After eight years as a seasonaire, chasing the sun and water around the globe, I came up with the totally crazy idea of spending my winter in Bavaria. I got myself a ‘real job’, started working as a physiotherapist and I am finding new ways to enjoy the winter season. Here are my tips for those like me who aren’t able to travel the world to follow the water all year long.
Take it easy and analyse
It is totally OK to not paddle every day. Give your body the chance to recover from a full-on season.
Analyse what went well during the last season and what did not. What did you achieve and what is still on the list you want to achieve? Think about the ups and downs in your paddling season, enjoy again the good times and try to recover from the not so good times. What went wrong and why? What can you do to perform better and avoid these situations?
Maybe you had an awesome personal first descent down a river or a rapid you’ve been looking at for a while? Or did you win a race or competition? Or did you simply have the best time of your life in one of those paddling holidays or day trips with your buddies or in the coolest place you’ve ever been? Reflect on your moment of glory, the peace and joy you felt afterwards!
Set your goals
Now is the time to set goals. Think about it carefully. Which goal is realistic? And what skills do you need to improve to achieve your goals? Are you willing and even more important do you have the resources to go all in and work as hard as you can to reach your goals next season? Do you need help for that? Who do you want to have on your side to help you? As a coach, as a friend, as a competitor, as a training partner or simply as the one who carries your bottle of water or hold the throw line you’re hanging on too? Write it down and tell them. Be as precise!
Make a plan
Now that your goal is set, make a plan. Be as precise! Is it core stability, strength, strong technique, endurance, flexibility or even weight loss that will bring you on track and a bit closer to your goal? When and how many times a week do you have time to train? Be realistic. Allow for recovery days as well. If you don’t know anything about training theory I highly recommend to work with a professional coach.
In my opinion it makes sense to work on your overall fitness with a mix of endurance training (running, swimming, biking, hiking and all kinds of skiing) and strength training (core stability, fitness, bodyweight only and weight lifting). Choose what suits you best. Your training has to be fun! If you don’t like your workouts you will easily loose track and end up being a couch potato.
Make the most out of every minute of daylight! Use the weekends for outdoor sports. Go paddling if the water levels and weather conditions allow – most time they do, especially for endurance training and with good base layers and dry clothing. Also check out Malte Schröders write up on must haves for winter paddling! Work on your technique on warmer days!
Do you miss paddling during the ‘all white outside’ season? Try to find a local canoe club that has swimming pool training times and get on the water indoors! That’s a great opportunity to work on your rolling technique and on flat water tricks in freestyle.
Watch movies! I´m not kidding – keep the fire for kayaking burning! Travel in your mind to all the nice places you’ve been to during your season or follow friends and heroes through their kayaking adventures!
I bet you have a lot of footage from the season left to look through. Enjoy and recover the feelings of success and analyse mistakes and find ways to do better.
Train your mind. If you think yourself through movements you activate the same neural structures as you do when actually doing these movements for real.
Come back stronger!
As soon as the first snow and ice melt, its time to pack away your ice skates, go outside and get your missing kayaking hours in. Time to come back stronger than ever, full of motivation and energy!
Hot tip: A good place for an early start into the kayaking season is Galicia / Portugal and for sure Corsica.