As Labour Day weekend rolls by, curlers start to think about getting back on the ice again. In fact, many have already been on the ice — it seems that more and more clubs offer camps and leagues in late summer. (Kudos to everyone participating in the La Releve camp taking place this weekend in Edmonton. I think there is a lot of young talent in this country and it is nice to see the CCA doing their part to try to develop some of it.)
As I’ve noted in previous posts, I welcome the break of the off-season so you’re unlikely to find me throwing rocks at the Saville Centre in July. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad idea — it’s just not something that I do. In all honesty, during the summer months the closest I’ll get to anything frozen is an ice-cold Bud Light Lime or a margarita at my cabin in Quebec, fishing rod in hand.
Vacations aside, what I am focused on at this time of year is making sure that I’m putting everything I can into my training program. I look at my off-season conditioning a bit like a long race — I’ve trained all summer and now I’m really myself pushing myself as I head towards the finish.
The finish? Sure, it sounds a bit strange to talk about finishing when curling season is just getting started. But my optimal training time is coming to an end. I know that once the Tour schedule gets started, I’ll have considerably less time in my schedule to be in the gym. By mid-September, I’m on the ice with a regular practice schedule and, not long after that, my team is hitting the road to compete on the World Curling Tour. The season becomes a blur fairly quickly and we hope that we really don’t get much time off until the end of April. Even if your team doesn’t have a season as packed as ours, just about every serious curler finds that time gets short once the season starts.
If you’ve put the time into training all summer, the biggest mistake you can make is to coast during these last few weeks. It’s easy to think that you’ve done as much as you can. Or to believe that because you’re throwing rocks a couple of times a week on early season ice, it’s time to significantly dial back the workouts.
I actually believe the last few weeks before the season starts can be the most beneficial for getting through a long year. So this is the time when I really push myself in workouts, trying to build as much strength and cardiovascular capability as possible. Flexibility training, always important, now becomes critical. The last thing I want to do is suffer an injury early in the season because my body isn’t prepared for the demands of our sport. So not only am I challenging myself in the weight room and increasing the intensity of my cardio training, I’m making time for yoga classes and never leaving the gym without full committing to the stretches I do at the end of every workout.
Finally, I make sure that my diet isn’t falling by the wayside. I believe in enjoying life and whether I’m fishing on a beautiful mountain lake, kicking back at a friend’s BBQ or playing in a charity golf tournament (hats off to my good friend Bryan Mudryk for running the best one I have ever attended — the Bryan Mudryk Golf Classic in Boyle, AB, no less!), I tend to think summer means indulging just a bit when it comes to food. Now that the season is fast approaching, however, the cheeseburger picnics — any fans of Trailer Park Boys out there? — are few and far between. The last thing I want to do is start the season with a few more pounds than I carried last year or find out that my Uncle Ben’s shirts don’t fit quite the way they did before.
So be happy that you’re a curler and you have something to look forward to now that the summer is ending. And if you’ve trained all summer, don’t let up now that the season is so close.
NEXT ENTRY: Playing in your first event of the season.