I love the expression "monkey on my back" primarily because the imagery amuses me to no end. Come to think of it though, I do have one to call my own and it is track skating. The majority of our club practices are conducted on a track. In winter, it's indoor 100m NIRA style. For the last couple of summers, it was an outdoor 200m flat track. We are currently hosting practices on a 400m flat track in 2010. Bottom line is, to make the most out of practice, cornering is key. That's exactly where I falter.
Although I consistently make small improvement on my crossover technique, it's just not good enough. Combined with my fear of corners, I have yet to successfully skate in the pack that I otherwise would on road. It is frustrating but I have adopted an attitude adjustment. I measure the quality of my workout at club practices by effort rather than by speed.
The longer straightaway of a 400m track seems to play to my strength. At the same time, the very wide corners highlight the lack of power of my crossovers. Gain some, lose some. We had our first outdoor practice of the 2010 season on Tuesday. That was the first time I skated on this track since last summer. Ooooo boy. All the cornering improvements I thought I made in the winter were nowhere to be seen. My left leg kept popping up when I crossovered (why wouldn't it stay low?!). Instead of pushing to the side, my underpush kept going back. Wrong direction! I thought for sure I would do a face plant. It was a pretty discouraging practice.
Last night, things improved slightly. Despite a beautifully warm morning, the temperature dropped drastically by the time practice began. All I wanted to do was to stay home and sip hot cocoa. All of us toughed it out of course. Once I warmed up, I was actually skating well. Crossover push direction was decent and I finally sat comfortably when I took a different line in the corners. There were plenty of steady pace skating punctuated by faster laps. For once, I actually felt strong on the track instead of just dying to get the whole thing over with. Coach SZ's training program has me doing plenty of solo skating recently and I am starting to reap the benefit. I don't mind pulling the pack nor skating on my own anymore. The mental aspect is important because I do not let myself slack off even, heck, make that "especially", when skating solo.