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: quadis-fitness.ch; brandchampions.sugoi.com

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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!

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May 052010
 

Oh Olivia Newton-John, you make it look so glamorous!

This morning (after just under 5 hours of sleep) I woke up at 5:30, slammed some caffeine, bolted some breakfast, and headed out to an elementary school playground. Why, you ask? No, I wasn’t there to hit up the swingset before all of the grade schoolers started hogging it. I was rolling my cranky, not-at-all-a-morning-person carcass out to meet up with the other lunatics participating in Denver Benton’s butt kicking early morning fitness boot camp. I then proceeded to spend the next hour performing exercises that were probably developed during the Spanish Inquisition (did they have medicine balls back then?). Don’t get me wrong, it was an awesome workout, but DAMN. Minute and a half long wall sits are not anybody’s idea of a good time, and too many dips make the baby Jesus cry.

Arriba, y'all!

Y’all, I can not even lift my arms right now. I have been forced to prop them up on a makeshift pillow armrest just so I can type. And I’m not even going to go into the current lower body situation. Suffice to say, I won’t be doing any Mexican hat dances today, Cinco de Mayo or no.

So, why on earth am I regularly subjecting myself to an early morning ass kicking? It’s not so I can look better in a bikini. And it’s not because I think it’s really funny when I can use a heavier medicine ball than the guys in the class. (Though these are both admittedly huge perks.) It’s because I intend to be measurably stronger, faster, and harder for the last half of RSRD’s second season. Even if it means spending a lot of time feeling and looking like this:

Overall fitness goals are just as important to your derby life as smaller scale goals (such as perfecting your can opener, improving your stance, knocking a bitch down, etc, etc). You can have the fastest start off of the line, but if you don’t have the endurance to maintain that speed jam after jam, you can’t effectively access the badass within. If you’re not working on your general strength, you’re not going to generate as much power in your strides or hits as you could. If you’re not increasing your core strength, you’re missing an opportunity to increase your ability to take and recover from a hit.

So how do we set and follow through on overall fitness goals? I personally find that I have the best success rate when I make myself accountable. I tell people what I want to do, and how I plan to do it. Then I’m basically forced to follow through, even when faced with the siren song of the snooze button. For example:

I plan to improve my strength, speed, and endurance. I’m going to accomplish this by participating in strength training classes, running three to four times a week, and going on more outdoor skates.

See? I just told the entire internet. And if you’re reading this, I challenge you to do the same. C’mon! Go to the comment section and tell us something that you want to work on, and how you plan to work on it. Lets be each other’s goal buddies. What could be better than sharing your goals with a bunch of like-minded women working on the same things? You have nothing to lose, and personal cheerleaders to gain. Let’s take advantage of the fact that we have each other.

The power of Olivia Newton-John compels you! THE POWER OF OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN COMPELS YOU!

Heidi Volatile is a blammer and a semi-masochistic glutten for punishment. She can be reached at blammeration@gmail.com. It is her fondest wish that you comment on this post. Her second fondest wish is to ride Falcor, the giant puppy-dragon from The Never Ending Story. Olivia Newton-John is a singer/actress from Australia. She has an accent and rides kangaroos, but does not appear to play roller derby–YET.
Photo credits: MCA, Avenida Caesar Chavez, Lion’s Gate studio

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May 042010
 

Battling an injury and feeling worried that you can’t keep up your fitness while you’re out? After facing a broken ankle, these were my thoughts. Fortunately, I discovered a cross training exercise that allowed me a rigorous challenge during the injury: deep water running.

What is deep water running?   The term mostly describes the exercise.   The activity entails floating in the water and using the motions of running without touching the ground. Here’s the equipment required for the exercise:

• Deep water running belt (e.g. aquajogger)

• Swimming location with depth more than your height

Optional equipment:
• Music
• Floating dumb bells

Here’s what you do to complete a deep water running work out.

1. Place the deep water running belt (a floatation device) around your waist. The belt serves to keep you buoyant in water.
2. Step into the pool and walk to the deeper end.
3. Start jogging while suspended in the water.

This video demonstrates the exercise.

I like to run in a box pattern in the deep end of the pool. I’ll run clockwise for the first lap and then switch to counter clockwise for the next lap. I do this until I’ve completed my desired minutes of exercising. I also find that larger steps and arm movements help me to increase my heart rate during the activity and slow my lap pace significantly. Longer time spent on a lap with large strokes translates to the largest calorie burn for me.

photo credit: aquajogger.com

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Apr 202010
 

Happy Spring-time to you derbies! If you are like me, you are eager to enjoy the wonderful sunshine, flowers, and warmer temperatures that the month of April brings. It is the perfect time to cross train outside the skating rink and improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance for any roller derby position. Running is an excellent sport for developing leg muscle strength and endurance. The more you can run, the greater your endurance becomes. I have been running long distance races for 7 years – including a variety of half marathons, full marathons, and Ironman triathlons. The strength I have achieved through training to compete in long distances (at times over 6 hours of continuous cardiovascular exercise) helps me feel minimally fatigued during roller derby practices and bouts. In this installment, I’ll suggest programs and training techniques for a variety of fitness levels: beginning, intermediate, and advancing runners.

Beginners:  A Program for Those Who Are New to Running

When I started running, I could not even complete one half a mile without becoming winded or feeling side pains. I found the prospect of becoming a runner to be very intimidating, perhaps even an impossible task. Then, I learned a helpful technique: running with walk breaks. I started out with a very small goal: running and finishing a 5K race. I used the following program concepts to get started:

• Find a running path to match my desired distance. I tried to select a path that included convenient parking and ample interesting scenery – such as a park or neighborhood with a variety of architecture, flowers, felines, etc.
• Wear a watch with “seconds” as a featured display.
• Plan to exercise for 30 minutes.

If you have been skating, you likely have some level of cardiovascular endurance. I recommend the following for your first run.

• Start jogging, but go at a light pace (i.e. no sprinting). Time your run, and ensure you have completed for 3 minutes.
• Take a timed walk break for 2 minutes.
• Complete three cycles of 3-2 such that you’ve exercised for 15 minutes. Turn around.
• Complete three more cycles of 3 minutes of running, two minutes of walking. You’ll be back to your starting point.
• Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles thoroughly. Drink water to replenish your fluids.
• Run this program 3 times in one week.

Then, find a goal race. You can search on links such as: Home | Running Journal. Then, increase your minutes of jogging and reduce your minutes walking during your next week of training. For example, the next week, you could try running 4 minutes with a 1 minute walk break. The following week, try running 7 minutes with a 1 minute walk break, etc. In no time, you’ll be able to run 30 minutes with no walking breaks necessary.

Intermediates: A Program for Those Who Want to Run a 10K

After finishing my first 5K, I became addicted to the sport. I finished more 5K races the next year, and started setting my sights on a 10K. This is the training program that I used.

• Find a running path to match my desired distance. I tried to select a path that included convenient parking and ample interesting scenery and water fountains. Schools or parks often have these. Planning refreshment breaks during walking will help you use your time efficiently and stay hydrated.
• Wear a watch with “seconds” as a featured display.
• Plan to exercise for 45 minutes.

I recommend the following to increase your running endurance, in training for a 10K race.

• Start jogging, but go at a medium pace (i.e. no sprinting). Time your run, and ensure you have completed 9 minutes.
• Take a timed walk break for 1 minutes.
• Complete two cycles such that you’ve exercised for 20 minutes. Turn around after running 2 ½ more minutes.
• Complete running/walking cycles until you are back to your starting location point.
• Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles thoroughly. Drink water to replenish your fluids.
• Run this program 3 times in one week.

Then, increase your total minutes of jogging and walking, but do not change your cycle length. For example, the next week, try running for 50 minutes (5 cycles of 9 minutes running; 1 minute of walking). Increase the time of running by five minutes each week until you’ve been able to run one mile further than your desired distance (hint: use your car odometer to measure your distance). Overshooting your target distance with help you be able to run the full 10K without breaks on race day.

Advancing: A Program for Those with Half/Full Marathon Goals

If you’re ready to tackle long distance running, you’re on your way to developing high endurance levels. This is the training program that I use to training for a long race.

• Find a running path to match my desired distance. I like to use a loop for longer distances, to ensure I don’t repeat scenery and become bored or discouraged with my running environment. It is also great to include locations that have water fountains (schools or parks often have these) or plant bottles of diet sports drinks along the route so that you can obtain refreshment during your walking without having to carry water.
• Wear a watch with “seconds” as a featured display.
• Plan to exercise for an hour and 20 minutes.

I recommend the following to increase your running endurance, in training for a half marathon or full marathon race.

• Start jogging, but go at a medium pace (i.e. no sprinting). Time your run, and ensure you have completed 10 minutes.
• Take a timed walk break for 1 minute.
• Complete 5 cycles such that you’ve exercised for 55 minutes. Turn around after running 5 more minutes.
• Complete running/walking cycles until you are back to your starting location point.
• Stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles thoroughly. Drink water with electrolytes to replenish your fluids.
• Run this long program 1 time per one week.
• Supplement long program with 2 shorter runs or other heavy cardiovascular training exercise during the same week (i.e. one hour of running or hour long spin classes on 2 other days).

Increase your total minutes of jogging and walking each week, but do not change your cycle length. For example, the next week, try running for 90 minutes (8 + cycles of 10 minutes running; 1 minute of walking). Increase the time of running by ten minutes each week until you’ve been able to run one mile further than your desired distance. Overshooting your target distance with help you be able to run the full half marathon or full without breaks on race day.

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