SUP Fitness Training: Got Stoke?

candice-ex1Why do we do all of those push ups? Why do we push, pull and lunge through TRX workouts and hit the gym for strength, endurance and flexibility between sessions on the water? Is it to look like Candice Appleby, on the left, as she hits the surf for some weekend waves and fun?

Candice Appleby scores photo of the day and 2014 World Series & Grand Slam event Titles in Huntington

Candice Appleby scores photo of the day and 2014 World Series & Grand Slam event Titles in Huntington

The real answer is: We workout hard and get to the water at every opportunity so that we can get the same stoke Candice enjoys again, and again and again throughout all of our decades. And – whatever our abilities. It doesn’t take many weeks of following the posts elite waterwoman and champion shares to realize that she balances  grit, focus and a fierce competitive nature with an abundance of joy, aloha, sharing and all-encompassing love for being in and on the water. We go to the gym and train hard even when it is cold, windy, less-than-stellar conditions because we want to be ready for “those days.”

Fun wave, new Naish Hokua, cold water, Pacific City, Oregon stoke. First wave in my 66th year.

Fun wave, new Naish Hokua, cold water, Pacific City, Oregon stoke. First wave in my 66th year.

Whatever “those days” mean to you, be sure to reflect on them when they happen. Imprint a mental image and savor the moment. When you hit the gym and notice your abs are missing their 6-pack or the scale registers 10 lbs too many, go back to the real reason you are training. What’s YOUR stoke?

chuck-fun1

Photo Credit: Chuck Patterson from Facebook

Let’s end this article with a quote from the ultimate stoke-meister, Chuck Patterson. FOLLOW him on Facebook for daily energy and inspiration, “”The one having the most fun; always wins in the end”. Always begin and end your day with a smile and your sure to get one back in return.”

2014 SUP Awards: Insights

For Immediate release: August 2014

SUP water athletes are pioneers in a young sport that’s growing exponentially each year. Almost anyone of any ability level or age can find success and SUP adventure on almost any body of water.  Over the past decade standup paddling, surfing, exploring and racing has grown from unknown to a sport followed by millions. Leading the culture, training, story and growth of the sport are a handful of elite athletes.  Some of these men and women have been nominated for the 2014 SUP Awards. The categories you can vote for between now and September 11 are:  Top 3 Male Paddlers, Top 3 Female Paddlers, Movie of the Year, Top Philanthropic Effort and Top Expedition.

Connor Baxter #1 SUP Male Athlete 2012
Connor Baxter #1 SUP Male Athlete 2012
Candice Appleby #1 Female SUP Athlete 2012
Candice Appleby #1 Female SUP Athlete 2012

Take a look at the nominees and explore the bio of each – SUP is fortunate to have a field of leaders this deep and diverse.  Examples of leadership include addressing issues around racing, professional compensation and equality in the sport. Take a look at the discussion and insights from one group of female athletes that took place during the Naish Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River, OR in 2013.

Over the years Elder SUP has showcased a number of the nominated athletes.  After you check out the field at SUPthemag.com you may want to learn more by checking out the articles.

Connor Baxter and his inspiring slogan demonstrates an attitude that pervades the sport and connects athletes of all abilities, “Always have fun and never give up.” Connor Baxter was awarded #1 Male SUP Athlete in 2012 (video here)

Candice Appleby – Candice Appleby was awarded #1 Female SUP Athlete in 2012 (video here) Both have been persistent in reaching the next generation of SUP athletes. Performance Paddling is just one example.

Karen Wrenn

Suzie Cooney

Danny Ching

Travis Grant

Jenn J. Lee

Kody Kerbox

Andrea Moller

Anabel Anderson

The list is above is just the tip of the iceberg – do yourself a favor and read the online bios of the athletes leading our sport. Then take the time to let your voice be part of the decision.

Who Knew? Slower Can Be Faster

Super slow motion overview of technique by Dave Kalama

Super slow motion overview of technique by Dave Kalama

Conserving energy, maximizing stroke, honing effective technique. We all work on these a lot of the time if the number of articles and how-to videos out there are any evidence. When we can’t get to a clinic, it’s terrific to be able to access local coaching and online video tips.

Then it comes to getting on the water and paddling. Often, we prep for a race and discover that  we’re working our hardest and giving it all with high RPMs and effort – but it just doesn’t feel FAST!

 

Dave Kalama looking strong mid Ka'iwi Channel (photo by 808Photo.me)

Dave Kalama looking strong mid Ka’iwi Channel (photo by 808Photo.me)

Distressed Mullet recently posted a very short and “to the point” video with some tips from Dave Kalama (now just a few days after his 6th place solo finish in the 2014 M2O against paddlers 2-3 decades his junior – Yay Dave!) The video is below and well worth taking a couple of minute to internalize Dave’s simple, but not obvious, message. “Go slow to go fast.”

Butterflies, Big SUP Event and Breath

Anticipation or fear of the "what if" in an event might de-rail our joy and anticipation

Anticipation or fear of the “what if” in an event might de-rail our joy and anticipation

Each day we have a choice as to how to spend our time and energy.  Often our time is planned so that we can fulfill responsibilities and carve space for our “my time.” When we choose to include a SUP event as part of our practice, we set goals and design a training plan. It seems clear and straight-forward, right?

There’s always something that comes up – our time can get segmented, pulled in many directions and we might procrastinate away some paddle opportunities because of (fill in the blank).

We might spend the months before an event we registered for with great anticipation and excitement being influenced by less than confident thoughts or fears,  It might not be a lack of time, focus or discipline that de-rails our intention. We might simply need a reminder  to inhabit each moment, rather than being led around by our thoughts and focus on our fears.

Training to the next level is attainable when we are present - and aware of our breath

Training to the next level is attainable when we are present – and aware of our breath

Framing an event as an opportunity to “learn” rather than being forced into expectation or agenda can be refreshing.  Yes, when we stay in our comfort zone or wander away from challenges it is much easier to live in the moment. The real opportunity for learning or growth comes when you reach and stretch, when outcomes could be way different from what we would have chosen or preferred.

Plan a training session, plan something that will lead you toward your goals and set out to do it. During that session be aware, be present. Do you want to flee when things get tough? Do you fear you can’t complete a speed, a distance or a challenge? Notice when fear takes over your ability to be present.

One of the best tools that can help us stay more present is our breath.  When we are stressed or in our fears, our focus is most certainly not on breathing.  We often hold our breath when we get anxious or frustrated.

Take a moment to return to your breath and awareness when needed

Take a moment to return to your breath and awareness when needed

It is fine to interrupt a training session and bring your attention or focus back to your breath. Something happens when you consciously bring your awareness to each and every breath.   This has an amazing way of shifting our energy and bringing it into the present…even if that moment is very challenging.  You may still feel your fear or whatever it is that took you out of the present, but you are taking action to return to being calm, strong and present.

You will discover what you need in order to focus on your breath. You will develop a stronger mind-body connection. One way might be to close your eyes and shift your attention to your inhale and exhale.  Allow them both to lengthen.  Keep your focus there for as little as 20 or 30 seconds and see how that changes your energy.  Many of the POWER OF PRESENCE SUP (P2SUP) audio programs provide a meditation designed to hone your skills for being present and focusing on breath.  These are powerful tools for both training, competing and – life.

Image by Melanie Weidner (http://www.listenforjoy.com/)

Image by Melanie Weidner (http://www.listenforjoy.com/)

Dave Kalama: Keep it Fun & Keep On Going

dave-kalama-is-48_fe

Born in 1964, Dave trains, paddles, surfs, innovates and appreciates the waterman life to the max

Dave Kalama  has been around since day one of stand up paddling (literally) and has competed in the ocean for over 30 years. He consistently innovates and helps create the equipment he uses from boards to paddles – and he’s still got the passion, wonder, gratitude and sense of “awe” that creates a legend. It was an honor to chat with Dave recently. You’re gonna love his stories and perspective.

It started on Maui in 2012: If you have ever done a down wind run you know what I mean when I say – “Holy cow! What a rush. I want more!” With one down wind experience at the 2012 Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge under  my belt,  I headed to Maui for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a Fun Race.

dave waveAt the post race luau I was fortunate to find myself in line behind Dave Kalama who was chatting with friends, talking technique and sharing his expertise with a passion. Overhearing some tips I picked up information that fueled my journey to learn-learn-learn all I could over time. Over time following events, news, videos, training and Kalama Kamp adventures some “talk story” questions inspired this article.

We started on the topic of fitness which is relevant at the M2O approaches this Sunday.  Dave shared, “Fitness is accessible to all who are dedicated and willing to work for it. It’s an attainable part for those who are passionate and dedicated to their sport. Irregradless of skill, a person can be fit for an event.”

Dave explained further that in a down wind event there are so many other variables and factors in play. It’s like the most physical game of chess you’ll play. Your experience and decision making skills will ultimately drive your success. “You must make constant decisions based on what you think will happen based on your past experience.  A body of water being influenced by wind, swells, waves, currents and depth will look chaotic. You must learn to read the chaos as you ride, glide and connect to swells.”

Preparation and experience leads to down wind fun (Photo by 808Photo.me)

Preparation and experience leads to down wind fun (Photo by 808Photo.me)

A down wind run is a fluid situation that is constantly in flux. No wonder it takes enormous amounts of time on the water to learn the language. As Dave says, “The water is literally speaking a language, telling us what we need to know and we need to learn to recognize those cues.”

Every body of water interacts differently with wind waves. A gradual beach, a steep cliff, refraction off rocks, how bumps are moving, speed of the current and the depth of a river or lake all combine as the “language of water.” You don’t need to know how hydrodynamics works, but with awareness during your time on the water you will begin to understand that language.

With the upcoming Kalama Kamp at Hood River Oregon, Dave used the Columbia River of one example of how local knowledge and experience play into hearing the language the water is sharing, “Around Hood River the waves seem to criss-cross. You can notice that where the current is fastest (down stream and into the prevailing wind) the actual waves are slower. As the wave pattern horse shoes in the middle you can feel and see that the waves on the sides are faster.”

Speaking of Kalama Kamps (and register early because they seem to sell out) Dave injects his philosophy of fun into deep learning opportunities. He stays connected to each participant making sure that they get what they need and have plenty of “aha” moments. For Dave, the most satisfying part is hearing from people a few weeks after the camp when they have had some time to reflect on the experience. Such testimonials help Dave continue to hone the Kalama Kamp experience over time.

Keep motivated by finding the fun!

Keep motivated by finding the fun!

Dave explains, “I love teaching SUP technique and stroke but the most important thing is to deliver the information in a way that makes the whole experience fun. When I explain technique and specific movements I relate the movement to something a person might already know from life or other sports. That way things are familiar and they can adapt from a point of what they already understand.”

One of the reasons I was very compelled to interview Dave was the message he shared, from the heart, in a speech just before the 2014 Carolina Cup. (video below)

All of us havehad those moments when we thought we were:

    • Too tired or busy to complete a training we planned
    • Too overwhelmed, scared or beaten up by an event or race
    • Having a tough day and just wanted to quit

Kalama told a story of “his worst day on the water (video below) and how he turned that day (and his thinking) around by reflecting on a group of kids who managed to keep going in spite of the demands and struggles of Cystic Fibrosis. Thos kids didn’t have a choice of quittung when things got tough – they fought on every single day. Kalama closed his speech by saying his message was meant more for the racers who find themselves anywhere from the middle of the group, all the way to the back. He said, “You can always come up with good reasons to quit but no matter what, “you don’t get in the boat. You don’t quit. You keep going.”

A training run just this week as Dave prepared for the 2014 M2O reminded him not too take things so seriously that they were no longer fun. He said, “Just as I was pushing really hard and trying to go my fastest I remembered to take a moment, just a moment, to look around and appreciate where I was, what I was doing. I took those maybe 20 seconds, that was very cool. Then it was back to work!”

Kalama reminds us, “You don’t have to get the most or the best out of every day or every effort. It doesn’t matter what it takes, just keep going with what you planned to reach your goal. No matter what it takes – even if you have to crawl. If crawling is the best you can do, then crawl on and keep moving. Think about those who simply can’t give up – it’s motivating. When you leave the house to train or race you set a course, a plan or an intention. Honor it, finish it – and have fun!”

Stand Up Paddleboarding | Sunplay.com

 

BOO and the 2014 Gorge Distance Race

Screenshot (69)On July 19, 2014 the Bend Oregon Outrigger Canoe Club (BOO) competed in the Gorge Distance Race hosted by Waterwalker at Stevenson Washington. The race was approximately 12 miles and is one of the most challenging races of the year. Check out the map for details.

The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest and is well known for its extreme wind and fast waters.  In Bend, OR practice is held from March into the Fall in the relatively calm waters of the Deschutes River. Even though many members have experience in the open ocean and in the conditions of the Columbia River, the conditions in Stevenson, WA on July 19 were very challenging.

boo-huiCut to a pre-race huli – and the men’s open OC-6 team got a hasty and wet warmup. One of the more experienced of the BOO men’s team, John Von Gaertner was very pleased with how the team calmly got the canoe upright and back ready to paddle.

One thing he did mention was that the iako was set at 69 inches. In the wind and wave conditions it might have been better to set it out a bit further.  As it was, there was little extension of the iako past the hull so when they tried to stand on the end to counter-balance and right the canoe there was very little footing.  Some of the teams had added weight to the ama – which is allowed. That and other strategy decisions are part of what makes racing in challenging conditions so compelling.

SUP athlete and guest paddler, Glenn Haupt (Bend) explained, “We managed to right the canoe and get back in fairly easily. It was good experience for me to huli – and then get my mind back into thinking about paddling, timing, keeping up my power and focusing on my stroke.  It was my first time catching waves from anything larger than a SUP raceboard.

We would catch swells and bump our speed in the process – but from Seat 5 I felt in the middle of 2-3 troughs and swells, not feeling us catch the glide like I am used to. It was exhilarating and fun – and exhausting!”

Coming from Oregon you cross the Bridge of the Gods to get to the little town of Stevenson, site of the Gorge Outrigger race.  Here you will find one of the most beautiful views in the Pacific Northwest and definitely one of nature’s most challenging race courses.

With the wind and waves delivered last Saturday, the start was a very tricky time for a steersman and the crew.  Glenn had a bit to say about the experience, “As we made our final turn back into the wind, we encountered the largest swells yet….head on.  It was pretty gnarly trying to turn the canoe. I thought it would be easier since we were with the current at that turn – not so.  Several times I flew out of my seat only to be caught by the spray skirt which held me in tight.  The final leg was definitely the hardest. I gained a ton of respect for the skills and fitness that outrigger racing demands.”

BOO coach and stroke for the Gorge Race, Jason Tedrow,  was very pleased with how the crew performed in very challenging conditions. The crew was comprised of a mix of experienced and novice paddlers. Reflecting on decisions he had to make as far as stroke pace, power and strategy he had this to say, “Thinking back on what I might have done to create an overall faster boat and maybe a better experience for all might have been to slow the frequency of the stroke a bit. This might have given the less experienced paddlers more time to get their return and catch completed. That could also have improved our overall timing – and as a result improved our hull speed.”

The BOO Women’s team paddled the gnarly 12 miles in 1:51:15 – which is a long time to stay focused, tough and fast in big winds and waves. They scored a 4th place finish among 12 starting canoes – huge shout out for an amazing race!

Here are some photos from the 2012 and the 2013 race – view and enjoy.

Train Smart – Train Safe: Annabel Anderson

Annabel trains smart - and it shows. Photo © Ben Thouard :  - www.benthouard.com

Annabel Anderson trains smart – and it shows. Photo © Ben Thouard : – http://www.benthouard.com

That sound when the catch just doesn’t catch, that “gurgle.” That, “Ouch,” when your neck, traps, lower back or shoulder lets you know something is tight or off in your technique.

During standup paddling, as we work on technique, getting the “reach and catch” solid is a direct driver of our speed and power. While  a great coach and lots of water time can provide improvement, really refining the catch is a long term commitment. In order not to get bad habits, consistent feedback is a must.  When the feedback is discomfort or pain, you know you need some technique tweaking.

I FOLLOW many elite standup paddlers via their Facebook, blogs and the great publications that allow us to gain information. A recent interview with Annabel Anderson (Starboard) by SUP International was packed with exactly the sort of information we need to train smart and avoid injury. (Full article here)

Preparing for SUP demands with balanced training is key. © Ben Thouard :  - www.benthouard.com

Preparing for SUP demands with balanced training is key. © Ben Thouard : – http://www.benthouard.com

Harry at SUP International asked Annabel,Can you talk about signs symptoms that a paddler should look out for that would suggest they are over reaching?
By over reaching I am assuming you are meaning that the entry point of the blade is too far out in front? A stroke that does not engage power as soon as the blade touches the water may be suffering from ‘over reaching’. There are many different philosophies associated with perceived ‘stroke technique’ in this sport. Due to the lack of credible and biomechanically sound information people have sought refuge in references from the internet.

Annabel Anderson (Starboard) connects advice to experience - to our benefit

Annabel Anderson (Starboard) connects advice to experience – to our benefit

Annabel advises, “Be careful as to who you reference information from if it is from a free source. My suggestion is to ask yourself what and who the source is where the information is from. If you’re in pain or are feeling uncomfortable, something is likely not as it should be and if you continue to do it repetitively, you will do damage over time.”

Great insights – very relevant for me. How about you? Take the time to read the entire interview with Annabel . You might just save yourself from an injury and the resulting “down days.” Each step of the stroke is important and needs to be practiced.  Good reach and catch are important before applying the power.  A reputable and experienced coach and reliable online information can help us all train smart and reach our goals.