Training, Racing & LCHF Fueling For Skating And Endurance Sports
As we transition into off-season and winter training, we are very fortunate that London Skaters Speed Team (LSST) has secured weekly usage of Battersea Sports Center (BSC) as an indoor training venue for this winter (oh dear, that’s two acronyms already in the opening salvo. I’ll try to refrain from herein). It’s proving to be an invaluable training facility for club members, and as it’s only a few miles away I’ve been making the effort to attend every week. Regular sessions are usually 90 mins every Saturday morning, although sometimes we have impromptu 1-hour sessions arranged at short notice. I’ve got 6 weeks under my belt and I can already feel improvements in my technique.
As yes… the dreaded “T” word.. is one which I have not really written a lot about on this blog so far. Being a skills based sport, having good technique matters a great deal when it comes to being speedy on skates.. and good technique is the result of hours and hours (and hours) of deliberate practise. While my skating form may be reasonable – or even superficially decent – by street skating standards, it’s pretty mediocre compared to the best speed skaters at my club, never mind the best speed skaters, period. The more towards the pointy end of the field you get, the more that technique matters… outstanding technique is what makes Bart Swings the best skater in the world, and (lack of) technique is something which will increasingly hold me back unless I seek to address it. By forcing you to constantly skate loooowwww into the corners, regular Indoor practice is widely regarded as the best way to improve your skating technique.
Coach Fred is usually on hand to run the session, or otherwise the most senior skater in attendance will normally put us through our paces. A session will generally consist of a mix of drills and/or a focus on one single aspect of technique. Recently we have focused on keeping your ankles straight, locking your inside leg in the corners, body positioning leaning into the corners, and taking the optimal racing line. The list of things that you can work on is infinite. As well as skating around the perimeter of the track, we can also make use of the inside area of the track to practice turning within a very tight 1m radius circle, tracing the basketball floor markings – this is where your weight distribution really becomes important, otherwise you simply have no chance of being able to do these drills.
We have weekly indoor sessions booked until the end of December. While I doubt that I will ever get into indoor racing, I’m enjoying the chance to focus on improving my skillset. I know that the improvements I’m making now will carry over into my outdoor form next year. For sure I’ve a long way to go before I look as smooth and effortless as the most technically accomplished skaters in our club who have regularly skated both Indoor and Track for years, but even after a couple of weeks I could already start to feel the improvement, and after 6 weeks I have noticed that I feel far less awkward when executing left-sided crossovers while on a street skate, for example.
This is me, week 3 I think:
Practising sport specific skills is a critical component of training alongside simple volume and intensity sessions, and one which most athletes remain underinvested. If you want to get all semantic about it I would say that having some dedication to deliberate technique practice is a key demarcation between an aspiring speed skater and an enthusiastic fitness skater. Base (and anaerobic) fitness are essential for sure, and will never be neglected or sacrificed, but we also want to become better skaters, not just fitter ones.