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Am I really an athlete?

The term “athlete” is one that is being used a lot in derby at the moment. I guess in part to ensure that our sport is taken seriously and not dismissed as a bunch of girls in fishnets throwing elbows. But also possibly as a way of pushing those skaters that are in this sport to take themselves more seriously.

Personally being called an athlete makes me nervous. To me an athlete is someone that gets up at 6am every day to hit the gym or run up a mountain. When I think of athletes, I think of Suzy HotRod’s daily workout routine or Beretta Lynch’s road racing past.

Then there’s me. I hate mornings with a passion. Get out of my warm bed to go work out at 6am? A thousand wild horses couldn’t drag me there. I don’t know the first thing about lifting weights and I am still working on getting to 10 real pushups without my puny little arms giving out. I was never particularly sporty in school, I think the highlight was making the C level netball team, once. Oh and did I mention that the mere thought of running makes me come out in a cold sweat.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not sitting on my butt eating chips all day and I will jump at the chance to go snowshoeing up a vertical slope, but to me exercise is about having fun and being healthy. That’s why I love derby – it’s fun, always changing and constantly challenging.

But if I am truly honest with myself, I am never going to have a guns like Suzy or come anywhere close to Lynch’s gorgeous thighs. I don’t have the discipline or the time (self employment has it’s perks, but lots of free time is not one of them!)

And that’s OK. Because there are other ways that I can bring a little bit of the athlete into my life.

1) Eating like an athlete: Changing up simple things in my diet like switching to whole grains, eating super foods like quinoa and consuming less bacon (sad face) and more lean protein like fish (mmm salmon). Consulting dietary experts like Beretta Lynch about what foods to eat pre, during and post workout. Oh and no energy drinks – ever.

2) Looking after my body: I go to the public hot tub once a week. It may seem like an indulgence, but those 30 minutes spent working out my sore muscles on the jets keeps this derby body happy. And if I have any tweaks I see a physio right away and commit to doing the exercises (even if they are SO boring!)

3) Training like an athlete: Not just turning up to practice and going through the motions – making sure I commit 110% to each drill and set goals for my own skill development. Plus adding in cross training once a week in a way that is still fun and different eg. Insanity workouts, Spin classes.

4) Thinking like an athlete: I think this the most important thing that I have learnt about becoming more athletic – it’s all in your mind. 90% of our performance is based on our mental capacity, not our physical capacity. One of my favourite quotes is:

“An athlete is a person who can perform at the same high level regardless of whether they are having the best day of their year, or the worst day of their life.”

So when I turn up for a 9am WFTDA bout having had 3 hours sleep, with stomach cramps and work problems weighing on my mind that’s when I have a chance to show how truly “athletic” I am. Because my team needs me to perform at the top of my game, I push all those things to the back of my mind, I breathe deeply, focus on my skating goals and fall into the warm up routine as if this was just another scrimmage.

I may not be an athlete in the true sense of the word, but I am getting there.

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Encouraging others to be more healthy and athletic is something I am passionate about, and is one of the reasons I enjoy coaching derby so much. Helping others achieve their physical goals and find their own inner athlete is exciting and rewarding.

It’s why I am excited to announce the launch of Camp Pivotstar, a roller derby training company that offers bootcamps, league training, coach coaching and junior camps. I have teamed up with some of the most skilled and athletic skaters and coaches in Canada – 8Mean Wheeler, Beretta Lynch, Stan da Side and Coach Mack the Mouth. We have lots of exciting things planned for 2012 so keep an eye out for a Camp Pivotstar training session in your area.

Check out the facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/CampPivotstar
Full website coming soon: www.camppivotstar.com
Want more info on training? Email us camppivotstar@gmail.com

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Nail on the head, Lulu, thanks for sharing! For me it is totally mental (and some physical hold backs that are coming along!!!) and I credit Chia Grr’vara with getting my mind wrapped around it. I also credit Brendan Brazier for saying, “I wasn’t pushing myself, I was letting myself go”. I find letting my body go so hard, but watching it take care of itself athletically is kind of exciting. XO

  2. So, yah, Lynch may have fantastic legs, but last time I checked, yours aren’t too shabby either!!! Thanks for this. It really made me think about where I fit in on my own athletic scale and, although I’m not the die hard I used to be all the way up to my mid 30s, I’m decided I’m okay with where I am now too!

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