By: Mystique Ro
Pre-season to the 2019-2020 season brings with it another round of many changes. I have relocated back to Charlotte, NC for several reasons:
- Be closer to my coach
- Access to quality training facilities
- Opportunity to cross train
- Access to an international airport
- Level of independence
While there are many reasons to move somewhere, start over and whatnot these are just a handful of the reasons.
1.Closer to Coach
There’s a misconception that an athlete training at a high level just has a program down packed and keeps chugging along making gains all day every day. This is gravely mistaken. Behind every great athlete is a “team” (whether it’s a single coach or a facility full of members) working with an athlete in some capacity. In my case, I constantly refer to my college coach for guidance. I follow the program I used while competing under him because that program helped me perform at my highest level when I was a track and field athlete. So… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Not necessarily. There are some modifications I have had to make in order for the training to be more sport specific to skeleton, but in general, the training is pretty thorough.
- Access to training facilities
I’ll admit this is me being pretty picky. I spent nearly 10 years running around an oval, so it’s easy to say I’m used to that routine. I don’t like doing my running/ sprint workouts on a treadmill or on a bike- I’d prefer to run outside like I always have. However, for the past two years, this has not been an option. While in Florida, access to a decent track (not cracked asphalt) was difficult. Reaching out to a local high school was my best option, but there were a lot of hoops to jump through to “use” their facility. So needless to say, the move to Charlotte and being among people I’ve worked with in the past has made things much easier. Plus it helps that the area is runner-friendly.
- Opportunity to cross train
A question I get a lot when I tell people I am on the USA Skeleton team is ‘how do you train for that with no snow?’ My usual answer is that I fall back on my track and field training. However the more I learn about the sport and realize I am not invincible **cough cough** getting “older” (having to take health and wellness seriously), I have discovered the same repetitive training may not be the best way to approach the sport (at least for me). So introducing, cross training. Basically, this just means working out/ training in a different fashion so as not to create an overuse injury.
This pre-season I have taken on rock climbing. This was a huge choice for me. I HATE heights and the sensation of falling, both of which are very much present in the world of climbing. Climbing seems easy from afar, but when you are on the wall and trying to figure out how to move your full body weight while holding onto tiny rocks with varying grip “handles”, suddenly it’s agony. My forearms are always on fire.
- Access to an International airport
This is a biggie! As is common knowledge, there are no bobsled tracks in the south- in fact, there are only two in the United States: Lake Placid, New York and Park City, Utah. So just to get to my “home tracks” I have to fly out a good distance. There are 14 other tracks spread out across the globe, so hopping onto a plane is a big necessity. Being in Charlotte means short commutes to the airport, less than 30 minutes (I have teammates who have to drive 2+ hours to get to the nearest airport…no thanks).
- Level of Independence
This is the first time I have had ‘my own space’ (not living in a corner of someone else’s house). Moving to Charlotte with my boyfriend/teammate allows me room to breathe and maintain some level of sanity. Mental health is just as important if not more than physical. This gives me room to explore my creative avenues of painting, embroidery, woodworking, writing, video production and so much more! I feel a level of peace within myself that I haven’t felt in a long time, which I am extremely grateful for.
All in all, the move to Charlotte has been a major KEY for me on this journey of ice and snow. Maintaining my own identity and level of sanity is an important part of life in general, but I have become hyper-aware of this while in this tightly knit community. This lifestyle is loaded with challenges that are not always “YouTube-able”. There’s not Pinterest tutorial for how to be a great sliding athlete or a guru in the sport to guide newbies on these types of choices. This sport is full of athletes using the knowledge they have from previous sports and activities to become better sliders all while trying to balance a career of some sort and maybe a personal life…
This isn’t an easy life, so any way you can make this journey easier, better or more enjoyable for yourself, why not?