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Updated: On Breaking a Sweat and (not) Throwing Up

The Goal of a Roller Speed Skating Workshop: To be a blur on the track. Photo features a Terminal City Roller Girl during a bout in July.

The Goal of a Roller Speed Skating Workshop: To be a blur on the track. Photo features a Terminal City Roller Girl during a bout I watched last July.

I have been warned that tomorrow I may throw up.

It was only after I signed up for a two-hour roller speed skating workshop that I learned the coach running the session has a degree of notoriety. He’s got a reputation for working his students all the way to vomit-city. “We will provide the puke bucket” says the Facebook event.

But I am committed to adding some new techniques to my stride. Anything to help me get around the roller derby track more quickly and with less effort is a good thing. Maybe I’ll bring a Gravol just in case.

I’m not generally a puker when it comes to working out, but I did a little bit of research on avoiding that particular result in order to minimize the possibility.

Lesson 1: Eat Goldilocks Style

You can also experience vomiting if you are dehydrated, which decreases the blood flow from the intestines; however, drinking too much water, such as two large water bottles before exercise, also can trigger vomiting.

Drink Water: Not too much, not too little.

Eat Protein: Not too much, not too little.

Eat Fibre: Not too much—you get the picture.

Further to that, I should keep it healthy, be generous with my fruit and vegetable intake, and stay away from dairy and bad carbs for the day. Also, cautions me against caffeine, alcohol and uh, spices before the big workout. Check.

I noticed at a derby practice a few weeks back that I felt sluggish and was exhausted after a single lap around the track. When I realized that my nutrition had been especially poor that day (for example, I had a lemon soda and a cheese scone before practice), it really hit me that I need to put some proper fuel in the tank before trying to pull donuts.

Lesson 2: Give myself plenty of time to digest

Like many derby girls, I frequently find myself with 30 minutes until practice without having had one of those aforementioned healthy, balanced, dairy-free meals, then make a poor nutrition choice quickly before heading out the door. No room for that tomorrow—I don’t want to be eating a bowl of Kraft Dinner and Tofurkey five minutes before heading into rush hour traffic. I’ll plan ahead and eat something orange, something green and something grainy.

Lesson 3: Warm up and don’t overdo it

Our league trainers are impressive. They push us to new limits, get us out of our comfort zones and inspire us not to give up. I’ve been light-headed, bent over with a stitch in my side and left at the end of practice with pleasantly achy lungs, but no vomit so far. We always warm up and take time to get our bodies in the mood for skating and jostling.

Rush hour might be enough to get some peoples’ hearts racing but I imagine we’ll do a proper warm up before getting into things tomorrow. I’m also booked into yoga in the morning, which should help loosen up some tight spots ahead of time.

Lesson 4: Interval training

According to, exercise-related nausea is related to  the work capacity of our entire central nervous system. My translation: our guts, muscles, blood and bones are all getting a workout and they need to be prepared. In the long term, interval training will help prepare the entire body, and the cardiovascular capacity, for hard workouts.

This will build up your overall anaerobic threshold and will allow you to work even harder during training sessions, leading to increased ability to reach muscle failure (rather than cardiovascular failure while the target muscle is still strong) and thus much better results.

I hear so much good about interval training, it’s about time I start putting it into my regime. Not to mention a derby bout is essentially an hour worth of intervals.

I’ll report back once on tomorrow night’s workshop once I’ve caught my breath.

Update: 09/12/2012
I made it! Despite misfiring somewhat on my nutrition for the day (and then rallying with broccoli and brown rice), I had a great, exhausting speed skating workout.

The designated sick bay at the roller rink. It was left unused by all.

The designated sick bay at the roller rink. It was left unused by all.

There was no need for emergency buckets for anyone, thankfully. But we worked hard.

Coach Tyler Congdon started us off with an off-skates warmup to get our guts warmed up. After jogging around the track and lunging around a bit, he demonstrated some proper form. This meant getting very low, with feet together and thighs parallel to the ground.

Speed skaters greatly exaggerate their form in practice. Then, when in the heat of the moment mid-race, even if everything goes to hell, your training and muscle memory are there to help.

Tyler gently scolded us all for our shabby derby strides and told us to push straight out sideways, as opposed to the 45-degree backward strides most of us are used to.

He kept putting us through our paces, with some tips on stride recovery and one-footed squat tuck jumps before we strapped on the skates.

Once we were on skates, we spent much of the time skating circles, focusing on one or both legs and pushing both hard and efficiently. The full 90 minutes on skates was essentially an intervals workout. We were all our own coaches, really, so how hard I pushed myself was up to me.

And just like that GoHardFitness article I referenced above warned: I ran out of breath before my muscles were exhausted. An agonizing side-stitch did me in on one particular bout of sprinting. We’ve all been there. The new goal is to push occurrences of such stitches further and further apart.

Filed under: Blog, Personal

About the Author

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I am a writer living under a pile of scrap paper and unopened fan mail from the cable company. I believe a messy desk is simply a sign of inspiration waiting to be uncovered. But I’m biased. More from me on Twitter: @zoeywrites


  1. Dangerla

    I attended one of these in my freshie time. I didn’t throw up, and no one in my group did. I think you’ll be fine, you’ve been doing very well so far!
    Also…I LOVE intervals! Do all the intervals! Every one of them!


  2. Eva

    weight training focusing on your legs and back will assist…maybe get a personal coach to set up a routine for you…and do not take gravol before or during, do have something like a high quality smoothie ready
    for after. Love mum


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