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Old October 12th, 2007, 01:13 AM   #1
d.phillips1970
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Default THE ZONE

I am a old retired speed skater and I am helping coach a roller derby team.
What I am try to explain to them is the importance long distance laps and the "zone" your mind enters when your body takes over and you stop thinking.
I remember how adictive it was for me.
I'd like some self descriptions to repost for my girls.
Please include things like: the feeling you felt, the time it took to get there, the other things that went through your mind (keep it clean, we all had our female/male relay partners in spandex), how time passed in general, how you felt aferwards, and if you looked forward to getting there again.
Thanks Dave.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 03:50 AM   #2
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I'm sorry I haven't gotten there yet. Just hoping to get there some day.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 01:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by d.phillips1970 View Post
What I am try to explain to them is the importance long distance laps and the "zone" your mind enters when your body takes over and you stop thinking.
I remember how adictive it was for me.
I hear ya.

When you're doing it tough, your mind is distracted by every little thing, time seems to drag, you wonder how you're gonna keep up the pace let alone make any moves, every part of your body's hurting, and you feel like you'll never make the finish, which always seems a long way off. You start to "listen" to and "analyze" yourself in a negative way, and become absorbed in a general mental downer. After a while you become absorbed with just "getting to the end", and just give up. Afterwards you feel like going home, going to sleep, or just plain quitting.

When you're in the zone however, your conscious mind is virtually "off", and you don't really think about anything in particular - it just flows. You can work your strategy, make your moves, be aware what's happening around you, and you feel like you can put on as much speed as you need, any time you need it. Before you know it, it's bell-lap time and you're making a clean break for the line. Afterwards, you wonder at how fast it went and how effortless it all felt, and feel like doing it all again, it was so "easy".

The zone has to be experienced to be appreciated - and it doesn't come easy, even to highly experienced and skilled athletes - but oh boy, it's a natural high you'll never forget once you've been there.

The basic form of the zone is when you don't have to consciously think about your actions - they're completely automatic in response to your environment. It's a little bit like when you trip over and you put your arms out to break the fall - you do it instinctively, without conscious thought or effort. When your skating skill reaches that level, you're able to skate 'in the zone'.

Getting back to reality , the zone as a training technique is very advanced stuff, and not easily taught or learned. I would suggest in fact that it can't be taught, only experienced (and described - poorly), so for that reason I don't use it as a coaching technique, save for perhaps the immediate pre-race mental prep. of elite skaters whom I know can reach the zone.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 02:03 PM   #4
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nice description, merlin. A couple words I associate with being in the zone are instinct and fluidity. I'm more conscious of this state when I mountain bike. There is no thinking, just the sense that I am one with the bike and we are floating through time and space. I think there has to be a certain level of proficiency in your sport so that you are not overly strained. I don't think you can experience the zone if you are redlining or borderline. The RD girls just may not be quite there yet in terms of fitness. What Merlin describes in the first paragraph is likely the obstacle they are facing. They have to learn to accept a certain level of stress on their bodies. Until they become used to that they will percieve it as pain and will not be able to transcend the pain and enter the zone. I'm not saying there aren't certain levels of the zone where proficient experienced athletes aren't taking a little pain, but by and large it is when you are in a comfortable upper aerobic state: invigorating, but not exhausting. That's all I got. Nice thread.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 02:16 PM   #5
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I'm hoping to use fthese descriptions for more of a motavational tool (a target) to get them to work past the pain and not just stand up at the first sign of "gee this is work". good replies ty.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 04:26 PM   #6
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I wanted to add the phrase "internal calm". I was rereading this and I was thinking about how intense and fast things happen when I ride. This state I'm talking about for me is typically represented by a frenzied external state contrasted by the internal calm that I feel; a complete inner relaxation that makes me able to coolly react to every obstacle in the trail. I'm hammering when I'm in this state, but inside it's the sound of trickling waterfalls and utter relaxation.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 04:45 PM   #7
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I managed to find the ultimate zone a few times. I would shut my eyes and turn out three laps at speed without opening my eyes. I was told I kept close to the cones and I didn't bump the coping. The only thing that mattered was running a nice smooth lap, and of course not smashing a cone.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 06:11 PM   #8
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I managed to find the ultimate zone a few times. I would shut my eyes and turn out three laps at speed without opening my eyes. I was told I kept close to the cones and I didn't bump the coping.
if i tried this, i think i'd find myself out the front door and in the traffic, which would be fine by me becuase i enjoy outdoor skating much better, and thus more in my zone, so maybe i;ll give it a try. Guess it all works out for the better, right?

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Old October 13th, 2007, 06:01 AM   #9
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I find this happening to me only if I suffer through a while first...and force myself not to go too hard until I get really warmed up, in tune with things and feeling good. If I don't, I burn out before it happens, I end up beat, having gone nowhere near as far or as fast as I intended.

A good long skate in the zone leaves me feeling like I could do more after even though I know it's not a great idea...because I'm already going to feel it a LOT the next couple days

Perception isn't reality here in my experience...my form is reasonably fair when I'm zoned in, without thinking about it. When I get frustrated my instinct is to force speed with a horrible apronated lateral that tires me out, burns my wheels and though I feel fast, I'm really not. This is doubly bad for me because I'm very strong (why I have this instinct in the first place...) but my stamina/cardio is weak (but improving).

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Old October 13th, 2007, 04:22 PM   #10
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I think I reach the zone periodically at the skate park. I usually do a few laps on a nearby flat area to get some warmup and then head over to the park itself. From there I start working on technique by stalling the 2ft quarter about 30 to 40 times coming down different ways. Then I start hitting the ramps and doing 180s for a while. Then I start doing my routines (different lineups of tricks). This all goes toward a warmup to try to get to the "skate forever" mode. I am guessing this is akin to the "zone".

Yesterday I was definitely in the "zone" (or like in Tony Hawk games, my "special" was up). I was flying up and down the ramps like I had never done before. I was doing jump ins off the ramps that a week ago I would not do. I skated for about 3 hours on the ramps and could have gone more, but had to get home to the family. I had such a natural high that I told my wife that this is one of the best weekends in my whole life. I am still in that mode. I am planning on skating more this weekend and ride this wave.

The funny thing is that I was feeling a little slow and tired before I went to the park. Exercise is definitely a great thing to get your mind feeling better. Maybe I am lucky and can get to the "zone" easily, maybe I am not getting to the "zone" like you are describing. One thing I note is that my body is never in pain later unless I fall. I am guessing I am not putting the same stresses on my body as you racers are. Maybe aggro is easier on the body?! LOL Well, except when I fall...
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Old October 13th, 2007, 04:25 PM   #11
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Oh, one thing that may help describe the "feeling" of the "zone" is that it makes me feel like the Matrix movie did. I feel like the "zone" is like taking the "red pill" and then being able to go past reality (at least your own reality) of what you can do. I hear Morpheus saying, "Free your mind!"
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Old October 16th, 2007, 04:32 PM   #12
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Might it be that The Zone means different things to different people? Or that different people have different Zones?
I don't do track racing (yet) and this summer was my first racing (road marathon) season but I think I have experienced something like that. Probably almost every race. As said before, it's when your mind is busy with race tactics and your body just follows, no matter how much it hurts. You think you can't possibly follow the pack any longer but somehow you find your final vestiges of strenght and push through the pain. And then when the end is in sight and you are so tired that you don't think you can't possibly move any more you find some hidden store of energy , your mind blocks the pain and you go for the final sprint. You get tunnel vision, you are dizzy with tiredness but you make it. The latter happened to me in a race and I can tell you it's the weirdest feeling.
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Old October 16th, 2007, 04:46 PM   #13
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Might it be that The Zone means different things to different people? Or that different people have different Zones?...
By your description, I would agree that you'd have to be in a different psychological state to accomplish what you describe. It is definitely some kind of zone. It's been awhile since I had a skate race that felt like that, but that is an awesome, empowering feeling to savor the focus and clarity that you have at that moment.
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Old October 16th, 2007, 05:18 PM   #14
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I don´t know if what i felt when in a race is this zone yo´re all talking about but surely i had a spot that felt like a infinite power was there and i could skate as long as the road was.

I had a coach (colombian) and he named it something like second breath (segundo aliento) when i began to skate i got tired very easily and he taught me to keep skating beyond that state. It took me like to months to master but i did master it and it is an awesome feeling.

I never competed in a official race but of two amateur races i won one and arrived second place on another because i fell (the skate hit a pothole ).
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Old October 16th, 2007, 05:32 PM   #15
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Default my zone

Maybe "the zone" means diferent things to diferent people. maybe this thread can morph into a "feel good" story of everyones "zone".
As for my zone: It came in only I pushed through the pain for 5 min or so. My coach never talked to me. If laps were too slow he'd hold his hand up. No music, no noise. It was like meditation, an out of body expierience. I'd step the whole floor like he asked and kept up the pace, but did not even think about any of it. Late passes in the straits like it was second nature, never any hands on my knees, no pain felt. I wasn't even there, it was like I was wathcing it on tv. Time flew by, and then all of a sudden I hear a whistle "sprint 5" my coach said. Uhg, like a shot in the back, or falling in a pit. Rested (from the pace)but in slight pain, and on the way out of the zone, sprinting to the 100 lap finish.
dave my "zone"
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Old October 17th, 2007, 02:38 AM   #16
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It sounds like there may be different levels in the zone. Maybe the smaller levels are passed through more easily, but as the exertion becomes harder moving beyond that takes more effort.

I will have to see how far into the zone I can go. I know that there is an exertion point I have to pass to get to the stage where I can skate for hours. Maybe there is another point I need to cross for higher performance or exertion. It would definitely help me extend my routines a bit. Right now it takes a bit of effort to get through 5 or 6 passes on the ramps.

Maybe some experiments are in order. Maybe some self reflection as we work on our specific disciplines and attain more performance or try to reach the zone. Just paying attention to the different stages of reaching our own definition of the zone will tell us something.
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