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Training Tips (2)

Updated November 23, 2003

Avoiding Injuries...


It's a paradox: exercise makes us stronger, fitter, and more resistant to disease, yet the higher you go in the athletic world the more common it is for athletes to be injured or recovering from injury. This doesn't have to be so, nor in particular do you have to get an injury that would prevent you from doing the Défi.

Avoiding injury takes wisdom and experience. If you started training late, you may panic and push too hard all at once. If you started early, you may think you can go faster and farther, week after week without letup. If you have Other Things in your life, you may try to cut back on rest as your workouts lengthen. And if you're a motivated person who loves skating -- which you must be, or you wouldn't even dream of doing the Défi -- there will definitely come a day when you will say, "So what if I'm tired, I want to skate!" Which is the day you'll get injured.

Try to follow a few simple rules to improve your chances of not getting injured:

 Avoiding Injuries -- Increase gradually 

Increase gradually.  The rule of thumb is to limit increases in training factors (intensity and volume) to no more than 10% per week -- and only one at a time. In other words, as you build your weekly skating distance toward the goals discussed under Training for Endurance, try to add no more than 10% per week. And when you're increasing volume (distance), don't increase intensity (speed). Your body will absorb the extra work easily, and you'll be less likely to strain muscles and joints.



 Avoiding Injuries -- Sleep 

Make SLEEP a part of your training.  Never underestimate the importance of rest, particularly sleep. The fact that you're fitter than everyone else doesn't make you able to go without sleep; on the contrary, the training you're doing requires you to get more sleep than you might need otherwise.



 Avoiding Injuries -- Rest Days 

Make Rest Days part of your training.  Your weekly training schedule must include one or two Rest Days -- these are sacred! In a week of comparatively light training you may only need one Rest Day, but don't hesitate to take an extra Rest Day when your body needs it. Remember, with people like us, "lazy" means we'd rather be out skating than sitting in an office; but sometimes, a little office-sitting would probably do us some good.



 Avoiding Injuries -- Variety 

Variety is more than the spice.  Don't always push hard; don't always go long; don't always skate in the same place at the same speed. Give yourself variety -- not only will you have more fun but your body will be stronger, more flexible, more capable of responding to the many different situations you will encounter on the Défi.



 Avoiding Injuries -- Stretch! 

Do your stretches!  This can't be said too often: after every workout you should follow a thorough stretching routine, with special attention to the long muscles involved in skating. Stretching after a workout helps tired muscles recover faster; in addition, regular stretching keeps you flexible, thus helping to protect you from injury and make you a more agile skater. During the final weeks of training before the Défi, you may find it beneficial to do your stretches even after a light activity such as walking, which in this case serves as a warmup to the stretches.

Always do your stretches when your muscles are warm, e.g. after a 10-minute warmup unless you've just done a workout. Never bounce when you stretch! Hold each position for 20-30 seconds, stretching a little further in the last few seconds. Always do a warmup followed by stretches before doing sprints. You don't have to stretch before a Long Skate, but do start slowly to let your body warm up.



 Avoiding Injuries -- General conditioning 

General conditioning.  The fitter you are all around, the more easily you'll handle your training for the Défi, not to mention the Défi itself. This means: strengthen important support muscles like your abs; do a few pushups and other exercises to strengthen the upper body. Take advantage of opportunities to be generally active, not just when you're training. For example, the day after your Long Skate or a hard speed workout, do something very easy but still active, like easy cycling without resistance, or a walk.



 Avoiding Injuries -- Nutrition 

Nutrition etc.  (For a well-balanced and apparently authoritative approach to this subject, see the Sports Nutrition section of Dietsite.com.) Obviously, you should be eating a well-balanced, varied diet, rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy products (or other sources of calcium), and yes indeedy, red meat or other sources of iron and protein. What about supplements? A daily supplement of 400 IU of Vitamin E can't hurt, and will very likely help. In the final weeks before the Défi, a daily multivitamin could also help, and you could also take additional Vitamin C. Although your training does stimulate your immune system, making you less susceptible to disease, the fact of the matter is that (a) you may be pushing yourself just a little harder than you should, and (b) October is when colds start going around.


Training for Endurance Ü Þ Training for the Course