Despite walking 3 miles to work most mornings and not gaining any weight by the scale's measure, I know I'm not in peak physical condition. The morning walks are more meditative than fitness-oriented, and I can assume based on how my clothes fit that the muscle I'd built up last hockey season has turned to an equivalent poundage of fat.
For the past couple weeks I've been looking forward to the Freeze hockey season not just because, well, hockeyhockeyhockeyhockey!!!, but as a means of kickstarting a return to fitness. Tonight's first practice gave me exactly what I was looking for.
The rink was warm enough that the ice never really froze properly after it was cut, which made skating both hotter and harder. By about 2/3 of the way through practice, my legs were vibrating with little muscle spasms from my butt all the way down to my toes (yes, my feet were cramping, too). We did lots of skating in loops with sprints between the blue lines to start, then two-man passing drills, transition circles, bank-or-headman passing drills, skating and shooting from both forehand and backhand, three-man weaves, and the 1-2-3. Most of the drills were designed to assess the skills of the new players, though I imagine the rest of us were being re-assessed as well.
Last year I think I felt much more pressure during the first few "assessment" practices and worried that I wouldn't even make my existing team (UWHL White/C-level). For some reason—maybe it was the fitness goal?—I didn't this year. I don't really think I'll be dropped a level in any case, but certainly not based on my performance tonight. Yes, I made a few stupid moves ("weaksauce," Jason called my rather lackadaisical—and blind to boot—pass to the net on one of the drills, and I completely agreed with him), but they were relaxed stupid moves, not pressure-induced screwups. Aside from the rubber legs and sore back, I felt really comfortable out there. I feel like my skills are decent, C-level skills, and that I'm primed to learn and grow more this season.
I'm also excited to try to gain back some of the muscle I lost over the past couple months off, and am trying to figure out how to fit some more strenuous training into my already-busy schedule. I want to continue my morning meditation walks, though I'm considering running or biking some days. And there are always the stairs at work: When I'm in the stairwell alone, I'll climb the stairs in a crouch, with my back as straight as possible, to [a] get used to getting low when I skate, and [b] strengthen my hamstrings, quads, and glutes, which helps with [a].
I may also try to work in some 20-minute floor Pilates workouts to strengthen my core and protect my back (another thing that getting low will help with; I'm bending over too much now). All of this should help with hockey, as well as improve my overall fitness. So far I haven't found that getting older has flattened my learning curve—only playing with men on the east coast did, briefly—but I have noticed that I'm now losing muscle more quickly. I'll have to work harder as I age if I want to keep playing and improving.
Posted by Lori in Freeze ~ Fall/Winter 2011 | September 12, 2011·11:41 PM