Summer Squasher

Jul 132010

Do you go to roller derby practice a few times a week and routinely skip the optional outdoor skating endeavors that your team hosts? Why do you cheat yourself of this great cross training alternative? Outdoor skating is an excellent training option for these reasons.
• You can push your cardiovascular development and speed work.
• You can try different wheels than the usual rink or indoor surface variety.
• You can improve your agility and footwork as you maneuver around obstacles.
• You can find peace and serenity from skating in an environment that you find beautiful.
My favorite outdoor skating venue is Audubon Park in New Orleans, LA and Central Park in New York, NY. As a Louisiana native, I frequent Audubon Park more often. Audubon Park features a paved course for bicycling, walking/jogging, or skating. It is very shaded and features beautiful wildlife and nature. I enjoy choosing a distance and then timing my completion. Since I’m also a runner, I think it is fun to pick a running distance – like a half marathon. I calculate the number of laps that I need to do to reach 13.1 miles, and get after it. Then, the next time I return, I try to beat my previous best. Though I’m very careful of obstacles (especially after breaking my ankle during a rough road outdoor skate earlier this year), I also find myself becoming more and more comfortable jumping sticks, cracks, and acorns with each trip. This improves my agility and confidence. I’m confident that it translates to better performance in the game of roller derby.

Here’s a link to find outdoor roller skating areas across the United States.

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Why Sprint?

 Posted by at 12:00 pm  3 Responses »
Jun 292010

We go to roller derby practices and usually incorporate sprint training into the endurance session. Have you ever wondered why this is so beneficial? The benefits of sprinting and the ways to incorporate it into your cross training are numerous.

First, let’s look at the benefits of sprinting. Why sprint?

1. Sprinting assists in the fat loss process more than regular aerobic training. When you sprint, certain types of enzymes become abundant. When these enzymes become abundant, they enable more energy and calorie storage and resist fat storage. It improves your metabolic rate.
2. Sprinting increases bone strength and density. High impact exercise like sprinting enables this tissue development which is very beneficial for long term health.
3. Running sprints enables sculpting of hamstrings. Less cellulite will remain on the on the legs when regular sprints are incorporated.
4. Sprinting increases endurance. With sprinting as a regular activity, the body increases its ability to store oxygen. Cardio and muscle strength training exercises become easier.
5. Sprinting helps manage stress and improve your mood.
6. Sprinting makes your muscles store and release energy efficiently, ultimately causing growth.

Sprinting can be incorporated into most types of cardiovascular training: running, cycling, skating, and even elliptical training. Here are some suggestions for how to incorporate into your running routine.

• Find a track or location with a known short distance such as 50 feet or 100 meters.
• Sprint for the distance. Follow with walking at a brisk pace for twice this distance.
• Complete this cycle ten times. If you’re a beginner, do only six cycles and work your way up to ten.
• Do this twice per week.

The attached photo can be misleading. Be sure not to run on your toes. Stay loose when you run. It is best for your muscles and your recovery  if you do not tense up during the activity.

 photo credit:

Jun 202010

Pull ups are a tough exercise for many of us. I have been working out for years but never considered adding it to my routine until recently because it just seemed impossible to gain meaningful progress quickly. I’ve changed my position on this because I now fully understand the benefits:

• Back pain alleviation. How many teammates have you heard complain about back pain?
• Posture improvements. Slumping just doesn’t look good, and it is not good for derby blocking either.
• Increased strength. Good for giving and taking hits.

The best way to start adding pull ups is to use a pull-up exercise machine at the gym. These machines are designed to help you perform pull-up exercises without having to pull up your entire weight. When you approach the machine, you will need to select a weight for the exercise. Choose a weight that allows you to do three sets of eight reps. Here’s a helpful video to assist you with proper technique.

Another consideration is to do pull downs. This will also help you to develop your lats and improve your ability to do pull ups.

photo credit,; video credit,

May 182010

Cycling on the open road, on wooded dirt trails, or in the Spin class setting is a good cross-training alternative for roller derby athletes. Cycling is my number two sport, only second to skating. I choose to bicycle ride or attend Spin class at least 3-4 days per week because it helps me to developing leg strength, improve cardiovascular fitness, and maintain a firm butt. Today’s installment will focus on the cycling option that is provides the most calorie burning efficiency and is easiest and least costly to add to your training regime: Spin class.

Spin class is a group exercise available in many health clubs. Typically, classes are scheduled for 45 minutes or one hour. Participation entails riding a stationary bicycle, called a Spin bike, which feels very similar to a normal bicycle except for a few key differences:
 There is no gear shifting. Instead, a knob is turned to vary the friction against the wheel. This simulates the feeling of hill climbing or descending.
 Breaking is not applied by pulling a break on the handlebars. Instead, the friction knob is pulled to apply breaking.
 The seat adjustment is easily varied. Two levers are available to shift the seat position upward/downward and forward/backward.

A trained instructor leads the class and provides inspiration through position coaching and music choice. Position coaching includes sprint and hill work. The work out can be extremely challenging and yield excellent results. A person weighing 185 lbs. will burn 1000 calories with a solid effort put forth in an hour Spin session!  The music in class can make the workout more fun and exhilarating than outdoor riding, especially when the instructor chooses fast pace music. Music can also de-motivate too – if you don’t like the genre preference of the instructor. I recommend trying the classes. You’ll find one that suits your music tastes and leaves you dripping with sweat and satisfied that you’ve had an excellent workout.

photo credit:;

May 112010

A great alternative for cross training can be found in an outdoor endeavor – in the woods, park, or a nature reserve.  Hiking can bring a great fitness challenge and also offer time in nature – which can be very cleansing for the spirit. I enjoy adding hiking to my cross training regime at least a couple times per year.

The trick to having hiking become beneficial training experience is to make sure it is sufficiently challenging. My personal hiking experiences include numerous two hour to half day treks at Clear Creek Natural Area, which is approximately 1 hour from my home; full day hikes in locations such as the Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe, and Franklin Mountains; and multi-day hikes – such as the Italian Dolomites adventure. Each offer varying degrees of benefits: exercise, relaxation with beautiful scenery, rejuvenation and some even serve as great vacation options.   (Aside: Roller Con participants – let me know if you’re interested in a side hike to the Grand Canyon.  These are photos from 2 of my past hikes on the southern rim.) Regardless of duration (hours or days), I always wear my heart rate monitor during the hikes, so that I can ensure I’m moving at a fast enough achieve my calorie burn goal and higher heart rate. The tool is an enabler for pushing me to gain real benefits. It helps me see that on flat lands I need to move at a quick-step pace that is measurably faster than on hilly terrains.   I try to average 130 bpm on a two hour hike.   This will help me ensure I achieve at least 500 calories burned.

If you’re new to the sport of hiking, it is best to start out smaller scale. Here’s a gear list for a two hour hike.

• Shoes with appropriate grip (hiking boots our tennis shoes work fine)
Hydration pack such as a camelback or water bottle
• Sunscreen/bug repellent
• Bandana
• Heart rate monitor

Hiking in nature can be dangerous alone since creatures of nature may appear.  I recommend exercising with a partner.

Try hiking and find yourself rejuvenated and ready to return to derby battle!