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Wilderness Connection » 2007 » December
Connecting with the wilderness, mainly by sea kayak, but not solely.

Archive for December, 2007

Keeping Your Edge

Now that you are over the shock of me actually posting something to my blog, ok so you aren’t over it yet . . . one thing that you’d better get over pretty soon is warm weather paddling, the warm weather and water is gone, and it won’t return for several months (at least here in the upper Midwest)!!!

A few months ago at one of our early morning rendezvous for coffee (aka “2 fellas at Bella’s”) Silbs spoke of the longer periods of darkness, and how he is needing to find a routine to occupy his time before the sun comes up (I guess some people do have that problem, but I’m not there yet ;) ). He mentioned doing some yoga, some palates, reading the paper, and writing his blog. Ok, so that takes him to about 0630 (1.5 hours), so what to do with the other 1.5 hours? — That is the question, at least for him. And, of course there’s the rest of the day, before darkness sets in again, for taking those brisk hour long walks (sorry Ansel these are brisk walks, not stop and sniff, and whatever else it is that you do).

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and again after one of our 2 fellas at Bella’s meetin’s, Silbs went and joined a local fitness (aka athletic) club, something that I had been subtly encouraging since we (Oz, my spouse for those of you that don’t know) did last winter.

So, what the hell am I talking about? The battle of the bulge? Not really, though that might be a result of decreasing activity, even without increasing the caloric intake, and something that Silbs seemed to become increasingly obsessed with. In the August issue of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker magazine, Wayne Horodowich wrote about losing one’s edge; and, about knowing where the “edge” is (and respecting it). (If you want to read more about these topics from Wayne, go to his web site (www.useakayak.org) and click on the “Reflections” button on the left. Some really good thoughts/information/”reflections” there.)

Wayne speaks of a “Yakism” – “We are either training or un-training.” This reminded me of something that I read in the BCU Coaches’ Handbook regarding the “regression principle”. “When an athlete stops training they will lose any gains they have made relatively rapidly . . . ceasing training, dependent upon the period and degree of detraining (ranging from normal active life, but no training to complete bed rest), will result in a loss of fitness gains made through previous training.”

As we moved through fall, many paddlers cut back on their paddling activities—thus entering into a period of “un-training”. For some, the boats were stored away, well before Thanksgiving, only to be returned to the water in April or May (that’s nearly 6 months!). Now we’ve moved to winter, and even those who paddled frequently during the fall are finding themselves “locked-out” off the water by the cold, or hard water (ice).

Those gains made this year from paddling may have looked good when the paddling began to become less frequent, or not at all, but how will they be next spring? How are you going to maintain the flexibility that you developed in the last six months? And what about the skills themselves? Skills are dynamic, that is they are constantly changing—for the better and not so. The other thing about skills, if you don’t use them, you will begin to lose them (the “un-training”). (I studied Chinese language for two years, but having not used it in 30+ years, I’ve been un-trained, guess I should have studied Spanish . . . but I digress.)

The time to plan for the “off-season” has pasted by, but it’s not too late! Do as Silbs has done, start with some yoga and palates. Add in some strength training and some cardio, and mix well. Get into a routine—you’ll feel better physically and mentally, and keep a log of your workouts and observe the improvement.

Additionally, educate yourself; books, DVDs, magazines, blogs, websites, coffee klatches. How about some pool sessions or a winter break down south? Join a fitness club. And, of course, you could extend the paddling season by getting, depending on where you live a wetsuit—or a drysuit!

Minimize the “un-training”, keep your edge!

Sounds like a good New Year’s Resolution !!!

Some references for fitness related sources:


Book: Fit to Paddle, Rocky Snyder

DVD: Yoga for Paddlers