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Depending on what tournament season you play in, whether that is based around the WFTDA, national tournament (looking at you British Championships), or your own league decided season we all tend to have an off-season. A period of time when your team, including your officials, coaches and dedicated volunteers get a well earned rest.
You tend to have two main options;
- Forget about Roller Derby, switch off, reevaluate your relationships outside of derby, explore your other hobbies and interests and all around relax
- Build your body and mind in preparation for the pre-season, because you have X number of weeks off from skating to work on X fitness to come back ready to get that Roster spot you’ve been hankering after
Yup, two main options – I for one have done both…. And after my most recent off-season I definitely have a favourite, option 2.
Don’t get me wrong, option 1 is a great way to recover, our bodies (and minds) take on a lot during our careers as Derby athletes, and rest is a major part of muscle recovery and development, but active recovery (read as body movement) is probably of more benefit when you have specific derby based goals.
Depending on the length of your off-season the level of rest and recovery will vary but having a more active approach to your recovery will benefit your body more in the long run. Roller Derby is an intense sport, we give everything on track, and in order to play hard we also train hard – and many of us now do a form of off-skates training.
I’ve noticed through my own personal Instagram feed that a lot of Derby athletes have moved towards CrossFit and Power/Olympic-lifting, these forms of training allow us to develop our bodies to endure heavy impacts, develop fluid and rapid body movements, carry our bodies (and minds) through Jams in short bursts of high intensity and also help us go long by working on our endurance. It’s a mixed training type and I know I have found the benefits in my own training program, which is generally as follows;
- Monday – Olympic Lifting and WOD 2 hours
- Tuesday – Roller Derby 2 hours
- Wednesday – WOD and Open Skate 2 hours
- Thursday – WOD/Open Gym 1 hour
- Friday – Rest
- Saturday – Active Recovery; walking, biking, stretches
- Sunday – Roller Derby 2 hours
But the off-season is a time to be kinder to your body, so reducing the intensity of the workouts may benefit, for example, focusing on yoga, pilates, gymnastics stretches or conditioning may give you the development focus you need without making your body feel like it’s being punished for not being on skates.
Why do I take this stance? I’m very much pro listening to your body, #youbeyou – but I found that the build back after 3 weeks of off-season this year was a struggle – this off-season I did nothing, and I mean a literal nothing, I didn’t even go out for a bike ride or a walk in the three week break, let alone attend a WOD (workout of the day) at my local Box. I caught up on Netflix and life stuff, and felt like a slug after 3 weeks.
In hindsight continuing my usual workout routine but minus Roller Derby training 3 times a week would have been more beneficial to me. It would have meant I returned and didn’t have the lull of ‘getting back to it’, lowering my training intensity would have occurred naturally by the deduction of derby. I am learning the difference between being ‘lazy’, forgiving on my body, and being rested – it’s a process.
So how am I building back to it, my first day back just felt enormously difficult, I got back on skates and they felt like lead weights attached to my feet! I couldn’t do a lot of very basic drills at my usual training level and I felt tired the whole session. It also had an impact on my off-skates, because returning to a WOD thinking you can have 3 weeks off and still [insert crossfit skills here] you had built to over the past year is a fantasy (think a peg-a-corn level of fantasy).
I’m now three weeks back to it and back to my usual training and intensity level at Roller Derby but it took an equal amount of time to build back from the length of time I’d had to rest… which felt inordinately long.
So what is my learning from this, off-season is a time to do whatever you feel is best for your body:
My journey is not the same as yours,
My body is not the same as yours,
My training routine is not the same as yours,
My Derby goals are not the same as yours
And it doesn’t have to be, but whatever you do during off-season don’t be a slug, because as much as Roller Derby is for everybody, a slug is never going to pass it’s minimum skills.