Intelligent Cross Training, v: practicing the art of experimentation. Awareness of what you’re doing, what works for you, and changing what doesn’t.

The idea for #intelligentcrosstraining came to me one night in a dream.

Yeah, right!!

I wish it had been that simple.

I made a lot of mistakes in my cross training when I first started playing roller derby — and, quite honestly, for years afterward. Every mistake you can think of, I made it. All of the mistakes listed earlier on the blog? Yep, made those too.

I’ve undertrained and overtrained. I’ve been frustrated, tired, and hangry. I’ve let my cross training consume my life and forgotten about it completely. Does that ring any bells?

Now I look back at myself and shake my head. What was I thinking? How could I have been so foolish? Why was I doing this to myself?!?

Here’s why: we live in a black-and-white, all-or-nothing society. Because being on the extreme ends of any spectrum is WAY hard core. And who doesn’t want to be hard core? Hard core is sexy.


  • “I cross train 6 times a week and practice 4 times a week! RAWR!”
  • “I eat entire 1lb bags of M&M’s in a sitting and then eat nothing for 2 days! EXTREME!!”
  • “ I drive 80mph EVERYWHERE!!” *crash*


From the outside, roller derby looks like an ALL-OR-NOTHING (!!!) (*screamed while carrying a lance and charging directly at your opponent*) sport. But it’s not. Not really.

Roller derby takes patience and strategy, hard work and determination, perseverance and experimentation. All of these things that you {perhaps unknowingly} do at practice to become a better skater.

You probably couldn’t plow stop worth a damn when you first started playing roller derby. Right? You’re better at it now than you were because you experimented with it. You got feedback, maybe from the way your body felt, maybe from a coach, maybe from the fact that your ass just hit the floor. You took that feedback into consideration and made changes based on what you felt, heard, and saw.

The truth is, you do this every time you skate. You do this every time you do anything. Your brain is a feedback processing machine. If you touch a hot stove, it hurts. Your brain becomes wary of doing it again and you don’t. Probably.

So why is it that when it comes to cross training, we throw all that out the window?

Intelligent Cross Training is about intentionally putting that feedback loop into place where it hasn’t been before. Paying attention to the feedback that your cross training is giving you and purposefully adapting it to meet your needs better.

I hit upon Intelligent Cross Training by accident after suffering an injury that sidelined me for the rest of the season. At first, the injury looked minor — like something that a few weeks of rest would cure — so I took a couple weeks off. But…. I had already earned roster eligibility for the next bout. My injury was feeling better, so I decided to play.

I did light workouts leading up to the bout and had THE BEST BOUT OF MY CAREER (despite the fact that my injury did flare back up).

I decided to take this idea of moderation and a #purposefulminimum into my cross training. I couldn’t believe what I saw. My strength numbers went way up. My speed and stability on the track increased. But most importantly, I was having fun with my cross training.

And that was the birth of Intelligent Cross Training.

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About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.