I just submitted this blog post to Jackson Kayak, so this is a repost but it is something I believe to be important and often as aspect overlooked in kayaking.
How often do you truly stop to just slow down? So much of our daily lives are filled with chores, errands, school, demanding jobs, phone calls, emails, Facebook, social lives, tv, and so many more fast paced things that we sometimes miss out on truly important things. When I want to take time out from what I call “reality” I tend to find an outlet in kayaking and/or mountain biking. But what about when the stars don’t align to go hit a river, or there is 6″ of snow left on the ground and you can’t hit the trails?
This is when I find the opportunity to slow things down. With my new love in kayaking, I have been taking my Karma Unlimited and going in the opposite direction from what I am used to – upstream. I find so many benefits in attainment work. There is something truly magical in forging your way upstream in a long boat and hearing the water hit the hull of the boat. But when I head out for an attainment, I am going with focus. My focus is on gaining strength in my strokes (I am coming back from a shoulder injury), slowing things down and primarily, retraining my muscles to hopefully prevent further shoulder injuries. With the help of a good sports physical therapist, I have discovered that I am making my shoulder work harder than it needs to when I paddle. Now, my focus is in allowing my shoulder blade to draw my shoulder back and let my larger back muscles do more of the work.
Sure, I could tackle this goal while paddling class IV whitewater, or I could focus on my line, where my paddle stroke needs to be and come out smiling. Eventually, with enough repetition at a slower pace, my muscles will do exactly what I want them to do through the harder stuff so my focus can still be on my line and paddle stroke placement. This is why attainments are perfect for my goal. I can feel the difference in every stroke if my mind is only fixed on one thing.
There is another beauty in slowing things down. You can see the river in a different light. When I went out the other day, I saw so much wildlife: countless cardinals, ducks, a blue herring and yes, I saw a cow and a pig standing next to each other in a field. These are things I rarely slow down for on a whitewater run. I also highly recommend anyone battling a head game to go back to the basics, take it back a notch or two, focus on your strokes, regain your confidence and then ramp it back up.
(previously posted on jacksonkayak.com: http://jacksonkayak.com/blog/2015/03/05/slow-things-down/)