I read in an issue of Hit and Miss (the derby magazine) that the average derby 'career' is 4-5 years. This year will mark 5 years that I first put on a pair of quads and signed up for roller derby. In that time I have seen LOTS of people come and go. Plenty of those I sadly never got the opportunity to bout with or against. Some were forced to quit due to injuries or other factors, others just had enough or lost motivation. Those that don't feel that 4-5 year 'itch' what is it that keeps you motivated to continue with derby?
This year I can count on one hand how many training sessions I have been to. First my old back injury flared up and then just over 1 1/2 months ago I tripped over some cable tray and injured my rotator cuff when I put my hands out to break my fall. Goods news it's not torn and I don't need to have surgery, bad news is I'm looking at least 6-12 months before it's properly healed. I still don't have full movement in my arm and my physio is concerned I'm starting to develop frozen shoulder (it's a real thing!). She's recommending I get a cortisone injection in my shoulder because my shoulder isn't getting any better but thankfully it's not getting any worse either.
My physio cleared me to return back to derby but no contact work. After such a long time away from derby training (whatever fitness levels I had have long departed) and no contact work allowed my only option was really to go back to fresh meat level. It's well documented how long it took me to almost get to bouting level and here I was having to start from scratch again. Did I really want to go through it all again? Turns out the answer is very much a big FUCK YES.
If you were to ask me what my motivation was to stick with derby despite all the setbacks and near misses after all these years my answer is pretty simple. I want to line up with my team mates and take on Newcastle with Jill in their team. I don't know how long my body is going to cope with this sport and if I'll ever get many chances to bout but if I do I want it to be against them. They've always been my bench mark team and Jill's always been my benchmark skater regardless of all the other more higher profile teams and skaters out there. So that's my big motivator for roller derby, anything else is a bonus.
The reality of the situation hit me last Friday when I went for my first derby training session last Friday night. I have the same (lack of) leg strength like I did when I first started derby. I can still do stops but my fitness levels are at absolute zero and my lack of flexibility is the worst it has ever been. I can't change the fact that I'm injured but I do have a choice in how I tackle the situation I am in fitness wise. For now I am doing a 30 day butt challenge which has squats, bridges and lunges which increase in number each day to help with building up my leg strength. I am about to start training for the 10km Hunter Valley winery run. Apart from that I am looking at finding some flexibility exercises to help make me less of a inflexible brick wall and more like Gumby. I spoke to the crossfit box that I am a member of, they're going to tailor my workouts so that I don't use my arms and further injure my shoulder. There's also of course going to derby training and hitting up good old Skatel on the weekends to get some more skating practise in.
A few months ago I discovered a group on Facebook called Body Positive Athletes. It's probably one of the best things I've discovered. Every day I'm inspired by the stories and successes these girls and guys post on there. It helped change my view on what an athlete is. You should check it out. There's also some derby folks on there too.
I'm not blessed with natural skating ability and maybe I've watched the Rocky movies one too many times but I'm going to fight to get myself to bouting level regardless of how long it takes me. There is no quitting.