Well, here I am, I’ve closed out my third week of training and have arrived at the eve of the season’s first game. I’ve done all the work I can to be prepared for this first ice session. Today is a scheduled rest day, as I don’t want my leg muscles to be in recovery mode tomorrow night. I want them to be in “go” mode. All I can do now is wait.
For this third week I focused more on sprinting and less on general aerobic fitness, in an attempt to really firm up my legs for their upcoming test. Every evening this past week I’d slip out into the cool darkness, do a bit of a warm up then dash off my wind sprints – short interval sets one evening, longer ones the next.
This shift in focus had an immediate impact, but not in a good way.
Suddenly my knees decided they didn’t like this sprinting at all. When I ran, each knee felt like it had a dagger stuck in it. I pushed through the pain for a few days in a row but I finally had to take a couple evenings off from any kind of running or footwork. The rest allowed the throbbing to ease and I resumed my schedule, somewhat tentatively, two evenings ago. It was OK. But ice packs on the knees are now a regular feature of my post-workout protocol.
I kept up with my footwork exercises throughout the week and felt like they were helping me to move around with greater ease. Rather than subjecting my knees to the hard road, I did these exercises on our front lawn, which has a long, narrow section that’s flat and obstacle-free and thus safe to run around, even in the dark.
I continued to do squats and lunges regularly, soon reaching the point that I needed to add weight for the exercises to have any effect. I started with 10-pound dumbbells because we had a set just lying around. They weren’t really adequate, but luckily I found a 38-pound weight that was also just lying around: my four-year-old boy.
He quite liked getting a shoulder ride while I squatted down then up, down then up. I added a few hops with him still in place on my shoulders, as I’d seen TV footage of NHLers jumping in the air while holding barbells across their shoulders. Glee ensued from him and from me, even though this was technically a violation of my rule No. 2.
I’m not sure what to expect for tomorrow night’s game. Will I feel a complete transformation? A slight improvement? Will I feel like I’m 17 again?
I’m trying to keep my expectations in check but I’m very curious. I’ve never before trained with such regularity nor with such a focus on hockey-related muscles and movements.
What I’m really hoping to experience, and what I think is a realistic expectation, is to feel less of the perpetual fatigue that’s been my shadow for the last few years. This, in turn, should allow me to actually play the game instead of spending my ice time trying to avoid being too much of a liability.
That’s my real hope, that I can play the game in enjoyment rather than in fear. I invented a slogan that sums up this mind set: “No Fear.”
I think it could catch on.