Well... The leaves have turned and fallen off the trees and the nights are now regularly under the 0 mark. The Autumn is well advanced here in Quebec and paddling season is closing once again.
2014 has been an overall good year for me but it was also a bit of a reality check! Following health problems diagnosis and surgery in the spring (thyroid cancer...), the second half of the season came with growing back and neck pain, lowering my strength and stability in my boat. Conclusion: I am getting old! I was still lucky enough to get on the best rivers around my home town (Taureau, SAP, Cachée, Nelson and Valin) as much as possible despite the lack of paddling training.
(All images Credit: Dylan Page)
In the last years, my life switched from being totally sport driven (paddling and guiding in the summer and ski teaching in the winter) to a 9 to 5 office desk job. I am not in the same physical and mental shape now and it is starting to show. Both physical and mental shape go together on the water and when you feel tired in the middle of a class V-V+ run it shows. You feel less confident and you start missing your lines, which gets you in trouble and inherently makes you feel more fatigued.
Since I am only getting older and since I'll probably have less time to train on the water, I have decided to start a off season training program. This came in time with ski season preparation as well. Following some research and advises from my physiotherapist, I have settle on a 2 way training program targeting: 1) the strengthening of my core (added stability and performance) and 2) my overall fitness (increased cardio and so crucial stamina).
Using an App created by The North Face (Mountain Athletics) and this guy's routine (Ironman Graig Alexander), I was able to find stimulating exercises that suited my needs. I think that most paddlers could benefit from general body training especially with increasing age. Your body cannot endure the same abuse from class V paddling (flat landing boofs, extended effort and multiple hits from running waterfalls) as when you are in your 20's. It is important to not only work your paddling muscles (arms, shoulders, upper back and pectorals) but also all of your stabilizing muscles (abs, lower back and legs). The core workout will enable you to be stronger in your boat, to carve smoothly in and out of eddies, to boof more consistently and to fight longer in nasty situations. Stamina increase will also be an advantage in order to be able to get on the water regularly and still be able to function in the midst of your "normal life"!
Now, I will start by recovering from another thyroid surgery and then get off my computer and start getting ready for 2015, which will might include a paddling trip, an northern expedition and classic runs around Quebec city!