After a visit to my doctor last November, I’ve been trying to get into better physical shape. Following my doctor’s advice, I made immediate and severe changes to my diet and began exercising daily. As a result, I’ve lost a lot of weight and I feel much better.
Part of my daily routine during these last 7 months has been walking and hiking. I’ve been walking approximately 3 to 4 miles per day on local hiking trails and in the hilly neighborhoods near my residence. I enjoy these walks, but I need some variety. Also, walks of that distance require at least an hour and sometimes I’d like to get my day’s exercise finished more quickly than that. Therefore, during the last month or so, I’ve been looking to add a new form of exercise to my routine.
I’ve never enjoyed running or jogging, unless it took place during a game such as basketball where you’re not really thinking about running, so I won’t be diving into those activities. I do some occasional bicycle riding on local trails, but I’m looking for an activity that I can do more frequently, and with less preparation and planning, than bicycle trail riding.
I decided to return to an activity that I loved as a kid and as a young adult: Roller skating.
I’m not talking about aggressive skating or street skating. I don’t mean skating on the ramps at a skate park with teenagers, and I’m not interested in skating at a crowded and confined skating rink. My goal is simple, safe, and confident fitness skating on relatively flat local trails. In the same way that others might walk or jog or bike for several miles on a dedicated trail, I want to inline skate on that trail.
In my younger days I spent a lot of time on ice skates, and to a lesser degree on roller skates, and I loved it. As a young adult I was pretty good on the ice, as a recreational skater. I could do backwards crossovers, hockey stops, sprints, and all of that fun stuff. I found that many of those skills translated easily to roller skating too. But now, in my pensioner’s years, having not skated for over 20 years, can I make a skating comeback? Is skating too dangerous for an old man like me? Possibly, but I’ve decided to give it a go despite the injury risks.
A few weeks ago I bought my first pair of inline skates. All of my roller skating years ago was done on standard roller skates, but I want to use inline skates now.
In addition to buying inline skates, I bought all of the recommended protection – a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist pads. I also bought protective shorts that have hip pads, thigh pads, and a tailbone pad. I even bought a mouth guard because I don’t want to lose my teeth if I plant my face in asphalt during a fall on my skates.
I’ve taken my new skates to nearby empty parking lots a few times and I’m slowly becoming acclimated to them. I was able to glide forward on the skates immediately, and it was a great and encouraging feeling to have an old skill come back to me right away. Unfortunately, several other old skills did not return that quickly.
Now that I’m in my fifties, I find that my reluctance to fall is much stronger than it used to be. Even with all of my protective gear on, I find that I’m overly concerned about falls.
It is difficult to improve as a skater when you fear falling. Improvement requires a measure of risk taking. You need practice to make quick stops, to skate backward, to skate uphill and downhill, and to skate on a single foot – and there will be some spills. In my younger days, when I fell I’d pop right up and shake it off and continue experimenting. Now, I’m concerned about falling correctly in order to avoid breaking bones. I need to practice falling correctly, so I can stop worrying about it. That’s a work in progress. I’ve been in touch with a local skating instructor with the hope that he can help me work through that issue.
Two days ago I skated on the relatively flat Iron Horse Trail in San Ramon for a little over 2 miles and had a great time. Since all I had to do there was glide forward, it was easy stuff. I need more work on turning and stopping but I’m confident that I’ll improve rather quickly – if I don’t do something stupid and end up wearing a cast.