It’s not often we are faced with the opportunity to begin again. In kayaking, often our ability and skill sets get compared to those around us more than comparing to how we feel and to the yesterday versions of ourselves.
I am a 3x World Champion Freestyle Kayaker, and today I worked on my flatwater cartwheel. As I fell on my face multiple times, did I seem frustrated, sad, disappointed, or question if I would get better, no, not at all… Instead I was excited, free, and stoked when I linked several ends.
I live in Rock Island TN, and when they turn the water off, there are no play features available, but I still wanted to go kayaking.
My husband Nick Troutman has been away kayaking for almost 2 weeks; he’s been gone over 5 weeks in the last 2 months. While that is pretty normal for us, we now have a 2 month old daughter, Parker Rain, and I am on my second round of Mastitis, so my energy level and enthusiasm is running a little low…
For me as a kayaker, working every day to be a little better then yesterday, is something I am capable of. My goals are small, but easily achievable, leaving me feel accomplished when I get home with wet hair.
Today my plan was to work on left cartwheels in flat water, using the Rockstar Medium (I usually paddle the small). My goal was to do 25 cartwheels (no not in a row yet…), and to try 10 flatwater loops. While I fooled around doing a bunch of other stuff, I made sure to get my cartwheels and loops in, and I left the water knowing I was better than I was the last session.
So many people feel they plateau or get bored doing the same thing all the time. The key is to keep challenging yourself; the whitewater doesn’t have to get harder, it can even get easier.
I want to perform to the best of my ability at the Freestyle World Championships in 2017, so I am going to work on getting in shape and practice my “hole” moves, step by step.
If your goal is to push your river running skills, but there aren’t any new rivers running at the moment, then try making your local run a little different or harder by going backwards, catching new eddies or even doing flatwater sprint or stroke drills.
If you find yourself challenged by outside influences, just go at your own pace, or else kayaking won’t be as much fun, and at times you may find yourself in situations you wouldn’t have put yourself in otherwise.
When you see other paddlers doing things that you would like to be doing, use this as inspiration to get you on the water when you’re not feeling very motivated. But always remember, we kayak for fun. Think of it as a break, a release from any tension you may have during your day; a way to free your mind and put your energy and focus into something else. It’s an excuse for adventure. Off days happen to everyone, listen to your gut when it does happen, and try to be a little bit better the next day.
Having my daughter and watching her at her beginning, has reminded me how much fun starting fresh is. While most would say that I am not “starting fresh” when it comes to my kayaking, but that’s how I like to look at it, and it’s given me the opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures kayaking has to offer.
So tomorrow, it’s back to those silly left cartwheels… and regardless of how I do, I know I will be better than I was today…
Waiting for ideal situations that may never come can keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves.