Brr & Cold = SUP Fitness Challenges

For a huge part of the world October delivers astounding Fall colors and freezing nights. Unless the palm trees are waving in the breeze where you live, unless you bundle up in neoprene booties, your SUP days are more challenging this time of year.

SUP fitness might be on your mind. You might:

    • Miss the easy whole body workout that SUP delivers to keep you fit all season
    • Want to stay in SUP fitness training so you’ll be ready for next season’s events and fun

This is exactly the time of year to be thinking this way. Fitness is an illusive sports partner – now you have it… and (way too soon) now you don’t. 

A great resource can be found at your local Naish SUP retailer. Often there is a fitness professional available to provide some solid off season training. We have learned quite a bit from  Christian Cook at NRG Salt in Madeira, FL. He’s got a great philosophy about SUP training – get your training on the board or through in-the-gym sessions that mimic the flow and smoothness of SUP. He’s always looking for ways to grab a few fitness (strength, flexibility and balance) moments during a paddle. The last time I paddled with Christian we were grabbing the sides of docks as we passed under them and doing a few pull-ups as we cruised by. Cool factor: not 3 minutes later a huge bottle-nose dolphin rolled across our bow wake. That’s Tampa Bay for you!

We have been fortunate to find Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui and a Naish team rider– 3000 miles across the Pacific Ocean from us, but as close as a quick SKYPE call.  A free SKYPE account and a computer with video capability is all you need for a distance training session. Once you contact Suzie you’ll discover many ways she can enhance your fitness and SUP performance on the water.

How do you train? What’s your favorite off-the-water fitness routine? Have you got some shoulder, back or core exercise that have helped you rehab after an injury – or remain injury-free?

Let us know what inspires your off-season off-water workouts.

License to Play!

Ahh, the day job. I have read all the books and make a true effort to worker smarter not harder. Some days are more difficult than others, especially when the exquisite days of summer SUP seem to be coming to an end far too quickly. While I subscribe to a philosophy of PL-ORK (play at work) the day’s lineup of responsibilities can overwhelm. Have you ever felt that way? (silly question)

Yesterday was one of those days. I have a complete re-write of my PA Pharmacy (day job) website on-going and the energy wasn’t translating so well. At an early morning break I came across a welcome e-mail from KIALOA paddles.They shared a new video that was hard to resist with this introduction, “Straddling the line between creativity and insanity, you are just as likely to hear a discussion on His Holiness the Dali Lama and the merits of Heavy Metal, as one on hydrodynamics and higher design when you visit the shops of  Gerry Lopez Surfboards and Dave Chun’s KIALOA Paddles.

I am so fortunate to live in Bend, OR where both of those uber-cool guys have their shops. Added to that is the occasional opportunity to experience a yoga class at Groove Yoga lead by Gerry Lopez. Maybe that proximity to the Dave-Gerry blend of creativity/insanity made me particularly susceptible to the philosophy of the video, maybe it was just a stellar day outdoors when my head was all mothballs and dust. Whatever the convergence of luck would have it, watching that video changed my day. Take a look for yourself.

How productive was I going to be looking out of my office window and fighting with the task at hand? I took the message from the film as “license to play.”

Not 45 minutes later I was at Groove Yoga sweating through exactly the class I needed. With my trusty Amundson surfboard on the roof rack, class was followed by a short drive down to Lava Camp and the river launch spot just upstream from Benham Falls. Ahhh, breathing in that crisp air while applying massive amounts of sunscreen was just what I needed. I took off upstream planning to go about 4 or 5 miles before turning around for a down-current ride back.

The gods of wind had to be chuckling, throwing gusts right into my face during the up-current paddle. “Are you kidding?”

No problem, it was an unexpected play session smack in the middle of the work day. Music in my ears consisted of a playlist created by my 10-year-old granddaughter, and it kept me smiling. About 90 minutes into the paddle I hit the 4 1/2 mile mark (GPS and mileage by Nike+). A quick turn and I was soaring back downstream. The easier paddle back allowed lots more time to let the endorphins and the views kick in.

Did I hit the office with enthusiasm later that afternoon? You bet! The day allowed me just a couple of hours of work but it was productive – or maybe my mindset imagined it so. In any event, nothing was lost by the hours of escape from routine and some sweet river diversion. Thanks to Dave Chun and Gerry Lopez for the inspiration and license to play.

Sup Friends Make the Sport

Saturday was a glorious day at Elk Lake in Central Oregon with a few dozen standup paddlers (2 OC-1 and one prone) ready for the Gerry Lopez summer race series. My plan had been to do the open class on my 11’3″ Amundson surfboard but when my friend, Randall Barna called late Friday with the offer to borrow the Amundson 12’6″ race board I eagerly accepted.  Five years ago on my first tentative paddle on the Deschutes River, Randall and his family were out for a Friday afternoon paddle. Seeing how sketchy my skills were, he stayed with me for about an hour, providing technique tips and encouragement that made all the difference. Standup paddling in Central Oregon is what it is because of friends like Randall Barna and Cristina Acosta who authored the first and very comprehensive standupflatwater.com blog). 

It’s fairly easy for us to give a casual word of advice or support when encountering an SUP newbie. It’s quite another thing to keep a high level of generous enthusiasm for graciously sharing the sport over a span of more than 7 years – but that’s Randall, all the way!

In his sixties, he’s still got competition in his blood, but always with a grin. Drafting and pulling, often neck and neck with buddy, Tom Burke, Randall’s dead serious about his training and racing. More than personal outcomes, he’s always been ready to share expertise in organizing races, helping with courses, all the way to designing and maintaining local race buoys.

  

It’s not difficult for anyone living near any sort of body of water to notice that standup paddling has taken off like crazy. Everyone and his grandmother can – and seems to be – standup paddling. Inherent to the spread of our SUP culture is a spirit of aloha that can help the sport through growing pains and some hiccups as prone surfers meet standup surfers.  As the cool company, KIALOA paddles, demonstrates as a company mantra, we can be “together on the water.”

If you know someone who’s made a difference and shares the spirit of aloha around your SUP experience, please share your story with us in the comments.

Don’t Run a Marathon in Flip Flops

Some background: I am just a regular person doing a little surfing, touring, racing, and recreational paddling.  I could get one paddle that is versatile enough to do most everything, or I could start to build out my quiver of more specialized standup paddles. The size and shape of the blade, length of the shaft are just a few things to consider when choosing a paddle. Choosing a board is even more complex and one size for all types of water and surf or purpose gets complicated. I always go to an expert for advisement when making a decision about sports equipment and SUP equipment is no different.

Sometimes people ask me, “I am just a recreational SUPer. Why do I need an expensive paddle?” First of all, “expensive” is a word that’s not easy to quantify in terms of comfort, freedom from injury, pure enjoyment, efficiancy and “feel” while enjoying your sport.

I usually answer, but it is a silly answer, “You don’t run a marathon in flip flops. Sure flip flops are the ultra comfort shoe, but not for running or even for much all-terrain walking. The $100 shoe you get for hiking, running or walking is “expensive,” but it is a huge value. The same goes for paddles.”

Being up on the right board is so much better than being dunked with a “faster’ but maybe less stable board choice.

I was talking to Steve Gates, owner of Big Winds in Hood River, Oregon a few months ago. We were discussing which Naish board I should use for an upcoming down winder on the could-be-gnarly Columbia River. We discussed balance, ability, glide and surfing.  He advised me to use the Naish Glide 12′ 6″ which is forgiving and competitive (even if I am not so much). I had wanted to try the Naish Javelin (14′) like a friend has and one I have enjoyed in the flatwater. I thought that the faster the better was a good idea.  Steve explained that I would be more stable and endure fewer swims – and therefore enjoy the race more and probably be faster with the Glide. Great equipment and great advice make all the difference for an enjoyable experience no matter where you finish in an event. Either way, Naish was the hands down choice.

When out on the water, talk to others who share your interests – even if their abilities far surpass yours (for now). Try their equipment. If you have a heavy, poorly designed paddle prepare to get paddle-envy.  If your paddle is not the right length, prepare for a huge “aha” moment if you try a paddle better suited to you. If you have a few members of the family who’ll be sharing one paddle, why not get a top of the line adjustable paddle that will be exquisite fun for all? The KIALOA  Pupu paddle is a fine example.

So why am I about to add to my quiver of standup paddles? I have  one paddle I dearly love. For 5 years it has taken me over lakes, streams, oceans, bays and rivers – but like any piece of well-used sports equipment, it could break at some point. So I went shopping. Don’t ask me about square inches of blade size, blade shape, shaft length or blade design – I leave that to the experts.

Discussing things with the team at KIALOA (awesome customer service and rich online information) I learned that for my size, age and skill level I might find the KIALOA Pipes to be a great downwinder and flatwater paddle. It was fun to learn that many pros – even big strong young men – love the Pipes as well.  There is plenty to learn about getting equipment right – again, I always defer to the experts.

My current paddle, with a shorter shaft and larger blade size can still be my go to paddle for surfing. For my down winders and probably most races I may be better off with the Pipes. I tried the Pipes on the same 5 mile training run I have been doing for about 6 weeks, maybe 3 times a week.

In my last race I noticed that my heart rate was a full 20 BPM more than I wanted. I decided to do some training closer to my “fat burning” zone, topping at 136 and some segments in my  “aerobic” zone – which tops at  154 BPM.  I have been doing my 5 mile loop with my older paddle so I know my speed per mile and my average heart rate at that speed.  Yesterday when I used the Pipes my heart rate was easy to keep in the 125-140 BPM range. My fear was that the “feeling easier” paddling would result in a slower average speed per mile.

Holy cow! I use Nike+ to measure my miles and gather my splits per mile – I was 12-18 seconds faster per mile – a full minute faster for the total 5 miles while the entire workout felt easier. It was also actually easier – as demonstrated by my reduced heart rate. For a 63 year old chick just playing at being an athlete this is both fun to explore – and an incentive to get that Pipes in my quiver very soon. The only tough decision remaining is which of the beautiful graphics do  I choose – the blue or the green plumeria? Maybe blue to match my cool new Sweet Waterwear paddling top or my  Hawaiian blue Tiare Tee. 

SUP Paradise

Writing, creating, developing marketing strategies and such in my “day job” often sends me to the river all foggy-brained.  Recently I made a playlist for a friend heading to the Yukon River Paddle Quest (go Pam and Karen, both age 50 and doing great in the race today). The drive from Oregon to the race was long enough to beg a special road-trip playlist. With that playlist on my iPod I headed to the water on an overcast, windy day a bit cooler than “summer” should be.  The goal, 5 smooth miles in the aerobic zone.

Elder SUP paddling with Coldplay musicReally, how long does it take for the “should be doings” to drop away and the rhythm of paddle strokes, breathing and savoring the energy on the river to take hold. Not long. Rounding a large rock covered with a gaggle of curious geese, iIdid a nice tail turn across the Healy Rapids. Scuffling water swooshed over my standup board, barefeet would have smiled if they could! Whipping into the current and soaring the final mile or so back to the car Coldplay came on with “Paradise.”  The lyrics maybe didn’t fit as much as the pure tones – ahh, my mind took the time to savor the experience.

Loading board and paddle back at the car I was a thoroughly different person a mere 90 minutes later. Access to “walking on water” is available in almost any town where a river, lake, bay or ocean beckon. It’s paradise! Got paddle? Got a board – make your own paradise wherever you are.

 

Chip Booth: Standup Guy

Chip is not only the owner of StandupPaddle Bend, but he is one community minded all-round standup guy. He and his wife, Lainey, worked long and hard throughout this spring in order to deliver an awesome community event on June 16th, 2012. This was the second annual Bend Paddleboard Challenge – and a challenge it was. As with many local events, sponsorship is a tough aspect of delivering an amazing event. When one key sponsor was unable to p[participate, the Booth family reached deep in both time and financial support to make the event happen.

With the help of our favorite KIALOA paddles, all participants and many others enjoy an amazing luau lunch after the race from Kona Mix Plate. After a morning of sun, fun, paddling and racing it was a welcome way to refuel deliciously.  With vendors from Nayad SwimGym, Standup Paddle Magazine, Progressive Screen Printing and Bend Parks & Rec there was plenty to experience all day long.

For a full list of sponsors please go to the website.

In the water the competition was top-notch. The results carry all the details, but can’t capture the energy, smiles, camaraderie and energy. The MC, Al Paterson, did a great job of keeping all up to date with stories, details and race updates throughout the morning.

Difficult to capture, because of his very humble nature, is the degree of commitment that Chip Booth has for the recipients of this community-connecting fundraising event. So many locals have been working for years for the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance. No less dedicated are those who work for the Deschutes River Conservancy – and many are active for both important river initiatives. In this economy, it’s not so easy to reach deep into our own pockets for causes – even when we believe in them with a passion.  We’re all very busy, and investing weeks on end to a community event can be as challenging – as the long course in the Bend Paddleboard Challenge – maybe more. 

But Chip Booth stayed the course and we appreciate the opportunity to enjoy our favorite sport together with paddlers and spectators right in the heart of our home town. If you enjoy our wonderful Deschutes River recreation and sport environment on any sort of floating, fishing, hiking, or other way, take the time to explore the ways you can help Chip, and all the river-lovers in Central Oregon to make our river environment the best it can be.

Just as Chip is a great person-resource for our hometown, so is the beautiful Deschutes, Go out, play and enjoy!

Tradition, Technology, Together… Living It!

Again and again, island by island, the KIALOA spirit bumps into us as we travel.  Ed and I are 42 years into our marriage but a solid 48 into the life we love together. From the early days we were in, on and around the ocean (Atlantic in S. Florida) and Hawaii dreaming from the beginning.  We both wonder at what twists and turns our lives would have taken if we turned our back on the scholarship/college route that was the “right” choice and instead, headed off to Hawaii like Meg Chun did.

If you don’t know the story, it’s a great one. Meg met Dave Chun and over many years the amazing company called  KIALOA evolved. Sure, they share a great line of paddles with the world, but more than that, they share a spirit of ohana. They live and breathe technology and tradition together on the water. It is so much more than an accurate marketing message, it is real and we bump in to it on every island we visit. One example: Check out this link.

Most recently we visited Maui and were staying on West Maui. Ed and I planned to stretch the envelope of what our 62 year-old selves could do on the ocean – we planned to prepare for the Olukai Ho’olealau during our vacation (some people rest on the beach and enjoy “umbrella drinks.”)

Each morning we drove our car 4 miles down Kaanapali Beach and parked it. We walked back to our hotel along the cool walkway at 6 am.  The plan was to put our boards in the water and do a sweet down-winder back to our car (with a few surf sessions along the way). One morning we met Barry as he was prepping some paddlers for an outing in his outrigger canoe. What caught our eye was the “KIALOA” logo on the side and a quiver of brand new Kialoa wood outrigger canoe paddles. It was obvious that Barry was providing a top-of-the-line experience.

We chatted with Barry for a spell and learned of his personal paddling aspirations. Like many other pros we have encountered, Barry was especially grateful for the support and sponsorship of Meg and Dave Chun at KIALOA. We stood on the lawn as the early morning light brightened the skies and illuminated Lanai out to our right. Like many of the paddling athletes we’ve met in the past, Barry could “talk story” about the spirit of Kialoa endlessly.

He had so many tales to share, and experiences to remember. It was cool to see so much enthusiasm for taking the casual “tourist” out on a traditional outrigger experience. For Barry, the few hours he had with each guest was simply a chance to instill an appreciation of the sea, of the Maui traditions and of the paddling culture. 

An hour later when we were deep in to our down-winder we saw Barry and his paddlers working their way upwind on what would sure to be a treasured memory of Maui.  Even in the hands of first time outrigger paddlers it was great to see that Barry provided the best. Each member of the day’s outrigger “team” was using a quality KIALOA paddle made of fine woods and exquisitely finished. The feel, the balance and the beauty all added to the experience for the all. It is his way, it is the way Kialoa inspires.