SUP Senses: Listening

Taking a spin around the perimeter of a glassy lake at sunset, traveling upstream in a class I whitewater stretch or gliding shore-ward on a gently breaking wave or sense are alive.  We experience sights, smells, the feel of water on our bare feet and the sound of water. We hear the swoosh of a glassy glide and the slap slap slap of small ripples playing off the hull.

Sometimes when I am training for a steady pace over a longer time or distance, I set the “metronome” to the sound of the slap-slap-slap of water on the board. 1-2-3 and then 1-2-3, switch sides and, 1-2-3 then 1-2-3 in a steady pace. It gets easier to maintain a pace with a steady beat going in my head.

Then comes a real eye-opener. I had a GoPro facing forward on the bow and then facing back at me during a recent glassy paddle as dusk approached last week. (video here) My 1-2-3 was way more slow in pace than I had felt while actually executing the pace.  I needed to add some intervals – and soon! With just 51 days until the first downwind event of the season I want to be totally confident and ready to go my race and my skill level- but do it well.

karmathonevent030Last Sunday I had the chance to paddle a sweet, but frosty 42 degree, 6-miler through two loops in the Deschutes River as it winds through Bend, OR.  I went with a local SUP surfer and racer, Randall Barna. Randall watched my paddle stroke and tweaked my reach and return a bit. We discussed how much Karen Wrenn’s suggestion to keep my knees and hips facing forward even as the upper torso/ribs twist. Randall had a cool way of creating the image I needed to drive forward and be more efficient with my technique.

I tend to fall backward when tossed off balance, so Randall explained the reasons to stay fully balanced on all 4 corners of both feet. Rather than driving the board hard and down – then forward, the better image is “create a buoyant feel as you press the board forward with the sense of floating it lightly but firmly.” Thinking about these tweaks allowed miles to float by easily.

I still need to build a better fitness base for the upcoming paddle season. According to Suzie Cooney, CPT (of Suzie Trains Maui, a Naish team rider), “Music added to your own SUP training session can make a huge difference in you enjoying your training session and can actually help you increase your mileage and decrease your time. Get to know your heart and lung capacity and stress yourself accordingly. Make sure you are in good physical health and have proper clearance from your physician.” Great advice.  I read her excellent article on training with a balanced tempo playlist, donned my heart rate monitor and had some great paddles so far this week. You can do the same. Take the few short minutes needed to explore Suzie’s online training article – then go enjoy standup paddling with all your senses!

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