My Figure Skating Career: Origins (Part 1)

Whenever I tell people I skate, they always give me these wide eyes and ask “How?” or “Oh since you were a kid?” or “OMG THAT’S SO COOL ARE YOU GOING TO THE OLYMPICS?!?!!” It’s kind of funny how untouchable the sport seems to the general public despite my city having at least 3 rinks open year-round and several more open during the colder months. I suppose in the land of the Eagles, Sixers, and Phillies, only the Flyers gang would even think about. But I digress.

Skating happened to me–I didn’t seek out skating. At least not at first.

It all started with a social media hub of sorts sponsored by Lyft and led by some local social media guru-types for the year of 2018, and they offered a set of complimentary tickets with skate rental at the Blue Cross RiverRink. I hadn’t been to the rink since I was in elementary school, and not skated since 2011 as a 9th grader, so I didn’t really know what to expect but was relatively optimistic.

It did rain a bit earlier in the day, but the rink decided to stay open as the sky cleared, so my friend Connie and I strapped on our dinky rental skates and tiptoed our blunt toe picks on the ice, clinging onto the soaked boards. It was a familiar sensation but definitely distant. Apparently Connie had learned how to skate as a child at some point–that was never something I did! Dance, yes, but never skating formally. So she had some mild confidence off the boards, but I hung on for a full lap. The rink wasn’t too crowded, so I didn’t feel too bad.

The second lap, I discovered that I should tie my skates tighter, and suddenly I was zooming around the rink, hands off, for laps and laps until I fell. It was terrifying but at the same time…it was awesome! I couldn’t stop thinking about skating when we finally got too tired and the ice was chopped up from all the skaters. For that hour, I completely forgot about how anxious and stressed I was about school.

That night, I casually googled “ice skating lessons” and University of Penn’s Rink webpage came up, as well as a few other rinks. I was still a Drexel student at the time, so it felt natural to look at Penn’s lessons. They weren’t too expensive and there was a session starting in a few weeks. I wasn’t exactly earning a lot of money so I was surviving on savings for the most part, and so I pushed it off for the fall when I had more money.

A mere 4 days later, I realized I was still thinking about skating and since finals were looming (freaking quarter system), I convinced my boyfriend to skate as a date. We had a blast, and my skills had already improved since the last time. That was kind of the end of my “life before skating” because the next time I would skate would be by myself the week before my first Learn-to-Skate group lesson would happen.

I was a bit of a nervous wreck going into that 12:30pm public session on a Wednesday afternoon alone at Penn’s Rink. It was my first time skating alone and I was afraid of looking ridiculous. But I wanted to get a feel for the ice! I hadn’t skated there since I was in middle school on a field trip, and I had no real recollection of that event so it made sense.

The session was pretty empty, only a few adults skaters and some more advanced college kids (nothing more complicated than some waltz jumps though). I mostly just stroked around and tried to do some of the things I saw on YouTube like swizzles, but I mostly just enjoyed going around for a bit. I don’t think I stayed for the entire session.

A few short days later, I returned to the rink, this time to turn in my check for $130 (RIP savings) and to lace into rental skates and start my first lesson. It was so crowded for a group, but we made it work. However, I could barely swizzle in these skates, and it made me feel very awkward. After appearing as if I was in the bottom of the class, I looked to see where I could get figure skates in the next week. Off to Philadelphia Skating Club I went.

On Wednesday, I took the bus to Ardmore, talked to the pro shop guy, and left with my own pair of Jackson Ultimate Artiste skates (which I would later learn were too big for me!). From Ardmore, I rode a bus and a train back to Penn’s rink just in time for the 12:30pm session to test out those bad boys. It was great! I couldn’t believe what sharp skates with actual ankle support could do for one’s skills.

Through the next few weeks, I found real improvement in my skating skills, and by the end of the 5 week session, I had passed both Adult 1 and 2 and was well on my way into 3 skills. Luckily, I had already signed up for the last adult group lessons at the Haverford Skatium (somewhere I now call home away from home) that would start the very next week so I could still learn.

Hilariously, I started this session at the top of my group somehow. Although I had no concept of backward swizzling or wiggling the week prior, I was able to teach 2 girls in my group how to do them and could actually go pretty freaking fast for someone who just started skating a mere 2 months prior.

As opposed to Penn’s classes, this class didn’t follow a structure at all, so by the time the 6 weeks were over, I had learned forward crossovers, backward swizzles, backward wiggles, t-stop, bunny hop, and because I had already started with my private coach, the group lesson instructor ended up teaching me backward crossovers too.

Since I was doing an internship during this time, I couldn’t skate those lovely 12:30pm public sessions at Penn, so I started venturing to different public sessions. I discovered free admission ice at Laura Sims Skate House in the evenings, so after work I went straight to the rink to practice and that’s where I would learn about unsolicited advice from strangers. So I stopped going there.

Okay, I skipped ahead a bit. Let’s talk about how I ended up with a private coach after only skating for less than 3 months. I have a pretty analtyical mindset and am very goal oriented, and after seeing how quickly I was learning skills, I knew that I wouldn’t last through the summer if I continued with group lessons. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work with a private coach yet because of money, but I just figured I’d try it out. I reached out to the figure skating director of the rink about ice dance coaches as I knew (after watching the Shibutanis’ Olympic Free Dance performance for the 40th time) I wanted to do solo dance, and suddenly was paired with my amazing 2x Olympian Ukrainian coach whom I still skate with today.

The first private lesson was a few weeks into my group lesson session, which happened to be on the same day just an hour afterwards. We pretty much went straight into Dutch Waltz, and I was pretty excited to not be stuck doing crossovers on a circle for a half an hour.

Until that’s basically what we did for 15 minutes a lesson for about 3 months. But hey, my crossovers are great now.

My coach teaches at a camp for 2 weeks in June, so I skated with him for 3 weeks before he left, and then spent 3 weeks away from him. But I diligently practiced that damn Dutch Waltz.

When he came back, he decided to start Canasta Tango with me, which stroked my ego quite a bit. On the day of the July test session at the rink, my coach asked if I wanted a shot at the next test session for one or both of the dances. I was ECSTATIC…and terrified.

That was a lot of money all at once that I was hesitant about. So far I had spent $130 on Penn’s lessons, another $130ish on Skatium’s lessons, $180 on the skates, probably $200 or so on my coach’s fees, $140 on the freestyle ice time, and suddenly I needed to pay for a USFSA membership, the test fees, a dress, and pay for my coach to be there. But you know what I did, right?

Yep. I started with the dress, then I signed up with Crossroads Figure Skating Club, then I registered for the test session, and eventually I made it to my first test session and passed. Wow.

Have I mentioned this is only 6 months since I stepped onto that free public session? It took me 3-90 minute public sessions to sign up for something that costs SO MUCH MONEY. And I still do it today. So that’s cool.

This series is gonna get hella long, so I’m gonna stop here, but if you’re interested in Part 2, stay tuned because it’s coming. Drop a comment if you liked, and PLEASE feel free to tell me your ridiculous origin story, particularly if you jumped head-first into this sport.

Plot Twist: You Are Defined By Your Failures! Just Not The Way You Think

Let’s talk about some mildly recent failures real quick, regardless of whether it was the fault of the person or not. Evgenia Medvedeva got silver at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Jason Brown didn’t make the Olympic team for 2018. 2018-19 Grand Prix gold medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue missed the podium at the 2019 Four Continents Championships.

Did any of these athletes quit after these failures? Nope! Hubbell/Donohue landed Bronze at Worlds and Jason Brown came in 2nd at Skate America. Evgenia continues to compete, and even a recent withdrawal at Russian Nationals won’t stop her from skating and competing as far as she is willing to train for it.

Many people say that you don’t learn from success, but failure, and I can’t help but agree. My first year of figure skating happened slowly and then all at once. From what was once something to relieve some stress quickly turned into a hobby that caused a little bit of anxiety from the pressure of official USFSA testing. I passed every test I took on the first try until my first moves test.

We can sit here and argue about why I failed and whether politics had anything to do with it, but at the end of the day I had a big fat “RETRY” on my USFSA record for Pre-Bronze Moves, and I had to quickly figure out what I was doing any of this for.

Up to that point, I was just doing what my coach recommended. I trained for preliminary dances because I wanted to do solo ice dance, and then I tested them. I liked testing for the first few sessions because it was new and exciting, even if it was a bit stressful. But that retry did something weird to my brain.

I was a bit lost, if I’m honest. I had already planned out what I was going to train for the next test session, and suddenly I had to pivot. I knew getting a retry was always an option, but it had never happened to me so I assumed it wouldn’t happen that day.

The following days after the test, I had the opportunity to go to the SHARP 4 SPORTS camp in Nashville for a weekend in early August and got the opportunity to skate outside of the context of re-testing that moves level. I learned A LOT, and got feedback from coaches other than my own which gave me a good amount of things to think about.

Throughout the entire weekend, after the end of each day’s activities, I would sit in my AirBnB charged on skating. The first day I considered what it would be like to spend the season mostly working on solo free dance. The second day I looked into the requirements to do so. By the last night before my morning flight, I was crafting a negotiation to convince my coach to let me not test for a while. We could still work on pattern dances and moves, but it wouldn’t be tested until at least April.

Surprisingly, that worked? But we still had to get through this moves test I already registered for. So I spent the remaining couple of weeks reformatting my weak points to satisfy the test and passed with flying colors at that next session.

Since then, I haven’t really thought about testing much. My coach asked if I wanted to test Willow Waltz in January, but I really like what I’m doing right now. Free Dance requires so many more skills than pattern dances, so I’ve had to really lean into higher moves tests and learn a lot of turns and find ways to make myself more powerful and presentable on the ice. It’s been REALLY freaking fun, and I’m almost glad I failed that moves test now.

See, if I passed on the first try, I’m not sure I’d be finishing up my last choreography bits on this Bronze Solo Free Dance program, or have a really stunning dress waiting to be debuted, or have the sheer amount of skating skills that I do right now. I would probably be slowly trudging through Bronze Moves and maybe soldiering Hickory Hoedown or Ten-Fox. And while I have learned all of these things, they’re not the focus, and the focus I do get to do is really fun and something I look forward to.

I understand where people come from when they say that you aren’t defined by your failures, but I think what they mean is that your failures don’t dictate who you are. We are ultimately the culmination of our successes and our failures, but those failures are learning opportunities that lead us to grow beyond them and turn into successes. Without having something to fight for, would we work nearly as hard?

Diversify Ice Foundation: Organization Highlight

Though it’s hard to talk about, it’s hard to ignore: ethnic diversity is pretty weak in the figure skating world. I’m often the only non-white person on the ice, and while I’m used to it as a graduate from a private university, it can be particularly intimidating for people who aren’t usually in that kind of environment. Diversity isn’t just a political agenda; it enables the expansion and evolution of every entity in which it exists.

That’s where Diversify Ice Foundation comes in. Imagine hearing new music, seeing new, innovative choreography, and seeing less political judging with the propagation of a more diverse skating community. These are only a few things that came up in my enlightening conversation with Joel Savary.

As a young figure skater in Miami and brother to Emmanuel Savary, who placed 11th in the Men’s Free Skate event at the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Joel noticed he was the only African-American on the ice. It became particularly noticeable at competitions, and realized that the cost of the sport was a huge factor.

With his new project to foster equity in the sport, Joel hopes that Diversify Ice can help create a community for those at the top where diversity is slim, as well as in the lower levels so that those individuals can achieve as much as they are capable of without finances or social pressures holding them back.

Our mission is to provide sponsorship, mentorship, networks, and opportunities to underrepresented figure skaters, so that they are able to achieve their fullest potential in the sport and in life.

Diversify Ice Foundation website

Population: Ethnic minorities of all ages

If you’ve ever cracked open a history book, it’s no surprise that figure skating is not a historically ethnically diverse sport. In a predominantly White sport, the first attempts at reaching diversity were met with blatant exclusion, at least in the States. When that was no longer acceptable with Civil Rights Act of 1964, the burden of laying down a path for more diversity in the sport fell upon those skaters.

When the sport grew in popularity, East Asians and the diaspora stepped up, presumably due to a mix of social and economic status. With figure skating costing in the tens of thousands per year at the elite level and easily $5,000-$7,000 per year at lower levels, historically disadvantaged ethnic communities simply lack the means to break into it. Paired with the social pressures of being a cultural minority on the ice, the cycle of anti-diversity perpetuates. But Diversify Ice looks to change that narrative.

The Program

Diversify Ice has a couple of main programs with the goal to expose as many people to the sport with as little intimidation as possible. The Sip & Skate is geared towards adults as a social event on ice where people can bond, meet new people, and experience skating in a judgement-free environment. The Ice Skate-Raiser was an event geared towards people of all ages to try skating as well as support the foundation in future programming. Both events share the success of bringing people together to try something new and enable Savary and his board to continue this journey of diversifying the ice rink.

As I was getting on the phone with him, Savary mentioned he was in the process of collaborating with a few schools local to the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) area to bring figure skating programming to their students. Many current elite figure skaters grew in love with the sport from experiences such as field trips and birthday parties, so it makes sense to aim for schools to reach as many people as possible for the greatest return of investment. Through this future partnership, Diversify Ice will be able to create a new diverse crop of recreational, competitive, and potentially elite figure skaters, and I am personally very excited for the growing organization!

Ways you can help

Donate equipment or money

While money is always appreciated, Savary explicitly mentioned needing things like gloves, hats, socks, skates, and pilates mats for their programming. As the foundation’s aim is to bring skating to more diverse communities, anything helps! Click here to donate!

Share Diversify Ice on social media

If you don’t have the financial means to support the organization, they are especially grateful for spreading the word about what they’re up to! Follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Support them with grants and foundation support

If you know about any grants or fiscal opportunities that the foundation would be a great fit for, please share!

Question of the Day!

What’s you million dollar idea to increase diversity in the sport at all levels?

Women’s Sports Foundation: Organization Spotlight

My childhood wasn’t really active. Sure I had a bike, a scooter, and my mom signed me up for some soccer camps, but I was never encouraged to engage in sports. My elementary school didn’t have recess, gym class, or even after-school sports clubs, so by the time I got to middle and high school I lacked the desire to participate. It wasn’t until I started skating when I actually felt like being active was a choice I could make, albeit in a female-dominant sport.

Women’s Sports Foundation is a crucial organization to the sports landscape in the country as it aims to bring self-identified women to the field–literally and figuratively. Folks at this organization have identified a lack of female representation both as athletes and as leaders in sports: positions like coaches, directors, even commentators. As far as aspirations go, WSF has high but entirely achievable goals that can greatly change the landscape of leadership. At the end of the day, society needs more female leaders, and what better way to promote leadership than participation in sports.

Mission: We are dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring girls access to sports.

Women’s Sports Foundation website

Population: Girls and women of all ages and ethnicities

Women assigned at birth make up over half of the world, yet participate and hold sports positions at lower rates than cisgender men. While female-dominated sports like artistic gymnastics and figure skating give these women a platform to athleticism, the mainstream sports covered by media lack adequate female representation. The misconception that women should be less active than men has been pervasive for centuries. Because of this, cisgender girls are less likely to be active in childhood, which turns into a less active adulthood and promotes preventable health conditions. While it may look more inclusive today than 50 years ago, we still have a long way to go.

The Program

Women’s Sports Foundation does so much that it’s hard to succinctly list out without taking up the whole post! As a foundation, WSF awards grants and scholarships for a variety of roles and accomplishments. The Linda Riddle/SGMA Endowed Scholarship is for graduating high school seniors with limited financial means to continue their sports career in college. Sports 4 Life Funding is meant to fund programs that support sports programs for 11-18 year old black and Latinx girls. The WSF Tara VanDerveer Fund for the Advancement of Women in Coaching encourages the development of female coaches through fellowship. Just these alone speak to the Foundation’s dedication to its mission.

Then there’s programs like GoGirlGo!. As a curriculum to keep elementary, middle, and high school girls involved in physical activity, the program acts as a supportive structure for existing programs in direct contact with the girls. It teaches everything from nutrition and body image to confidence and leadership. Many programs that mean well lack the infrastructure necessary to adequately provide for their communities, but this program helps fulfill that need. Overall, the foundation is dedicated to increase sports participation at all levels of athleticism and behind the scenes on the executive level, which would ultimately empower more women to be present in historically male-dominant spaces.

Ways you can help

Buy this limited edition headband from KT Tape

I have 2 because why not! It’s for a great cause AND they’re pretty. Oh and I guess they’re multi-functional, but I just sweat in them.

Donate directly to WSF

Money solves many problems. Do it for the girls! Your contribution no matter how small is valuable.

Do any or all of the actions on this one pager

Are you a woman with any mild interest in being a coach? Maybe political advocacy is more your style? Savvy in social media campaigns? WSF offers so many ways to help their mission without spending a dime!

Question of the Day!

Are the women in your life as active as the men? How about those that identify outside of the binary?

Figure Skating in Harlem: Organization Spotlight

If there’s one thing that I would do to make my mark on the sport, it would be to start a Figure Skating in Harlem chapter in Philadelphia. Providing mentorship and an avenue of self-expression and self-esteem is crucial to youth, and the ones who need it the most due to their exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are the ones who have the least access to it. The gravity of the work done by this organization is great, and I don’t think simply words are enough to speak to what impact it has on kids in Harlem (and Detroit!) so before we get started, let’s dive into this TED talk by founder Sharon Cohen.

Mission: Figure Skating in Harlem helps girls transform their lives and grow in confidence, leadership and academic achievement. 

Figure Skating in Harlem’s website

Population: Girls 6-18 residing in Harlem, upper Manhattan, the lower Bronx, or Detroit

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Harlem is not your typical neighborhood to find a bunch of figure skaters. Figure skating is not a sport you find many people of color in, and if you’ve ever paid for a month of private lessons and a pair of competitive skates you know why: it’s expensive. These neighborhoods are lower income, predominantly African-American, and have a long history of ACEs that have high correlations of lower achieved levels of education, involvement with crime, and health conditions. By giving these neighborhoods the opportunity to help prepare young girls for adulthood, Figure Skating in Harlem promotes equity for black girls in New York City and Detroit to succeed as well as their non-black cohort.

Figure skating in Harlem logo

The Program

The objectives for students in the Figure Skating in Harlem model are to develop skills and education, possess confidence, and be able to make healthy choices among a slew of other great skills young girls need. The students get placed into Learn To Skate levels based on age and level where they learn skating skills, and they also participate in off-ice activities once a week. FSH isn’t just a physical fitness program, as students also sit for educational activities ranging from college prep to study skills. As if that wasn’t enough, the students also get a chance to learn leadership skills and experience cultural trips. I could go on and on about this program, but in a nutshell, it’s the best after-school (and summer!) program on the block.

I’m not the only fan of FSH; the program has been championed by Meryl Davis, half of the notable Olympic ice dance team who took the gold in Sochi in 2014. Davis has attended the annual gala for over a decade and now co-chairs the Detroit chapter. Other notable Olympians who’ve attended this gala include Maia and Alex Shibutani, Michelle Kwan, Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, and Paul Wylie. Have I mentioned this organization is the only one with a program like this AND do it extremely well?

I can’t say it enough how much I’m glad this exists. That girls of color from low-income communities can get the opportunity to participate in such an expensive but transformative sport, perform in front of engaged audiences, and receive support to build a strong foundation that will set them up for the rest of their life. If there was any organization I’d quit my job today for, it would be to work with the amazing team that has forged this process along for all these years.

Ways you can help

Donate

As with any organization, a little goes a long way, and there are so many more kids who could use this amazing program!

Amazon Smile

Turn your midnight shopping adventures into a donation without having to do anything or spend extra money but register this organization in Amazon Smile!

Volunteer

As a coach or tutor, or if you have expertise in careers, financial literacy, fitness & nutrition, study skills and more, you can also host a workshop!

Question of the Day!

What’s a hobby you wish you could have done when you were a kid? Other than figure skating, I really wished I could have done gymnastics!

Should you keep a training diary for skating?

I honestly can’t remember a time I didn’t have some kind of log for my skating. When I started Adult 1, I had the Adult Learn to Skate curriculum PDF printed out and I checked the skills I knew how to do. Eventually I moved them to a notebook, adapting my personal bullet journal format. Soon it became its own format, and to this day I’m still making tweaks here and there to make it work for me.

Before I tell you some good reasons for tracking your skating progress, let me show you what my current log looks like and what my rationale is behind each section. Fair warning: this is a long post and you might think I’m crazy when you’re done.

  • picture of notebook with writings of figure skating

My training log

The book

I currently use the XL Moleskine Cahier notebook with squared paper. This book is neat because it has a little pocket in the back, so that’s where I usually keep printed dance and moves in the field patterns.

Season goals page

This is where I keep all my goals for the season! I have a couple of outcome and process goals for the season, and I also make monthly goals that work towards those big season goals. I track whether I’ve hit that goal or made progress on it when I go to write the next month’s goal.

Ice Dance Mastery Tracker

Not something I use too frequently, but around the time I was working on Swing Dance, I felt like I was working slower than the other dances I had passed already. This basically keeps me out of my own head if I feel like I’m stuck in progressing through the pattern dances.

Sharpening Hours

This one’s kind of speaks for itself. Adding up the total is a bit annoying but it gives me insight to how long my blades last. My last pair of skates had some really lame blades on them and had to get them sharpened every 20 hours or so because they just slid so much on outside edges. Did you know depending on the season, you can get more or less life out of a sharpening? Our ice is hard during January/February, so I have to get them sharpened more often, but in the summer I can last months with just one!

Weekly log

This is the meat and potatoes of the book. Each week gets its own spread. The left side of the spread is split into ice (left) and off-ice training (right), sorted by the days of the week. On the ice side, I usually I just put what kind of session I skated on and for how long, plus some notes about the session, like if I had corrections during my lesson or noticed something improved or got worse.

The off-ice side is the catch-all for what I do when I’m not skating. Usually it’s aerial, some kind of interval class, a trip to the gym, or rollerblading, but only if I feel like I got anything out of it. I never log walks or anything because it’s not necessarily a part of the training plan as much as a part of my daily life outside of being an athlete.

As part of the process, I sit down at the beginning of the week and write down what I plan to do in pencil. When I actually do the things, I erase the pencil and rewrite it in pen. If I don’t end up doing what I planned, I just erase the pencil and strike through the day. It’s not necessarily bad though, and in a bit I’ll explain why.

I recently just changed the right side of the spread so I’m not quite sure if it’s working or not. Weekly insights is where I write a few sentences on my general sense of training for the week and what external factors may have contributed to my success or failures during training.

Inspiration is a rebranding of an old section that basically just forces me to write down something I came across during the week about resilience and being a better athlete.

Nutrition is a new section: it just gives me space to jot down what general foods I want to eat during the week. Because of my eating disorder background I’m refraining from logging what I eat. I recently started meeting with a dietician to help me get a better idea on how I should be eating and how that changes throughout the year.

Finally, goals is my favorite section because it gives me an at-a-glance view of how I’m doing. I write my monthly and weekly goals, plus fill out a progress bar of skating hours, strength training, cardio training, and mobility training. I can tell what kind of stress I’ve been under just by flipping through and looking at this section. Instead of feeling bad that I didn’t hit my goal, it tells me I may need to change my goal setting approach or find ways to help me stay on track.

If you notice on the left page in the off-ice section, I have a bunch of letters in the top corner. Those just help me double check the number of boxes I have shaded in the goals section.

This is a huge undertaking to start with, but know that my log changed over the course of a year or so. Now that you have an understanding of what a very idealistic person’s training log looks like, let’s skip down to why you might want to keep one, even if it’s simpler than mine.

Reasons to keep a training log

1. You can keep notes from lessons

I used to always forget the random things my coach tells me, like keeping my free hip above the skating hip or whatever mumbo jumbo ice dance technicalities are relevant that day. Writing this stuff down is great for when I go to practice on my own so it’s almost like my coach is with me!

2. You can have a clear track of what you’ve been working on

After you’ve been skating for a while, it might be hard to remember when you landed your first toe loop or when exactly you finished your program choreography. Much like a diary, this helps immortalize that progress so you don’t have to rack your brain.

3. You can track pretty much anything

As you can see from my log, you can track things like water intake or nutrition, weight, body measurements, really whatever you want! And the best part is if you don’t care about it anymore, you can ditch it.

4. When you’re feeling down, you can see how far you’ve come

I’ve hit a lot of slumps since I started back in March 2018, and something that always keeps my spirits up is realizing how much I’ve done in the time that I’ve been skating. When I was stuck just working on Swing Dance in my lessons for 3 months, I realized it was amazing that I only started skating a year prior and could barely swizzle. Creating some perspective can get your brain out of that dark place that compares your progress with others, and compares your present self to your past self.

Even though figure skating isn’t a linear-progressing sport, you still get a little better overall every day even if you don’t feel like it. Maybe basic stroking happens more often than the lazy toe-push, or perhaps you can set up your jumps a little cleaner even if you can’t quite land them right. Skating can get very lonely if you’re not in synchro or a partnered discipline, so you have to make sure you don’t get holed up in your own thoughts.

Bottom Line

Honestly, I can’t tell you whether to keep a training log or not, but I’ve already told you some great reasons to give it a shot. By no means do you have to follow my example with the bullet journal-style layout, or keep something so granular. If you just want a tiny notebook to jot down your program and see what parts went well and not so great, that’s completely fine. Skating is such a personalized sport so you have to find what works for you.

Students Run Philly Style: Organization Spotlight

Have you ever had the thought to run a 5k, 10k, or even a marathon? Though programs like C25k and Nike Training Camp provide a guideline for people to reach these goals on their own, Students Run Philly Style provides a way for young people to receive free mentorship and guidance as they work towards the large goal of completing a road race.

I’ve talked a bit about how much I love organizations that share my values, so I figured there’s no better time than the present to share some with you! I have personal ties with Students Run, having been a student during the first ever Blue season in 2014 where I trained to run the Broad Street Run, a famous 10-miler in Philadelphia. After recovering from an eating disorder, this program at my school helped me create a healthier relationship with my body, connect with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and keep myself accountable in order to achieve something great.

Girl holding a medal near her face
Girl running in a race with a watermark overlaying it
Student Run Philly Style Logo

Mission: Students Run Philly Style transforms students‘ lives through running and mentorship.

Student Run Philly Style Website

Population: Philadelphia and Camden, NJ middle and high school students

In the 2018-2019 academic year, the Philadelphia school district consisted of 46% African American students and 24% Latinx students, two of the most socioeconomically vulnerable populations in the country. The City has already expressed its position for more Out-of-School Time (OST) opportunities for students across the city to avoid exposure or committing criminal activity, as well as fortifying learning experiences. As municipal funding has been stretched and strained, it has been up to local non-profits to fill the gap the city has left for the at-risk youth in the city.

The Program

The Students Run Philly Style program is based on having teams based generally at schools led by staff at those schools. The teams collaborate with each other to have larger group practices all over the city, but within accessibility of travel for the students. These teams also have volunteer mentors that help motivate the students during their practices and races, building meaningful relationships and increase self-esteem within the students.

The program divides the year into Blue and Green seasons; the Blue season lands in the beginning of the school year, where students train for the Broad Street Run in June. The Green season starts during the summer time, where students train for a little longer in order to prepare for the full or half at the Philadelphia Marathon in November.

Students receive a lot of perks: free Students Run swag, free registration to the chip-timed races, free sneakers, covered transportation, and a free pasta dinner to carb-load before the big race of the season. If you complete the full marathon, you even get a cool hoodie that says how many times you finished the race. There are some impressive numbers!

This organization is definitely an asset to the city as it provides opportunity to those who may have never done so otherwise. Had I not joined my high school’s team in the last few months of my senior year, I probably would have never developed an athletic mindset with skating. The barrier to running these road races with proper training and equipment may seem low to some, but in a city with such a high poverty rate, this program means the world to many of its students.

Students Run has already posed itself as a lasting institution of the city landscape, hosting an annual race that benefits the program as well as pushing out impressive impact statistics year after year. With their recent admission into the Implementation cohort with the RISE Partnership, there’s no doubt that this organization will continue to help cultivate many more healthy lifestyles.

Ways you can help

Donate to the organization directly

They can always use more funds for operations and being able to supply more resources for their students!

Volunteer

Race day volunteers are invaluable! You can also become a running leader.

Become a charity runner

2 birds with one stone! Raise money for a good cause while you run your favorite race.

Question of the Day!

Have you ever run in a race? The longest race I’ve ever done was that 10-miler, but maybe one day I’ll go for the half!