The Top Ten Things to Love About the Off Season

Time Off From Paddle Training

Time Off From Paddle Training

Yes, we all really know that there is no such thing as the “off season.” Even taking a scheduled break is really part of training. It is as necessary as those intervals and drills are.  And I for one, am embracing this time off before ramping up for the 2018 paddle racing season. (Just five and a half months until the Carolina Cup y’all!)

So, here’s what I am enjoying at the moment:

10. Fall

Yes, really. Looking at the colors, the falling leaves, the crispness in the air. Pumpkin Spice.  Okay, maybe not.  But it is nice to have a break from Southern humidity.

9. More Sleep

I can thank the time change for this.  It’s so dark so early, and it’s been chilly here, so I am inclined to want to get into bed early. Very early.  Ridiculously early.  So, as a result, I have been getting more rest.  That is essential for recovery, especially since my shoulder has been talking to me more than it ever has before. I can feel things recharging.

8. Food

The first week of the two week R&R post race phase was right after Chattajack, when you are ravenous.  Just ravenous.  You get a pass to eat whatever you want. Burgers, tacos, mac and cheese.  But this second week, I am reining that in and am refocusing on eating better,  re-establishing good habits to build  on for next season.  I bought an Instant Pot. I can do so much with that kitchen device in so much less time. I’ve gotten excited about cooking again.

7. Learning Something New

When we are not focused on The Big Race(s) we can try something different, or learn something new, and with abandon!  Maybe it has nothing at all to do with paddling or maybe it complements paddling.  It’s okay to focus on a new activity because a) you don’t have intervals to do and b) there’s no race to worry about.  For me, I want to polish up my windsurfing skills and I am going to learn to paddle surfski.  What about you?

Time Off From Paddle Training

6.  Reconnecting with Old Passions

For me, it’s mountain biking. Before I became a paddler, I was always on the trails.  Getting back out there, especially with friends (many who do not paddle) is like coming home. Sort of. At the very least, I always feel like Princess Leia on those speeders on Endor when I mountain bike.   I also gravitate toward hiking and backpacking this time of year. But it doesn’t have to be an outdoor activity – perhaps it’s a creative outlet you reconnect with, like painting, photography or writing. Or simply binge watching Stranger Things.

Time Off From Paddle Training

5.  Reconnecting with Friends

Most of us have our paddle ohana, then there is the ohana that we love but they don’t paddle. Or at least not as much.  Now is the time to make plans with those folks, to get together and laugh and enjoy each other’s company.  Maybe convince them to come paddle some time.  Or not.

4. Reflection

One of Paddle Monster Coach Larry Cain’s homework assignments during these two weeks is to look back on the race season and ask yourself some questions.  What went right? What could you improve on? What did you learn? Having the answers to those questions – honestly – are key to setting goals and objectives for next year. I sat down with my race notebook and wrote those answers down, so I can look back on them from time to time.  The biggest thing I learned this year – the mind really does win first.  The mental prep I did for Chattajack, after compromising  my training and in the face of that weather really made a difference. I also learned to not only love the conditions, but to use them, too. Continuing to develop the mental acumen for racing will be a focus next year.

Time Off From Paddle Training

3. Goal Setting

What do I want to accomplish this winter? What do I want to accomplish next year? Now is the time to enjoy looking ahead a bit and making plans for improvement.  Haven’t made all those decisions yet, but I’d like to increase my average speed, I’d like to improve my canoe skills (read learn to use/control the ama better) and….2018 is my fifth Chattajack year so…BELT BUCKLE! Going to spend more time in the gym, and more time cross training, that I know for sure.

2. Surfing

Last Friday, before the Surf to Sound, I got into the salt water and surfed for two hours.  That was the first time since my accident back in August.  It was glorious.  I did not want to stop.  I was worried that I’d forgotten some of my hard earned skills after a three month hiatus, but I forced myself to take my SIC Fish 9.4- my shortest board.  I had one of the best surf sessions I have ever had! And of course, I just want more.  So what if I have to put neoprene on to do it.  Or not.  Gonna take some trips to warmer climates, for sure.  But this year, I did learn to embrace the neoprene! It’s a tool that keeps me in the line up year round!

Time Off From Paddle Training

1. Giving Yourself Permission

And probably my most favorite thing about this time of year is that you can give yourself permission to do all of the above things with the understanding that they are just as important to your over all paddle training as your weekly workouts.  It’s okay right now to do whatever – to sit back and enjoy where you’ve been, where you are now and where you will be going – in whatever way that looks like to you!

Rest up, y’all….2018 is going to be awesome!

Time Off From Paddle Training

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