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Ask Bill Begg!

Skating's top coach answers your questions

 
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World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.

Find out more about Bill Begg and his column.

Oct. 1, 2007

What to Eat Before a Race

QHi, Bill: What would you recommend as a good pre-race meal? - Dennis from California

Hi, Dennis. The best pre-race meal is the same as it ever was: one that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat. That's why pasta feeds are popular. If you go with pasta, make sure it doesn't include meat or other heavy ingredients, like cream or bacon, which require lots of energy to digest. Also, be sure to finish your meal at least three hours before your race. That way your meal will be absorbed before you start.

If you eat a good meal of pasta the night before a race, you should only need a light breakfast in the morning. A good choice is toast with jam, honey or chocolate spread and coffee or hot chocolate, plus any supplements you take. Note: Multigrain bread is great, but stick to white bread on race day — it has more carbs and is more easily digested.

If you get hungry before a race, eat a light high-carb snack, like a bun, bread roll, energy bar or banana.

Top World Cup skaters often drink a can of Red Bull (or other energy drink) and eat an energy bar a half hour before a race. Then, halfway through, they eat a Power Gel or a similar product.

Hip Stability?

QDear, Bill: First of all, thanks for your advice and insights. They are much appreciated and very helpful. Here's my question: Some prominent skaters cite "hip stability" as a crucial factor in their improvement. Would you please explain "hip stability" and give us aspiring speed skaters some tips on how to develop it? Many thanks in advance. - Nicolas

Hi, Nicolas: You've got me a bit stumped on this one. I never use the phrase "hip stability," and I just asked two world champion skaters, and they also have not heard of it. Hips, of course, are important in skating, and they must be stable to some degree. But hip flexibility may be the more important concept. Without it, you would skate like a robot.

But that said, here's my thoughts on hips and skating.

1.) On the leg recovery phase of the skating stroke, you point the toe of your skate inward, toward the heel of your support leg. This closes your hip, which stabilizes it. And that allows you to bring your skate down directly under the line of your body, which puts you on an upright or outside wheel edge. If, on the other hand, you have an open hip, you will tend to flounder around on your inside edge.

2.) Top skaters vary on how they set down their skate after the recovery phase. Francesco Zangarini, for instance, drives his foot straight forward. On the other hand, my daughter, Nicole, veers off to the side with her skate, probably more than any other female inliner. Yet both have won world championships.

3.) You can strengthen your hip area with abductor and adductor exercises, using cables or exercise machines. You can also do abdominal sit-ups or bent-knee sit-ups with an alternate twist. (To do these, place your hands on your head and bring your elbow to your opposite knee.)

Extended forum discussion on hip stability

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