One of the major manifestations of taking on derby for many skaters is getting painful blisters that harden into callouses on the feet. When the blisters start happening, so does the talk about how to deal with them. When the callouses form, one learns that, a)they will have ugly feet for as long as they do derby, and b)those callouses mean the skater is working hard enough for her body to react and try to protect itself.
I have the same routine for the past seven years for my feet when skating, and I discovered this setup after a few months of painful trial and error. I put sports tape around my big toes on both feet. I wear Bunga Pads on both feet. Then there's the ankle sleeves. I have to lace up my boots so that they're loose around the middle of the foot but tight around the ankles. This results in my callouses being a little smaller, but I'm able to skate in relative comfort.
This year I noticed something interesting while training Fresh Meat. Since training isn't as physically demanding as actually playing, I wouldn't use the bunga pads when I put on my skates and demonstrated skills or whatnot while teaching. Hmmmmm. I thought to myself, Maybe my feet have gotten to the point where I don't need the bunga pads anymore? Wow, wouldn't that be great?! Yes, yes it would. So I experimented during regular practice and found that yes, I didn't need the bunga pads anymore. Cool!
Then I hurt my ankle and didn't skate for seven weeks. I still managed to exercise, but the callouses on my feet shrank down even more. When I came back to skate, I found that I still didn't need the bunga pads. Wow! My feet had finally toughened up to the point where I don't need artificial padding?! Great! I skated the Red Bull Chicago game and all practices leading up to that game with no padding on my feet. Hiatus started. Rain happened. Less skating.
Old Derby Dolls photo of when I was getting the general hang of dealing with blisters and callouses:
Then earlier this past week I went for a beach skate. My usual route is around 20 miles roundtrip covering many crazy excuses that LA city and county claims are sidewalks, bike lanes, and streets along the way. I generally don't stop the entire time unless a stoplight or really good batch of stuff comes in to the American Apparel outlet on Venice Beach indicates otherwise.
That's when the pain started. The old spots on my feet that used to be covered by the bunga pads started itching, then aching, then sharper pains became evident. I slowly skated home and found new blisters on what were the old callouses, which had shrunk down to nothing but a layer of slightly tougher skin than the surrounding area. I then realized something.
I wasn't getting better, I was getting softer.
UGH. I was horrified and disgusted with myself. But it also was a slap in the face that I needed, because I realized how this came to be.
The much-needed day job cut my workout time in half, easily. I couldn't go on beach skates most days because I was working and the weekends were crammed with other stuff such as running to the bank to deposit my paycheck. League practices have gotten more crowded with skaters, but not more intense due to overcrowding. We were learning shit-tons about strategy, but we weren't keeping up with endurance. Overall most team skaters in the league have had their actual skate time cut down this year due to the crazy scheduling we have. No wonder I gained ten pounds over the course of the fall! Well, that and I ate like a fat kid.
Now I realize that to fully realize my mantra of, Just one more year, just one more year... I have to get my callouses and endurance back, lose some goddam weight and stop watching Man vs. Food. Yes, I have to stop watching that show because I'm easily suggestable, and looking at all that bad-for-you food makes me want to eat said bad-for-you food. Hence the ten goddam pounds I gotta get rid of.
This sounds like a New Year's resolution! you may be thinking to yourself. Not really. It's one of the many things that must be done for myself, it just happens that the timing for it happened at the end of a calendar year. Don't call it a resolution, call it a rededication to the possibilities I should still have for myself.
Oh, hey, some footage from the aforementioned Red Bull game: