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Getting Your Edge Back: A Skating Liveblog
12/10/10
Saw your liveblog in your signature when you commented on mine. Totally out of my experience, but interesting nonetheless.

This kinda makes me want to do one for cycling, but I can't see that being very interesting, especially this time of year. Maybe it will help me stay motivated, though. Did you think something similar when starting yours?
DrRockopolis
Hey, hi there, Dr Rockopolis! Glad you find it interesting. :D Did I think Who Would Want To Watch Us? Oh, absolutely! I guess I figured if nobody was reading it, at least I could practice trying to write in an interesting way, and it would give me a way to think about what I was doing and gripe about what was annoying me. Maybe a little motivation. To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely sure why I started it. :p
TheGirlWithPointyEars (edited by: TheGirlWithPointyEars)
Hmm...didn't really think about it as a way to organize my thoughts on the subject or do research. Sounds handy.

Do you think you're pushing yourself harder because of it?
DrRockopolis (edited by: DrRockopolis)
Hmm, probably some. Reporting 'No Progress' doesn't make you feel as good as being able to report, "I got better and/or did something new today'. I'm not very competitive at all in most sports - a lot of natural disadvantages - but the fact that this is about getting better than yourself, not about raw speed, and I have a few advantages can indeed make me a little competitive when skating.
TheGirlWithPointyEars
12/13/10
No rips, sounds like you're getting better. XD

I used to rollerblade, ages ago, but I think that's about as close as I get.
DrRockopolis
12/15/10
Your spins don't involve leaving the ice, right? I'm trying to picture how that kinda thing works, it just doesn't seem quite...'real', if that's the right word. Maybe 'possible'?
DrRockopolis
No, no leaving the ice! It's basically starting off to do very tiny circles on one foot and amplifying the angular momentum by pulling all your other limbs (which start out fairly far away from the body) in tight.

... Not that I've quite got the trick of doing it all that fast, as I've said. :p
TheGirlWithPointyEars
Okay, I still remember angular momentum being drilled into my head from physics, but...you pull to a stop and spin? You go up onto your toe(s)?
DrRockopolis (edited by: DrRockopolis)
You don't go up on your toes (if you caught your toepick on the ice, it would kill your momentum), but your weight is centered farther up the skate, yes :) And the skate on the ice is slightly on its inside edge, as well, which always makes you tend towards a curve. And you twist your body slightly, giving it even more angular mometum. You don't stop (which would be counterproductive), but you basically channel your forward momentum into angular momentum so instead of going forward, you spin.

I hope that helps describe it better - I'm not entirely sure I understand all the physics behind it myself!
TheGirlWithPointyEars
12/17/10
Sounds good.

How do you skate backwards?
DrRockopolis
It's the reverse of skating forwards - Instead of alternating skate strokes pushing backwards which pushes you forwards, you stroke your skates forwards which pushes you back. As the book I've been reading pointed out, though, your weight distribution is slightly different than when going forwards - just forwards of your arches, on the ball of your foot, instead of nearly on your heels.

And of course, you need to make sure you look over your shoulder to see where you are going :p
TheGirlWithPointyEars (edited by: TheGirlWithPointyEars)
Actually, I should have probably asked how you skate forwards, first. XP
DrRockopolis
Pushing diagonally, yes, but I would have said toes out when going forwards. Pushing out, diagonally back, alternating feet. Then for going backwards it would be pushing out diagonally forwards, alternating feet, toes pointing together.

This is stuff so ingrained in my head I never think about it either; you're making it interesting for me, having to put it words!
TheGirlWithPointyEars (edited by: TheGirlWithPointyEars)
Cool, I was worried it'd be a little too simple to have to explain.

So, standing flat, your toes are pointing away from center, and you push your lead foot away from you, along the line it's already pointing, and then continue with your other foot?
DrRockopolis
So, standing flat, your toes are pointing away from center, and you push your lead foot away from you, along the line it's already pointing, and then continue with your other foot?

Essentially, yes. Not quite standing flat, you would be just slightly on your inside edges (feet leaning in to center) to get a grip on the ice.

Oddly enough, I think I can understand turning, since it's leaning, like a bike, right?

That, and lengthening your strokes on the foot at the outside of the turn. If you're on one foot, it's very much like leaning a bike into a turn. :) For quicker, tighter turns, you cross the foot on the outside of the turn over your skating foot, press it to the outside and back of the turning radius, and bring your inside foot back up and onto the ice and press back and to the outside of the turn with it. Repeat, and you're going around in a circle at speed - that's crossovers . You still do lean into the turn with crossovers, though!
TheGirlWithPointyEars (edited by: TheGirlWithPointyEars)
So, lifting up your foot let's you get a sharper turning angle than if you just tried to twist while on the ice?
DrRockopolis
Whoops, double.
DrRockopolis (edited by: DrRockopolis)
^ Exactly, you've got it! I think we probably have some centrifugal force helping us stay up when we do it at high speed. I'm sure you're well acquainted with centrifugal force as a biker :p It's really not all that bad, one of the most basic skating moves, but it could take a little practice.
TheGirlWithPointyEars
I think part of it is, when thinking about it, I expect to trip, like I would when walking, which wouldn't be the case when skating.
DrRockopolis
12/21/10
I assume the treadmill helps your wind and leg strength, but it doesn't seem like there's much you can do to practice skating off of the rink.

Do you do any yoga or stretches? Flexibility seems to be what you're working on.
DrRockopolis
Yeah, running on a treadmill helps with stamina and leg strength. General fitness so I don't feel run down and tired. :) I do some stretches, hamstring, calves, touching my toes - I do those before running, as well, but not as often as maybe I should before skating. I've been doing a few loops around the rink with nice, long strokes to warm up instead.

The toes-out thing is a little different - I am trying to stand with toes out as far as they'll go whenever I think of it, but I'm getting called out on it for looking silly. :P But I'm still doing it when nobody's looking. :p
TheGirlWithPointyEars
1/1/11
Skating must burn a lot of calories. I wonder how much.

My trainer's still in 'processing', I need to suck it up and ride outside. Or just tell them to take it as a return and get something else.
DrRockopolis (edited by: DrRockopolis)
Hmm, not sure how many calories I burn... I rarely feel like I'm using a ton of energy when I skate unless I'm really pushing myself in a sort of 'racing' mode. Then again, there are all those small muscle adjustments for balance. And I do usually get noticably warmer after I've been skating for a few minutes. But to me, looking at certain people flailing around on the sides desperately trying to keep their balance looks a lot more tiring :p

I can definitely understand not wanting to ride outside in snow and ice. And though I walked in the woods yesterday, the rink is indoors... there are some outdoor rinks in my area, but not too many, given the unpredictability of the weather and much more limited season. It would be much more aesthetically pleasing to skate outside, though, yes!
TheGirlWithPointyEars (edited by: TheGirlWithPointyEars)
Heh, I wish I had a velodrome I could go to. I don't think there's too many left in the United States.
DrRockopolis
1/3/11
Whew, it's good that you're doing this regularly. I feel like a wimp after having not exercised all winter. An achy wimp.

Heh, and I know what you mean about speed; I would never have thought it, but I'm a speed freak too.
DrRockopolis
Oh, trust me, I know all about being an achy wimp. Gym? My un-favorite class ever. Even now you really would be very unlikely to see me trying competitive sports, and it's only this last year I slimmed down and started really exercising.

I do like some adrenaline rushes, though - skiing, skating obviously, I did some whitewater kayaking when I was in college. I'm actually getting the feeling now that my spins don't so much have a lack of speed as I'm not quite balancing right in them so I have to leave them prematurely before I topple over (and before they can acheive top speed). Which can be a little annoying :p
TheGirlWithPointyEars
1/6/11
Well, I remember seeing the basketball players jumping on a trampoline and using resistance bands. Never tried it myself.

Don't really know about balance, though. Any Shaolin monasteries near you?
DrRockopolis (edited by: DrRockopolis)
Trampoline, not a bad idea :) I can certainly see how cycling would increase your leg strength a lot.

No Shaolin monasteries that I know about, no! But I do occasionally stand with one leg off the ground. :p
TheGirlWithPointyEars
1/19/11
Wow, I had no idea my college had a skating rink. I might try it out sometime. Any tips for someone completely unfamiliar with skating?
DrRockopolis
Cool :D Tips? Let's think...

1. Remember the stroking motion we talked about a while ago - one foot at a time pushing out and back, toes slightly together.

2. Your center of balance should be over your skating foot (not halfway between your feet), about 2/3 of the way back on the skate.

3. Don't be afraid of your edges. They are often more stable than your skate blade being exactly flat on the ice. They will cause you to turn rather than going straight, however.

4. Speaking of edges - you may want to try sculling or swizzles. That means having both skates on the ice but angled slightly inwards, and pumping your feet in and out - see the link. It will help you get used to your edges.

5. STOPPING! Yeah, you will need to do this. I suggest, for a beginner, a snowplow stop: stopping by having your toes together and your ankles out, like a big v. This is probably the easiest stop to do. Also possible if you need to: stopping by banging into or catching the outer edge of the rink. Not elegant, but it can work. If you're having a hard time staying up, stick to the side of the rink and hold the edge.

6. We all fall, it's a part of the learning process. Remember, ice is much more forgiving than concrete, since you slide. But do prepare for a fall, especially your first time. Wear snow pants or some sort of heavy pant, or even knee pads and/or elbow pads.

7. Your skates should fit very snugly, especially around the ankle. They should also be tied fairly tight (again, especially around the ankle), but of course not so much that you cut off any circulation.

8. Have fun! And do tell me how it went and whether these tips were helpful.
TheGirlWithPointyEars
^ For no. 1, I meant toes slightly OUT. Yikes! Sorry.
TheGirlWithPointyEars
Thanks, I will.
DrRockopolis
Argh, this is seeming like a bad idea already, hope I don't break my ankles...
DrRockopolis
Ankles=Not Broken. In other news, my old rollerblading instincts took over. Lot of muscles I haven't used in a while, and my ankles felt like they were on fire; feels like the lace need to go up the shin. Flat feet, too.

Pretty fun.
DrRockopolis
Oh, good, glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, don't leave it half-laced (if that's what you meant), you'll definitely want the ankle support - or did you mean you wished the lacing went up higher? I remember my ankles aching after lessons when I was a kid. Strangely enough, they haven't ached at all this year - I'm not entirely sure why.

I haven't gone to the rink in a little while myself - more snowstorms when I was planning on going and brutal cold where I really, really don't want to go out unless I have to. As much as I love most winter sports, I'll be glad when winter is over. Yech.
TheGirlWithPointyEars
Wish the laces went up higher.

Yeah, really cold today, but I had to go to class anyway. Can't wait for spring either, but the local biking isn't that great.

Heh, there're bike trainers, there're endless pools, one wonders if they have frozen treadmills for skaters?
DrRockopolis
Hmm, well, as I said, unfortunately sore ankles aren't an unusual problem. I hope my tips helped a little.

Weatherwise, I'd settle for 'it doesn't get below 10 degrees fahrenheit, and no snow more than once a week'. That would be nice :p

And, definitely never seen anything like a treadmill for skaters. Probably extremely uneconomic to create. Generally you'd just go around and around the edge of the rink like a running track.
TheGirlWithPointyEars
Got some pretty bad ankle pain the second time I went. I don't think this is really my sport, to be honest.

I wonder though, I suppose I could skate up the Hudson river during the winter, and then bike when it thaws? XP
DrRockopolis
Well, I do hope my tips were a little useful to you. Sorry about the ankle pain. I can understand, a lot of sports really aren't my cup of tea (sometimes for some very good reasons - football? Basketball? I'd have been laughed out of try-outs just on sight if I ever tried to join a team for those). And remember when your reading what I've done here, I've been skating on and off for well over half my life and took several years of lessons when I was still a little girl.

Somehow I think skating on the Hudson even in freezing temperatures doesn't sound like such a good idea to me - kinda fun if it was frozen enough to be safe, though! Even a large body of non-flowing water might not be so frozen. Small ponds are a much safer bet. :p Good luck with biking weather, though. ;)

I need to get back to the rink soon myself, I've been neglectful again!
TheGirlWithPointyEars
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