First, let me say, do not take this blogpost as serious heavy duty training advice. This is just me, Julia Nicholls from the 100/100 Paddle Challenge Facebook group. It’s just me, it’s “Hi, my name is Julia and I’m an Overtrainer” and I need to remind everyone that in March I had shoulder surgery with four repairs in one big long ugly procedure. My injuries were not from paddling, but a lifetime of physical out-of-my adult comfort zone fun. Shoulder surgery is nothing less than SUCK and I thought I’d never paddle again and was ready to sell all my boards. I signed up for a marathon and was going to go back to running (bleh) and biking (I love biking) or just start becoming a fat middle aged woman and get all “age appropriate”. Heck NO!

I’ve come up with a better plan. I’m going to “mix it up” and start learning every paddle craft I can get my hands on. This is from a woman whose medical chart has a cover sheet saying “history of overuse sports injuries”. I’m going to be an experiment of one with a paddlecraft of many.

There are risks and there are rewards. The overall risks of trying anything new is nothing short of looking stupid and feeling stupid. The overall rewards of my new “mix it up” training plan is also looking stupid; but also staying fit, staying strong, and I HOPE, injury free. I also like that my adult kids say my life is cooler than theirs.

StandUp Paddleboard

I have a Bark 12’6” Contender that I love. What do I need to do here to branch out? What is the risk? None. What are the rewards? Everything.


What do I need to focus on, skill-wise? Getting in the ocean and learning to move around on the board more. I need to learn to turn decently so I won’t have to go WIDE at every turn or make sure there’s no one else around that I might take out when I crash and burn. The rewards of just fine tuning my skills will be more confidence and feeling like a badass.

Prone Paddleboard

I have a Bark 12’ Commander, which I also love. What do I need to do here to branch out? What is the risk? Again, NOTHING! What are the rewards? Again, EVERYTHING! One of the cool thing about proning is there is a “prone” vernacular”, it’s like a secret code or something. And there are mantras like “my booties in the air, and I just do not care” (Thank you Debbie Klapperich).

julieprone1There are cool people who prone, like the boys and girls from Charleston and Atlanta (Ben Roth, Danielle Culbertson, Chandler Bold, Heather Frogge). There are AWESOME prone videos of prone studs like Jack Bark and family. You can hit 1-2 foot chop and think about John Beausang hitting it at the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race this year and absorb that your 1-2 foot chop ain’t snot. Proning is humbling. Every.Time. Like when I squeak so much transitioning it sounds like I killed something. Or my thighs stick when I sit up and then go back to prone. Humbling is actually a reward. Never get too comfortable with thinking you’re all that and a bag of chips.

Sup Surf

I just bought a Riviera 9’2 Nugg. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I just know that I live at the beach and should be playing in the ocean more. What is the risk? There are real legitimate risks here. I’ve tried to sup surf before, made a stupid mistake, and got hit in the face with a board, knocking a tooth sideways. SUP surf means you’re sharing space with many who may be much more skilled than you, especially surfers. And if you can’t control your board, someone can get seriously hurt. What are the rewards? Conquering my fear.

Last time I went in the ocean with one of my training partners, Lisa Schell, it was flat as a pancake and my legs still quivered. I kept seeing that “last time” when the board hit me in the face. I REALLY hate giving into fear and that embarrassed me. I really want to understand the ocean and feel confident in my reaction to movement under my board. The rewards are big here. Mental as well as physical. And maybe joy. Being out in the ocean seeing dolphins and jellies and stingrays, oh my. That’s joy! And maybe I can then go paddle in Wrightsville Beach with people like Katie Elzer-Peters and April Zilg and family. Please.


Oh yes I did, I just bought a Puakea Designs OC-1 from Carolina Paddleboard Company in Wrightsville Beach. I am SOOOO excited to have this new boat. The OC stroke is so similar to standup, but doesn’t seem to stress my newly bolted and sutured shoulder as much.


What is the risk? The only risk here is doing a “huli” and feeling foolish after I come up for air. The only risk here is the reward of learning more about the water, more about the stroke, more about balance. What are the rewards? Knowledge, physical balance, mental confidence, speed, fun, paddle skills. I’m gaining a new set of friends, OC friends, where we’re all learning together. And most importantly, I’m having FUN.

Some good links: How to rig your outrigger canoe and Outrigger Sessions from Carolina Paddleboard Company

Experiment of One Just Might Be a Success

So we’ll see how this experiment of one goes. I do know that getting the OC and spreading my time between all of my boards and boat, I’m happier. I am having fun again. I don’t feel like I’m chugging the miles and hours again just to race. I am EXCITED to get out on the water and try to go to my knees proning or listen to the deck pad squeaks when I go back to flat. I am EXCITED to get on my new OC tomorrow and see if I huli or can accomplish my one good run without. I’m not really EXCITED to try to learn how to pivot turn on my standup, but I will do it. And the sup surf, well that will always be something I avoid because I don’t have anyone who MAKES me do it. If someone would double dog dare me, well I would.

suckcreekMost of all, I don’t feel physically beat up anymore from one board or one paddle stroke. I think this just might be a success. YAY!