This week's column:
How To Train Solo
June 29, 2011
Hi, Bill: At 21, I am returning to skating after a two year layoff. I recently moved to a place with few skaters, so now I mostly train alone, which can be boring. I am wondering how to keep things interesting? For me, an iPod doesn’t do the trick. I hope to compete in nationals next year and am working to improve my speed. Thanks - Gemma in Tytherington, UK.
Hi, Gemma: My daughter Nicole was in a similar situation a few years ago. She returned to Timaru after a summer of racing in Europe and found herself suddenly without training partners. To make up for this, we designed a program that provided plenty of variety, including gym workouts and offskate and plyometric training.
Do the same with your training. Keep it varied, but focused, and you’ll avoid boredom. Change up your skate workouts with interval training. One day a week, do 500-meter intervals. Repeat eight times with five minutes of rest between starts.
On another day, do a ladder drill. One good ladder drill is structured like this: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 and 1,000 meters. What this means is that first you sprint 100 meters. Then rest. Then sprint 200 and so on. Between each sprint give yourself time to recover so that you can maintain proper form during the speed work.
Monitoring your technique is very important — and very difficult when training alone. If you can’t find a good coach, have someone videotape you from the front, back and side as you skate.
Then watch the video and check that your position is nice and low with knees over the front of your boots. And make sure that you are transferring your body weight over the rolling support leg with a full extension push to the side. These are the main things to watch for. Of course, the best thing is to train under the supervision of a good coach.
Another challenge for skaters who train alone is to maintain a good pace. The temptation is to skate long and slow. But too many slow miles trains you to skate slow, hich won’t help you when it comes to race day, even if your goal is to skate marathons. The sport is called “speed skating” for a reason.
Good luck with your training. I hope it goes well. We need more speed skaters in the UK!