SUP Muse: Suzie Cooney

The grin and enthusiasm are a constant! Suzie Cooney, CPT, lives her expertise!

The grin and enthusiasm are a constant! Suzie Cooney, CPT, lives her expertise!

It was almost a year ago that Ed and I had the chance to meet a virtual whirlwind of expertise and energy, Suzie Cooney (CPT) of Suzie Trains Maui. We tentatively tested the waters of the Olukai Ho’olaule’a by doing the “fun race” of three short miles and emerged from the water wanting only MORE! We knew that there was no way our “almost-ready-for-Medicare” bodies were trained for the wind and waves of the full run from Maliko Gulch, so we stayed in touch with Suzie.

Great plan! You too can enjoy her training no matter where you live via a SKYPE session or you can enhance your Maui vacation paddling by booking a local session. Be sure to plan well in advance. Suzie works hard sharing her training and expertise from large group workshops, articles and private sessions.

Being among the tribe of “Wounded Warriors” now and then, we were delighted to discover solid advice on the Suzie Trains Maui website and on the Naish surfing website. We are most recently doing some interesting core work that’s fun and challenging. We want to be ready when we grab our Naish Glides and Mana series surfboards in 63 short days. Yes, drooling can commence when you see the image (below).

The Glide and Mana series are calling my name!

The Glide and Mana series are calling my name!

 Over the winter months we have been training with TRX and the Indo Board. Guided by Suzie’s video and e-mail support we make progress. Since we’re rarely actually out having great fun standup paddling these last months (but the skiing has been great) the most important part of Suzie’s connection with us is an unabashed love of the ocean, the wind, the waves and the glides! We can easily use the GoPro HERO to film segments of our technique, then have a variety of people give us input. Editing clips of GoPro footage is easy – easy to edit and easy to share.
Suzie’s regular e-mail updates and blog articles are almost as good as being there. Yes, we wanted to be there when she paddled with whales. No, we didn’t want to be there when a large north shore winter wave smacked her onto a reef (yes, there was some blood). Through it all, enthusiasm reigns!
Recently we exchanged an e-mail, I had some concern about my technique and an old series of knee injuries. Suzie replied, “I bet you’re getting excited!  Train, train and train! The ol’ knees will be warmer here, so don’t worry.” That connected to our balance, strength, agility and power routines will get us there (did I say 56 days?)
I can see Suzie on the Glide now. She described a recent workout, “Surf is huge still and I caught a long wave on the Glide yesterday. I was coming into the harbor after my laps.  It was waist high. Too fun!”

Winter SUP Training

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

January warm in my Sweet Waterwear paddling top and compression pants

Just took a virtual tour drooling over the Naish line of Glide raceboards (have you ever seen that GX? Yeah!)and Mana line of SUP surfboards.  It seems like forever until we head to Maui for some surf and downwind fun at the Olukai Ho’olaulea.  In reality, it’s just about 100 days.  With so much snow and ice on our local paddling locations, we are waiting until late May to get our Naish boards. Meanwhile we prep and dream. I did have the pleasure of going a few miles in the Deschutes River on a recent 50 degree afternoon. It was the first time I’d paddled since our fun in Maui in early December. Other locals, like Randall Barna paddle regularly – every freezing month of the year. naish randall winter

I was paddling on my Amundson 11’3″ all round fun board.  Everyone knows that I have had endless hours of flatwater and surf fun with that board.  Heading up river on a calm day I was surprised to notice – my Amundson just didn’t have that “glide!” In Maui we had been blessed with a few glassy days with small surf so the actual glide of the Naish 14′ Glide was obvious. A set of 6-8 strokes on one side generated some serious acceleration with minimal effort.  It reminded me of some technique suggestions from KIALOA paddles’ Dave Chun.

When asked about paddling technique, Dave Chun says, “Listen to the board, Don’t worry about what you look like. Listen to the water coming off of it. Feel what makes it go fast and smooth.” I was doping that observation during my January paddle and realized how much the design of a board impacts the glide, the sound and the result of a series of paddle strokes.  Even though I love the sound of the chop-chop-chop as the bow skims across the ripples in river current and breeze bumps, having aboard that slices right through all that with more of a “swish” is simply faster! So glad we’ve got a 14′ Naish Glide reserved for the Ho’olaule’a.

We don't have the beach (and I certainly don't have the body) but we can train and prep with guidance from Suzie Cooney, CPT

We don’t have the beach (and I certainly don’t have the body) but we can train and prep with guidance from Suzie Cooney, CPT

While a great board is key to having a great experience during SUP events, the bottom line is getting ourselves ready to be strong, safe and prepared for the physical and mental challenges. To that end we have been poring over Suzie Cooney’s SuzieTrainsMaui website for ideas and training tips. Luckily she has SKYPE sessions available for some true custom training opportunity. I know we will be filming some sessions with the GoPro to get solid feedback that we need.

Since Karen Wrenn experiences much similar winter weather we looked for some training tips that power her fitness and competitive success.  This is from Karen’s blog with a link to Stand Up Paddle Annapolis’ blog

“I do a lot of cross training in the gym in the Winter. Circuit training is great because you can get your heart rate going, build muscle and muscle endurance. I will first do something that elevates my heart rate followed by a couple exercises that include strength and balance. For example, I might do 20 double jumps (or you could do 100-150 single jumps) with a jump rope and then move right into 20 kettle ball swings (from a squat position swinging the kettle ball to shoulder height coming to a standing position) and repeat. Then I would move into a plank position with elbows on a ball and roll the ball forward and back for 20 reps. I would do this circuit 3 times and then move on to another circuit.

Another idea of a circuit is to do 15 split jumps on each leg (http://www.livestrong.com/video/5310-split-jumps/) and then 20 tri-cep dips then 20 reverse crunches (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVVlXA0dqGg) and repeat this circuit another two times.

Basically, come up with some circuits of three exercises. Have the first exercise of the series be something that will elevate your heart rate ( jump rope, running stairs, sprints on a rowing machine) add a strength exercise (kettle bells, push ups, tricep dips, pull ups, etc…) then add in a core exercise ( reverse crunch, plank, medicine ball sit up and throws). After you finish one circuit of three then move on to another.

I run a lot during the Winter. Running is a great way to keep up your cardio endurance and a great thing to do if you only have 45 minutes to spare. If you are not a runner… biking and swimming are great options too.”

From Naish Stand Up Paddle's Facebook page

From Naish Stand Up Paddle’s Facebook page

Excuses for not getting ready? NONE! Have fun, just be sure to be safe and paddle with a buddy when the water and weather is cold.

Right Name – Excellent Initials

Sometimes fate seems to send a subtle message in ordinary observations. This time it came from a name and the resulting initials – Suzie Cooney, SC.

Ed and I are in week 8 of our “Eddie Will Go on the Olukai Ho’olaule’a” race – comeback from extensive shoulder surgery. Week 8 is the best one yet. We are actually in Maui and are SUP surfing and doing sweet down-winders every day on our Naish 14′ Glide GX. Last night we had dinner with our trainer-from-a-distance, Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui. IMGP0149

There’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation over ono burgers at the Fish Market Restaurant in Paia, especially after all the support we’ve gained from Suzie over the past months. How did two 63 year olds from Oregon come to be trained by Suzie Cooney on Maui? That’s quite a story.

We were casually playing at down-wind riding while on vacation in Maui in May 2011. Hearing that the Olukai Ho’olaule’a offered a “fun race” of just 4 miles we grabbed our rental surfboards and registered. The day of the race we were all butterflies and doubt.  Ed was having shoulder surgery 4 days later and we were second-guessing everything. Then the announcer gathered us all for a pre-race warm-up, and we met Suzie.

suzierace_00001With a warm smile and ultimate encouragement she talked and moved the nervous group through breathing, stretching and a warm-up. Surprisingly, by the time we were done the group had a relaxed and solidified feel. Then we were off for one of the most exhilarating fun-runs ever. We decided that when Ed was able to train after his surgery, just seven weeks ago, we would start training with Suzie. We set a goal to do the 8-mile run from Maliko Gulch to Kanaha. Suzie’s regimine has been just what Ed needed.

Meeting up with Suzie last night confirmed it, she has the absolute best initials for her spirit and talent:

  1. SC – Sincere compassion: Ed is coming back from an injury and Suzie’s compassion for the struggle is obvious. It takes quite a bit of digging to gain the information that might attribute to that. Suzie is no stranger to injury, rehab, set-backs and the value of dedication and solid training. She has walked the talk, and then some.
  2. SC – Social commitment: Much like Olukai, the sponsor of the Ho’olaule’a, Suzie has always had a strong commitment to her community and sharing her expertise and talent. We love that and it sets the same tone that we go for at Elder SUP
  3. SC – Strategic communication: Suzie is about the busiest person I know. There is no place for the luxury of time wasted. When we use SKYPE or e-mail to gain insights and training strategies Suzie is always ready to communicate, but to the point and with disciplined replies.  It is a great way to allow her expertise from Paia, Maui to reach out to wherever clients are.
  4. SC – Solid collaboration: Suzie spends time with a diverse group of peers from both the fitness and surf/SUP/paddling disciplines. She’s an avid listener and seems to have an uncanny ability to tweak out information and then share-collaborate easily. These skills are obvious if you cruise her website, see the photos, read the articles, and watch the well-edited videos.
  5. SC – Sea Connection: Suzie is a waterwoman and is undeniably connected to the sea. Her stories, grins, and passionate dedication to sharing this connection is a gift. We are better at our SUP dreams because of her inspiration. Better yet, we are determined to return home and make the most of the next 5 months before we launch into the sea from Maliko Gulch.

Please share your training, come back and dream-event stories with us.

4 Weeks to Maui – TRX RIPping It

We all put great effort into preparing ourselves for our favorite sports and standup paddlers are no exception.  WE research the best paddles and boards until we make our decision to purchase.  Our first attempts at paddling lack the refinement that generates the best results and the most fun, so we seek training.  Fortunately for us, Suzie Cooney, CPT of Suzie Trains Maui suggested that we use the TRX RIP Training and suspension method – and after 4 weeks we can see the difference that practice has made.

Curious to learn if there were more SUP-specific exercises or recommendation, we contacted Pete Holman who developed the RIP Training method. Pete explained, “I would be able to best advise you after a Physical Therapy evaluation which identifies movement dysfunction, muscular weakness, balance and mobility issues. Additionally, if you have not taken the 8 hour Rip Training Course (RTC,) I HIGHLY recommend it because you will learn ways to progress and regress Rip Training exercises according to your needs.”

I have had 5 knee surgeries and am no stranger to PT and the guidance of a physical therapist. With that, I still managed to use the RIP Trainer inappropriately for my current condition. I have no excuse. The included dvd is incredibly thorough, mindful and full of guidance and alternate moves for every fitness level.

Silly me! I tried to do the squat moves on a large balance cushion while being torqued asymmetrically – bad idea. Pete agreed, that was not the way to adjust a personal training routine. It is important for the individual to “own” the movement required in each of the carefully designed exercises in the TRX program before altering them.

After my little foray into truly poor form, I let my knees recover and then began the program again.  This time I performed each of the squat motions in a controlled manner as explained in the excellent training dvd (included).  Now,I may be protecting myself from future injury, particularly during skiing.  I do make sure my knee tracks over my toes. I also stop the bend at the point of pain. Paying attention to detail allows optimal training sessions and results.

First question: Do you have modifications or suggestions for doing the RIP Trainer moves that minimize the squat, yet still engage the core and provide adequate intensity?

Modifying depth of squat is the best way to alleviate flexion/extension loads through the knee joints. Much of the strengthening of squat based exercises (such as the Rip Pitchfork, Rip Squat Row, Rip Squat Press, etc.,) come from co-contraction of the knee flexors and extensors (hamstrings/quads.) Thus, range of motion isn’t critical; what is critical is knee alignment and precise, fluid movement patterns. For ACL injury prevention or recovery, the hamstring muscles are of HUGE importance so any exercises which face the anchor are excellent because they activate the posterior chain (hamstrings, gluteus, spinal erectors, etc.) more preferentially. ANY Rip Training exercise, if performed properly, engages the core. Focus on maintaining perfect posture, balance and stability. Even just holding isometric positions while facing away from, facing or sidefacing the anchor will be excellent for core strength and stability.  

I explained to Pete that I have started doing a few of the RIP Trainer exercises on the Gigante cushion with an Indo Rocker board. Sometimes the front foot is on the cushion/board while the back foot is on the floor. Sometimes I have both feet on the Indo board (it would be rocking left/right not forward back) in the wide stance.  I notice that when I do the exercises this way I feel more core, have to concentrate more on neutral spine and do the movement more slowly. I do the exercise on the Indo board in addition to doing them on the floor. Since my training is meant for SUP it makes sense for the added balance challenge. I asked if Pete had comments or insights on this?

Pete replied, “Training on labile surfaces (BOSU, Rocker boards, Indo’s, etc.,) is great for proprioception and improving balance. Keep in mind, the asymmetrical loading of the Rip Trainer provides a balance challenge in itself, so I would really “own” the movements prior to adding increased balanced challenges.” From my experience, I absolutely agree with that advice. When a standup paddler really takes the time, focus and effort to refine the stroke technique, when doing TRX training, refining focus and technique also delivers the best results and experience.

Upper body endurance in which the core and lats are moving through a motion with some resistance is crucial to off-season,  off the water training.  It is starting to be too cold to paddle regularly here in OR – as in most of the country. I asked Pete, “Is there a series of moves that one might do over a period of 10-15 minutes as opposed to 30 seconds, for that strength endurance? I would love to work in that direction with the training.”

Pete suggests, “The Rip Paddle Board Row is a great exercise which can be performed at slower speeds with less resistance to simulate SUP (see attached images). You can alternate from right to left sides (changing power and base hands,) every minute and you can also change your stance from parallel to staggered to work different muscles over the 15 minute time period. This is a simple endurance workout which can challenge users at any level and really “maps” well to the movements of SUP.

  

Overall Benefits of TRX RIP Training (check out the video):

  • Improved lean muscle mass
  • Improved balance
  • Increased flexibility
  • Enhanced core stability
  • Improved endurance

Training on the TRX requires your core to be active and engaged during the entire training session. The functional and dynamic movements performed using the TRX all require the core to stabilize and balance the body. For example, while performing a bicep curl with the TRX, you must engage your core to stabilize your body. You work the specific muscle, but are also working ALL of your core muscles at the same time. There is no need to spend extra time doing hundreds of crunches, or back extensions. Grab some straps and train like a Navy Seal to change your body and keep it ready for SUP all year long!

SUP, Quads and TRX

I am gaining new respect for the collection of muscles that make up the quads. After a full 5 months of paddling 90-120 minutes 5 X a week I imagined that I was in really good shape. I have been honing my technique according to insights, blogs and experts since late last spring. Driving the board forward with my legs while using the core, lats and good measure of  “reach, dammit reach ala Dave Kalama” I really believed my fitness was balanced and solid. 

The summer included down wind runs across Odell Lake and a great experience at the Naish Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge. It was a first time for me to SUP in the Columbia River.  When the winds picked up to 30+ knots and the swells reached 5+ feet I actually felt ready. Deciding to race in the surfboard class instead of the 12’6″ raceboard class was likely a good decision.

Overall Age
1 130 Horn Todd 31 M Victoria, BC 1:34:30 0:11:07 0
2 233 Shasek Judy 63 F   1:47:01 0:12:35 12.5
3 142 Mebus Brady 17 M 1:47:18 0:12:37 25
4 231 Cunard Sam 20 M 1:47:57 0:12:42 37.5
5 253 Willems Brandon 24 M 1:49:37 0:12:54 50
6 222 Jerry Ohlson 50 M 1:50:06 0:12:57 62.5
7 143 Mebus Leanne 48 F Gig Harbor, WA 1:52:04 0:13:11 75
8 227 Thomas Mark 37 M 1:52:26 0:13:14 87.5
9 259 Rieke Anna 44 F 2:00:33 0:14:11 100

The only reason I put those results in there is to indicate that I was actually prepared and trained by late summer. Building on that training, I decided to connect with Suzie Cooney of Suzie Trains Maui to stay fit all winter and to be ready to do the Olukai Ho’olaule’a in Maliko Gulch next May. Suzie suggested we get an Indo Board and Gigante cushion and the TRX RIP Trainer.

So, on October 10, yesterday, I did my Beginner Workout with the RIP Trainer and then spent about 5 minutes doing a paddling move on the Indo Board (30 pulls each side X 5 sets). BY that night I began to feel that “sore but not hurting” sensation that indicates that a muscle has been sincerely worked. Oddly, in conventional strength training a particular muscle gets that feeling.  In this case it was a total collection of seemingly equal fatigue and muscle soreness throughout the entire quad – front, inside, and deep in the central  thigh. Oddly enough, even though I did not do any sit-ups or convention ab-work, my upper abs were also sore.

This did not happen on the first two sessions with the TRX RIP Trainer. Interestingly enough, as my skill in setting up my position and neutral back became more effective, the range of muscles engaged increased.

This morning dawned sunny and warm so I decided to head out to the river for a medium intensity 4 miles. Holy cow! Moving through my paddle stroke with care during the warm up and then with an intensity of about 60% of what a fast interval might be I could feel plenty of new muscles engaged. My quads let me know when they were working. Lats and upper abs, same thing.  It was a challenge to do this relatively easy paddle as so many areas were soundly fatigued from the past 4 days of land training.

This was great insights. As fall comes to Oregon and the freezing months of snow, ice and gray are due, it’s awesome to realize how sport-specific an exercise program done inside, in my home garage, can be. Can’t wait for the events and fun of 2013.

     

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.

Pockets of Pain = Feeling Good

 

Pockets of pain during specific training can make you “hurt so bad” and soon feel so good, according to trainer Suzie Cooney. With a great blend of physiology, expertise – and some humor – Suzie shares a great training session that can re set the muscles used in SUP. You can watch the video here – better yet, view it on Suzie Trains Maui’s website for this video and MORE!

The one piece of equipment suggested for use is the 6″ Self Myofacial roller.  The video has three segments:

  1. For the lats, which help[ the paddle and blade enter the water and pull the body and board forward
  2. A segment for the back, shoulder and rhomboids
  3. A surprising bit of attention to the calf (actually two muscles) which can help when feet fall asleep and to improve the “pump” in the legs for improved blood circulation

Enjoy the video here;