SUP Endurance: Karen Wrenn Rocks

In a few short weeks SUP endurance athletes will gather for a cause at the 100 Mile Paddle, the ultimate adventure paddle & race for teams and elite paddlers.

100mile3This two day adventure paddle will start 75 miles north of NYC and follow the Hudson River to a breathtaking loop around Manhattan. It’s not surprising that KIALOA Paddles team rider, Karen Wrenn will be there paddling strong and raising funds for causes she cares about. The goal of the event is to raise awareness and funding for Autism Charities and Clean Water Initiatives.

As cool as the event sounds, it is not for the un-prepared.  Training for an endurance event of this sort is almost as grueling as training to, let’s see, climb Mt Everest.  The point is that the athletes able to solo a 100-mile paddle have demonstrated discipline, commitment and focus in their training.  So, what about us mere mortals who might want to do a crossing, paddle 30-40 miles or simply prep for race season?

Karen Wrenn training with friends

Karen Wrenn training with friends

If you take a page out of Karen’s book you’ll add a key ingredient – have fun training.  If you follow Karen’s blog or LIKE her on Facebook you’ll discover how she keeps the stoke going.  You’ll see her on one of her quiver of NAISH SUP boards almost every day.  All work and no play is definitely not her style. A busy mom, Karen adds family fun to time on the water for a terrific win-win experience. wrenn-100

Whether on the flatwaters of an Oregon lake, the often gnarly surf on the Pacific coast or fighting upstream currents (and dodging freighters) on the Columbia River, Karen is putting her time in to prepare well for the 100 Mile Paddle.

Another NAISH SUP team rider, Suzie Cooney, CPT, has shared some endurance training ideas that any of us can use.  She is excellent at breaking down each aspect of strength and endurance required for your best SUP experience. According to Suzie, “You already know that balance is a huge part of being a good paddler but so is leg strength.  It’s much easier to train the larger muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calve muscles, but what about the tine supportive muscles around the ankle joint, knees and hips?  They are often under trained and overlooked.”

I couldn’t agree more. I read Suzie’s article and have added her suggestions to my weekly training routine – with surprising results. I look forward to hearing your comments.

wrenn-naishboard1Maybe we won’t charge the Maliko run like Suzie Cooney or raise funds for great causes via a 100 mile endurance race like Karen Wrenn – but we can grab our best endurance ability with gusto – and a grin!

You can follow Karen Wrenn on Twitter.

SUP Perspective: Memorial Day

Today you might hear the occasional “Happy Memorial Day” but this is a solemn day. Today we remember the service, sacrifice, and commitment of those who were willing to give the last full measure of devotion in order for us to enjoy the blessings of liberty, freedom, and democracy. Before you head to the water, or fire up the grill, take your children and grandchildren to a national cemetery. Let them know there were men and women who made it possible for them to have their summer fun. Capture the moment in reflection or a photo. Our future generation’s freedom has inspired every sacrifice recognized today.

Today as I read through the posts from SUP paddlers across the nation, read the posts about events scheduled for today there is a consistent thread of recognition that today’s perspective includes remembering, being with friends and family and an attitude of gratitude. Simply Google “memorial day SUP event” and you’ll see what I mean. Wherever you live you can get out on the water and celebrate our freedom to enjoy this day. So many of the events include opportunities for families to get on the water together.

Robby Naish sharing the stroke with his daughter - family fun is a solid part of SUP Perspective

Robby Naish sharing the stroke with his daughter – family fun is a solid part of SUP Perspective (photo by Riley Cooney)

Not so long ago I came across a two-year old photo taken by Riley Cooney  (used here with his permission). Not so far from the USS Missouri Memorial and the many glassy breaks of Hawaii millions celebrate the ocean life from the SUP perspective. This photo of Robby Naish and his daughter captures the essence of sharing what we love with our family on the water. As spring turns to summer and we head for every sort of water fun there will be millions of these “family moments” captured in pictures, video and cherished memories. A treasure for sure.

Karen Wrenn (@supkaren) and her enthusiastic sidekick are ready to seize the day via a down-wind run

Karen Wrenn (@supkaren) and her enthusiastic sidekick are ready to seize the day via a down-wind run

Lakes, bays, rivers, oceans – wherever your water is grab a kid, a dad, an auntie or a cousin.  Flatwater, buoy racing, surfing double overheads or shorebreak mush – grab your paddle and go!

We are so fortunate in the SUP community to have “first generation” leaders in the re-invented modern version of SUP who inspire us by their purpose, dedication to sharing expertise across generations and consistent training.

Today I woke up to gray skies, wind and colder than comfortable temperatures. Bummer, paddling today? Not sure.

Then I grabbed some coffee and took a look at Facebook, and found plenty to stop and reflect on. Posts honoring what Memorial Day is all about delivered a spirit of gratitude and reflection.  Our collective perspective is a powerful inspiration.

On the SUP side of motivation, posts by Suzie Cooney provided a great training video for “get going and get training” spark. Posts by Karen Wrenn inspired a commitment to healthy eating, training and prep for the upcoming summer fun. Coincidentally, these leaders are part of Naish SUP (Naish International, Naish Surfing) and are part of the collective culture of the Naish family.  As Robby Naish recently shared, “Naish works hard to be more than a brand. Naish has a passion they try to instill into their products and the lifestyle they represent.” Attitude, it’s not easy to measure but it’s awesome to experience.

memdaySocial media and an easy vehicle to “talk story” can create a wide sense of community – across the globe. What’s your story today? We look forward to hearing from you via e-mail, or Facebook, or by a link on your YouTube channel.

Thanks for reflecting with me today.

 

SUP Maui: Glassy Goodness

Have you ever had that oh-so-comfortable pair of shoes you wear way beyond their fashion or appearance window? How about your “lucky” baseball glove or standup paddle you hesitate to change? Anyone who knows me well knows that when I get equipment that works for me I stick with it.

Fortunately, the team at Naish Maui Pro Center (cool story about their team here )combines excellent advice and careful guidance as they encouraged me to try the Naish Hokua 9’0″ during our recent trip to Maui.

Back story: I have paddled flatwater, downwind and surfed on an Amundson 11’3″ for the past 4 years. As an all-round SUP board it has served me happily and well.  During the 12 months between May 2012 and May 2013 I caught exactly 4 waves and surfed a total of 2 hours at Pacific City on the Oregon coast.  To say the least, my surf skills had not been honed or improved. Moving toward the sort of high performance boards in the Naish Hokua line seemed, well, scary! I was used to a barge under foot not the v-design of the Hokua.

Outrageous, wonderful surprise!  The first minute out on the water with the Naish Hokua 9′ 0″ had me knocking knee wobbly, then it clicked. A mere paddle stroke or two had the Hokua accelerating steadily. The first thigh high glassy swell rose over the mid tide reef at Launiupoko so I went for it – and caught it!  All day I played from that start. Late take-offs? The Hokua and I laughed our way down the faces, it seemed made to rise out of the water and with a mild press of my back foot I could get a lot of tail kick right or left. This had never been part of my skill set before!  The Hokua has a super nice “between-the-feet” feel that allowed plenty of fun while waiting between sets and just paddling over the gin clear water above the reef.

While the 9’0″ is great for riders 30-60 lbs heavier than I am, even at my age, size and weight it felt zippy, maneuverable and tons of fun!  If you’ve been sticking with the SUP board that’s been your go-to equipment for some time, take a demo, rent a Naish Hokua if you get the chance. You may fall crazy in love like we did – see GoPro video below for the full story!

SUP Love: Sounds Like Hokua

Ah, love is in the air – it’s May and warm – but better yet, salt is in the air.  Ed and I are on Maui just as weather at home is figuring out how to move from winter to spring.

We are a salt-craving duo. I started surfing in 1965 with the same guy I am surfing with now. Yup, heading into our 43rd anniversary we’ve still got the love.  That said, I must confess a new crush – a wild and wonderful new crush on something fresh, sleek, sporty and fast – the Naish Hokua 9’0.” So, here’s the story.

naishmay1

Savoring the day after a sweet training paddle and surf session on the Naish 14′ Glide

My surfer guy, Ed, and I had a 40 year hiatus from surfing and re-discovered our love of walking on water in 2005 as we launched into standup paddling – and surfing.  Now it’s May and we’re on Maui prepping for the tradition and adventure of the Olukai Ho’olaule’aHo’olaule’a – literally, it means “celebration”, according to Olukai, it’s also an expression of gratitude. We feel that way as well.

Since enjoying the small, “fun,” version of the Ho’olaule’a last year we have had the great fortune to meet so many great friends, professionals and athletes connected by Maui’s culture and events.  What a treasure. The team at Naish Maui Pro Center stands out as a key part of what has made the experience what it is.

Talk about in-depth experience, passion for their respective board sports and endless patience for questions and sharing advice – and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Have you ever rented SUP equipment during a vacation? It can be a real grab bag of choices. Many times we’ve headed out with less-than-amazing equipment, heavy paddles and a wave good bye once the credit card has been swiped. The team at Naish Maui Pro Center lives a very different vibe.  Martin never stops smiling as he fine tunes and repairs the rental fleet maintaining tip top condition and appearance.  Sam has a knack for considering our abilities and matching that to the breaks that could provide us the best experience on any given day.  Jay is obviously proud of both the retail and rental aspects of the shop, as well as the culture that’s been developed. It was fun to chat with a few Naish riding Maui locals out at the break as they inquired where we got our Hokuas. The moment we said, ” We rented them over at Naish Maui Pro Center,” they immediately shared a similar story or two.

Be prepared to be an SUP kid in a candy store at the Naish Maui Pro Center. Rack after rack of Naish board choices spread as far as the eye can see. There’s something for every ability and size. It was there in front of the area holding the Hokua line that I saw it – the Hokua 9’0.” I surf an 11’3″ all round board and love it – but sadly, it couldn’t hold a candle to this sleek and snappy  Hokua calling my name. Heck, at my age (63) and my surfing ability (you’ll see in the video) would I be able to stand on it, balance and even catch a wave? I didn’t care, it was too beautiful not to take as my board of choice for surfing this week. Take a look at the 1-minute video collage of an afternoon of glassy awesome-ness at Launiupoko.

In love there is always “that moment!” While I had plenty of fun rides and better bottom turns than I’d ever enjoyed, there was that moment of connection. A larger than usual set had come in with a chest high swell rather than the thigh highs of the day.  This glassy wall peaked in front of me and the lip took a sudden and crushing fold down, breaking right in front of me. I dug in my paddle and braced, expecting to the be tossed in the drink.

HA! Not so. That Hokua easily broke through the wave, the power of the crest whipped past my ankles and I did this quick turn, and (SURPRISE) caught the next wave in the set.  We’ve seen the pros make the Hokua perform. How cool that it can bring even the novice to a new level of SUP fun!

(The BIG Story:  Naish 14′ Glides  for the Olukai Ho’olaule’a on Saturday)

SUP Training: Observations

Waking up to a big dawn, orange full moon in my face and a sudden “ouch” at the first moves of the day.  Upper back, ribs, and upper abs screamed resistance at my walk to the kitchen for morning coffee. And guess what – I am one HAPPY person.

Karen Wrenn SlideAfter getting more knee and low back fatigue during longer and stronger paddles over the years I reached out for some advice on technique. Fortunately, Karen Wrenn (super inspiring) shared some insights (you can follow her on Twitter) and with some practice I am creating a more effective technique.  I found this artistically beautiful video on the HangerFox Youtube channel that allows us to observe the technique that creates that highly effective paddle stroke that serves Karen so well.

With Vimeo, YouTube, blogs by pros and all sorts of social media links, we can “meet up” with SUP professionals we admire. SKYPE is another way we can get great training tips from our favorite pros. Suzie Cooney, CPT of SuzieTrainsMaui encourages SKYPE training and has had great success with that medium.

Robby Naish (happy birthday this week) and Kai Lenny in Alaska

Robby Naish (happy birthday this week) and Kai Lenny in Alaska

Recently I watched a short video of Kai Lenny and Robby Naish paddling around icebergs and basically “chilling” in Alaska. It’s good to study their stance, paddle placement, reach, posture and recovery during racing sequences as well as more recreational paddling.  Sometimes it’s tough to assimilate exactly what is making their performance so efficient and powerful.

dave-safebackThis very short video by Dave Kalama posted on the Distressed Mullet YouTube channel gives direct and easy to implement advice on how to protect your lower back. Hinging rather than bending is a habit that is not too difficult to hone – give the video a few, or maybe a couple of views then try the movement on your next paddle.

Dave Kalama provides a more advice in his blog article I found to be easy to put into practice. “Don’t rush.”

He explains that even if your technique is effective, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are utilizing it properly. If you rush through all the phases of your stroke and don’t take the time to execute each phase correctly, then you are not using your level of technique in an efficient way.

For me, one of the pieces I took away was to take the time to really drive the paddle down into the water. Create a complete stretch of your reach. According to Dave, ” it only costs you a little patience and time to completely extend your arm forward. Also, rushing through the recovery phase will break the flow of a smooth rhythm, which is where real efficiency resides. If you rush into getting your hips all the way back under you to the neutral position, then you miss out on all the potential momentum you can generate through the hips. dave-technique

During yesterday’s training that resulted in muscle fatigue and “good workout” soreness, it might have been that fully extended reach, getting my hips back to neutral and rotating the upper body appropriately that made all the difference.  There’s nothing like practice, exploration and observation to add even more fun to this sport we love so much!

We’d love to hear from you – what blogs, videos or images have been useful as you improve your technique?

 

GoPro: Wordsmithing Images

Each week I look forward to receiving links to GoPro VIDEO OF THE DAY.  Astounding views, amazing athletes, adventures and non-stop-action abound! Always diverse and endlessly cool – naturally when my friends and I watch these we hope to create something of that caliber ourselves.  We are passionate about standup paddling of every sort and we’re crazy about getting in and on the water at every opportunity.

Full moon magic is an Elder SUP routine, how about you?

Full moon magic is an Elder SUP routine, how about you?

Take the Water – Wherever You Are: Talking story around the fire on the beach, at a lakeside campsite or over a brew in a river town used to be the default way to re-live great SUP experiences. Armed with a GoPro easily strapped to a chest mount, a head mount, or a solid mount on our board we seamlessly collect images as we play our way through the day – or full moon night.  There’s no end to the number of ways we can “take the water wherever we are” via cool video clips and movies – Dropbox, Vimeo, Picasa, YouTube, Facebook, blogs.

The next question begs, “How many of your videos are so compelling that friends – and friends of friends – actually want to watch your story?”  For me, as long as there is beautiful water, people grinning and having a good time and a play of light and sights – then I am into a video. Next caveat, attention span.

We love a production called, Reflections, but at 8 minutes it’s asking for a lot from most of us. As a poetic approach to editing wonderful video footage, it’s inspiring.

Where's your inspiration-generating water?

Where’s your inspiration-generating water? Here is Suzie Cooney of SuzieTrainsMaui.com getting her stoke on!

So here’s our plan. During an upcoming vacation to Maui, rather than trying to get epic shots of us catching waves (not so much) or attempting to capture the energy and magic of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a while actually participating, we will simply capture what we capture. We’ll plan some shots that would set a mood or emotion.  Later, all sun-burnt, salty and inspired, we’ll create the wordsmith story, maybe even a poem, that comes to mind. With that as a guide, we can watch our GoPro footage again and again. Grabbing scenes and images that can be woven into a story may be commonplace for many videographers. For us, it’s going to be new – an adventure of its own.

For a terrific example of great word-smithing of images can be, check out Blue Sway by Paul McCartney, below.

SUP: Da Feet

That moment after a too-steep take-off when the nose of your surfboard buries deep, that moment just before you rocket through the air tightly clutching your paddle – you know! You know that your feet were not in the ideal position to trim your board successfully – it’s obvious.

Karen Wrenn posted this very cool photo - great color and an easy way to study foot position and technique.

Karen Wrenn posted this very cool photo – great color and an easy way to study foot position and technique.

More subtle are the changes in board trim and efficiency or glide that occur with where your feet are place and the balance of weight on those two feet when going in flat-water or downwind. A good example is the way Karen Wrenn is positioned in the photo to the left. She was kind enough to explain, “If you notice how my feet are really far on the left side of the board… it’s because there was a super strong side wind coming over my left shoulder. I had to position myself on the far left of the board to keep from getting pushed by the wind to the left. With my body weight on the left side of the board it allowed me to get my left rail down and prevent getting pushed and tipped.”

Knowing the force of winds in the gnarly Columbia Gorge area where Karen spends a great deal of training time, that is good to know. As the weather warms, our local SUP community plan many jaunts to the Hood River and Portland area for down wind fun.

With just a few weeks before the most challenging down wind adventure of our lives at Maliko Gulch and the Olukai Ho’olaule’a, we have been barefooting it on the sleek 14′ Naish Glide as winter hiccups into spring.  Balance as we maneuver is crucial – falling into the barely above freezing Deschutes River is not an option.

There’s the rub! Tail turn practice goes tentative – and immediately balance becomes sketchy.  It’s a great mental practice to feel the right movement to position and coordinate strong paddle strokes.

Evening light adding to our bliss!

Evening light adding to our bliss!

Our puzzle remains – what’s the best foot position for the various aspects of conditions we’ll encounter on the Maliko down wind route?  We will be sharing this post far and near, hoping for insights and input. While we will be participating in a “race,” our goal is safe completion of the journey.

Wondering how this foot position is for strong "wind in the face" situations

Wondering how this foot position is for strong “wind in the face” situations

Ed is experimenting with feet further back, noticing the impact of the tail drag vs speed and efficiency

Ed is experimenting with feet further back, noticing the impact of the tail drag vs speed and efficiency

We know we have awesome equipment with our Naish 14′ Glides underfoot, so we hope to refine our skills so that we can make the best of the famed “glides” we’ll be earning along the way.  How incredibly cool is it going to be to feel that first rush of wind after going beyond the cliff at Maliko Gulch! What a thrill it’s going to be to be surrounded by hundreds of other paddlers as the swells start rising on our quarter and from directly behind!

Butterflies – yup! We can’t wait to practice in the warm ocean – to fall as often as needed into WARM water – and to peddle forwards and back along the foot-friendly deck of the Naish Glide.  The best and right equipment for the adventure adds so much confidence and fun to the mix! Yeah, the stoke is fueled.

Please share your insights and comments on the blog or via e-mail eldersup@gmail.com – some comments we have received so far can be read at Aloha of the Paddle.

This seems to be a good foot position for flat water up wind and down - comments?

This seems to be a good foot position for flat water up wind and down – comments?