Month: July 2015

Eastbourne Extreme 2015 was a Freakin’ Blast  

Oh my, Eastborune Extreme was the funnest. So much so, in fact, that I give exactly zero fucks that ‘funnest’ is not a real word. If you haven’t heard of it before, Eastbourne Extreme is a free extreme sports festival based in (you guessed it) Eastbourne, down on the south coast of Blighty. Before starting roller derby I’d never heard of it, but when one of our coaches mentioned a while back that it was coming up and us rookies should come along, I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to watch some outdoor roller derby and spend some extra time on skates. With a bit of wheedling, I managed to rope a couple of fellow rookies into booking a super kitsch, bargainous B&B with me, and the rest is history.

Here are some of the things that made it such a bloody good weekend:

Hell Yeah Roller Derby: Eastbourne Extreme 2015

We saw a bunch of cool non-roller derby stuff. People doing ridiculously impressive stuff on bars that made me feel terribly inadequate as a human being. BMXers taking their bikes off some sweet jumps.  Cute kids doing martial arts demonstrations. VW camper van enthusiasts showing off their pimped rides. And dogs – everywhere dogs!

Hell Yeah Roller Derby: Eastbourne Extreme 2015

We skated TONS. I reckon we had our skates (and protective gear!) on for about 5 hours each day, and skated up and down the shoreline for miles (on designated bike/skate paths!) checking out the various bits of the festival. Looking at the route on MapMyRun, I reckon we easily skated 12 miles over the course of the weekend. Learned that I find outdoor skating both fun and terrifying in about equal measure. I didn’t roll over any children or small dogs though, so I’m counting it as a win.

We watched LOADS of roller derby. A-teams, B-teams, male roller derby, co-ed roller derby… basically all the derby. Outside in the sunshine. For free. It was brilliant.

Hell Yeah Roller Derby: Eastbourne Extreme 2015

We got to see our own teams play. On Saturday, our B-team was playing  in knock-out rounds which meant they played 3 bouts in total (!!)… and they won! Watching them in their final game was such a brilliant experience. I’ve never been a Sports Fan, so have never really got invested in whether a particular team or individual wins or loses something. Watching my league-mates play was an entirely different experience. I cared SO MUCH! (Maybe too much). I almost lost my voice from cheering them on. As well as being fun to watch and support, it was incredibly inspiring to watch the team I’m working towards being a part of one day. (One day!) And even though our A-team didn’t win their bout on Sunday, it was just as enthralling to watch.

Hell Yeah Roller Derby: Eastbourne Extreme 2015

We got to hang out.  I haven’t had a chance to hang out with the other rookies that much outside of practice yet, so having a weekend to be skate-wearing, sweaty, giggling goofballs together was awesome.

Did you go to Eastbourne Extreme this year? BRING ON 2016!

Images my own, except for the 4th, 11th and 12th which are courtesy of Robyn Vinter with permission. 

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Watch Super Useful GIFs of Roller Derby Footage

I love coming across a super useful roller derby resource for the first time. This week, it’s You Should Be Watching More Roller Derby (found via the also super useful Treblemaker999 blog). Want to learn from watching footage of roller derby, but find it hard to pick out individual tactics in fast-paced gameplay? I know I do. It turns out that it’s much easier to pick out the nuances of a sweet move when someone has helpfully turned the footage into a GIF. I really recommend checking it out! If you like, you can even search for GIFs by move (like footwork or hits) or by team (oh hello Gotham). Cool, huh?


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Training Diary 6-12 July

Keeping track of the training I get up to, on and off skates. Probably pretty boring for anyone who isn’t me! 

Monday and Tuesday: So on Monday afternoon I found myself in King’s Cross with time to spare, and decided it was about time I went into a Runners Need to get my gait analysed and to purchase some trainers that aren’t a piece of shit. Last time I went for a run, about a month ago, I ended up with shin pain that really sucked. I figured (slash hoped) that my crappy can’t-even-remember-when-I-bought-them-they’re-so-old trainers were the cause, and that if I fixed that I’d be able to run and not end up limping for days afterwards. Not so, it seems. Monday and Tuesday I went for some short 2 mile runs (and I mean ‘run’ in the loosest sense – I tend to alternate running and walking, so it takes me about 10 minutes per mile). I cooled down. I stretched. And stretched. Alas, it’s been shin pain city again (see: this post). Boo.

Friday: Roller derby practice! This was our 14th week of rookie training, and two weeks away from a ‘mock minimum skills’ assessment to give us an idea of how we’re progressing. I’m HIGHLY aware of how much I seem to crumble under the pressure of being watched (it seems my favourite trick is being able to do something only when my coaches/fellow rookies aren’t looking), so trying not to psyche myself out during these ‘mocks’ (and eventual real minimum skills test) is going to be a challenge.

Highlights: I managed to add 2 laps to my 27 in 5 personal best from May, taking me to 25 laps. On our slightly-smaller-than-regulation track we need to be hitting 28/29 in 5 minutes, so I’m getting closer but still not there. More than any other drill,  I think it’s in the 27 in 5 exercise that I can tell the difference in my fitness levels since starting roller derby. Back in March, I managed 20 laps and felt like I done the toughest bleep test of my life when the time was up. You know that lovely saliva-in-the-mouth sicky feeling you get when you push yourself way too far? Yup, that was me all over. I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park now, but I don’t finish feeling like I’m going vom and my heart rate recovers after a minute or two (I think it might have taken me 10 minutes to feel like normal back in March!).

Stuff that sucked: Still struggling with transitions, still struggling with plough stops, still can’t get my head around laterals, AKA same old same old. Not sure there’s much I can do about this other than to just keep plugging away at it. I’m going to try to squeeze in some extra skate practice over the next few weeks and really focus on the skills I’m consistently getting stuck on.

Image source: Tuncay Coşkun, Flickr CC

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Roller Derby Injuries: Why Do My Shins Hurt?

Shin pain SUCKS. Can I get an amen? You get your act together to take advantage of the nice summery weather with some outdoor jogging, even get your gait analysed and invest in some snazzy new running shoes, go on a measly 2 mile run and BAM! The next day you’re greeted with a sharp pain in your shins that makes walking up the stairs at work an interesting manoeuvre! Hmph.

My immediate reaction to this pain was to think: shins splints. Shin splints is the only description for acute lower leg pain I’ve come across, but I’ve never actually thought to delve any deeper into what the heck this even means.  The NHS website says that shin splints is “a general term used to describe exercise-induced pain in the front of the lower legs, or shins.” So far, so vague. It goes on to say that the most common cause of shin splints is medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS). MTSS is thought to occur “when the layer of connective tissue covering the surface of the shin bone (periosteum) becomes inflamed.”

So that’s one explanation, and it does pretty well describe the pain I’m experiencing. But what else could it be? Well, some people think that MTSS isn’t actually that common, and that lot’s of people misdiagnose their shin pain (but a lot of doctor’s obviously think differently, so who knows). Other conditions that could be to blame for shin pain include tibialis anterior tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon which goes down the big-toe side of your shin/ankle*) or a tibial stress fracture (a crack that does not go completely through the bone). Both tendonitis and stress fractures commonly occur in the tibia (shin bone), apparently, and can be a likely cause of shin pain.

Unfortunately for a sports novice trying to figure out a new pain, the causes of MTSS, tibialis anterior tendonitis and tibial stress fractures are all frustratingly similar:

  • over-training
  • doing too much too soon
  • wearing crappy or unsuitable footwear
  • running on hard surfaces or slopes

I thought I’d done my best to avoid shin injury by buying some proper running shoes and keeping my runs to a short 2 mile, but I do run mainly on hard paths and my route includes some slopes. Plussss I maybe ran two days in a row even though I had a little bit of pain after the first day. I know, I know, I’m an idiot.

Reading up on the symptoms of these three conditions isn’t making things any clearer for me either…

Shin Splints (MTSS)

The pain is felt along the shin bone (tibia), which runs down the inner part of your shin. At first you will feel a dull, aching pain. If you ignore it and continue to exercise, it can become very painful and you may have to stop exercising altogether. (source)

Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis 

Patients with tibialis anterior tendonitis usually experience pain at the front of the shin, ankle or foot during activities which place large amounts of stress on the tibialis anterior tendon (or after these activities with rest, especially upon waking in the morning). These activities may include walking or running excessively (especially up or down hills or on hard or uneven surfaces), kicking an object with toes pointed (e.g. a football), wearing excessively tight shoes or kneeling. The pain associated with this condition tends to be of gradual onset which progressively worsens over weeks or months with continuation of aggravating activities. Patients with this condition may also experience pain on firmly touching the tibialis anterior tendon. (source)

Tibial Stress Fracture 

The most common site of a stress fracture in the lower body is the tibia or shin bone, followed by the metatarsals, the bones in the foot behind the toes. Most stress fractures develop gradually. A typical tibial stress fracture will initially be felt as “shin splints,” a catch-all term that refers to pain along the inside of the tibia. The pain usually starts out over a large area along the shin bone, and is mainly noticed after a hard training session or race, or the morning after a long or difficult workout. (source)

So…. yeah. I am still none the wiser. My shin pain is worse in one leg (which makes me worry it’s a stress fracture or tendonitis), BUT saying that it’s also the leg that I tend to do a funny turn-out thing with when I run/walk (yeah, smooth I aint). I could probably run on it now if I wanted, but the pain is present a few days after I last ran and feels ‘tight’ when I walk down stairs (to the extent that I have a tiny limp). Unfortunately none of my reading about causes of shin pain has helped me to pin point exactly what’s going on, but fortunately treatment for shin pain is similar across the board:

  • Ice the area for short periods of time for a few days (my cake-transporter cool packs came in handy!)
  • Stop doing the exercise that’s causing the pain (from 2 weeks for MTSS, up to 6 weeks for stress fractures – argh!)
  • Choose non-impact exercises that don’t cause pain (e.g. swimming, elliptical training)
  • When back to running, avoid slopes and hard surfaces and wear the right footwear

So, no more nice, sunny, FREE outdoor runs for me for a few weeks. Luckily I’ve never experienced shin pain from skating, so I’m going to continue with on-skates practice unless it starts to hurt. Assuming the pain goes away in the next two weeks, I’m going to tweak my running route so that I run on the edge of a grassy field rather than on the hard path that goes around the perimeter, which I’m hoping will help. Other than that I’m not sure what else I can change… Fingers crossed that I don’t just have a terribly funny run which will bugger up my shin no matter what I do!

Any first-hand experience of shin pain? Did you figure out the culprit? 

*Friendly word of advice: DO NOT Google image search ‘tibialis anterior tendon’ unless you want to see some truly gut-churning photos of the inside of people’s legs. Seriously.

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Training Diary 29 June – 5 July

Keeping track of the training I get up to, on and off skates. 


Monday: Spin class. My favourite instructor with a great soundtrack; really enjoyed it. Still getting some mildly scary shortness of breath towards the end of the class but hoping if that’ll improve as a get fitter.

Tuesday: One of the hottest days of the year you say? Sounds like a SWELL time to do some indoor climbing. Jokes, I was a sweaty mess. Didn’t get as much done as I would have liked on account of keeling over in the heat, but damp fun was had.

Wednesday: On OFFICIALLY the hottest day in London in almost 50 years (!!), I was lucky enough to be able to take a day off after working an extra day at the weekend which meant a trip to the lovely Brockwell Lido. Cooling off in the unheated outdoor pool was dreamy, but finding out how lacking my swimming fitness is was a bit of a shock! Two lengths at a time was genuinely all I could manage (hopefully at least partially because my arms were achy from last night’s bouldering session). Time to incorporate some arm days?!

Friday: Skate practice! After two weeks off skates (my league takes a short summer break) I was excited to get back to it with the other rookies. On Friday we went over a bunch of minimum skills basics. Some things I feel like I have the hang of pretty well know – knee taps, t-stops, double knee falls, falling small. Others I felt like I made some progress on in the session, particularly pivot transitions to the left (still CANNOT nail turning to the right… WTF?) and jumps (though I chickened out of jumping over our coach… next time!). Some things I’m still stuck on – plough stops, laterals and transition stops. I’m also aware that I need to be able to everything at a much faster pace than I am now, so that’s the main thing I’ll be pushing myself to work on.


Image source: Amy Selleck, Flickr CC

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