Falling for Speed Skating
by Rita Kennen
Speed skating is a great fitness motivator simply because there's no way you can be out of shape and skate fast. The sport is so intense you hardly ever skate for more than five minutes at a time.
|A Typical Practice Session|
|Off the ice, warm-up by stretching and jogging.|
|On the ice, start slowly and work up to your top speed. This helps you get the feel for the track you're skating on.|
|Do several sets of sprinting or endurance skating exercises.|
|Cool down by skating slowly on the ice.|
"It has a lot to do with position," says speed skater Kimon Papahadjopoulos. "You feel like your sitting in a chair without a chair." Speed skaters call it the lean. A skater deep into the lean experiences a thrill similar to going down a windy road on a motorcycle.
"The most fun for me is in the lean," says Kimon. "Once you feel the exact position everything changes."
Speed skating garb consists of skintight lyrca suits-another reason to be in shape aerodynamically designed for speed, safety helmets, neck guards, shin guards and kneepads. But a long sleeve shirt, long pants or tights along with the required safety gear will suffice for those starting out.
Novice skaters begin with a pair of stock skates and should make comfort and proper fit a top priority. Once proficient, you can customize the skate's boot and blade. Short track skates start at around $300.
Interested? Then prepare to be persistent; becoming a good speed skater takes a long time. "It's so difficult to do well I always have to keep working at it," says Kimon.
Oh, and having a tough hide is also handy because when you're learning, you're gonna fall.
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