Monday, February 6, 2012

What do stand up paddle boarding and running have in common?

It may not be a question you ask yourself often, but in case you've ever wondered...the answer is A LOT!

Yesterday my friend and I took a stand up paddle (SUP) boarding lesson in the Carlsbad Lagoon. I am not a water sport fan. I like to go to the beach, I like to go to the pool, but I'm not a water sport person. I don't surf. I don't swim that well. In fact, in the triathlons I've done, the swim was the ultimate challenge. But my friend is in town and we wanted to do something fun that we'd never done before.

We met Matt and Ryan from 2 Stand Up Guys at the Lagoon. Right off the bat, they were fun and friendly and made us feel at ease. They gave us excellent preparation instruction and once they thought we were ready to get in the water, we did.

Getting into the water and onto the board was no big deal. Standing up was a little worrisome for me. But I was up and paddling before too long. Matt stuck with me while Ryan was with my friend, Lynne (who was a natural!). As we were moving along, Matt could tell I was nervous and immediately tried to distract me with stories. We talked about where he was from (he grew up in Montgomery County, funny is that? We JUST moved from MoCo!), how he became a SUP instructor, how he met his business partner, Ryan, etc. He made me talk about myself, how we ended up in San Diego, etc. It was good. This is a tactic I use with me runners too. Get them talking so they can't think about what they're doing (and it's a good way for me to tell if they're struggling). But then he started talking about the mental aspect of SUP and how most people who are not comfortable in the water have to get over the doubt. That we have control over the board but it's the doubt we place on ourselves that prevents us from being successful.

I tell this to my runners all the time. The only doubts we have are the ones we place on ourselves. No one else places the doubt but us. We have to tell ourselves that we're in control over whether or not we can get through a run and nothing else. Matt went on about stamina, endurance, pacing ourselves, etc. It was a little strange for me to be hearing the same things I say to my runners.

What was most interesting is the technique in which you use to paddle board. You bend your knees, keep good upright posture, but have a slight forward lean (ahem, proper running form sounds pretty similar, right?). You need to look in front of you to where you want to go. When you look down, you change your form, which throws off your balance, increasing the likelihood of you falling. Again, this is exactly what you should do while running.

How did I fare? I did pretty well. I did fall in once but that was because I didn't turn my board fast enough when we entered the marina and I crashed into the dock. I scraped up my arm and leg but am fine for the most part. After Matt explained the whole looking down thing, it started to come together. There was even a moment when we were paddling along that I felt like I was in control. It was a fun morning!

I have to say that the experience was much better than I had anticipated. Once I realized that there really wasn't anything to worry about and I had more control over the situation than previously thought, I felt a lot better. Who knows, maybe stand up paddle boarding will be my new cross training activity. It was definitely a great total body workout. If nothing else, it helped me get over some of the apprehension I have when it comes to water sports. I'm not saying I'm going to become the next big thing, but instead of watching, I may actually get in on the fun next time. The whole point is to be open minded and just see where it can take you.

What is the moral of this story? Have confidence in yourself. You may think you can't do something but that's mostly because you've never tried it before. The fear of the unknown is a powerful thing. Don't let it prevent you from moving forward. You never know how successful you'll be unless you try. And if you fall, just get right back on your board and try again :)

Happy running!

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