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Inline Skating Technique -- Longer Strides and Glides

Sometimes, especially on trails longer than 20 miles, and in high heat in the middle of the summer, you may start to fatigue due to dehydration or if your caloric burn has exceeded your caloric intake for the day. Under these circumstances, itís good to have a way to conserve your energy until you reach the end of the trail. One approach is to use longer strides and glides. Let me explain!

The Three Forces

There are a number of forces that act on an inline skater while he or she is in motion including the following:

a. Rolling friction
b. Wind resistance
c. Gravitational force

When skating longer distances, weíre primarily concerned with rolling friction and wind resistance. Letís tackle the frictional force thatís developed when your wheels roll over the pavement, and leave wind resistance for a future article.


Reduce the Rolling Friction

Rolling friction is defined as a force which opposes the motion of any body which is rolling over the surface of another. In our case, the body is the inline skater and the surface is the trail itself. The frictional force is applied against the skaterís wheels when they come in contact with the surface of the trail.

In addition, this force is in the opposite direction and hence opposes the force exerted by the skater to move him- or herself forward. The greater the rolling friction, the more force the skater needs to apply to overcome this resistance.
What would happen if the skater were to reduce the rolling friction?

In this case, he or she would need to exert less force to move forward. Since work is equal to force times distance, it follows that the skater needs to do less work to travel the same distance. The skater conserves energy by doing less work. So, how does one reduce the rolling friction? Good question, letís find out!


Enter Longer Strides and Glides

You can employ a technique dubbed, Longer Strides and Glides. The idea is to minimize the time you spend rolling on both skates, or conversely, maximize the time you spend rolling on only one skate, which in turn serves to reduce the rolling friction.

Longer refers to a greater amount of time for the striding part of the maneuver, as well as a greater distance for the gliding part of the technique. Letís see how it all works.

To skate with longer strides and glides:

1. Make four or five normal strides to pick up speed.
2. Push outward to your left side as far as possible using the inside edges of your left skate.
3. Hold your left skate in the air and out to the side for 2 to 3 seconds.
4. Balance and glide on the right skate.
5. Circle your left skate back under your body until it returns to the home position on the surface of the trail.
5. Quickly push outward to your right side as far as possible using the inside edges of your right skate.
6. Suspend your right skate out to the side for 2 to 3 seconds.
7. Balance and glide on the left skate.
8. Circle your right skate back under your body until it returns to the home position.
9. Continue to make long strides and glides using steps 2 through 9 above for a mile or so.


Key Benefits of the Maneuver

This technique affords two, key benefits when skating on longer trails.

First, it reduces the rolling resistance since youíre now spending most of your time on only one skate, either the right or left skate, but not a lot of time on both skates at the same time. This means youíre conserving much-needed energy, because youíre doing less work to travel the same distance.

Second, youíre giving your leg muscles a break by keeping one leg suspended in the air followed by the other leg. Trust me, even these short breaks feel good after 20 miles on the trail.


Summing Up

Use the above maneuver when you need to conserve energy and maintain a fluid style on the return leg of a trail that never seems to end. Until next time, good luck and get fit on the trails this summer!
Jim Safianuk is the writer and publisher of the three-part, inline skating series entitled Skating Lessons, as well as the two-part, maintenance series named Skate Maintenance. He is also the developer and owner of the Inline Skating Center, a site which serves as a hub for the adult, recreational, inline skating community. To visit their Skating Lessons site, click here: http://skatinglessons.inlineskatingcenter.com/

Jim Safianuk