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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Thriving in a Marathon

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By Alex Fedak

Chicagoland men's pro pack

The pro men skate in lock-step in the 2009 Chicagoland Inline Marathon
photo: Thony Nguyen

Any race is exciting. I’ve been in scores of them and my pulse still pounds at the starting line.

But don’t let the excitement get the best of you. A marathon is not a sprint. You’ll be skating for at least an hour. So don’t start so fast that you run out of gas before the finish line.

Skate smart. Stay relaxed. Save as much energy as possible. And learn to recognize — or better yet, create — key moments when maximum effort makes things happen.

Get ready.

Always arrive at the venue early. That way you won't have the added stress of last-minute rushing.

Warm up.

Have a consistent warm-up routine. Performing it will loosen up the body and relax the mind.

Pick your battles.

Keep in mind that a marathon (even a half marathon) is a long race. Position is important. But fighting for second place in the third mile or constantly changing position is a waste of energy.

Instead, ease into a good spot and hang tight. Save your energy for when it counts.

Read the race.

Scope out the race. Figure out who's who. That way you'll know where to position yourself and how to recognize which breakaways and surges are a threat.

Pay attention to what's going on at the front of the paceline. If you see increased arm swing and leg movement, speed up. Don’t wait until a gap forms in front of you. If you do, you'll waste valuable energy catching up.

Also, be aware of what is happening behind you, especially when it involves top skaters in your division. Recognize and react quickly to attacks from behind. An attack by one skater may not be a threat (depending on the skater). But a multiple-skater attack increases the chances of a successful breakaway and could leave you in the dust.

Use the peloton to your advantage.

Remember that a group is faster than a solo skater, if all other factors are equal. Whether or not are skating with teammates, stay in the peloton as much as possible. And be sure that any work you do at the front of the paceline is purposeful.

Stay as close as you can to the skater in front of you. And try to keep in step with him or her. This will maximize your draft.

And remember, you will get the best draft from a skater with a smooth, relaxed technique whose stroke you can match.

Conserve energy.

Save your maximum effort for sprints, breakaways and key moments when you are trying to change the complexion of the race.


Experience is the great teacher. So come out and race.

But if there are few skaters and races where you live, join a cycling club. The race dynamics are similar. And at the very least, you'll get some good cross-training.

(Aug. 13, 2010)

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eddy matzger in shanghaiAlex Fedak is one of America’s top pro skaters. In recent years, he has notched top five finishes in Saint Paul, Ottawa, Houston, San Diego and Round Rock. He is also a Category 3 road cyclist and an accountant for Oklahoma City. “I have been skating since I was very young, starting on quads and then transitioned to inlines in the early 90’s,” he says. “My first inline race was in 2003 at a local Oklahoma City event. Then I branched out to Texas. Since then, I have averaged five to seven inline races a year.” A member of Simmons Racing, he trains with hometown buddy and teammate Rob Bell.

Simmons Racing



Related reading:

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




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