World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.
Hi, Bill: Some skaters (for example, Scott Arlidge) are able to skate at a constant speed for 40 kilometers at a stretch. But not me. My endurance isn't bad, but I can't skate solo. I have to wait in the pack for the sprint. I want to learn to skate solo so I can finish alone. Is there a way to train for this? Thanks a lot. - Hendrik from the Netherlands
Hi, Hendrik: Training to become a breakaway specialist means learning to lead in training and pushing yourself very hard.
Aside from Scott Arlidge, several other skaters have earned reputations as solo breakaway artists, among them: Diego Rosero (Colombia), Shane Dobbin (New Zealand), Roger Schneider (Switzerland) and Franck Cardin (France).
Rosero is a training animal. When he was in Switzerland with the World Inline Cup, he would routinely go on 6-hour training rides.
Dobbin is another one who puts in the hard yards. Both he and Rosero possess very efficient skating technique with no wasted energy.
In tough races, when the rest of the skaters are getting tired, they come into their own.
Roger Schneider won the Berlin Marathon several years back on a solo breakaway. (Did you notice: he skated ice in Vancouver last month?) His success is due to his great strength and power and his ability to push himself to the breaking point.
I used to coach Arlidge, and while he is not as technically smooth as Rosero and Dobbin, he has the ability to push himself to the point of destruction.
In 2006, both he and my daughter Nicole used long breakaways to win the 10,000-meter points eliminations at the World Championships in 2006.
Both were brought up on a diet of 500- and 1000-meter intervals and offskate plyometrics.
Lately, another skater has proved his ability to go solo: Nicolas Iten. In races, he attacks and, when caught, attacks again. Eventually, the other skaters give up. Iten's form is a bit lopsided. But he makes up for it by being either very fit or possessing a very big heart.
So what can you do to learn to improve your ability to go solo?
In a nutshell, work hard.
1) Do lots of hill work on a bike.
If that's not possible, skate alone at a steady and smooth pace for 30 to 40 kilometers three times a week, all the time focusing on your technique.
2) Do the Minute-Minute Drill. It's a favorite of the Rollerblade team and is specifically designed to train breakaway specialists.
Skate hard for one minute. Skate steady for the next. Then immediately start over. Continue for 60 minutes.
It's a killer. So you may have to start with 20 minutes and work your way up.
3) Do one session a week of 1000-meter intervals at a ratio of one unit work to one unit rest. If you skate the 1000 meters in two minutes, give yourself four minutes before starting the next set.
Finally, remember this when the going gets tough: "The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary."
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