WRITTEN BY: LADY MCDEATH
I'm kind of a cross-training fanatic, bearing a recently given name of Lady McHyphy. I started cross-training to assist with weight loss and to improve the strength of my left leg. To be quite frank, cross-training is the only reason I can do derby successfully. If I hadn't spent hours in the gym, I can't honestly say whether or not I would have passed my minimum skills. So I want to give the breakdown of cross-training success in a sense. My version may not be everyone else's version of what works to stick it out with cross-training.
1. What's your why?
A huge part of being successful in adhering to a cross-training plan is identifying why you are doing it. What is driving you to hit up the weights or hop on the treadmill? Without a clear intention of why you are doing it, your adherence will wax and wane based on exterior factors. Your why can range from injury prevention to stronger hits to being able to increase your endurance. It needs to be a why that you view as worthwhile. It can't be just because someone else wants you to do it. My personal why can vary depending on the time of year and mood. It cycles pretty consistently between maintaining muscles for derby, weight management, and mental health.
Ah, that word. I hear people say that they lack motivation at times. To which I reply, motivation is finicky at best. Motivation isn't in our control at times. Dedication and determination are however. I have my days where I want to be lazy. Hell, I have my weeks where I want nothing more than to lay around. On those days or weeks, I have to go back to my why. Sometimes, it's helpful to look at a short-term why. For instance, having a game in two weeks that you have to at least maintain a certain level of fitness for. Sometimes, I trick myself into being okay with just a participation award. I love going hard in the gym, but if my motivation is absent sometimes I content myself on the fact that I just made it to the gym for a workout. Visualization is another trick I use. Anyone that knows me, knows that I hate cardio and just want to lift. I need cardio though clearly. So sometimes what I do to get myself to do cardio is visualize game scenarios that require fast movements, like lateral movement spanning the track to catch the jammer or chasing the jammer down. Sometimes when I'm feeling extremely masochistic, I visualize myself as a jammer running away from the blockers while screaming "AHHHHH" in my head.
3. Pick an activity that you like.
Cross-training can look different for everyone. For me, it's lifting lots of heavy weights. For others, it might be crossfit, dancing, yoga, etc. Finding an activity that jives with you will help with the sustainability. My recommendation is that the activity balances out some of the ways that derby creates imbalance in our bodies. You don't necessarily have to do that though, or cross-train for the intention of improving your derby game. I think cross-training for your mental health is fine. I also think cross-training primarily for injury prevention is great. Find the system and the drives that work for you.
WRITTEN BY: SWEARWOLF
I am awkward.
Not in the cute rom-com heroine, I-trip-over-myself-but-still-manage-to-wear-spike-heels-like-a-queen type of awkward, but the kind who never quite feels at home in her own body and who is never quite sure what to do with small talk unless that small talk happens to be about Star Trek or Harry Potter. I grew up as the girl with the coke-bottle glasses, the perpetually missing front teeth and with the best friend who was a boy (oh, the horror.)
I vividly remember being ridiculed at daycare for not being sporty. A combination of being severely visually impaired and hating having objects whirling past my face made me a poor player of anything sports-ball related, so when it was time for mandatory team “games” I was always picked last for teams if I hadn’t already been assigned to one by a counselor (this was, of course, after I had been told that I could not continue to read my book instead of playing, unless I wanted the counselors to report my insubordination to my mom.) There was, however, one game that I was actually good at. It didn’t involve running, or catching, or kicking. It involved two inflatable inner tubes, each warn around the midsection of an opposing player. The object was to knock the other player off their feet with the tube, while maintaining one’s own balance and staying upright. It killed the kids who ridiculed be for being bad at every other game, that the chubby, blind girl could keep her feet and land them all on their backsides.
Once I was old enough to stop going to daycare after school, my participation in physical activity fell to the wayside and I gained a lot of weight. Through middle school and high school I was a subscriber to the excuse that I was fat and awkward so I didn’t need to care about trying to work out. It became a cycle of self-loathing and weight gain.
Eventually, in my early twenties, I decided I was tired of being fat and feeling like shit all the time. I participated in a handful of fad diets and dropped a good amount of weight. I got into my first serious relationship with an emotionally and sexually abusive man who liked to tell me how fat I was, and who alienated me from my family and friends. Without going into detail, the relationship eventually ended, leaving me with frayed relationships and a laughable self-esteem which, to be honest, wasn’t all that great to begin with.
In my need to gain back some kind of control over my life, I started running. One morning, I woke up, laced up some old tennis shoes and ran three miles. Running gave me back a lot of the things that I had lost over time. Using my body, feeling my burning muscles move, the sweat that rolled down my cheeks, it all made me feel, for the first time in my life since playing the stupid inner tube game, like I was powerful. I started dating again, I met the man who became my partner and husband, I adopted a dog to run with and I found my way back to my family and friends. Running gave me a lot, but what it did not do, was offer me a community.
And this, my friends, is where roller derby came into my life. While sitting on the couch watching YouTube cat videos after work one day, my husband and I got sucked into the YouTube rabbit hole and got really off-track. A far cry (or maybe not) from videos of cats failing to jump onto window sills, we found a video highlighting banked track roller derby as it exists in its modern form as an actual sport. I remember getting through the video, watching these strong women with body types across the spectrum doing what they love, and turning to my husband and saying, “I can do that? Did you see that girl’s ass? I have an ass like that!”
It actually took me several months and a big cross-country move until I actually started playing. I walked into my first Fresh Meat flat track roller derby practice not having skated since I was about 12 years old, and never really having worn quad skates at all. I fell immediately in love.
Since joining the Palouse River Rollers in August of 2018, I feel like I have found a place where I belong, where it doesn’t really matter how awkward I am; my teammates are happy to see me when I walk through the gym door, and are always open to offering help when I need it. Yeah, I get hit and fall a lot, but unlike with the inner tube game, I can always get back on my feet and go back in to try again. Going to practice isn’t like the games I was forced to play as a kid, I go because this is where I want to be. It gives me the satisfaction that I found with running, and it gives me a team to lean on and learn from when I need them.
Making friends as an adult is next to impossible, especially when you are introverted and strange. This is my outlet, and my means to become a better, stronger version of myself. I am forever grateful that I found this sport and this league.