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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

The Mental Game
How to finish strong when you feel like you've got nothing left

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By Erin Jackson

Skaters in the Cold

The CIC's Roberto Marotta awards the gold medal to Erin Jackson at the 2009 World Championships in Haining, China.
Photo: Erin Jackson


We've all been there: the last 1000 meters of a race — legs throbbing, feet aching, sweat dripping, thoughts racing.

Your body is screaming for you to stop. But you've got to keep going.

That's when your mental training kicks in ... when the strategies and mental attitude you develop before your race push you over the finish line.

Here are some tips to remember:

Keep your head up, both figuratively and literally. Encourage yourself to keep going; convince yourself that you don't feel the pain. Practice this when you train and positive thoughts will come more readily when you race.

And don't let your head droop no matter how tired you feel. For me, this is vital. Once my head drops, a signal shoots through my body telling me I can't go on. If you feel the urge to lower your head, force youself to keep your eyes focused forward and drive to the line.

Focus on technique. Typically when a skater becomes tired, his or her technique takes a turn for the worst. This is why it is important to fine-tune your technique ... and not just at the beginning of a workout. Pay extra attention to your technique after muscle fatigue has set in.

To check yourself, ask a coach or friend to watch you at the end of a workout. Is your technique getting sloppy? Train yourself to finish workouts with the same form you had when you started.

Rest when possible. Conserving your legs and lungs throughout a long race gives you more strength for the final meters.

You can do this by standing up whenever possible. Standing relieves the strain on your knees, caused by the low-skating position.

It also helps you breathe, allowing your lungs to expand fully and take in more oxygen.

Practice these tips when you train ... and remember: Pain is temporary, winning is forever.

April 9, 2010

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Debbie RiceErin Jackson is a junior world champion and member of the Bont North America racing team. She won the 500-meter track sprint at the 2009 World Championships and holds the U.S. junior record for the 300-meter track sprint (27.883) and the 20,000 meters (36:19.84). Coached by Rene Hildebrand, she is a member of Team Florida and a junior at Forest High School in Ocala, FL. "In my opinion, the spring and summer months leading up to the championships are the most exciting part of the year," Erin says. "Whether you are preparing for regional, national, or world championships, this time typically marks the point when your training schedule becomes more intense."

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Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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