The “Off Season” on Cape Cod, otherwise known as winter where the cold, short days force locals to hibernate for the season. Everyone once in a while they come out to enjoy an unusual sunny day when the temperatures are above freezing. If you are someone like me who tries anything to chase the winter blues away but are not sure how to do that during the winter, then I have a challenge for you.
I chase the winter blues away by embracing the winter weather with outside activities. One of those activities includes Standup Paddle training for the upcoming Spring/Summer race season. I hear it all the time from friends and family that I am crazy to be out on the water during the cold and even snowy days. However, if done right, it’s really not crazy. That being said, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and join the movement to take back your winter and enjoy the surroundings that Cape Cod has to offer year-round.
Standup Paddling can be absolutely enjoyable while still getting in a good workout. The water in the winter months is at its purest with a clear view to the bottom, no boat traffic and an abundance of wildlife to view from your board. Also, you can take advantage of the off season by going into waterways that you typically avoid during the summer months.
So, have I caught your interest in Standup Paddling during the winter yet? I am going to assume that since you are still reading this that you are interested on learning what you can do to get started. If you don’t already have one, beg, borrow or steal a board from a friend…. ok don’t necessarily steal but start with borrowing or renting. This will allow you to find the right board that will work for you based on your needs. Next, make sure you are layered properly for warmth while still being able to paddle. You will need a wetsuit or drysuit that can stand up to the cold-water temperatures, I suggest a minimum wetsuit thickness of 4/3 or 5/3 or a Goretex drysuit, neoprene booties, add smartwool socks for extra warmth, neoprene gloves and hood for those extra cold days. The key is to make sure you are well protected from the elements in the event of falling in the water. This is a possibility no matter what level paddle you are, it has happened to me and at some point, it may happen to you.
You should also make sure you have a Float Plan, which means you have a Plan B in place in case of an emergency. Before I leave the house, I check the local weather using a weather app, and the wind on the Windfinder app. Weather conditions are also very much dependent on your level of paddling skills. I then determine my planned course, distance and location which I provide to my husband who also tracks me on my phone through the Find a Friend app. Once I get to my location, I text him (if he is not with me) that I am on the water. I also bring my phone with me and keep it in a dry bag or close to my body. Once I have finished my paddle, I text him that I am back once I am on land. It is also important to paddle courses that are close to shore and well protected from the open ocean during the winter months. This allows for an easy point of exit in case of emergency. Additionally, I don’t just recommend, I require that you wear a coast guard approved PFD, a leash and carry a whistle.
Ok, now that I have made sure you are warm and safe it is time to get down to the basics of training. You may think that going out every day and paddling for an hour is enough to train but it is not. Your training should be a mix of distance paddles, sprints and skills drills. Look at your week in advance, determine how many days you can get out on the water. From those days determine which days you can go for a long-distance paddle, then a short paddle, sprints and then technique (these can be beach starts, buoy turns, ins and outs through the surf and more). What you are accomplishing from all of this is not just to work on endurance, but your speed and technique. If you combine land training (cardio, CrossFit, yoga, etc) with all this water training you will have a winning recipe for the upcoming SUP season and will be ready to take on your first race for the 2017 season. In the upcoming weeks, I will be breaking down this recipe into areas such as nutrition, what is involved with land training and water training. If you want to take on the exciting sport of SUP racing then I challenge and encourage you to follow along with my blogs to learn more.
See you on the water!!!!
~Cape Cod SUP Girl