Monday, 25 March 2013

Ive been Kayaking for 6 months....

September 2012 was my first time in a sprint kayak. It is now March 2013 and I am firmly on the GB Paracanoe team. I am less than 3 weeks away from my very first race and with a winter of training behind me I feel might be able paddle and not look like a total beginner. It has been quite a journey with lots to learn.  Here's my top 10 lessons!

1/ A kayak isn't a canoe. With a kayak you use a double ended paddle and you sit down, where as in a canoe you use a single ended paddle and you kneel. I feel It's important that as a new member of team GB I know all the nuances of my sport ;-)
Its official!
2/ Kayaking is not a pulling action but a push. (the top arm  pushes the kayak past the lower arm) This involves a huge amount of trunk rotation- something I had none of as a cyclist.  Or maybe I did... which would explain my inability to control my bike around corners;-) 

3/ You don't really use your arms to create power, it's your trunk and your legs that do most of the  work- the arm just acts as a lever to transfer the force. This I struggle with as part of my disability means I have limited sensation under my right foot and buttock. Because of this,  I can't really gauge how to put even pressure through my legs or whether I'm sitting squarely on the seat. I go wonky quite regularly - which is comical when the sprint course is a straight line! One coach who didn't realise why I go wonky, was a little anxious when I called out at the end of an effort that it had gone wrong because I had "lost my arse"  halfway down the river.

4/ Sprint Kayaking gives you a really flat stomach and strong core :-) I have lost inches from my waist  and my hips-  I have totally changed shape, its as though someone has squeezed  my bottom half like a toothpaste tube and its all ended up at the top. 
6 months later
5/ Sprint kayaking is the most technically difficult sport I have ever been involved with. It is possibly the most opposite sport from endurance cycling (in terms of movement patterns and fitness) that you could find. I dream about paddling every night and have done since I first started. I'm hoping this subconscious visualisation will help speed up my learning curve, rather than just wear me out or hurt my partner as my arms flail about during my sleep! 

6/ Kayaking makes controlling a full shopping trolley around the supermarket really easy. I can now navigate off camber corners with a full trolley and I frequently avoid mid isle collisions with  Grannies meandering unexpectedly into my path! This is definitely one of the surprising benefits of sprint kayaking...

7/ Kayaking eliminates bingo wings, but on the flip side I can no longer get my arms into my favourite shirt. 

8/ The water can get no colder than zero degrees... or it stops being water. On many occasions through the winter the water has been significantly warmer than the air. I tell myself this regularly to persuade me to go paddling despite this being the coldest winter we have had for 50 years! We don't wear wet suits and most people paddle in bare feet and yes we get cold!
minus 5 degrees
snow doesn't settle on the water so no excuses
9/Hydrodynamics- The warmer the water the faster you go - I have yet to experience this warm water phenomenon.....Roll on Rio

England Vs Rio.
10/ I can't count.

 Genuinely! Ask my coach if I can remember how many reps Ive done after a session. I reckon I blank just them out....

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