Training for the Oireachtas

I’ve sat down to work on this blog so many times over the last few weeks but at this time of year there’s so much going on I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out what to blog about. I guess what’s front most in my mind is helping my daughter train for this year’s Mid-America Oireachtas.

Prepping for this year got off to an auspicious start when Marina came down with bronchitis and missed 5 days of school and 2 dance classes – notice I didn’t say Oireachtas practices. She’s on 2 teams and I didn’t want her to miss the first 2 practices. Since she was no longer contagious I made her go with the understanding that she not over do it. She recovered only to start sniffling again about 2 weeks later. This can’t be good if she’s getting another cold! Her resistance is obviously down so I started thinking of ways to get her and her immune system into better shape. The best things I could think of was (1) get her in to bed earlier than what she does, (2) start paying attention to what she eats and (3) shake up her practice routine.

The first thing I did was limit her intake of candy, cookies and ice cream. Limit not cut out completely – yet. Not that she eats a ton of candy on a daily basis but unfortunately she developed my sweet tooth at an early age and I do believe in treating myself. Maybe that’s why I can’t seem to lose the last 15 pounds on my plan – something I’ll have to look into. I cut her back to one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup instead of two  (I’ll eat the other one) and 2 scoops of chocolate ice cream instead of three. You can imagine how this went over…….MOM!!!!!!!! I didn’t care. I explained to her that she is an athlete in training and she needs to begin to respect her body and give it proper fuel. Of course the next thing she asked was when training would be over.

It also doesn’t help that her heritage of Irish, Italian and Croatian lends itself to a diet high in potatoes and pasta which is her second favorite food group. Yes, I’ve heard that you need carbs to fuel the body but they can also make a person sluggish and tired. The exception to this seems to be when it’s Marina’s bedtime and she’s still dancing at 11 o’clock at night. Luckily she does like fruits and vegetables so adding more to her meals is easy however, she doesn’t like a lot of meats. She grudgingly eats chicken, some fish and beef if it’s in the form of meatballs and burgers – make that a cheeseburger hold the pickles. The change I’ve made is insisting she do a better job on the protein before giving her a second helping of carbs. I do not tell her she has to clean her plate – my reasoning behind that is for another blog post.

The next component I’ve been encouraging her to take seriously is warming up before practicing – even in her private lessons. I comprised a warm up routine for her based on what we do in the adult Irish dance class, her strength classes and my own experience as a competitive dancer – 3s around the room about five times to get the legs warmed up then a series of ballet exercises and leg stretches. (I did invest in a portable ballet barre.)  This was met with some resistance at first but now has become habit.

Given the fact that she’s nine years old I also bought something to make her practice sessions fun – footUndeez from Capezio (product placement)! The method to my maddest is this – she loves to be barefoot and while I realize she should be practicing in her ghillies, dancing in the footUndeez is giving her an opportunity to observe the point in toes and the arch of the foot. I also downloaded fresh practice music for her.   These two purchases appear to have brought the enjoyment back to her training and practice sessions. We have a feis coming up in two weekends and I’m hoping that will be a good test to see if our efforts have been effective.

If you’re looking to refresh your own practice music (or something for your Irish dancer) pick up a copy of the November issue of Irish Dance Magazine and check out the “Jukebox” page for suggestions!

Til next time – Slainte!

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