Doesn’t sound like a long time.
That is until you have to skate 27 laps of a roller derby track within that time. Then 5 minutes feels like unending, lung burning torture.
I don’t know many people who look forward to doing the 27 in 5. There are a few crazy people out there who enjoy trying to get a new personal best for laps in 5 minutes and you might be one of them! But for a lot of people, laps are their nemesis.
Why do we need 27 in 5?
This is a surprisingly controversial topic in the roller derby world. Some people view the lap test as irrelevant and that it only holds skaters back from competing. Others believe it’s an important test of a skater’s speed, fitness and mental toughness.
Does only being able to get 25 laps make you less safe to play roller derby? Probably not. But right now, laps are still a part of the minimum skills so we need to suck it up and deal with them!
There is no getting around the fact that the 27 in 5 can be very difficult and frustrating for a lot of people – 5 minutes doesn’t sound like a long time until you have to skate hard for that entire time.
How to achieve your laps
As a freshie, your league probably doesn’t expect you to get 27 laps right away and some leagues only enforce 27 laps when it comes to team selection.
So instead of focusing on the number 27, I want you to only focus on increasing your lap number each time you do them. That might only be by half a lap each time, but if you keep adding half a lap each time, you’ll be soaring towards 27 in no time without even thinking about it.
1. Get Better At Crossovers.
Good crossovers make for more efficient skating; you expend less energy but gain more speed. The lateral movement of your skates “grab” the floor and pull you round the track, helping you to accelerate out of and into corners. Nice powerful and fluid strides and crossovers, just like those awesome Olympic speed skaters, will help you whizz around the track like Rogue Runner.
To learn more about crossover technique and how to improve them off-skates, click here: Crossover Crush
2. Skate the diamond or the circle
It’s tempting to think the shortest route around the track – closely hugging the inside line – will be the easiest and quickest. But you’re so very wrong my friend.
Due to physics (as discussed in this video), you’re actually being pushed towards the outside of the track and fighting it wastes energy. It is also difficult to turn tight corners while crossing over, again wasting energy and sacrificing speed. So the best way to skate quickly around the track is to go wide on the straights and narrow around the corners. This is the most efficient path around the track, giving you the most speed with the least effort.
Check out the diagrams below of the diamond and the circle. The idea is to take a wide arc into the corners then cut in as close as to the apex as possible, making sure your feet are in a staggered position with your left leg closest to the line. Then, begin accelerating as you hit the apex and keep accelerating out towards the outside line. Try to crossover the the entirety of the straights, only coasting for a second around the apex if you need to.
3. Get A Lot Fitter
Many people talk about needing endurance for your 27 in 5 but when I think of endurance sports I think of long, slow, steady races like marathons, not going flat out for five minutes. Laps aren’t quite a sprints either – although it would be nice if it only took 10 seconds!
For the laps, we cycle between periods of intense work when we accelerate, and very short “rest” periods when we coast around corners. We need to keep the intensity high but pace ourselves for the whole five minutes.
HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is a method of exercise wherein you work really, really hard for a short period of time and then rest for a short period of time. Kind of similar to laps where you cycle between flat out skating and coasting around the apex.
The key to effective HIIT workouts is to give the work intervals your all – it needs to be intense! Then you recover in the rest period before you go hard again. HIIT workouts are supposed to be short so 5 – 15 minutes is enough. Any longer and you won’t be able to give 100% in the work intervals.
There are loads of different interval ratios that you can use according to your goals: 1:00 work/2:00 rest, 30sec work/30sec rest, 45sec work/15sec work etc. But it’s best to keep the work intervals to no longer than a minute or so, that way you can maintain the intensity!
Benefits of HIIT workouts:
- Workouts are short – you get the benefits of a long cardio workout but in much less time. HIIT is shown to increase fitness just as well as long, steady cardio and will improve your endurance without spending hours running/cycling
- Builds strength as well as fitness – another time saver, HIIT helps increase muscle mass whilst also improving your cardiovascular endurance
- Teaches better recovery – the work/rest cycles actually teaches your body to use energy more efficiently meaning you will recover from intense exercise quicker
- No equipment needed – all you need is your body and a timer app or stopwatch and you can do it anywhere
- Improves mental toughness – because the work periods must be really intense for it to work, HIIT teaches you to push through and go harder than you thought you could. You can do anything for 30 seconds!
HIIT It Hard Workout
- Knee highs
- Bum kicks
- Arm swings & circles
- Jumping Jacks
- Running Knee Highs
- Running bum kicks
- Jump twists
50 sec work 10 sec rest for 5 intervals. Total 5 minutes. (I use an interval timer app on my phone.)
- Running knee highs – as fast as you can, pump your arms
- Low jacks + arms – stay as low as you can, pumping your arms up to the side
- Burpees + clap – jump and clap above your head at the end of the move
- Switch jumps – split stance, quickly switching feet with a jump
- Skater jumps – try to only have one foot on the floor, jump laterally and use arms
Rest 2 mins
- Chair squats – lower lightly down then raise back up
- Press-ups – from knees or feet, lower chest to floor
- Glute bridges – engage core, raise hips & clench bum
- Upper back raises – hands by ears, raise & lower chest & shoulders
- Cross body mountain climbers – bring opposite knee to armpit
Extra things that can help you get your 27 in 5:
Wheels: Too slippy or too sticky. Wheels can affect how fast you roll or make you slide out around corners. Try other people’s wheels, try pusher wheels, experiment.
Bearings: When was the last time you cleaned your bearings? Do they even spin? If not, that’s not helpful! Clean them or get new ones.
Breathing: Having a more rhythmic breathing can help you die less during laps.
Slip stream: Get in someone’s slip stream that’s a good skater, use them as your guide around the track. Also good motivation to try and keep up/overtake them.
Mental game: Mentally saying “I CAN’T DO THIS!” or “I’M DYING!” before or during is no help. Instead think; “I’ve got this!”, “Only 3 minutes to go”, “Only 4 more laps”. Counting your strides can also be a useful way to take your mind off the pain.
Remember, YOU CAN DO IT!
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