It might seem overly dramatic to talk about surviving five days of dancing, but let me tell you, towards the end of the weekend it didn’t feel all that far-fetched. I did not get through it quite un-injured, but overall I’m in far better shape now, on my first dance-free day in a while, than I feared.
It’s been five quite intense days. Or rather, six of them. On Wednesday I went out for a run, for a bit more than an hour – 7.7 km and 884 kcal. On Thursday there was dance practice for two hours – 906 kcal in total. On Friday we performed at a cultural event in town. I didn’t track calories, since it was only a performance, but I guess it was half an hour or so. Not that much calorie-wise, but considering we warmed up on a stone surface and danced on a rather hard stage, it was still very hard on our feet. On Saturday we had the first of two extra dance practices, with our London-based instructor. Really, really hard – 1180 kcal. On Sunday we had five and a half hours, 2422 kcal (including 3 km very brisk walking to get to my bus in time), and yesterday we had a bit less than two hours (581 kcal). Needless to say, I’ve been able to eat quite a lot these days.
It might not sem all that much with less than 600 kcal for two hours, but calories aren’t the whole story. About half of the practice time is NOT spent dancing, since you are waiting for your turn, or you are listening to corrections, or just giving your feet a little break. The actual dance time is very intense. Particularly for your legs – with all the hard landings, stomping and fast legwork in shoes that don’t really take any impact away, Irish dancing is a recipe for shin splints galore. After some hours of dancing (like Sunday) the pain in your feet can get pretty intense.
I think I’ve managed to avoid shin splints, although my leg muscles really, really took a beating – they were so exhausted that my legs at one point actually gave out. The good (and scary) thing is that when you dance, it is almost like the muscles forget that they are tired and injured, you get so lost in the moment. It does feel rather funny when you limp onto the floor and then, suddenly, are able to jump and leap without any problems, and then you limp off again and barely manage to get to the benches. We’ll see – it might be that I just haven’t felt the worst of it yet.
I mentioned that I didn’t escape injuries, and such a typical injury for Irish dance… I managed to step on my big toe with my hard shoe, with the corner of the fibreglass heel, just where the leather of the other shoe is soft. So now I have a toenail that is rather blue, and I have troubles wearing shoes. It feels a bit unprofessional, sitting here at work without shoes, but it’s better than being in pain. It will pass soon, I think (it’s not the first time I’ve done this!).
Overall it was a very rewarding weekend. I reached my one goal for the weekend – that I would not get any comments that I needed to improve my fitness. Of course that doesn’t mean that I don’t – the more stamina and strength the better – but for the past two years she hasn’t really been able to critique my dancing because it was impossible to tell if I was doing things wrong because I was lazy or because I just could not do them because of my fitness level. So that was rather nice. Technique-wise I have improved – particularly in my turnout and lifting my back foot (and pointing it) when I dance – and while there’s still quite a bit to improve, I am happy. I was about to write “satisfied”, but I will not really be fully satisfied before my technique is really good.
I almost forgot the best part. I’ve lost weight. I’ve lost all the weight I put on while in Italy, plus some more. So now I’m officially back to where I was two years ago. In two more kilos I’ll be lighter than I’ve been in many, many years. Hopefully I’ll see that number soon 🙂