With competitions still not in the immediate future, and distractions daily of summer adventures that I am obligated to pass on, it is far too easy to start to have a negative outlook on skating and training. This mindset may be inevitable, but I believe one can choose to either simply endure and be miserable about it, or one can find motivation to push themselves harder and become a better athlete. So I thought I would write this blog post on the sources to which I have been seeking motivation from. The first is the by far the most obvious and influential: the Olympics. I should start off by clarifying a stereotype that is so often true, but not so for me. I was never one to say, ‘I want to go to the Olympics when I get older’. I knew speed skating was largely an Olympic sport, but that was not the reason I started skating, nor the reason I continued to skate. I guess this is because ‘going to the Olympics’ was such a vague goal. I had no idea how you qualified, what the competition would be like, or the type of commitment and sacrifice you had to do. Now, that has changed. I was fortunate enough to compete in the 2010 Olympic trials and although I was somewhat oblivious to it at the time, I gained experience and knowledge that could only be obtained there and not taught. I now know the competition and know what times and placements I will have to achieve. So with the 2012 games I started getting excited, very excited. I don’t think the individual stories of the Olympics are what motivate me; it is the general hype and excitement of the games as an international showcase. I guess this time around I felt like I could really put myself in the shoes of the athletes. This affirmed my notion that this is something that I really want to do, and believe it very realistic to do so in the next Olympics. With the conclusion of the Olympics, its motivation carried over to looking back to ‘the plan’. This is a personal detailed list of goals that are all steps to qualifying for the Olympics. I would find myself rehearsing these goals in my head all the time, constantly asking myself what I could be doing at the moment to make progress on a goal. This kept my mind busy enough to stay focused through what could have been a drought of a training block. I now find motivation to train in my environment. I write to you from a condo near Salt Lake City, to where ‘team diamonds’ are calling home for the next 10 days. We were on ice, in the weight room, and on the road bikes today. It is easy to not complain about the intensity when purpose in training is so blatantly obvious in the surrounding environment. So I hope to make the most of the next 10 days and will send the next blog post after the camp!
This week was the first week back to training with the group. Something I have been eagerly anticipating since Oregon. May have been too much of a good thing though as this week has been incredibly exhausting. However, nobody would ever improve if they never put themselves through these types of training weeks. The next few days are on the lighter side, and aimed to be –much needed- recovery days. Starting Monday, we start a two-and-a-half week training block, which to be frank has me nervous and slightly intimidated. Will have to change that perspective before Monday, or else the next two-and-a-half weeks will be a lot more painful and not enjoyable. The concussion has been fine and I hope it is now a thing of the past. Elbows are almost back to normal, but will take probably about another month until I rebuild to the bulky, chiseled upper body I had before (sarcasm). I still have temporary teeth in and will have that sorted in the upcoming weeks. That leaves the only outstanding question mark to be my fitness level. It is probably not as big of a question mark than I am making it out to be, and I hope to prove this to myself in the upcoming training block. Time will tell.
Exactly one month after the crash in Oregon, I have finally been given the ‘all-clear’ to start the concussion rehabilitation protocol. The last month has been filled with appointments to the dentist, physiotherapy, osteotherapy, doctor, physcotherapy, and massage therapy. Other than those numerous appointments, my days have been filled with an abundance of nothing. Now I can start ‘working out’. The first day starts with a 10-minute ride on the stationary bike at a heart rate that does not exceed 120bpm. For those that don’t know the effort required meeting those restrictions, it is between standing still and a slow walk. Then the workload increases, given that any concussion symptoms do not return throughout any time of the day. This continues for 6 days, then if I am concussion free –knock on wood- I will be back with the group but at a reduced workload. Talk to anyone who has had a concussion before and all will agree that it is vital to not rush the healing process. I feel like a dog pulling on the leash raring to be set free. I know this is for my own good, but anybody who ever had to sit on sidelines because of an injury has shared this frustration. On the optimistic side of things though, the crash happened at a pretty convenient time and I see no reason to it affecting my season in any manner. If anything, it will help my perspective going forward.
Well its almost back to the grind. Very excited to get back on the ice for the first time of the season. Will let everyone know how this week goes in the next blog post to follow. Its tardiness will much depend on the verdict. Thanks to all who have been checking in.
Post Script- For those speed skaters following from back home, I thought I provide this link to a simple informative video that teammate Gil Junio and former teammate Dustin Miller made regarding proper dry skate technique. Happy training!
As this is my first blog post I am overwhelmed in the act of pondering what content I should include and what is better left omitted. In an interest to keep some people returning to this site, I will strive to keep these brief.
This year has been a jump up for me as far as training groups are concerned. My coach is Bart Schouten and we have close ties with Mike Crowe‘s group. For those who don’t follow speed skating, these guys are very respected coaches and somewhat gurus of the sport. I have only five people in my group, including speed skating icons Cindy Klassen and Denny Morrison. We started training at the beginning of May with a camp in Penticton, B.C.. Since then we have been doing a lot volume to which I am enjoying but not entirely accustomed to. We spend a lot of time road biking and doing dryland exercises. With the long track ice out until the beginning of July, we have been training a fair amount on short track ice. I often get asked how much time I spend training? I am at training usually between five and eight hours a day, six times a week.
Two weeks ago, our group, accompanied by Mike’s group, departed for an 11-day bike camp in Bend, Oregon. I had never been to Oregon, and was amazed with its beautiful untouched geography. We spent the first three nights in a remote fishing cabin, doing rides and hikes during the day. We then relocated to the city of Bend, where we did rides, dryland training, and one mountain bike ride that characterized the camp for all. Not expecting such great amounts of snow that covered any indication of the trail, we hiked aimlessly with our bikes for many hours and eventually split into two separate groups. After crossing a fallen tree over violent rapids with our bikes, we found the trail and rode safely back to the parking lot. There we met a local who told us of a fun trail that would lead us back into the city. Having done little riding on this long -6 hour- exhausting trek, we decided to try out this trail. Meanwhile, the other group was far behind in the snowy peaks, as the sun began to set. The trail the local suggested turned out to be one of the best trails I had ever ridden. It was hard-packed, fast, with table-top jumps and big burms. Nearing the end of the ride, I crashed off a jump and hit my head quite hard against the ground. An ambulance was called and I was brought to the hospital where I would discovered that I broke two of my front teeth, both elbows, and suffered a concussion which is playing a big role in recent memory loss. As I was in the ambulance, the sun was rapidly coming down and darkness started to invade the other group of lost bikers. A local search party of 100 people was called but never put into action, as the group found their way out just as the sun set. This was an incredible experience for all and brought us closer as a group. I flew home a few days later to start recovery and everybody else joined me five days later, with the conclusion of the camp.
Well that seems like a good place to conclude my first blog post. Please let me know what you think by commenting on this, or sending my an e-mail. I would love to hear from you. I will leave you with a promo video that teammate Anastasia Bucsis made about our group –our group is known as the ‘DIAMONDS’.