Give the Gift of Motivation and Inspiration!


Give the Gift of Motivation and Inspiration!

What could be better than passing on your enthusiasm!

The best is yet to come!

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Faster as a Master Your best is yet to come!

 

 

 

 

General Training Principles: Part 2 of 2


General Training Principles Part 2 of 2.

To recap my training regimen has eight parts.

Practicing the sport
Warm-up, cool-down, volume, and intensity
Strength work
Cardiovascular work
Periodization
Stretching
Mental training
Rest

Today I will talk about the first part, practicing my sport—in this case, speed skating. Many of you can do your sport daily, like running or cycling.  I can skate on the ice (when available), rollerblade, do imitation skating on dry land, or use a slide-board.

Recently I learned about a high school cross country progarm that was consistently winning over many decades.  They did not run everyday.  They ran hard about 3 days a week and in-between, they would do recovery work on a bike and swimming.  So even when pratcticing your sport like running everyday is not necessary or even desirable.

By applying the general principles of athletic training to anything that requires commitment, dedication, perseverance, and discipline, you can achieve extraordinary results.

Practicing my sport When I started skating as a youngster, what attracted me was the sport itself and the joy of doing it. We must all remember our roots and our early motivation to get us through the hard work of training.

When I skate and race, I put everything together: strength, endurance, technique, cardio work, mental training, everything. This is my toughest test, as well as my best barometer of progress. Here is where the skate meets the ice.

There is nothing natural about speed skating. It is a purely learned activity that requires a fair amount of strength. Because of the strength required, skaters do not have the luxury of a lot of repetition. In order to skate technically well, a skater cannot be too tired. When I get tired, my technique suffers and thereby my speed. In the United States, we have long track ice at two indoor 400-meter ovals about six months of the year from September through March. If the rink is outdoor the season is even shorter. In Olympic years, we might have ice indoors a month or so longer. It is important to skate, but it is also important to do off-ice imitation skating in the form of inline skating, dry-land training, and slide-board. I am constantly refining my technique to get the maximum speed.

When I skate, I have several types of workouts. One workout is endurance skating: many laps at low intensity concentrating on technique and efficiency. Another workout is at race pace for short distances, typically 400 to 600 meters. We have several types of interval workouts as well, which intersperse hard skating with periodic rests. Then we have sprint workouts where we go all out hard for very short distances, interspersed with long rests. The goal is to refine our technique on the ice, since there is no true substitute, while simulating the different parts of racing. My coach is usually on hand for these sessions to direct and modify training as I go, as well as help to refine technique.

In whatever sport you are engaged in, you must learn to apply some amount of technique. Even something as seemingly simple as cycling can benefit because you can learn more efficient ways of pedaling. In speed skating, technique is extremely important. The faster I want to go, the better I must skate technically. This means striving for great body positioning and the most efficient way to push into the ice. If I have poor technique, I will skate slowly. When I improve my ability to apply my motor to the ice, I go faster and longer with the same effort.

By getting some coaching or going to a clinic for your sport will enhance your experience.

The benefits are worth it, you are worth it!

Your best is yet to come!

General Training Principles: Part 1of 2


General Training Priciples: Part 1

Good luck to all my Masters Speed Skating brothers and sisters competing in Calgary this weekend at the Masters World All-Around Championships.  All of you will have fun, enjoy the competition and family of masters, as well as set seasons best, personal bests and World Records!

One of my early memories of growing up is doing crazy things. Little did I know that this kind of play was the beginning of my training. Bart (one of my two younger brothers) and I were probably about 6 and 8 years old at the time. We had skateboards, the kind that were about 2 feet long with metal roller skating wheels bolted to the bottom. Our driveway from the house to the sidewalk was sloped slightly, so we could get a little speed rolling downhill, maybe a fast walking speed. After mastering the skateboard on the driveway, we tried some other stuff. Bart liked hanging upside down on the monkey bars across the street in the park. When we started to go down the driveway on the skateboard in a handstand, it seemed like a logical progression from our other activities. This helped both of us to develop strength and balance early. Certainly, it helped Bart in his gymnastics career, and it also helped me in my balance for skating.

Making time to put in the work can be hard. I was asked the other day about how I find the time to train at this level. My answer was that I don’t find the time, I make the time. This goes back to setting goals and priorities. Following through with a training plan is easier when I make the time. It has taken years to put myself into a job that allows blocks of time off to pursue my other passions. By carefully looking at our schedules, we can figure out ways to make time to pursue our goals and keep our priorities straight. We all have unexpected things come up in our lives that require us to put us off our training schedules. Adaptation with balance is the key to making progress.

Athletic training, in general, has two major parts: building the motor (strength, endurance, cardio), and then developing the technique to apply it. My knowledge and expertise has been developed by trial and error and by talking to other athletes on similar paths. The lessons I’ve learned in training may be actively applied to other parts of life. My training regimen has eight parts.

Practicing the sport
Warm-up, cool-down, volume, and intensity
Strength work
Cardiovascular work
Periodization
Stretching
Mental training
Rest

Next week I will expand on general training principles.

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Training Principles Part 3 : Strength Training


Training Principles Part 3 : Strength Training

Strength training is essential. Many books have been written and studies have been done on the benefits. For a speed skater, strength is essential. The benefits are numerous. I train very hard at developing my strength, which produces huge benefits. As a young man, I did weight training, but not as much as I do now. Strength training enhances and improves everything. One benefit is that I am a better runner because I am stronger; I run with better economy and efficiency, I play tennis better, swing a golf club better, etc.

Because of strength, I am able to apply my leg strength to the ice through a very strong core without compromising my lower back or being prone to injury. Strength and weight training has also helped me develop stronger connective tissue and bones. This helps to prevent injuries.

My strength work is one weight workout per week. I do about a dozen different exercises. I do three for my legs. Leg press, squeeze (adduction) and hamstrings for my legs and that is a leg press machine. The rest is for core and upper body. I no longer use free weights. The chance of injury is high, and the benefit from free weights is negligible. I use machines that have a cam system that distributes constant stress through the full range of motion of the joint I am working. I do one set of 6 reps to failure. For example, on the leg press, I will extend up from the starting position of a 90-degree knee bend to almost straight in 10 seconds, then 10 seconds back down to 90 degrees again. I never fully extend or rest the weight so I am constantly under load. It takes 2 minutes to do 6 repetitions. Then I do three jumps to a bench about knee height two times and walk around for a couple of minutes before going onto the next machine. This exhausts the slow, medium, medium fast and fast twitch muscle fibers all at the same time. It takes about a week to recover. I keep track of what I have done and increase the next week. I make progress every week and I am stronger than ever.

Next week I will cover cardiovascular work.

Photo by Jerry Search

Photo by Jerry Search

Intuitive Training


Now that my Olympics are over (the US Olympic Speed Skating Trials).  I celebrated the achievement and journey.  I took some time off to rest and reflect.

What now?  I woke up a few days ago with an itch to move.  I am built to move, and I heard the call.

My need to move is similar to my need to eat.  Intuitive eating is eating when I am hungry.  I have no lofty goals right now but I still need to feed myself and move.

So my goals are simple now.  I will pay attention to what my body and mind tell me.  When I feel the need to move and push, I will listen and obey.  This wisdom comes from within.

Each week, one skate, one weight workout, one cardio bike workout, then some recovery work like swimming, tennis (indoor for now) and golf when the weather is better.  All this is fun to me.  No outside goals or pressure for achievement.  If I feel like pushing hard, I will, just for the enjoyment.  It feeds my deep down need to move and be active.

Then, I pay attention to the next lesson.

Today the Conners and Bergers get together to celebrate the engagement of my daughter Jamie Conner to Jamison Berger.  Their wedding is planned for March 2015.  We will also recognize Jamie and my son Brad’s birthdays.

Next month I will transition back to the 747-400 flying out of Chicago again.

I have a lot to look forward to.

After the trials with my coach Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr, and two time Olympian Brian Hansen.

After the trials with my coach Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr, and two time Olympian Brian Hansen.

Why I Love To Speed Skate!


Why I love to Speed Skate!

To push-off from the edge of the ice and glide is one of the payoffs.  Gripping the ice with the edge of the blade is a sharp contrast to gliding on the bottom.  The push is done with the edge by creating an angle with the ice.  The turns are a great example of this principle.  Technically correct body position is essential for efficient mechanics that create speed.

The sensation of gliding is like floating, suspended in time and space.  Intense focus is necessary at 35 miles per hour for our very survival.   Playing crack the whip as a youngster is much the same sensation of a high-speed turn.  With a string of children hand in hand, one at the center, the rest strung out like the spokes of a wheel, as the group spins, the last in line builds speed exponentially.  We let go of the line at max speed, seemingly faster than our legs  can carry us.  The feeling of being shot out of a cannon is the best way to describe it.

Entering the turn I plan and spot the setup 30 meters before.  Then the commitment, lean and pressure into the ice.  Crossover strokes building to the apex, max centrifugal force trying to push me to the outside of the track.  Slight hesitation in the crossover strokes during the middle of the turn to feel the forces of nature I am in concert with.  Legs feeling the pressure required, weight training paying off here.  Perfect body position essential to the mechanics of speed.  Max speed, crack the whip, and acceleration.  Maintaining crossover strokes to get the angle, pressure, the “shot out of the cannon” feel down the straight for the next 100 meters in 7 seconds.  Payoff for the courage to cut the ice with 1.1 milimeter blades.  Risk on the edge and trusting in my abilities.

Without protective glasses my eyes would not see through the wind created tears.  Eight straight away strokes and then the next turn.  Managing energy to get the most speed for the longest time and distance.  This is the payoff for what I do.

Motivated, driven, the resulting speed and all its attendant sensations.  The Zen of being one with the ice, my skates, myself.  The self-generated wind, smell of the ice, speed, pressure, on the edge, consequences, and results, internal and external, this is what skating is to me.

Masters World Sprints, Salt Lake City, March 2013

Masters World Sprints, Salt Lake City, March 2013

 

My Skating Family


My Skating Family.

Back on the ice.  First time on blades since last March.

There is a cycle each year of training and racing, ending with the last race in March.  Beginning this season with time off and recovery, then easy training progressing to harder work with volume and intensity.

This is the stage when we skate again.  Based on my work schedule, skating 3 times per week is the optimum.  Weight training, stationary bike work for cardio and recovery, and yoga will fill in between the skating and work.

All athletes have support networks.  Part of my support network is my skating family.  We are a tribe of like-minded, dedicated people.  Since I train by myself most of the time, it is great to reconnect with my group.  This is the time we get to  catch up.  Having face time with my coach is great.  Connecting with Jeffrey, Brian and Nancy, Jr. and finding out how their summer has gone.  Facebook updates are great but looking into someones eyes is indispensable.

A great characteristic of my group is shared support.  We all have something to offer to the group and to help each other achieve our goals.  Support comes in many different forms, everybody brings something unique.  My wife Maripat provides the basic platform of support (essential) to me and our group, while taking photos, video, and adding encouragement, adjacent to the ice.

I am at home among my training group and coach.  Motivated to get better, faster, smoother, more efficient, always making progress.

Wobbly at first on my blades.  I relearn pretty quickly how to get that fine balance for skating.  Foreign and familiar at the same time, describe the first couple of times on the ice.  In the beginning it is only technical work.  Going fast and hard comes later.  Patience with the process and the stroke yields results.

Any day I can skate is a great day!

Any day I can be with my skating family is also a great day!

My Skating Family. L to R, Jeffrey Swider-Peltz, Nancy Swider- Peltz, Jr, Brian Hansen, Maripat Conner (wife), Bruce Conner, Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr (Coach)

My Skating Family.
L to R, Jeffrey Swider-Peltz, Nancy Swider- Peltz, Jr, Brian Hansen, Maripat Conner (wife), Bruce Conner, Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr (Coach)