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SKATE TIP OF THE WEEK
Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Ramping Up for a New Season

By Alex Fedak
 

Morgane Echardour doing a squat

NROC champion Morgane Echardour does squats in the gym to build strength during the off-season.

Photo: Peter Doucet, Speed Skate World
 

Some skaters consider the off-season the time to kickback and relax, drink some beer and watch some football.

That's fine. Taking a break at the end of the season gives your body and mind a well-deserved rest. But don't go overboard.

What you do during the off-season lays the foundation for the new year. Don't waste it.

The Break

Like most skaters, I take a break after the last race of the season. But that doesn't mean I turn into a slug.

I never completely stop skating, cycling or otherwise keeping active. But for a few weeks, I exercise without any specific training goals. My focus is fun. That might involve long relaxed skates or rides with my local bike club. But nothing structured, like interval workouts.

This goes on for two to four weeks, at which time, with the new season looming, I restart my training.

The Start of Serious Training

I begin my serious training by focusing on three goals: building strength, cardiovascular capacity and technique.

I build strength with weight training. I do squats, lunges, leg extensions and leg curls. Typically, I do my squats with a regular bar, lunges with dumbbells, and leg extensions on a weight machine.

I also do plyometrics. These dry-land exercises build strength, polish technique and help me develop the explosiveness I need to generate speed.

The plyos I do are:

  • Low walks — Walking with your knees bent and butt down.
  • Vertical jumps — Springing into the air from the skating position while raising your knees to your chest.
  • Side jumps — Leaping back and forth from side to side on one foot while maintaining the low skating position.
  • Broad Jumps — Jumping forward as far as possible from the low skating postion and repeating.
  • Cross jumps — Making circular skating motions with one foot, then on the third motion, crossing the foot behind the other foot (the one on the ground), then jumping laterally to the other foot. Then repeating.
  • One leg squats — Putting all your weight on one leg and lowering yourself down, then back up, repeating. Then switch to the other leg.
  • Burpees — From the skating postion, jumping up, then returning to the skating postion, then dropping down to the ground and doing five or so pushups, then returning to the skating position. Do about 10 reps.

Cardio

Strength and technique are important. But to perform well in longer races, you also need endurance and that means developing your cardiovascular capacity. The way to do this is with long distance training at a moderate pace (long-slow distance training). This means putting in lots of miles.

I do my long-slow distance training on skates and bike. I start with a long low-intensity skate and finish with a long low-intensity bike ride. I'll skate for 20 to 30 miles.

Then get on my bike and ride for 60 to 80 miles. Or I climb the local mountain range. Either way, these double cardio sessions last about 3 to 3.5 hours.

Keep in mind that low-intensity doesn’t mean slow; it just means at a lower intensity than the near full-out effort of interval training.

I go on these low-intensity workouts two to three times a week for starters and add another session when daylight savings time arrives.

Ramp Up

Four to six weeks before my first event, it's time to get ready for racing. That means developing the speed and quickness required to hande the surging pace of road racing. And the best way to do this is with interval training.

My typical interval workout consists of 200 to 300 meter sprints with a training partner. After the sprint, we roll easy for about half the sprint distance before starting the next sprint. We continue until exhausted.

One variation I do is 100-meter sprints wearing a weight vest. (For more on interval training, read Rob Bell's tip.)

During this phase of training, intensity increases while duration declines. It's also time to cut back on weight-lifting and focus on race-specific training. For example, if an upcoming race has a lot of right turns, practice your left-foot crossovers; if it has a lot of hills, get out there and climb.

Some skaters taper their training a week or two before a race. I cut back a little. But I continue to do some high-intensity workouts even the week of a race.

How much you taper depends on how quickly you recover. Find out what works best for you.

The trick, as with all preseason training, is to arrive at the starting line strong, confident and ready to race.

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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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