Category Archives: Lessons learned

One year derbyversary: freshmeat 3.0

​I am just about to set off to the first day of my third term at Preston Roller Girls sinners training. This marks one year since I first put on states and took a full five minutes to stand up.

Under the new (and super awesome) training structure, this isn’t technically another new beginning, but there will be some new skaters joining us and it will be a good chance to go over the basics again.

I haven’t felt up to blogging in a while, there has been a lot of stuff going on that isn’t really publicly publishable, but it’s all basically wrapped up now and I feel much better for it.

So, with my health definitely improving thanks to some new medication and my motivation pretty strong, I am excited to be getting back to training. However as always, I’m not quite physically up to it so I’m also a little nervous.

One thing is for certain, I’ve made bags of progress since last year. My initial expectations were unrealistic, I suppose, as I’d hoped to be skating like a pro by now. However in other ways it’s quite remarkable that I am able, for example, to balance on one leg whilst throwing my weight around from side to side without falling over. I suppose I’d never imagined that I would be able to do something like that!

I think the most remarkable thing is the journey I have been on, rather than some specific skill I learned or am yet to master. My whole approach to my body is changing: I have gotten help for a condition I have been ignoring for years and have learned some basic skills in putting my wellbeing first, even if it means taking a risk or standing up against people who seem so strong… I am finally starting to value and utilise my fierce! Yay!

Is the body half full or half empty?

I have such an embarrassing health problem this week, and it had left me super frustrated with myself. The insoles I got a few months ago changed the position on my hips when I walk. Ultimately this has revolutionised the way I skate and is going to save me a lot of problems in future with my hips, feet and spine. In the short term the impact has been amazing too: when I got the insoles I had such a bad achillies injury that I was unable to walk 1/4 of a mile, now I can walk 4 whole miles almost pain free!
However… because the potiontion of my body has changed a litle, the little spots of everday chaffing, skin on skin, skin on fabric, that my body has been used to my whole life, have moved a little. Just an inch here and an inch there. It seems such a subtle change, but these bits of soft, fragile formerly chafe free skin now get brushed slightly with each step. The seam of my leggings, the eleastic of my underwear… these bastards are now my enemies!

So, over weeks and months I have has sores, abrasions and blisters the size of 5p pieces cropping up all over my thighs and bum. And there is really no respite, other than lying down all day, there isn’t much i can do to make these heal. Talc, vaseline, ointments designed for athletes… huge German underwear… nothing really works.

The current problem is a bloodblister the size of my thumbnail on that bit where the bottom meets the upper thigh. It’s painful enough that I haven’t walked anywhere for 3 days, and I have my period too, which just makes everything worse really. It’s bad enough that I might have to miss derby training… not cool! So, I am pretty mad as you can imagine!

However, in a moment of utter bleakness I was thinking about what a blister actually is. It’s basically my body’s way of protecting itself. And pain, thats my warning signal that something is wrong. While the need to slow down and heal feels so frustrating inconvenient, my body is doing some pretty cool things right now, and it’s good that I take a moment to appreciate that and be that thankful.

So, with a half-full glass of metaphorical champagne I say “cheers” to the blister on my ass and all the fluids who sail in her! My body is a wonderful thing.

My first sportsbag: learning to love the journey

I have never owned a sportsbag, for most of my life I simply never needed one. Only sporty kids have sports bags. At some point, though, the sports bag became a symbol of everything I am not, but would secretly like to be: athletic, confident, thin, coordinated, cool. There’s just something so solid, so quietly resilliant about them: worn from regular use, tough, years old, a little muddy, the unchanging sign of an entire lifestyle which has always been so alien to me.

At some point I made myself a promise, that one day I would buy mysef a sportsbag… when I deserved it, when I was good enough. But this week I baught myself one anyway. Not because I have become some paragon of athleticism, some slim, cool, driven, competitive parallel world version of me. No, I baught myself a sports bag to celebrate returning to freshmeat training for a second time and giving it another go. I bought myself one because withholding sensible practical items (no matter how symbolic) from myself is mean and weird. I baught myself one because I need something to put my stuff in!

One thing I have learned so far on my derby journey is that everone, no matter how great a skater they seem, is on a journey of their own: each used to be less good at skating than they are today and each has skills they want to work on for the future.

At my first freshmeat traing session of the season today, I realised just how far I have come on my own journey, and how confident I must seem to those who are taking their very first wobbly strides. They can’t see my journey, they don’t know that just a few months ago I was the slowest to stand up and the first to fall down. I can hardly belive it myself, so it’s important to sit back for a moment and just appreciate the journey for a while. We are all of us awesome right?!

So, it may take me years to feel I deserve something as auspicious as a sports bag, though hopefully one day I will believe in myself enough to just get over it. One thing I  can say for sure though is that I will never be as good a derby player as I want to be, because I will always want to play harder and faster than I did the week before. And that is exactly how it should be.
Ps: omg my feet hurt!!!

Knee Over Toe: the benefit of recording your practices

I have been off skates for two weeks now with an Achilles problem, but the footage my little brother took of my last practice has given me loads of stuff to work on in the mean time.

Here is an example of a small and achievable correction I have found I need to make, by looking to the footage during my downtime.

Worship Derby on bended knee

In skating, especially Derby skating, it’s important to keep your knees bent. For basic skating it stops you falling on your arse if you lose your balance. In Derby freshmeat you get taught about Derby-stance, which takes the knee bend to a whole new level of … thigh burning anguish.

For now, I am just working on basic knee bend, as I know full on derby stance is going to take me some time to reach.

Basics for beginners – knee bend is vital

In Skatefresh, Asha Kirkby says:

“If I had to pick just two of the causes of most beginners’ skating  problems they would be lack of sufficient and correct knee bend and too slow a cadence. There are other problems but these two are the bane of any instructor’s life. If you fix these two, everything else will  fix itself. ”

Here is what a good knee bend looks like according to Asha

knee-bend-example

I knees to the truth… am I bent enough?

I think, when I am doing my skating practice, that my knees are over my toes. It feels like they are! Let’s see if they really are… here is me in action:

 

Bearing in mind my bulky knee pads add a fair few inches onto my knee, I can see my knees are not quite over my toes yet.

Now I know what to practice and correct!

Learning even when off skates

This big stock of footage, taken on just one day, has given me loads to work on while I am off skates injured.

Try and get some footage sometime, even if it just sits around on your hard drive for ages, if you are ever injured it might just be the thing that keeps you motivated and sane.