How to use this sport to cross-train


As runners, we all know how important cross-training can be for body and mind. We are all susceptible to burnout; running is, after all, an exhausting sport. So it’s important to balance the miles with other forms of low-impact cardio to rest the joints every once in a while, while adding a new challenge and level of excitement to your routine. Enter: paddleboarding, a fun summer activity that can double as a versatile workout.

The paddle board has grown in popularity in recent years. Since 2011, the number of American participants who have tried paddle boarding has nearly tripled, from an estimated 1.15 million Americans participating in the activity more than a decade ago, to 3.74 million paddle surfers today, according to Statista.

What exactly is paddleboarding?

Think of paddleboarding as a hybrid between kayaking and surfing. You are standing on a board, similar to a surfboard, but dipping a long paddle (like an oar) into the water to propel you through the water, executing strokes like you would on a kayak or a canoe.

One of the appeals of paddleboarding is that you can enjoy it in any body of water, from large oceans to small lakes. And it’s a great workout that you can do outdoors.

What are the benefits of paddleboarding for runners?

“Paddle paddling and running are great complementary cross-training activities,” says Melanie Smith, PaddleFit Core Coach, certified SUP Yoga instructor and owner of Miss Melanie Yoga and MMY paddle boards. . “When you’re on the paddleboard, you’re working the stabilizing muscles, which increases your balance and core strength while adding the water resistance component to your workout.” The resistance of the water means that your legs, back and core have to work in overdrive to keep you upright and moving you forward with each paddle stroke.

Because paddleboarding is a low-impact activity, it’s also great for people with arthritis or recovering from injury, Smith says.

Plus, just like when running, you can choose your pace and duration when paddling, so you always have the option to turn a recreational paddle into an endurance event and get that intense workout and an increase in heart rate, Smith says. Just be careful not to overdo it if it’s your first time paddling, so you don’t get too sore at the end of the day.

If you’re interested in stretching sore muscles, you might also consider trying yoga on a stand-up paddleboard. “All yoga poses are much more difficult on the paddle board. If you’re an avid yogi, you might be surprised how many of your most familiar poses become even more dynamic and new with the addition of the unstable paddleboard surface,” says Smith.

Finally, the mental benefits of paddling have similar qualities to running outdoors: you connect with nature, give your mind a chance to calm down, and focus on the present moment, says Smith.

What should beginners know before their first paddle board session?

Buy the best board for you

Many state parks, private lakes, and beaches offer rentals, so consider trying paddleboarding a few times before investing in your own board. There are plenty of durable inflatable boards on the market if you can’t carry a traditional style board, but you might want to consider investing in one. good pump to facilitate the inflation of the board. Smith also warns that some inflatable boards are built cheaply and made from harmful glues that can leach into waterways. Look for brands that primarily use composites of PVC and Kevlar, two durable plastics, and have a woven stitch construction, as they will be more durable and have a longer lifespan.

“When you buy a board, think about where you’re going to use it the most: is it the local lakes or reservoirs, which are considered flat water? Or are you going to take it to the oceans, bays or rivers where there are currents and tides,” Smith asks.

Touring paddle boards are designed for traveling long distances in the water, as they are designed to cut through water more efficiently, while surf paddle boards are generally shorter to allow for quick maneuverability in the waters oceans and rivers. A recreational board is a smart choice for flat water recreation and a smart choice for beginners.

“Then you have to consider your height and the size of the board,” Smith says. “In SUP we measure people by their volume (height and weight) versus that of the board. We don’t want anyone on a board that’s too small for their body because that will create a lot of instability for the board. paddler.

Check the board’s maximum weight capacity before you buy it, and consider whether you’ll be adding another paddle board to your board (some are designed for two people). The standard size of a paddle board is usually 32 to 34 inches wide and about 9 to 11 feet long.

Choose the right paddles

It is important that you have the right paddle for your size. Most paddles are also adjustable. Smith suggests placing the paddle blade in front of your toes, with the handle of the paddle facing up, and reaching one arm up so that your palm and fingertips can curl over the top of your paddle. the T-handle. “You want your second hand to be halfway up the paddle shaft.”

You should be able to comfortably submerge the entire blade in the water while standing (with a slight bend in your knees) on the board.

Stand up straight and strong

To get out on the water on a paddle board, you must first learn to stand on it. Smith breaks it down: “Your paddling position will be in the center of your board around the handle of the board – the ‘sweet spot’. This is the most central and stable part of your board,” says “Keep feet aligned parallel to each other with knees slightly bent, trunk engaged to help support lower back. For paddles, grab top hand on handle (T-handle) of the paddle, lower hand halfway up the shaft of the paddle. To start moving, look out towards the horizon, pointing in the direction you want to go,” says Smith.

Move with ease

Mastering the actual stroke will help you navigate the water efficiently. “Reach your paddle blade into the water as far as you can, dipping your paddle blade completely into the water and bringing it back toward your toes,” Smith says.

“As you work on your forward stroke, think about pressing your feet into the board, engaging your quads and glutes while keeping a slight bend in your knees and extending through your obliques and lateral body to help you achieve that forward paddle.” That’s what makes paddling a great total-body workout, Smith says.

Ready to get in the water? Smith recommends having these essentials with you for a safe and enjoyable experience:

  • A life jacket (check local boating laws as they may even be required)
  • An emergency whistle
  • A dry bag that holds important items like sunscreen, sunglasses, water and refueling snacks for longer endurance paddles.
  • If you are paddling solo consider wearing a leash, which will keep you connected to your board at all times
  • If you want your board to stay put (and have power) for something like yoga or a break, consider packing a anchor

    How to incorporate paddle boarding into your running routine

    Smith says that for cross-training, runners can follow a 30-minute paddle session between one and three days a week. And says the mental determination required for long paddling sessions is similar to long endurance races.

    Consider paddleboarding a fun option for cross-training days when you don’t feel like hitting the gym. Better yet, find a state park that offers paddle board rentals and has a running track to explore. After a light summer run, finish your training on the water. If you’re limiting your miles due to an injury, check with your doctor first to see if paddleboarding might be right for you to stay active.


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