This week's tip:

How to Get Out of a Rut

What to do to take it to the next level

By Shannon Valerio

Deborah Alpers coaching

Coach Deborah Alpers works with a skater.

Photo: Shannon Valerio

Learning to skate is like falling in love. At the beginning, it’s wonderful and fun and feels natural. There’s nothing else you would rather do, and you do it every chance you get.

But the honeymoon doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the newness wears off, and it's not as fun anymore.

This happens in all sports. When you start out, you make quick gains in your levels of skill and fitness. But after several months, you start to fall into a rut.

You have covered all the easy miles, and although you keep trying, you don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

You have arrived at the dreaded plateau.

Many skaters give up at this point — unsure how to bring back the magic.

But don’t be one of them! Don’t give up all your progress — and all the benefits of skating. Instead, get some help.

The help you need depends on where you are stuck.

If you are a beginner and need help with the basics, such as braking or turning, take some lessons from a certified skate instructor. (Use the Skate IA instructor search engine to find an instructor.)

If you are more advanced, sign up for a skate seminar, like the ones offered by Eddy Matzger’s at his Skate Farm in Virginia. (Here’s the SkateFarm schedule.)

Another great way to get unstuck is to join a skate team or club. Not only will you get better and stronger, but you will make lots of new friends.

Make It Personal

If your goal is more elaborate — maybe you want to lose weight or improve your overall conditioning or race performance — hire a personal trainer or coach.

Personal trainers come in various flavors and certifications. But basically, they all — at least the good ones — do the same thing: they help you set goals and design a training program, and they monitor your progress.

If you want to do better in races, hire a strength and conditioning coach. That’s what I am.

We are trained (and certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association) to help athletes improve performance.

If you can’t hire a coach, hit the books. There are many excellent books on training. One of the best is “The Lance Armstrong Performance Program: Seven Weeks to the Perfect Ride.”

Keep rolling

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged.

Everyone runs into a tar snake once in awhile. When it happens to you, get yourself a little help and bring back that lovin’ feeling.


Shannon ValerioShannon Valerio has been a competitive athlete since she was 8 years old and has competed on both quads and inlines and in short track speed skating, ice hockey and road cycling. An accomplished Master’s inline speed skater, she has 14 national titles in indoors, banked track and road, and holds two national records. She has also placed in several marathons and is now both skating and cycling with the Riivo/Salt Creek Consultants Team.  She is a certified strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer for Valerio Training, a company she founded in 2009.

Valerio Training web site

Skate Tip of the Week