Let’s assume you’ve already mastered the skating basics that keep you safe and having fun for hours at a time. You’re able to get out on the trail and enjoy the scenery, stop when and where you want, and swerve out of harm’s way on short notice. This could be all that you ever dreamed of.
But what if this has only whetted your appetite for more? What if you ache to take it further, to tackle a marathon, or graduate to custom-fit speed boots? You could make giant strides toward such a future by taking a holistic approach. This is one way to ensure your skating ability becomes, in Aristotle’s words, “greater than the sum of its parts.”
Of course, it really doesn’t matter what level of skater you are to embrace this concept. A well-rounded skate program is the approach I have been preaching to my students and site visitors for years in my Off Skates Fitness pages.
Prevent debilitating injuries
You won’t get much quality time on skates if you’re nursing a wound or still suffering from a lack of forethought last weekend.
- Before you leave home, make sure your gear is in good repair, pack an appropriate amount of hydration, and apply your sweat-proof sun cream.
- See Spring Clean Your Gear Bag for an in-depth look inside a well-stocked skating kit.
- Wear all the gear all the time. At the very least, wear a helmet to protect your brain.
- Follow the Rules of the Road and skate Smart, Legal, Alert, Polite.
Stride smarter, not harder
The most obvious tip: find a local instructor and sign up for lessons.
- Search books and web sites for the right drills for your ability level. For example, find 10 tips of graduating difficulty on this web site in the article Increase Your Pushing Power.
- Make time during each skating session to practice your current list of drills.
- On the trail, experiment with all components of your stride (timing, posture, recovery, set-down) to identify the least tiring or fastest techniques to focus on.
Persistently pursue your goals
Get back on track when life causes the occasional break in your routine. Achieving 80% of a plan is still better than nothing.
- Set a realistic schedule that ensures you skate regularly.
- Keep it fresh by alternating long, slow distance skating with days of more intense work such as sprinting or hills.
- Document your goals and progress toward them in whatever format is most handy. You not only end up with a great training record, you can go back and review it for changes that had a positive or negative effect.
Skating consistently will help you build a strong heart muscle, but there’s more strength training to be done if you want to improve optimally.
- An overall strength program adds muscle mass that can give you a more powerful stride, increased energy for bursts of speed, and the ability to skate more miles before tiring.
- Add core strength exercises to work the smaller muscles that support core power, flexibility, balance and stability.
Work on balance and coordination
Your agility and balance on wheels will continue to improve month by month and year after year (regardless of your age) as long as you actively pursue improvement in these areas. Find tips for making this a lifelong pursuit in Balance Your Stride, Get a Little Balance in Your Life and Balance Lunges.
Commune with other skaters
Here are ways to add a social aspect that can keep the fun in skating while you ascend the rungs to your ultimate goals.
I hope these resources and tips will help you be all that you can be!