Monday, June 1, 2015

Making the right decision

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.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Who do you think you are?

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!