For the sake of this blog lets say we are a recreational standup paddler who wants to improve their SUPing speed, but we want to have fun.
A plan to paddle faster may be something like:-
Where am I now
Time your self to paddle a certain distance, say in Brighton from Hove Lagoon to the West Pier. Make sure you note the conditions so you can reassess your performance in the future in similar conditions.
Where do I want to be
Be realistic here and set your self an achievable goal. You could ask other paddlers how long it takes them and set your self a long term goal of paddling that route in the time someone you currently look up to is doing it in. But maybe set something you think is achievable. A target that requires some practice but is not beyond your reach for months, say knocking 3% off your time in a month.
How can I get there
Fitness – The best kind of fitness will come from paddling. Obviously if you cannot get on the water doing other exercise will help but getting your self on the water paddling in a range of weather conditions and you will see a big improvement. In Brighton if it is too rough for the sea doing sprints on Hove Lagoon will have a big impact on your fitness and paddling speed.
Massive gains can be made by improving your technique. An obvious one would be improving your skills at paddling in a straight line. The straighter you go the less distance you will have to travel.
Another technique that will help you paddle faster, for longer and using less energy is learning to paddle with your body rather than your arms. Your arm muscles are relatively small compared to other muscles. When you learn to use your legs and core you will see big improvements in your efficiency .
A great place to practice technique is Hove Lagoon. The calm water is perfect for concentrating on your stroke.
Find some friends to paddle with
The best advice would be to get involved with a SUP club. There will be likeminded people there of all abilities which will help motivate and encourage you. Another benefit is that there is likely to be an instructor or leader that that can offer you good advice to help you improve and this will be cheaper than regular lessons.
A big benefit of a SUP club is it will provide a social element which will add a new dimension to your paddling and hopefully your life. It is likely that members of the club will have similar goals to you and help you achieve your goals and set up new goals for you in the future.
Time to evaluate
The month is up so pick a day with similar conditions, maybe grab a friend and off you go. The combination of skills learnt, improved fitness, time on the water and the motivation of new friends will see you achieve your goal but more importantly have a great time and fall in love with Standup Paddleboarding.
What shall we do next – catch a wave ?