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Dear Freshmeat: Getting the Most Out of Your Training (Part 2)

Do your best and forget the rest

I’m borrowing a saying from everyone’s favourite purveyor of Dad Jokes, Tony Horton of P90X. You are responsible for your own progression on skates. But all that you can ask of yourself is to do your best – honestly do your best, do the very best that you can – and forget about what you can’t do yet, or what everyone else can do.

“But I’m so tired; I know the drill isn’t over but I need to take a breather and get some water!”

Don’t quit. Just keep going, it doesn’t matter how much you slow down, or how long it takes you to finish. As long as you finish. No one will judge you for taking longer than everyone to finish your 25-in-5, au contraire – they will be cheering for you! They want you to succeed; they want you to have this victory.

A really poignant Martin Luther King Jnr quote comes to mind here; it’s one I think of often.

“If you can't fly then run, 
if you can't run then walk,
if you can't walk then crawl,
but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Man, even if you are barely moving by the time you cross that finish line, just push yourself over it. That’s how you improve. You don’t improve by catching your breath and sippin’ some Gatorade on the sidelines.

And do you know what? You are so much more capable than your brain would have you believe. You’re completely capable of seeing out the session. You’re not going to collapse and keel over. You’re not going to run out of oxygen and asphyxiate. But your brain tells you that you need to stop and have a rest, because what you’re doing right now – that is, becoming a better derby player – is hard, and uncomfortable. As Dr. Krista Scott-Dixon (who is responsible for the super rad stumptuous.com) says, “Don’t run away from it. Turn around and go into the discomfort instead. Change is itchy. Downright scratchy. If you want to change…expect a little itchiness.”

Don’t worry about falling down

Falling down doesn't mean that you're bad at roller skating, or bad at derby. What it means is that you're trying to do something you're not capable of yet. Which is, of course, how we learn new things - we try, we suck. We try again, we suck a little less. We keep trying and incrementally suck less and less, until BAM! 360 degree jump!

I love Bonnie D Stroir's take on skaters falling down. When I stacked it at one of her bootcamps, she said, "Yes, Blockie! I love your commitment!" I think the word commitment is important here - it's the difference between vaguely half-assing an attempt at something (because we're too scared or don't trust ourselves enough) and actually having a good crack at it. Here's the thing. Yes, sort-of-half-trying-but-not-really is lower risk, but it also has a lower reward. Basically, if you don't legitimately try, you'll never have the opportunity to actually master Skill X. Even though we probably won't get it right at first, only by actually committing, by really putting everything on the line, do we give ourselves a chance of pulling off something great.

That skater didn't fall down because she sucks. She fell down because she hasn't mastered that particular skill yet. She committed to a manoeuvre she can't really do yet, so yeah, she stacked it. But do you know what happens if you don't actually try in earnest to do something new?

You never learn to do it.

If you don't push yourself to do things that are outside of your current skill set - and probably fail miserably in the process - you will never be capable of anything outside of your current skill set. So sure, you can always remain upright, doing your thing and never falling down. But you need to be prepared to accept the fact that if you never try, you'll never master anything bigger and better than what you can already do.

What you should take away from these pieces is this, and please, listen closely: Derby is incredibly demanding on your body, your mind, your wallet, and the rest of your life. Your derby career is a finite thing – there’s only so much of it you can handle, and there will come a time when your knees simply can’t take it anymore or you have to prioritise another part of your life. The biggest tragedy would be for you to never reach your potential, to never know what you are capable of, because you didn’t push hard enough when you had the chance. Never take your time on skates for granted. Do the very best you can with it.

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