Thursday, February 16, 2012

The larger skater blog

 Not to keep the love from the larger girls on the track, St. Knives of Gate City shares some of her wisdom with us!

Protect yourself. When you fall, there's more of you to hit the ground, which means you hit it with more force, which can mean injury. Spring for the good pads and don't stop at WFTDA minimum required safety gear. Tailbone protectors are great (contrary to what I originally thought, a fat ass is NOT a substitute for a tailbone protector). You're also maneuvering more body around with your joints, and derby is a very joint-dependent sport; protect your bendy parts with knee gaskets, glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, and exercises that strengthen the muscles that support your bendy parts. Keep the quads and hams balanced and try not to grow a derby superleg by always going the same direction and/or favoring one leg.

Endurance is key, and this means cross training is a necessity. I know there are heavier skaters who are also super fast and have killer endurance. It's not an across-the-board observation, but I suspect most of them are that way because they don't just skate, they cross train. I have struggled with my speed and endurance, and I know other big girls have as well, especially those who like me are new to athletics. Interval training has been invaluable to me to build my endurance. A minute sprint followed by a minute cooldown, repeated several times, is an easy workout to fit in between other daily activities and in addition to other cross training (strength and cardio).

You have a core--use it. Just because you don't have a visible six-pack doesn't mean there's not a core in there. I remember the first time I could really feel my core doing its thing; I was doing housework, and I noticed when I would lean over it sort of felt like I was wearing Spanx, but I wasn't. That's what your core is: nature's Spanx. And you know how people in yoga or whatever say "engage your core"? I had no idea what that felt like, pre-derby. Now I know. It feels like Spanx. My steadiness on my skates and the power of my hits seems to be directly correlated to how strong my core is.

Don't be married to smaller skaters' wheel suggestions. I struggled along on soft wheels for a long time because that's what everybody else had. It felt like I was skating through mud, and I couldn't dig in to do stops. It wasn't until I started skating on pretty hard wheels (Atom Strokers) that my skills really started to improve. Sometimes people are shocked that I'm skating a wheel that is advertised as having a 98.5 hardness (I have my doubts) on polished concrete, but I can make 'em stick pretty well. It makes sense if you think about physics- we're holding it down with our big bad selves, so we just don't slide out on hard wheels like the lighter girls can.

If you hit a wall, consider losing weight (healthily). That's where I'm at right now. Derby is a fantastic body-positive sport and I've been blessed to be a part of it at my highest lifetime weight. It has helped me learn to love my body and myself. But I've hit a wall and I think to get better, I'm going to need to drop some Hamiltons. It's better for me in the long run, too, so I'm glad I have this motivation.

I love derby, there's room for every body type on the track!


  1. The openness of derby to a variety of body types and sizes is one of my favorite things about the sport. Having some heft can be a real asset on the track, but it also sometimes means having to work harder to get faster, as St. Knives mentioned.

  2. Absolutely. I'm tall and gangly, so I have to work on the steps I take and controlling my arms.