The official training camp wrapped up on Sunday and I’m a little sad to see new friends returning home one by one over the last couple of days. A small group of us international skaters are still training here at Gerlev. Most of us are here until end of week and then it’s off to races or home. Yesterday I enjoyed my first rest day since arriving here and what did I do? A day trip to Copenhagen of course to explore the city. Luckily, walking rarely tires me out. My legs feel fresh once again when I woke up this morning.
So what is it like to by a fly on the wall at Gerlev Sports Academy? The best way I can describe is like my days living in university dormitory from the accommodation arrangement (common bathroom!) to the structured meal times. It’s not easy to keep school life running smoothly for all these students so punctuality is of great emphasis. I don’t recall the last time in my life when I take my meals on such regular schedule every single day. Breakfast runs from 7:30-7:55 so I either wake up earlier to take my shower or squeeze it in before we begin our morning training session. After breakfast, it’s time for morning assembly with a bit of singing and perhaps a talk from one of the teachers. It feels a bit like Sunday church service.
While the students are busy with classes, we head off to our morning training session. What we do depends on the program that coach Sooty plans out but the intensity varies according what else we have on the schedule in the evening.
There are plenty of facilities at the school specifically built for the program they offer. There’s an indoor swimming pool, dance studio, gymnastics room, crossfit training room, gymnasium for basket ball, outdoor soccer field, running track, and parkour area in addition to the dormitories and lounge/common area. We often come across groups of students gathering together for their study activities.
Lunch time is always an interesting experience. The meal itself is usually simpler affair since classes and other activities await in the afternoon for the students. The first time I went, I didn’t know the drill but all the students fill the seats of a dining hall. All the food are set out on the buffet tables yet nobody even gets close. As soon as one of the students working the kitchen shift rings the bell and announces the beginning of lunch, everyone descends on the food all at the same time. I remember arriving late for lunch one day and the picking was slim. After that experience, I learn to always be on time for lunch. When lunch is about to end, a line would form behind the bell and it is announcement time. It can be anything. After school activities, birthdays (I’m getting quite fond of the Danish birthday song), or gatherings. Then it’s mail time. I didn’t know snail mail is still so common but apparently there’s always a pile of mail to distribute to the student bodies.
Afternoon snack is available for those who’re inclined. The school bakes their own bread so a selection of bread is usually set out in the dining hall with marmalades, butter, and honey for snacks along with bowls of fresh carrots. With so much food readily available, the students are often warned to when they first join the school not to overeat. It is not uncommon for the boys to put on muscle weight and the girls to….put on not-muscle weight.
If we have an early evening training scheduled, we sometimes have dinner early before everyone else then drive to our training location. The proximity of the school to various training location such as road tracks, parabolic track, roads for drills, routes for marathon distance, roads for intervals, and roads for motorpacing means we never need to travel far to train. Speaking of not traveling far, the gymnasium is where Sk8skool trains for indoor. We don’t never need to walk outside if we want to skate indoor!
Getting to bed early has never been easy for me. However, with the limited availability of internet access (only until 11pm!!!), I don’t have much choice than to call it a night early. Waaaaaay too early. I long to return to my night owl schedule but with another 7am wake up call, perhaps it is really in my best interest to go to bed at normal hours like most regular people!