I wrote a blog post almost exactly one year ago about having a life outside of skateboarding, and I almost deleted as quick as it posted. It was an honest post, but made me slightly uncomfortable. It wasn't about not wanting to skate, but was about how I haven't pursued other interests because of skateboarding. It was very much an admission that I have forgone other activities to stay true to my self definition as a skater. I wrote, "No longer am I going to define myself so forwardly as a skateboarder. No longer am I going to feel guilt for not skating and for doing some other activity."
Something that I can admit now is that I have been guilty of judging people for wanting to do something other than skating in the past. Hunting? You could be skating. Running a marathon? You could skate a marathon! Mountain climbing? You could be skating, man!!!
Secretly I wanted to hike, trail run, camp. . .there were tons of personal time activities that I was giving up to not cheat on skateboarding. As I write that I know it was ridiculous, but it was also very true. Over thirty years of my life had been dedicated to skateboarding in so many different forms. I started as a kid who like to roll on a skateboard. I became a street skater. I tried my best to be a transition skater. I was known as "longboard guy" for awhile. I distance skated in the morning then hit up the diy park in the afternoon. A little less than two years ago it became all about freestyle. Anyway, everything was about skateboarding. 100% skateboarder, right?!
I'm writing this blog because I have done exactly what I set out to do in August of 2019 (read the post here). I have hiked, camped, ran trails, and biked. In fact, I have hiked, camped, ran, and biked myself into being a much better skateboarder.
How does one do other activities and become a better skater?
Let me clarify. I am now a much better freestyle skateboarder because of my outside activities. That's the key. I have pinpointed my skate interests to freestyle and distance and, by doing that, I have freed up a large amount of time. Sure, I still feel the call of a ditch, and curbs look really fun to slap, but I've held off on those things to concentrate my skate time in two specific directions: freestyle and distance.
I freestyle nearly every single day for at least an hour at a time, and I have greatly improved because of it. Now, instead of traveling to a spot for thirty minutes, skating it for twenty minutes then driving thirty minutes to the next spot and on and on, I hit one freestyle spot, practice, and the rest of my day is free to pursue whatever I might want to pursue. Additionally, running, hiking, and biking all improve my cardio and leg endurance which benefit distance skating. It is cross-training for distance skating! Perfect!!!
I truly believe concentration on one aspect (which for me is freestyle) is important in seeing a great level of improvement. By concentrating my skating in a specific direction I've improved greatly in that aspect, and I've freed up my time for pursuits outside of skateboarding. Always a skater, but so much more now too.
Skating since the World Round-Up Online Showdown has taken me back to my early days of freestyle oh so long ago (about a year ago). I had learned to stop treated my freestyle sessions like street skating free-for-alls and took to writing lists of tricks. At that time I could only do a handful of things so I'd go through my list at the beginning of every session making sure I landed three of each trick. It would take about a half hour and get me warmed up for the next part of my session, working on new tricks. I'd have one in mind and drill it for a little bit with hopefully a make or two. Finally, I'd finish my session by trying to link footwork together into combos.
At some point I stopped looking at my list and started working on things in a much less organized manner. Then the WRU came along and I spent the majority of my session getting smooth and clean with the tricks it was going to involve. Finally, I filmed my run and the rest is history.
Nowadays I start each session with a simple footwork line or two. I move through the combinations of tricks as effeciently as possible as my muscles get warmed up and ready to try new things. After that, I've gone back to my handy trick list. I'm happy to say that I now have too many tricks to knock them all out in one go (my session would be over before I would work on anything new), but I have combined the tricks I need/choose to work on with tricks that I want to learn into 10 or so items to be worked on each session. I land each trick a minimum of three times before moving to the next trick.
Over the last week I've been working on caspers, walk the cows, hang ten shuvits, rail walking, varial fingerflips, and backwards walk the dogs (among others).
Now, once I get these consistent (landing three in a row each session) they get taken from the list and incorporated into the third part of each session: new combos! For instance, I've been doing endovers for speed into hang ten shuvits into a walk the cow. Two new tricks combined with an old one done one after another so my transitions between each trick will become more fluid. One of the cool things about doing this is that I can see which tricks don't flow together well for me so I can add footwork in between to make them flow better.
Putting together a contest run has changed my skating quite a bit. And watching skaters that I appreciate has changed my skating quite a bit. For instance, watching Tony Gale transition from trick to trick inspires me a lot. Now, I can also say that there are some very popular, high ranking freestylers that simply don't inspire me. Very often they are those that have a lot of big tricks but very little style or grace in between those big tricks.
Any old way, keep on skating. I'm headed to the freestyle park.
I almost missed this challenge because I didn't bother to read the challenge very well. I read, "For the first time in our Social Distancing Race you will have partners to help you race." Skating alone almost exclusively, and not having a big crew of distance skaters to pull from I didn't think I'd have a team. If I would have read a little further I would have learned that it was a relay with "unknown teammates."
Luckily, while having a DM conversation with someone from The IDSA, it was pointed out to me that I didn't need to pick my partners, my partners would be randomly picked for me. I learned that late in the month so I didn't have much time to get mentally prepared for a distance skate. If I'm honest, I have been a little nervous about distance skating since June's 100 mile challenge. I let myself get far too dehydrated during that challenge, and I have been freestyle skating in 90+ degree weather every afternoon making it difficult to stay hydrated. An hour of skating in this heat and the sweat will literally fly off my body doing a 360. When I end my session and bend over to pick up my bottle of water, the sweat flows off the bill of my hat as if water were being poured from a jug. I had to remind myself that this is ONLY 25 kilometres each and that is only about 15 miles. 15 miles isn't much after you've skated over 50 miles. Still, I was nervous as I turned on the Endomondo app and started pushing.
Switching from miles to kilometres was interesting. The automated voice comes much sooner which, honestly, gave me a little false security. I had to keep reminding myself this was a 15 mile skate which is, despite having skating over 60 in one go last month, longer than my usual distance ride.
Mile one is almost always my slowest mile. On a really long ride I use my first mile (er, kilometre) as a warm up. I go slow and get my body warmed up, easing into the skate. In all honesty, my fastest and my slowest aren't too much different. For the first 12k I listened to an audiobook, but switched over to music after and skating to music, carving, and pumping in between pushing was a lot of fun. My freestyle trucks are very tight. I have taken to purple khiro bushings and they are very stable, very hard to turn bushings...great for freestyle, but turning, flowing is still important in freestyler otherwise you end up being robotic from trick to trick. Anyway, enough freestyle. This is, after all, a distance skate post.
It was a comfortable skate. I had to slow down a bit toward the end because of an older woman with a walker getting a few laps in (I lapped her many times each time foot breaking and smiling as I passed), and I am relatively happy with my time. It was a little slower than I had hoped. I wanted to get 20k done in the first hour but was about 3k short.
I'm eagerly awaiting the results for this month's challenge and looking forward to what challenge August will bring. Since it will only be hotter in August I'm hoping for a fairly short ride (sub 20 miles) with a longer challenge when temps start cooling down.
I have been very torn about longboard vs freestyle board, but I can definitely see the positive change in switching from hybrid longboard to freestyle set up.
I have a lot more options riding the freestyle board because I can still do almost all my longboard tricks but I can also do the freestyle tricks I'd had to give up when I switched.
For instance, I've can still do bigger spins (endover to body varial to endover and on and on) but I can also do multiple endovers again on the freestyle set up. Same thing goes for no comply fingerflips. They're still possible on the freestyle board, but I have rolling fingerflips back again too. More options!
While I am happy that I followed through and used a longboard for my WRU Online Showdown run, I do have some slight regrets that I didn't use a freestyle set up. I could have had a lot more variety and difficulty in my run and I may have placed higher.
Well, I'm not going to shed any tears about it, but I do hope for the opportunity to place higher next year!
Well, the judging is complete and the live stream is over. My run got me fifth place in the Master's Amateur division at the World Round-Up Online Showdown. I'm very happy with that position, and it has me thinking (like I so often do) about what is next.
next for this aging skater is to drop down from longboard to (still large) popsicle stick and, probably, to go down to a freestyle board in a few months. I had two 8.75 pops collecting dust so I've set one up with skids, trucks, and wheels and I've started riding it again. My next blog post will be about riding this much smaller board and my reactions to it.
I must admit, this is kind of a crossroads for me, and I'm torn on longboard or traditional freestyle set up. See, I can't go back and forth very well. One session on the longboard and I have to spend half the next session adjusting to the smaller board. And I miss rolling fingerflips, endovers, and other tricks that just aren't possible on a wheelbase over 21 inches.
By the same token, I do enjoy longboard dance, and I don't want to give it up. I want to "keep on dancing." So, I'm promising myself that, at the end of one session per week, I'm going to grab my dancing board and do some cross-steps and Peter Pans etc....AND I'm going to grab my distance board once a week and push for some miles. Since I won't be doing pivot based tricks on my flat dancer it shouldn't effect my freestyle. Add in that a 7 mile running race I signed up for is set to happen in October (I need to train for that) and I'm going to be busy for the next few months!
Now that The World Round Up Online Showdown filming is wrapped up (contest on Braille Skateboarding YouTube on July 12th), I have started getting clips for my next video part. This will be the fourth NeverWas Skateboarding video. I use these parts to show where my skating is currently. They show what I'm into at that particular time and how much I have (or haven't) progressed.
This year my video will be entirely on a longboard and entirely on flatground. I'm also trying to avoid single trick clips. I want to do multiple tricks per clip to show that I can link tricks together. I don't want it to be a straight up freestyle run like a contest though as I think different camera angles and cutting out slower middle sections make a better video part.
It has been a good week of skating even though my Saturday July 4th session was less than perfect. I went out to work on backwards walk the dogs since Tony Gale just posted a new trick tip on his freestyletricktips.com website and ended up practicing those, 1-foot nose shove-its, and walk the cows for nearly 1 1/2 hours. At the end of the day, I didn't feel like I was any better at any of them and, after watching a short video clip of my 1-foot shove-its, I realized how I was doing them was pointless.
I was doing them as, take the back foot off, shove-it off the nose, land on the board. I realized I need to cross-step up to the nose with the back foot and (almost like a walk the cow) do the shove-it off the foot that has just stepped from the back to the front. If you do them from the front foot they just look like a shove it and taking off the back foot is pretty much hidden. Back to the drawing board on those.
Before I even start this post, I am not a doctor, and I'm not a personal trainer. You should always speak to a doctor about any new physical regimen. I'm only giving you my take on physical fitness and the aging skateboarder because I feel like my fitness regimen is necessary to keep me going at the level i skate. That isn't to say that other people can't skate better on less exercise, but to feel my best and feel like I skate my best this post will give a rundown of what I do. I'm one of those people that really likes to work out, and I feel that my workouts help to keep me on a skateboard as I approach the big 5-0.
Each morning, Monday through Friday, I lift weights and do some core work before I head out to the day job. If I didn't skate I'd still lift weights before work. It kickstarts my day, and makes me feel like I have already accomplished something long before my workday has begun. Of course, it has added benefits. Weight training helps bone density, helps me maintain a healthy weight, and helps me maintain good body mechanics.
Secondly, is cardio training. Skateboarding, of course, can count as cardio, and I don't spend a lot more time doing cardio outside of skating. However, I do try to get on a bike and go for a run at least once a week. Being a distance skater I feel like changing things up helps me keep my cardiovascular fitness up while using my muscles in a different way. The idea is that, by cross-training in running and cycling, I'm improving cardio and developing strength in areas not used skating keeping from having any imbalances in my fitness.
Last, but not least, stretching and mobility. I used to do a series of static stretches everyday but I've moved away from doing as much static stretching over the last year. I incorporated yoga poses into my basic stretches and added some very simple mobility exercises that I now do. Some of them are very simple from ankle and knee circles to standing on one leg (and doing some calf raises). I feel like the mobility exercises help keep my range of motion and help in body awareness. I even have a series of toe exercises I do daily. Toe exercises?! Yep. Unfortunately I suffered from something called "turf toe" at one point. It is a sprain to the bottom joint of the big toe, and it is very painful. I felt like I never fully recovered from it, and massage/toe mobility exercises have helped incredibly. One exercise, for instance, is to pick up a towel, over and over, with my toes. At one point this was very difficult for me. Now it is easy.
So, how much exercise do you need to do as an older skater?
That's up to you. Only you know your body. I just wanted to give an insight on what I do to keep myself rolling healthy into my late forties.
My run for the World Round Up Online Showdown has been filmed and uploaded. I have paid my entry fee. It is all over but the judging in July. Strangely enough, tons of people are sharing their runs on Facebook. I'm really surprised. I didn't want to share mine until it was being judged or being run on the Braille channel's live feed in July. The kind of cool thing is that I'm getting to see the "competition" as they do their runs. I feel like, despite riding a longboard and doing a very simple run, I fit in nicely with the videos I've seen so far. That is a relief. When I heard Braille was doing a live feed of the Round-Up I was a little surprised. I thought I was skating for a couple hundred other people that were entering the contest. Instead, it is going to be broadcast on a channel with over 4 million subscribers! It is like thinking you're playing a gig in a club but finding out you are really doing a stadium show.
As far as preparing for the round up, I was so ready for it to be over, and ready to not do the same few tricks over and over. Now (of course), I miss working on the run. Insert a big sigh right here.
So, what am I to do next?! That's the real dilemma. Do I do the cyber slalom challenge this weekend? Do I finish my 100 miles for the month? Do I start working on new freestyle and dance tricks?
I took the week to work on dance stuff, like true dance stuff, riding a board with no kicks so I wasn't tempted to move into classic freestyle or ollie based tricks. My Peter Pans and cross-stepping needed work so I worked on those, and added walking the plank to my slowly growing dance list. On Friday I took my freestyle set up back out and integrated walk the dogs with a backwards cross-step. Two walk the dogs followed by what looks to be a turn in, but while the board is rolling backwards I do a cross-step into more walk the dogs. It is simple, but walking one direction while the board rolls another direction is more difficult than it sounds. I have to distribute my weight slightly backward and that feels odd.
Really, I just want to do more freestyle so I'm looking at what's next freestyle trick wise, and seeing what longboard dance stuff I can add to my skating.
Next week is the deadline for my World Round Up Online Showdown freestyle run, and I'm very glad. As I believe I have mentioned before, I'm very much over doing the same run over and over in practice. I'm ready to incorporate new tricks, but I can't for filming because (a) I want the run to be as smooth as possible and (b) I don't want to have to film it five million times just to get a clean run. I'd rather get several usable videos and choose the best from all of them rather than get one video and have to use it because it is the only one that is clean.
So, Monday through Friday this week I took a video everyday. On Friday evening I went back, looked over them, and chose the cleanest for the competition. Now, my run is very simple. Simple footwork, simple tricks done the smoothest I can on a longboard NOT a freestyle board. I have, essentially, made this a freestyle run without any of the rail or pogo stuff (which I don't care much for). I know I made claims that this run would combine freestyle and dance (and I still do a cross-step at one point in the run), but I ended up with trucks so tight to make the freestyle oriented stuff look freestyle-ish that the dance elements looked stiff and terrible so I took most of those out.
Over the course of the weekend I've skated a little but I've done zero freestyle. I've set up another hybrid longboard deck with Caliber 160mm trucks and I've been switching between that deck and an OG Dancer from Funbox Distribution that is set up with Gullwing Chargers. I'm really enjoying the turn this weekend. I've been working on basic dance stuff: crossteps, Peter Pans, crossover carving (in Peter Pan position but carving back and forth without changing foot position) and some ghost ride stuff. It has been fun, but it looks like I'll have to switch back over for this last week so I can put my best freestyle foot forward.
If I'm honest, signing up for a contest sounded great, but I do think I regret it now. I don't know that I have the correct attention span to be a competetive freestyle skater. I enjoy going with the flow a bit too much, maybe? Next week is a cyber slalom challenge from the folks at the ISSA. I'm thinking about doing that, but it would be like my 100 mile ride for the IDSA, a one and done mission so I can go back to dancing.
I walked out of my house at 5:45 a.m. on Friday June 5th and noticed that it was already warmer outside than inside my house. It made me nervous because I had watched the weather forecast for the day grow hotter and hotter over the last two weeks. When the date was chosen the forecast said it would be mild outside, in the lower 80s with some nice cloud cover. Now the forecast was for 90 degree temps and sunny.
By 6:00 a.m. I was taking my first laps as I sipped on my morning coffee. It felt great. In fact, the first 20 miles felt great. It felt so great that I kept going, and skipped my planned 20 mile break. I was wearing my new IDSA hydration vest so I was able to drink water as I skated into mile 33 when I finally pulled off to my aid station and took my first time out.
Seated in the aid station (really just the only shady tree at the park that I could put a chair and cooler under, I changed my socks for the first time and applied some petroleum jelly to my feet. I knew that trick from running and hoped it would translate to distance skating to help keep blisters from popping up on my feet. I changed shirts, and a fresh, dry t-shirt felt wonderful. I reapplied sunscreen, drank some sports drink, and ate some salty chips before taking off toward my goal.
By now the sun was fully up and it was hot. Very hot. I spotted a snake sunning itself on my path. I stopped, took a picture of him and started riding again. A couple laps later and he was gone, but I saw another, very tiny, snake sunning itself. On my next lap around, I saved the guy's life. I noticed he was coiled up as if he were ready to strike. I also noticed a bird, fluttering above him (about my head height). The bird was getting ready to time a pounce on the snake, but when it saw me, the bird flew away. After watching a deer die on my last over 10 mile ride (read here), it was a nice that the animal lived this time.
It wasn't much longer and I decided another break was in order. The heat was getting to me, and I was disappointed that I had to pull back off of the course again already. I had hoped to be at 50 miles by the time I pulled off again. I drank some more liquids and ate a banana before heading back onto the course. At this point, I also switched from the audiobook I had been playing through my headphones to some music.
The music was a good choice. The combination of tunes and the food I had consumed helped give me a boost for a little bit. I skated a few more miles before putting on the breaks again. More food. More liquids. I changed hydration bladders in my vest. I pondered changing shirts again, but wanted to save my last shirt until mile 66.
At 5 hours and 42 minutes I finished my 50th mile and sat down again for another break. The heat was stifling. I wasn't sure exactly the temperature, but it was hot. I sent my wife a screenshot of my current Endomondo and she replied that she was worried about the heat.
Truthfully, I was too. At mile 50 I realized that I may not make it in one go. I might have to go home, rest through the heat of the day and come back when it begins cooling down. the problem with that was that there are no lights on my course. If I come back I'm skating in the dark. If I can't skate in the dark then I'm never going to make it. I decided to push forward, but take break even more often.
I'd ride a few miles then take a break. I'd ride a mile or two more then take a break.
At mile 58 I got a cramp in my right quad. I hopped off my board at the aid station and drank a bottle of pickle juice and ate my third (and last) banana. I finished my 48 ounce of sports drink and drank down some more stock I had brought (for the liquid/sodium). Luckily, the beverages seemed to work and the cramp faded away as I skated into my 60th mile.
Another short break. I put my third, and final, bladder into my hydration vest before pushing on to mile 61. It was just after mile 61 that I knew I was done. I realized that I had not urinated since I left the house at 5:45 this morning. That really scared me. Despite all of these liquids I've drank I hadn't had the need or urge to use the restroom. Just how hot was it today?!
At the end of mile 62 I loaded my gear up and hopped into my car. According to Endomondo, I had burnt over 3,500 calories (I have no idea the truth on that), and I thought it was time to get some mass calories and fluids into me so I could at least need to urinate. I went through a drive through, skarfed a couple burgers and drank a large coca cola on my way home. Once at home I filled my 48 ounce bottle with water drank water as I took a cool shower (it felt amazing).
I finally had the need to urinate after drinking a ton of liquids. It was dark, nearly brown and I knew I wasn't headed back out tonight. It turns out the temperature had climbed to 93 degrees outside today, just two degrees away from tying the record high of 95 degrees.
Instead of heading back out I drank water and snacked into the evening, and opted to watch a movie with my wife instead of looping the track. Since I have to go back to getting ready for the Online Showdown, I won't be attempting the 100 in 24 hours again this month (and since it will only get hotter as June pushes on), but I will do a few more rides to get me over 100 for the month so I'll still fulfill one of the IDSA challenges. And I'm happy that I made 62 miles. The longest ride I've ever done was a 26.2 ride so I've more than doubled my distance, and that is something I can be proud of.