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Above the Glass

Surviving the off season, the official edition

Four of the Portland Winterhawks are dispatching to the NHL Scouting Combine this week to prove their physical fitness to their potential future employers, and it’s time for me to get it in gear, too. The off season is mere weeks away, a fear factor even scarier than getting back in shape for ugly golf pants/shorts season. You have to start slowly.  If your only exercise in the past three months is jumping up to get snacks at intermission, you can’t just declare on Sunday that you are going to get up promptly at 5 am on Monday, skip the snooze alarm, run three miles and eat a nutritious bowl of homemade granola.  With nary a hockey game to be found on Monday, I tested this out and it can be done, but I don’t recommend it. Especially if you are older than the average Winterhawk. This is why I offer some helpful suggestions and tips for fellow fans on easing your way into this most dreaded time of year. 

Now mind, these are based on my personal experience and are merely guidelines for those who are looking for ways to prepare for the season that is also known as summer. In this official edition of the off-season training guide, I will review some helpful tips for easing back into a fitness and diet routine. If you are someone who actually has had time to go to the gym during the regular season in between your many hockey pursuits, then kudos to you. You may wish to skip this entry and review the early edition instead, where we reviewed other non-fitness tips like cultivating non-hockey hobbies. These tips generally take about a month to take effect, and are meant to be phased in between now and the 2011 Entry Draft.

1) Everything in moderation. If your diet has included the consumption of any of the following foods, then now is the time to begin withdrawing from these non-food pyramid snacks and meals: hot dogs (chili dogs, corn dogs, whatever dogs), pizza, nachos, beer, popcorn, licorice ropes, SnoCones, fried chicken fingers with fries and onion rings. Since we are still facing the Stanley Cup final, draft day and the NHL Awards, there’s no need to go to extremes. In this case, may I suggest an occasional break for a light beer, a small diet soda or the small popcorn. This allows for the snacking necessary to fortify for Game 7 double OT winners while preparing the body for the days when it will not need extra body fat to stay warm inside a rink.

2) It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Never make bold declarations like the one I’ve described above. It’s an exercise in futility. Instead, I would follow the diet and fitness experts who say start small and build up discipline and strength. I tend to make bold declarations like the one above, only to find myself immobilized the next morning, or tearing into a box of Hostess cupcakes at midnight because I went too far and declared that I would never, ever, no exceptions, touch another fattening, cream-filled snack again. Like I said, it can be done but it’s not recommended. Instead, I suggest minor changes like walking around the concourse at the rink during intermissions, if you are lucky enough to live in or travel to Boston or Vancouver over the next two weeks.  Or try buying the two-pack of the cupcakes instead of a whole box. Fewer snacks lying around willy nilly in the cupboard equals fewer chances of falling back on bad habits.

3) Walk, don’t run to the nearest gym. Training for the off season is a lot like New Year’s resolutions. You have to be realistic for them to work. A hockey rink presents excellent opportunities for exercise. Take a skating lesson. Learn to play hockey. If it’s warm enough where you are, you can always get an early jump on the ugly golf pants season with outdoor activities like jogging, walking or bicycling . Proper footwear/skatewear is key in either case. As is pace: a one hour hockey lesson or a half mile run is plenty on your first day back.

5) Naps are not for little kids and sissies. They are key to rejuvenating the mind and body before the new hockey season begins. Here in Oregon, the Winterhawks’ pre-season typically starts in late August, so I only have about two months to catch up on 9 months of inadequate sleep. Sleeping at one’s desk at work may be a little challenging, but if you plan strategically when everyone is at lunch you can get away with it. The key is a comfortable chair and sitting with the back of your chair facing the hallway so no one can see that your eyes are closed. This is not recommended if you have a tendency to snore. Weekend naps, however, are a must.

4) Don’t beat yourself up if you fall back. Tomorrow is another day and it’s never too late to say no to Hostess snack cakes. 

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Thanks Samantha, most entertaining and good advice as I have already started my walking routine. Have a fantastic summer!!

Posted by John Fisher, PWHBC from Milwaukie, Oregon on 06/02/11 at 02:55 AM ET

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com