Monday, March 4, 2013

Shark Week Redux

I'm not talking about shark week on Discovery Channel (although it's incredibly interesting and I watch it every year).  If you are unsure of this shark week of which I speak, read on.  If you don't get it after that, I'm afraid no one can help you.  With anything. Ever.

from Carl Roessler's book Sharks of the World

I'm talking about PMS (or what I like to call FTS, fixin' ta start), menstruation and derby.

Yep.  I'm going there.

Now is your chance to retreat.

I'll wait....

Ok then, you've decided to stick around, so no griping!

I'm the mentor of our new skater program for our league.  I'm one of the first people new skaters meet when they walk in the door, and I am a cheerleader for each one of them.  Love me some Crash Test Hunnies!  Woot! Woot! In this mentor capacity, I have lots of conversations and get asked lots of questions (And, no, I don't always know the answer. Although I always have an answer.  It's 57.  And now, my friend Jennifer is beaming with pride at all she has taught me through the years.).

Over the past year or so, I've had the same conversation too many times to count, and I have shared with many ladies what is a very real phenomenon for some of us skaters who are of childbearing age. It's something I experience EVERY month, and I think it's time to share this wealth of knowledge with the whole world.

Here goes....

I can't skate the week before shark week.  And neither can a bunch of other ladies.  What I mean is, we are a shaky, stumbling mess that week, and we fall more frequently than normal.  We feel jittery.  We have trouble keeping still on our skates when standing between drills.  Sometimes, we plumb fall over for no apparent reason.  We generally have really crummy practices that week.  We get frustrated and discouraged by our off-performance.  And since we are falling all over ourselves like Bambi on the ice, we are more likely to hurt ourselves that week.  We will probably cry real tears and try to hide them and shake them off because there is no crying in roller derby (pffft).  There is a good chance we will skate off the floor in the middle of a drill and go hide in the bathroom to cry.

If you as a skater (or an athlete in general) are experiencing any of these symptoms, I encourage a couple of things.  First thing, track your performance AND your cycle to see if this is your issue.  You may just be a spaz on wheels all the time (and I can help you get to the bottom of this, too).

If you find that your performance is, in fact, different during the week before or during shark week, here are a couple of things you can try.  And, disclaimer here, I am no professional.  This is just what has helped me.  And it doesn't "cure" it, it justs makes it a little easier to survive.

1.  Get plenty of rest.  Duh.
2.  Hydrate.  Double duh.
3.  Eat well.  Eat throughout the day to avoid spikes and dips in your blood sugar.  This is not the week to skip eating.  You will regret it if you do.  Eat healthy snacks.  You should try to eat well all the time, but this week it's really important to fuel your body with nutritious food.
4.  Avoid the sugary and salty food binges.  They don't help.  Trust me.  And they contribute to the bloating which makes you feel fat and ugly (and no one like to feel fat and ugly, right?).  It's just not worth it to indulge. Eat high protein and low carbohydrate.  You will feel better.  If you have to have some carbs, make them complex carbs.  You can Google that yourself.
5. Skip the caffeine.  Or have your morning coffee and call it quits for the rest of the day.  You're already jittery.  You don't need to compound this. 
6.  Take your vitamins.  I'm lousy at this, and I frequently forget, but if I remember during these weeks it does help.
7.  Those shots you do at the afterparty?  Skip them this week.  Alcohol magnifies all the FTS and Shark Week symptoms. 
8.  Don't skip practice because you are afraid you are going to have a bad practice during these times.  No one expects you to have an awesome practice every time.  You'll feel better if you get some exercise.  I can just see some of you shaking your heads at this and saying, "You obviously don't know about my heavy flow. This is just not do-able."  Put on your big girl panties with a giant tampon and mattress pad back-up.  Wear capri shorts, so no one has to see your flag flying.  Menstrual blood on the track is not cool.  And blood on the bench is just wrong.  Trust me.  I've seen the butt prints.  Change your feminine products right before practice starts.  And if you feel things going wrong during practice, as you skate off the track yell "Lady Problems" as you skate off the floor and into the bathroom.  Your male coach will roll his eyes a little, and it will make your teammates giggle.  Not that I would have participated in that type of shenanigan during derby practice or Mr. Stonebarger's 11th grade U.S. History class.  Ahem...  
9.  If you still have an awful practice, don't beat yourself up.  Bad practices happen.  If you aren't having a bad practice, someone in the building is.  If you notice her crying in the bathroom, give her a hug.  You'll both feel better.  You will have a better practice in approximately a week.  I promise it will be better.  It couldn't be much worse, right?  Laugh at that.  It's funny.
10.  If all else fails, remind yourself that this is a game.  I know we take it very seriously, but it is a game that is supposed to fun FUN above all else.  Sure, we work hard at practice because we have dreams and goals, but really, this sport is a hobby.  Hobbies should be fun!!!!  

I hope these tips help or at least help you realize you are in good company. Happy period!  Yeah, right...


  1. And remember...a week of bad practices is better than 9 months of no practice because shark week didn't even show! ;)

    1. Oh, Dainty! That's one way to look at it. ;)

    2. Wendmill of TerrorMarch 5, 2013 at 6:30 AM

      Love reading your blogs! ;)