Notes from Roller Derby Bootcamp: Best Nutrition Practices

I spent last weekend at the SK8 Heaven roller derby bootcamp. I had a great time and learned so much from all the excellent coaches. I wanted to share some of the knowledge that we benefited from but it’s difficult to share all the drills, the hits, the strategy, the whips through the medium of words. Nutrition however, is a subject that can easily be written about and it is something anyone playing roller derby can benefit from.

One of the most helpful off-skates sessions we had was a nutrition class taught by Krissy Krash, the health coach and founder of Derbalife–and yes, she WAS in Whip It! I honestly think that by following some of the basic principles she outlined in this short class, will make you feel better and have more energy for awesome skating and generally in everyday life.

In order to function at its best, the body needs to be fuelled with the following balance of macronutrients:

30–40% Carbohydrates

30–40% Protein

20–30% Fat

Each of these categories has a specific function which are:

Carbohydrates–provide immediate energy for the body to burn

Protein–maintains lean body mass;builds and repairs muscle

Fat–protects organs and maintains healthy joints

For anyone who is training or playing any sport regularly, it is important to ensure you have enough protein in your diet, especially immediately after any training you do. The 15 minute–1 hour after exercise is the time when the body is most able to absorb protein which is essential for recovery and building muscle.

Apparently, the best way to eat as a general rule of thumb, is to try to maintain an even blood sugar level as much as possible throughout each day so that your body doesn’t experience sugar highs and crashes. This is the best way to ensure you have the energy to do the training you want to do and benefit from it.

The best way to do this is to make sure your meals are composed of 1/3 lean protein and 2/3 complex carbohydrates. Lean proteins being meat, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts and seeds and complex carbohydrates being whole grains, fruit and vegetables. This kind of balanced meal is much more likely to keep you full and your blood sugar even for longer so you don’t experience a brain-starved-of-gloucose crash that makes you feel tired and want to eat whatever is in your path. This rule is particularly important when it comes to breakfast, as this meal will dictate your blood sugar level for the rest of the day. Having small snacks of the same balance also help to maintain blood sugar level so having something every 3 hours in order to keep your energy levels up.

Hydration is also very important when it comes to training as being dehydrated can reduce your muscle performance by up to 30%. It is also a good idea to replace salt and electrolytes while training. Ideally, you should be consuming water based on the following formula to ensure that you are properly hydrated throughout every day:

Body weight in lbs divided by 2 = no. of fl. oz. water you should drink.

Now, all this nutrition talk can be pretty subjective but this seems like pretty sound advice to me. After (trying) to follow this over the last week I already feel like I have a lot more energy to train more effectively.


DIY Training Tried and Tested

As going to the gym isn’t always the most convenient, or financially viable option, I’m always on the lookout for other effective ways to train DIY style. However, it’s hard to get motivated to make up your own training programme and while you may have every intention of doing 100 squats while watching TV, it doesn’t always happen as the sofa is sometimes just too comfy.

I’ve recently tried out a few training apps to try and build in some more fitness to my daily routine. Cycling to work as often as possible is the best way I’ve found to build some exercise into most days. I recently started using MapMyRide to help me use my journeys to and from work as another form of training and so i can better understand the benefits of doing so. This app is very useful as it maps your route as you cycle, records the distance, speed, pace, elevation and even calories burned based on your height/weight. You can also set yourself challenges and it has training programmes which you can follow to achieve certain goals. The only part of this app that I have found a bit disappointing is the nutrition facility. It mostly acts as a calorie counter and while it is good to know the nutritional content of what you eat and how much you should be eating in terms of calories every day based on your height, weight and how much exercise you do, it seems very slow and trying to find every item of food I have eaten in a day on a very long list is quite time consuming and not very interesting. In terms of training, this app is very good, but if it’s nutrition you’re after, there are plenty of apps dedicated to that which would probably be more effective. MapMyRun is a very similar app specifically for running and MapMyFitness works the same way but is very good for comprehensively tracking all the different types of training you do.

Yoga is something I would really like to do more of at home, especially after practice because I find stretching helps balance out the other training really well but I don’t feel I have a comprehensive enough understanding of it to work out my own sessions. I have tried out quite a few yoga apps and still have yet to find a good one. Most of them seem to either consist of programmes of static poses or a tiny figure that is barely visible demonstrating a routine. Perhaps yoga is something that doesn’t lend itself particularly well to the app format, but let me know if you find a good one.

NIke Training Club is my favourite training app so far. It gives you several different options based on what you want to get out of your workout so you can choose to ‘Get Lean’, ‘Get Toned’, ‘Get Strong’, or ‘Get Focused’ and they can all be done at beginner, intermediate or advanced levels. These are structured really well and are easy to follow and there are also useful video demonstrations of each of the exercises which you can refer to and then carry on with your workout. you can choose between 45, 30 and 15 minute workouts so it’s perfect for getting a sneaky bit of training in before work in the morning. You do need some equipment such as small free weights and a medicine ball for some of the exercises but most can be done without.

My favourite home training facility is the Roller Derby Workout DVD, it has a fabulous rock n roll soundtrack and is highly entertaining. The workout is actually very thorough and especially designed for roller derby. It can be done on or off skates but the skates provide more resistance, especially for the abs and legs sections of the workout. The only thing missing from this is that it doesn’t work your arms or back very much so it has to be balanced out with other training but it’s quite good fun to do if you have a bit more time.

Inside Line: the UK’s first roller derby magazine

Inside Line, the very first UK-based roller derby magazine has recently been launched–a great new addition to the UK roller derby scene. Roller derby is taking the UK by storm and there are now over 60 leagues across the British isles. With new leagues forming all the time, it just goes to show the us Brits are mad about derby and Inside Line is here to cater to all our derby needs.

The magazine was founded by Jessica Ali aka Jessica Rammit originally from Croydon Roller Derby, now skating with London Rockin’ Rollers. All the articles, photographs and illustrations in the first fantastic issue were provided by skaters, refs, fans, and Jessica herself. It includes everything from live bout coverage, merby, the Roller Derby World Cup, interviews with skaters, refs and coaches, stories of personal experiences and even a guide to making your own jammer panties!

The magazine is already proving very popular, which is no surprise to me. It sold nearly 100 copies in the first 24 hours and has since sold many more as Jessica has been doing a fantastic job selling it at bouts all over the country. It is also available from the magazine’s website

The second issue of this exciting quarterly publication is due out in December, but check out the website in the mean time as it has lots of excellent articles for your derby reading pleasure.