Are sacrifices worth it?

By Jim on Saturday, June 29, 2013


I have loved paddling from the day my dad took me to Sydney Harbour to paddle a surf ski that was as heavy as I was, it leaked and I could hardly move it through the water. Ten years on from that day and I had reach my all time goals, both in surf and flat water. After reaching the panicle of my own personal goals I found it hard to paddle again and lost the love for the one true thing I loved, paddling. I got into a hole of thinking if you can't paddle at the front then it's not worth doing competitive sport, so with that silly way of thinking I didn't paddle for over 12 years. I lost my drive and had nothing in my life and found that not having an interest you become a bad person to yourself, I found the negative in a lot of things and never had any drive. This is not a good place to be for anyone, when you are positive every thing is better. I made a change to my life for the better. I was at a surf carnival and watched a masters carnival and seen some of the true greats of surf life saving competing, catching up with friends and having a laugh whilst not worrying about where they came in their races. That was it for me, I thought those guys were much better competitors then I was when I competed and they can enjoy  just competing, so can you. The biggest thing you have to get around is being honest to yourself, I was never the very best but I did train hard to be up the front and compete for the top places. So the change I made was, was being honest and happy with competing with in my own ability, happy to come places that are honest to the amount of training I could do is the main thing to helping me enjoy it again. When I was young I could train up to 18 sessions a week in my peak, now I do 4-5 times a week. So how can you possible be the first across the line when your not doing as many sessions as the young guys, plus I am now a lot older, have a family and run a small business. So I changed my finishing goals to where I think I can come, I also have challenges with people I used to compete against whenI  was younger. I now love it. Now 61 weeks of training have past and I look back to where I was when I started and what I have achieved in that time, I have raced  on my local beach against my training partners, my last ever Australian Surf Titles ( open ) and just finished a selection race to compete for a spot represent my country. Setting myself goals along the way at training, small races and big races has helped my paddling so much, I am new to the ocean ski paddling I had only done one race in the ocean prior to my 61 week training program starting. I have had to learn how to race, how to train and how to use my equipment properly. Simple things that are so important ,like how to set up my drink system, this is important to set up properly I need to know I can get my fluids easily and not effect my racing, what is the right leg length in my ski to be able to race over the 20-25kms of an ocean ski race. If you are sitting to close and your legs are to high you have no balance and can't twist. So I didn't want to be off balanced over the long paddle, also if I was to long I would get no power to catch the runners. I also found that having some little comfortable extras help as well, I now have a piece of yoga mat cut up for my heels to rest on. I grip tape my pedals as well, I once slipped on my pedal in training and slewed of a runner, this was a learning curve that I didn't want to happen in a race. So I added up all these little things and found they made big difference to my paddling. So then I had to make the biggest calls of all to help my paddling, what is the right ski and paddle, so many to choose from. I paddle the Think Uno Max, the reason being is that I have been taught to paddle properly, the right movement and to be able to sit in the right position is so important. The Think Uno Max sits you higher in the seat and lower in the footwells, this allows me to get a lot more power on the catch, if you can get that then you can grap the runners earlier, allowing you to rest more and let the boat do all the work. I need the boat to be able to accelerate and surf well, if I could get an extra 10-15 secs on every runner, times that by the amount of runners caught over a 20-25kms race, that's a lot of energy saved. I use a Bennett paddle 210cm in length, I believe for my height of 180cm and 80kgs that this length helps me keep my rating both even for solid boat run in the flat and short enough to lift the rating quickly to catch runners in the ocean. So with the right decisions made on the water a positive outlook on the water it was time to add some cosmetics to my paddling, looking good. That's where Sharksin helps, it keeps me warm and cool and looks great, if you look good you go good. The way I set goals is by being in charge of my own destiny, I choose a race and think what is truly achievable to my own ability. Then I break it down, I pick distances in training each session and I try to paddle the distance in a certain time and I do that every session, this helps me stay focused. I also try to see what is the max average speed I can hold for the session, as the longer I can hold this speed the faster I will paddle in a race. Thanks to Suunto for making the best GPS on the market, it is easy to download, it also helps with over laying my training, so I can see if my heart rate raises what happens with my boat speed. The worst thing do can have is your heart rate rising and your speed decreasing, this means your technique is falling about. By downloading your gps you can help coach yourself and understand all the things about your paddling. I now have a great understanding of my own paddling. 

A  few days ago I looked on Facebook after a tip off from a friend, the Australian Ocean Paddling Team was announced, my name was on it, it was17 years since the last time I was part of a national team, I can tell you I am as proud of it now as I was when I was young, the world championships will be in Portugal in the middle of July. Is it all worth it, YES, Why because it has helped me personally be happier with me, I don't paddle for any other reason then the love of paddling all these other things are just a bonus. If you set yourself a goal and achieve it then be proud, we all can't cross the line first, we all can be winners if we are true to ourself about what is achievable. I love being healthy both mentally and physically through paddling. If I can help you achieve this please ask.