Sunday, 3 June 2012

Paddle Fitness & Safety

May has been a bit of a shocker. I've been laid low for almost the entire month with 'Kiddie Flu', one of those bugs your three year old picks up at school which not unlike an electric current seems to amplify in severity as it goes through a bigger host. I've had my head stuck in accounting software for long hours trying to restructure an entire business ordering system, which I would have to list among the dirtiest jobs I've done. The sad & sorry casualty has been the paddle fitness I've so studiously built over the past eighteen months.
I managed to swing a couple of hours free of kids parties, swimming lessons, school working bees, lawn mowing, you name it, and this morning went down to Wally's Wharf at Port Hacking for a re-acquaintance paddle on my ski.
It was cold, pretty miserable, the sea looked oily flat, but when these chances arrive on a weekend I grab 'em. 
I've decided to start training with a larger wing blade, so unsheathed my Epic Large Wing for the first time, hooked up the GPS & hit the water. 
I find that after a few weeks off the water I don't wobble around or lose form or technique, the water sense stays, but when I took off after a big cruiser that was throwing out a fat wake it was only a few hundred metres before I started sucking in the big ones and had to back off. I turned the corner & headed north to Cronulla in some surprisingly weighty, but far apart swell, and again just lacked the conditioning to chase the subtle lines of fast runners that were inviting me so cheerfully.
Bugger this, I landed through the surf at South Cronulla & bought a coffee, sitting on the sand in the rain watching some brilliant little kids learning to surf on a day that wasn't the slightest bit bleak for them.
My run home was into a roaring Spring tide which had me puffing, but the payoff was a wave just starting to form up on the Bundeena Bar, which I hooked into half a dozen times before paddling home.
All up about 14kmh, a very gentle moving average speed just above 9kmh, and while I'm writing this I don't feel any less buggered than I did after paddling 70km a few weeks ago in one big stretch from Cronulla to Bushrangers Cove.
I have a few things going for me in this ocean paddling caper. I have experience and judgement built over a long time learning the art of paddling on the sea, skills & instruction qualifications, even a certificate which says so, but today at least I was nowhere near the same paddler I can be.
I am reminded of the importance of keeping yourself in decent shape if you are serious about challenging yourself in the sea. It's a simple thing to fall back on hubris, 'I've done it before I'll be fine', or even to kid yourself that you're in better shape than you are, but the sea will quickly reveal a lack of conditioning. Fatigue in all it's guises remains the single most dangerous enemy of the sea kayaker.
I enjoy my winter fitness paddling, something like the training for last years North Reef trip remains one of the most satisfying few months of preparation & enjoyment in all the years I've been doing this. To me it's like a footy player establishing base of fitness in the off-season, which you can then cash in on once the sun starts to shine again.
I'm hoping the flu fairy & the MYOB goblin can let me go for now so I can get back into some sort of shape!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mark missed this blog when you posted it for some reason but was just wondering on your reason to start training with the large wing? You don't realise how fit you were until you have been off the water a few weeks and get back on it eh? I reckon I've been set back almost 2 months due to my cold and 2 weeks off the water. Mind you I was coming from a low base having only started training again 5 weeks before coming down with the cold.


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