As someone who has only just started identifying as an athlete, training plans have been a bit of an ongoing experiment for me. My previous exploits as a runner had found me training only enough to get by, but when I found roller derby I fell in love. I wanted to improve as fast possible and those around me were encouraging me to train as much as I could. The problem was, my body and my mind were not ready for it. I hadn’t built my base and I wasn’t tough enough to maintain the effort and hours of training that I wanted to put myself through.
At the start of 2017, I started roller derby training 2 times a week, with the odd run or gym sesh thrown in. Now, I’ve worked my way up and in 2019 I will be hitting 4 derby training sessions, four to five mornings CrossFit workouts, yoga once a week and the odd run and gym sesh tossed in. The road to managing and structuring this kind of schedule wasn’t easy (and still might not be attainable just yet, but I’m gonna try). Almost every aspect of my life has changed in some way to make me someone who can physically and mentally do this.
As someone who wants this training plan to become a reality, this road has been a process of learning and sacrifice. The most surprising lesson is that it’s important to not be wrapped up in the actual training, but in everything else that influences our lives as athletes:
- Nutrition – Paying attention to the foods I eat and eating enough to give me the energy to get the most out of training.
- Rest – Don’t sacrifice more training for less sleep. And even if you are feeling good, have a rest day, you’ll last longer.
- Mental Space – If you are training with a team all the time, don’t forget to plan for some quiet time, especially if you are more on the introvert end of the scale and need space to recover your energy.
- Patience to build up overall conditioning – Just because you are enthusiastic doesn’t mean your body is ready for it
- Timetable – Make sure you are clear on your life priorities, then use them to choose how you use your time. Sometimes you might have to decline social activities to maintain your training schedule, and that’s not the end of the world.
- Alcohol – I found that when I got serious about my derby goals I had to mostly give this up, but now that I have 95% given up alcohol, I barely miss it because I am more regularly on-form for my training sessions.
- Sacrifice – Get ready to give up some stuff, you’ll be surprised how quickly your perspective on sacrifice changes when you are working towards a clear goal.
- Having a major goal to aim for – For me, having a big audacious goal gets me up in the morning and makes me work harder.
2019 is going to be a grind for me, but I know my priorities and I have a goal that I am willing to work hard for and am super excited to move towards. Ultimately, being passionate about my sport makes all of these other factors just part of the journey, and not really a burden. Hopefully, my thoughts and experiences can help others new to an athlete’s life.