Roller derby has seen the best and worst of me in the last three years I was in and around the sport. Last year was a funny one. One one hand I was on the verge of making my bouting debut in a home bout only for a non-derby injury to thwart those plans. On the other hand personal tragedy made me stop caring about everything, derby included so my heart wasn't in it like it was in previous years and I was struggling to get out of the rut I was in.
Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not a risk taker but by taking a risk it ended up getting me out of my rut slowly to get me to the point I am now. Given the terrible condition my knees are in my physio warned me earlier last year that my knees wouldn't cope with playing both derby and football (in fact she didn't think I should be playing derby) but an opportunity came to help my family friend's team out so I decided to do it full aware of the risk that I'd more than likely break down with an injury. Playing again re-awakened that pure joy I get playing sports. It felt like I was getting back to my happy place. I paid the price with injuries to both my knees in separate injuries which ended up finishing my derby season prematurely.
I have absolutely no regrets about playing football again, it made me start looking forward to something again but the forced time off from those two injuries that resulted from playing also forced me to get my mind focussed again on what was important. First of all was addressing my above average rate of injuries in derby. Clearly whatever approaches I took to derby wasn't working for my knees and ankles as I kept breaking down with injuries at an abnormally high level. I ended up discovering that I have weak, extremely tight hamstrings which is putting a lot of stress on my knees (plus I know my extra weight doesn't help) so they keep breaking down. The best way to tackle this issue was to start doing stretches to loosen up my hamstrings before I can start working on correcting the imbalance I have in strength I have between my hamstrings and quad muscles. Luckily I had my friend Suzie who runs Reve health and fitness to take me through stretches to help try and correct this problem.
Everyone has their own way of learning things. Mine is a more scientific approach. While I was reading up on weak hamstrings and finding out how it all worked I was starting to come across sports science. I've only just started to read up on it and what I have read so far has opened my eyes up to a whole other world that may be of huge help to me and my approach to training. The biggest thing I've picked up so far is that being so derby focussed in exercise and not doing the right kind of offskate training I haven't built a strong base. So one of the biggest things I'm focussing on is the correct strength, agility etc training (mainly offskates) which will help all the derby training become easier and help me improve more.
Something else I have noticed for a long time is fear and how it cripples me, especially in derby. Coming up against the likes of say Jilla, Cherry etc has never bothered me in fact I enjoy it because even though I will have my arse handed to me time and time again I am being pushed to my limits and beyond and who doesn't want that. I'm also extremely competitive so that makes it even more fun coming up against the big names of derby! I only recently realised that the thing I fear the most is myself. The fear of gettting injured again, the fear of not being good enough. The biggest opponent has been myself. It's a matter of learning to trust myself which is going to be an ongoing process.
In keeping with challenging myself and trying to improve this year I am looking at attending a derby boot camp or two for the first time. I've reached the stage where I don't care if I end up being the shittest person at a bootcamp I want to finally achieve some of these derby goals once and for all.
This Friday is the first derby training session for the year. I'm feeling pretty under done due to a lack of pre-season due to recovering from my injuries but it's a new start. I'm approaching this year differently to my previous years so there's hope this year will have a different ending one to previous years. Here's hoping anyway!