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Taking Stock

This is the time of year I take stock of my fitness and plan a program to get where I want to become NorthShore Marathon time. It’s like a New Year’s resolution. With each passing year, this becomes a more and more sobering reckoning, because I seem to start from a plumper and plumper place. I wish there was an inverse relationship between my weight and my motivation to get in shape!

I’ve been skating for three decades now, so I don’t spend as much time on technique training as I used to, but back when I was a younger buck still playing catch-up, I spent quite a large chunk of my time on skates working on drills to hone my balance and improve my efficiency.

I spent my so-called 10,000 hours in a parking deck at the University of California Berkeley. Much of it was alone, working on my weaknesses in a seemingly desperate attempt to try to turn them into strengths. It took a lot of focus and concentration, or what I call intellectual midgetry.  But a lot of my technique training was with friends on Thursday evenings, which provided the necessary motivation to keep at it without getting discouraged and giving up. I call that fun drudgery.

No matter how fit I used to be when I started racing, I always seemed to run out of gas when the finish line drew near because I was wasting energy from improper technique. After seeking help from a proper
coach, I learned that there are more gains to be made in terms of achieving a good time — I’m talking about the race clock AND the enjoyment factor here — by improving technique than by improving fitness.

Nowadays I brush up on technique training with students who come to Skate Farm Virginia. We spend mornings in parking lots and short stretches of road to practice the basic, broken-down pieces that later
can be assembled into a meaningful whole. It’s akin to sourcing the perfect ingredients that later get blended into a smoothie.

Whether you’re training solo or doing group skates, there’s always time to spend a few minutes before taking off or after you get back working on technique drills that will pay off big dividends come NorthShore race day. In the next series of blog posts, I will take you through some of what I consider to be the most valuable things to work on besides just getting miles in the legs.