is 5 to 10 minutes.  He also demonstrated some very basic plyos, many of which I am doing, but some that I am working into my workouts.  The biggest new change, though, will be wall sits to failure.  I am not going to replace lifting weights with plyos and isometric work outs because I am too far behind to work up to that level of strength, and I don’t see any negative effects from weight lifting on my skating.  This also was another interesting lesson, just because it doesn’t work for Joey doesn’t mean it won’t work for me.

Overall, this was a great experience.  I would highly recomend that anyone who has an interest in becoming a better skater attend this kind of clinic, taught by Joey or any other world class skater.


DIY Equipment Update: Slide Board

While I am not building a new slide board, I am always on the look out for new material solutions, as acquiring laminate from Ikea by happenstance is a hard way to build equipment.  Lifehacker posted an article about inexpensive surfaces for custom made dry-erase boards, and suggested a material called Hardboard Panel Board.  Looking at the material, it looks pretty thin, so it would be ideal to apply this with an adhesive on top of a half inch sheet of plywood.  You could basically substitute these two parts for the surface, and follow the rest of my directions to complete the build.  I haven’t seen these materials, nor have I tested how well it would work for a slide board, but the surface for dry-erase boards would make a pretty good surface for a slide board.  I would imagine this might work well, also.  If you are in the market for a lateral trainer, this may be a good parts option for a personal build.

By way of other updates, I am attending the SkateLove Joey Mantia Clinic in Roseville, Minnesota, this weekend.  I am hoping to shoot some video and have more information about the event next week.

I am also working on a post targeted at cardiovascular fitness for speed inline skaters that I hope to post soon.  After my VO2 Max test, I reconsidered how I have been training for skating, and realized that my training did not include cardiovascular capacity as a focus.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of sport science specific to speed skating, and even less for inline speed skating.  I am planning on trying to relate a lot of what I have learned from various sources to inline speed skating in hopes of having all of this information make better sense for myself, but also get it out there for other skaters to discuss.


Reviewing and looking forward…

The end of the year always brings retrospective lists of what happened, and what we expected to happen but didn’t happen.  While there aren’t any lists anticipated in this post, in order to move forward, you have to look behind you.  As Ayrton Senna said, “[t]he past is just data, I only see the future.”  His point remains that the past is relevant to see where you have been so you can determine where you are going.  In that same vein, I can’t gauge my expectations and plans for 2014 without considering what happened in 2013.

2013 was an interesting year.  It involved a lot of major changes.  I moved from Chicago to Rochester, Minnesota (technically in 2012, but it has been the first full year here).  My wife and I welcomed a son to our young family in February.  I started a new job in April after 6 months of voluntary unemployment (see comment about moving).  We bought a house.  All of this living was going on notwithstanding any of the skating that was going on.  I started training with a new group of guys semi-regularly.  That was great, though one of them is much faster than the rest of us.  I finished well in the Metrodome Marathon, struggled through the Chicagoland Marathon, hung with the lead pack for the Minnesota Half, and did my part to pull the pack through the wind at the NorthShore.  I did not meet my conspicuous goal of breaking a 90 minute marathon time, but what did become clear is that I have the ability to hang with the front of the advanced pack, which I did to my detriment in Chicago, and to the finish for the Minnesota Half.  I set new personal bests in the Marathon and Half-Marathon distances, and pulled the lead pack at some point in three races.  I cannot be entirely disappointed in my performance in 2013 even if I did not accomplish my goal of 90 minute marathon.  I know I am capable of finishing in that time because I was able to finish close to the lead pack at the NorthShore, and with better tactics I could have finished with the lead pack at Chicagoland.  That said, I have a lot to look forward to in what will likely be a short season next year because of the state of our sport.  More on that issue in another post, though.

Looking toward 2014, I hope to skate at least 4 races, including Roll for the Roses, Chicagoland, the Minnesota Half, and the NorthShore.  The two wild card races are Apostle Island and Rollin’ on the River.  If the opportunity arises where I can make these races, I will certainly try to attend those races.  They could be day-tripped if I got up very early, as each race is between 5 and 6 hours away.  Financially, it probably won’t be feasible to go and stay.  With the later start for the NorthShore, I may consider making that race a day trip.  I would love to make the Route 66 race in St. Louis, Missouri, but that is a bit too far of a trip.  There may be another event here or there I can attend, but that is entirely contingent upon the schedule at the moment.

Aside from racing, the big goals and challenges for 2014 come in the form of training and technique.  I haven’t really spent a lot of time working specifically on technique.  As a result, my training in 2014 will focus specifically on technique, and building areas where my skating is weak.  Currently, I am focusing on weight lifting to build base strength like I did at the end of 2012.  I saw meaningful gain from this last year, and thought it was worth doing again.  So far, I have seen a significant increase in my lifts.  Like last year, this has already demonstrated tangible benefits in my skating.  This cycle will warp up in a couple of weeks, and my training will transition to the next mesocycle I have planned for the year.  This will involve one day of focused weight training with dry-land, likely dry skating and balance training, to specifically work technique in addition to base strength and explosive power; a day of plyos; a day of slide board with a specific focus on technique, and a day of cycling that will start as base cardio endurance and some intervals.  I am going to try and ice skate as much as I can, weather permitting, with a focus on classic technique, also.

The next mesocycle will start as soon as I can get outside to skate.  I am planning on quickly moving to skating to work technique as much as possible.  I am going to do a lot of longer slow skates, attempting to generate speed just from the technique.  I am also planning on doing my hill route at least once per week in addition to the long skates on Saturday mornings.  Ideally, I hope to skate at least 3 times per week.  Once we get into May, the volume and the pace will pick up, as the focus for skating will move to increased paces with intervals and fartleks (speed play), in addition to hills.  This will all lead up to Roll for the Roses, which will be the first test of my training for the year.  After that, the focus will be hills and intervals to get ready for Chicagoland.  Ideally, while I will be working on stepping up the pace, most of the skating will be focused on technique, and attempting to master technique as much as possible.  This means a lot of drills where I get low and push long and hard to the side.  If I work this focus for the season, I should be able to build on my success of 2013, and have a great year in 2014.  I am looking forward to what the season has in store this year, and hope that this year can lead to a rebuilding for me personally and also the sport.


How To: DIY Slide Board

Slide boards are a training tool used predominately by ice skaters, but there they are great training tools for inline skaters, also.  Known in the fitness world as lateral slide trainers, this kind of equipment very effectively works the hip and inner thigh muscles in the legs.  Hockey skaters also use slide boards for off-ice stick handling training.  Speed skaters on ice and inline use it for polishing technique and building power.  The main drawback to the slide board is typically the cost.

You can find slide boards geared towards hockey players on Amazon for between $200 and $300.  Last year, I acquired a slide board from Amazon, but it developed a big problem.  The board wasn’t made for more powerful speed skaters.  The guy who makes the board told me as much over the telephone.  The cheaper boards are priced in the $150 range, some of them even lower.  However, most of these boards are built to be portable, made out of fabric like materials or other materials that roll up to be portable.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are very high-end slide boards that are a single piece, generally are not portable, and are made for world class gyms.  These boards range in price from $300 to $600.  You also need to nearly double the price to get them shipped.  After destroying my slide board earlier this year, I went on a hunt for a suitable replacement.  I wanted to make sure a replacement was not cost prohibitive, which, after my initial research, ruled out commercially available options.

After some additional internet investigation, I came across Kevin Jagger’s instructions for building a slide board on LongTrackLongShot.com.  This was the general starting point for my design, and I opted to focus on finding suitable materials.  My budget goal was $50.  Knowing that the most important, and potentially most expensive, part of the board would be the sliding surface, I was very careful about choosing the material.  I hunted for a supplier, but wasn’t able to find anything suitable or geographically reasonable for the 8 foot by 2 foot sheet of material I needed for the project.  However, earlier this year, my wife and I bought a house for our little family, which means we made several trips to Ikea.  I learned from another friend who skates that you can get good sliding surfaces for slide boards for reasonable prices from the As-Is or “Handy Person’s Corner” at Ikea stores.  We have all seen those shiny looking storage units sold at Ikea.  It turns out the doors make pretty good surfaces for slide board building.  I picked up an 8 foot by 3 foot sheet of this door material, which appears to be a form of coated and compressed laminate particle board, for $10 in the As-Is section of the store.  While the purchase required a harrowing 60 mile ride home through wind and rain with the board strapped to the roof of our car, and it made noise like an airplane engine, it proved to be a great find and became the base for the project.

Starting with the sheet for the surface, the next step was to make end-stops.  The end-stops are made from 2×4, foam pipe insulation, duct tape, and light weight black denim.

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the 2×4 is 3 feet long, in this instance, to match the width of the board.  I started off by using the duct tape to attach the foam insulation to the 2×4.  I then cut the denim fabric to length so I could use it to wrap the end stop, with the denim being stapled to the 2×4 to hold it in place.

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I wrapped the denim in a manner similar to wrapping a box with wrapping paper and also secured it with the staple gun.

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You can see from the ends that one of my sections of pipe insulation wasn’t the full three feet of the 2×4.  This hasn’t proven to be a problem during use, and had more to do with poor measurements in the packaging and reduced length after cutting.  Once you get this assembly completed, you have two reasonably attractive end stops.

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The next step is to attach the end stops to the sliding surface.  I did a lot of research, and my design ideas went through several iterations, because I knew that the ends tops needed to be able to handle a lot of abuse.  Generally, these stops will have to withstand upwards of 300 pounds of lateral pressure against a mounting that is perpendicular to the direction of force.  Since I had a bad experience with my last board, I wanted to make sure that this board would last a long time.  My original plan was to use four 2 inch long, half inch to inch thick, flat headed lag bolts that would attach to the end stops through the bottom of the board.  I planned to countersink the space for the nuts on top, drilling the countersink hole large enough to hold a washer.  This would, in theory, provide more than enough structural support to withstand the push force exerted on the end stop.  Ideally, it also would have meant the entire project would have been reasonably easy to disassemble.  However, after speaking with one of the hardware guys at Home Depot, He indicated that two and a half inch wood screws would work just as well.  This option ended up being cheaper, and has so far matched the expected performance.  I used 12 gauge wood screws to be sure.  I bought a box of 50, and, in an act of over-engineering, used 25 screws to attach each end stop.  I staggered the screws an inch or two apart vertically and horizontally as shown in the pictures below.

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While working with my old slide board, I noticed that it had a tendency to slip on the floor when I pushed.  To correct that problem, I bought some shelf liner and put it on the floor under the board.  This, generally, created more friction so that the board wouldn’t slide as much.  Theorizing that this could also be a problem with the new board because it would be placed on painted concrete and be heavier, I stapled the shelf liner to the bottom of the ends of the new board.  They are evenly spaced at the middle of the board, and the board digs down into the liner during each push.  So far, this seems to have prevented the board from sliding on the ground, but I do not know for certain whether it is the shelf liner, the weight of the board, or the floor surface that is preventing the board from sliding.  It is nice to have a stable board.

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The completed board is 8 feet long, 3 feet wide, with an approximate 7 foot sliding surface from end-stop to end-stop.  It probably weighs about 50 pounds, and is not portable with out a second set of hands and a large vehicle.  However, it does appear to be very durable.  I waxed it with NuFinish Once a Year Car Polish and used the booties from my last slide board.  The end product has a very nice sliding surface.  I have to apply the car polish every other use, but the benefit in reduced friction is worth the extra care.  You can also use Pledge furniture polish, though I haven’t tried it on this board.  A friend of mine uses a silicone lubricant on his with good results, also.  I will likely need replacement booties, though, because the ones I currently have aren’t very high quality and they have some holes that could end up causing my shoes to bind on the sliding surface.

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I store it leaning up against the wall as shown in the picture.  I am considering making some nylon straps that will be stapled to the underside of the board to make it easier to move.  So far, though I haven’t used it much, I am very pleased with the result.  My total budget ended up being approximately $55 because I purchased a staple gun.  If I had the tools, it would have been much cheaper.  The following is a general budget for the build:

Board Surface:    $10.00
8′ 2×4:                   $3.00
Denim:                  $8.00
Wood Screws:      $5.00
Pipe Insulation:   $5.00
Staple Gun:           $18.00
Staples:                  $5.00
Total:                      $55.00

All in all, this project was far more economical and educational than spending $300 to $600 on a commercially manufactured product.  At my current level, I probably don’t need a Pro-Slide or Ultraslide board, and, depending on how this board holds up, I may never need to make that kind of investment.  However, if you are interested in purchasing rather than building, you can check out the 3G Slide Board, BlackHole’s Slide Board, the Hockey Train portable board, or a G1 Slide Board.  Even with the commercially available options, I highly suggest building your own.


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.


Finishing the season…

The outdoor inline season is pretty much finished in this part of the country.  There are still some races where it is warmer late in the year, like Silver Strand and the Tinsel Tri in California.  However, the group that I skate with has all but disbanded at this point in the year.  While other skaters in the area have moved to cycling or hockey, I am trying to skate as much as I can before the weather prevents skating, and it is time to start skating ice or move indoors.  The Metrodome is due to be closed for demolition and reconstruction at the end of the year.  As a result, I am planning on making a cross-training transition for the off season.

Before moving inside or onto the ice, I took one last opportunity to run a tempo skate around the 8 mile loop I use for that kind of time trial.  The goal was to set a baseline for training next year so that I can shoot for this target toward the beginning of the year. The goal was to repeat something that I only managed once this year, a 16 mile per hour speed average over 8 miles through the Cascade Lake trail.  I went out at the beginning of the month, October 2, in the evening after work.  I shot video, which follows.  And I am going to run a side by side comparison of this run from the beginning of the year and the end of the year to get an idea of the differences in pace.  This was a good skate, but it was a hard skate.  I hope I can get back to this point early next year to build on this progress.

Now that we are edging into the off season training is changing.  I had good results this year thanks to a lot of weight lifting.  I am putting weight lifting back into the schedule, but it won’t be a focus for weekly training this year like it was last year.  My goal is to lift once, though preferrably twice, per week, get at least one plyometic and slide board session in, and spend some time working on base cardio fitness on the bike, ice, or in the Roller-Dome.  So far, I have only managed to get back to weights, as I am still skating outside the weather permits.

Future off-season posts will detail the transition to long track ice skating for cross training, more on power lifting, plyometrics, gear reviews of the Bont Z and Bont long track Jet boot, in addition to a tutorial on building a slide board.  It looks like it will be a busy off season.