My Five Reasons to Stand Up Paddle.

SUPI found stand up paddle boarding (SUP) this year and am hooked. It is so much better than sitting in the bottom of a wet kayak or kneeling in a canoe for me. I was going to wait until the spring to get a board, but just couldn’t wait, even through it meant my new skis aren’t going to happen this year.

Since I’m probably going to go on and on in my blogs about SUPs, I figured I’d give you my five reasons for adding SUP to my exercise and activities. Maybe I can convince you to try it or finally give and get a board.

1. Great workout

If you are a cardio junkie, the heart rate just isn’t going to be there – unless you really go all out racing style. But, paddling on the SUP hits just about every muscle. My legs are always engaged. My core is helping with stability and power in my strokes. My arms and shoulders pull me through the water. At the end of my excursions I can feel tightness everywhere, especially my upper and side abs.

Here a nice little chart from SUP Fitness that breaks it down:

SUP calorie burn

You can see that touring on your SUP can be just as good as running if you are touring. I can attest to that from a few hours paddling up and down the Westport River on a windy day against the tide. On the other hand, I have days when I’m paddling around Whitehall or a family outing on the Sudbury and Concord Rivers where it is more casual but certainly more exercise than a walk.

2. Changing up the exercise routine

Calories is really only one aspect that makes SUP great. SUP gives me a chance to let my muscles do something else than pounding trails and pavement. Running 5-6 days per week is tough on my hips.  After a motorcycle accident where I cracked my pelvis and  primarily what got me into my chubby girl era, anything I can do to offset overuse and keep running for most of my life I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, getting on my SUP after a hard 4 miler is not easy. My legs give a little shake.

That is minor compared to the fact that I can get the same high on my SUP as I do on my runs. The adrenalin still pumps, especially when I get in some hairy situations between wind and current that make me have to really focus on balance and dig in. Most of the time all is well. But, there was the one time I actually fell in. The adventure can be very real.

3. Getting into my Zen Zone

Nothing beats getting on the water and having the sun pour down on you. I’m a beach girl. Have always been a beach girl. So getting out on the salt marsh rivers, deep clear lakes, and ocean edges brings me to my Zen Zone. If ever I am stressed or over worked, its the water that makes me whole again. Add in some exercise that is rhythmic and I tune into my body in the best of all environments.

SUP takes me to my happy place the way running doesn’t. The ease of paddling means that I don’t have to pay attention to my achy calves pushing me up a hill. I don’t see the path in terms of miles the way I do when I run. I just go. Don’t get me wrong, I love my running. While running is meditative for me as I turn in on myself and thoughts. SUP does the same thing but in a gentler way, like Yoga.

4. Communing with nature

37034377121_031c1be451_zRunning trails, hiking and skiing mountains, snow shoeing, swimming in crystal clear lakes and basking in the glory of waves and surf is where I get my energy. Getting my body back only makes this easier. My SUP is another way that I can get outside and feel connected to nature. Its calming. The fresh air makes me feel alive. And, standing up high on the water gives me such a different perspective across the known and unknown waterways than in a kayak, swimming or lolling on a noodle.

I love that after touring for about an hour I can drop to my board to have a quick bite and drag my feet in the water. If I’ve moved farther ahead of Tom while he takes pictures in a cove, I can drop down to my board and lay back to catch some rays and float. I can feel nature all around me and I’m part of it.

5. Getting exercise while doing something fun

There is something to be said for getting in your 30-60 minutes of exercise per day by doing something you would just do for fun. SUP doesn’t feel like exercise for me. In fact, when I first tried it, the reason I did so was because it was something fun to do with Tom as he kayaked.

I keep reading about how getting your exercise doesn’t mean going to a gym, getting on a cardio machine, running and biking for miles, or taking classes. If you can find an activity to do for the same length of time that is fun, and you would do for fun, that increases your cardio and builds muscle, do it. Exercise does not have to be only about losing weight, keeping weight off, or anything having to do with body health. It shouldn’t be a chore.

There are a lot of things I like to do that are just fun and have nothing to do with if I can lose weight or maintain my weight. I ski because of the joy I feel speeding down the mountain, twisting through the glades or slamming over the bumps. Its just exhilarating. I hike because I like walking through nature and experiencing a jump in the river or waterfall. I like to back pack because it makes me feel like a kid again when I would have overnights in the woods at camp. Never do I think about how many calories I burn or personal bests.  SUP is part of that category of things that are just fun to do – which means I’ll be able to and want to do forever.

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Where and When To Fit In Exercise?

Last week I was back on the road for work after 6 weeks and had to relearn my travel tricks. The difference is that I’m in maintenance mode. You’d think this could be easier as I don’t have as much to worry about with counting those calories and keeping to my macros. And you would be right. I just go vegan or add some lean protein and keep portions in control. Its the exercise that’s the killer.

The trade off is always, do you stay where it is easy to go for a run outside but is far from where you need to be each day, or do you stay somewhere that is close and rely on the hotel gym? I had one of those weeks.

You would think that staying in the Bay Area would be perfect. If I am downtown, super simple. Head out to the Embarcadero. But, in San Mateo you are in an industrial zone. It may not be shady (Trader Joes was right around the corner), but it is industrial and shady enough that this little girl was not going to run through the streets alone. Call me crazy, or recognize that I probably have too much of an exurb mindset from living in New England hamlets.

In the end, the Marriot gym and I got to know each other pretty well. I checked into the hotel and immediately threw on my workout clothes, pulled back my hair, and grabbed my headphones and iPad then headed to the gym.  40 minutes later, my treadmill run was done. The next day, I got back from my client meeting and again, without so much as a thought, got my act together and met up with my treadmill from the day before for another 40 minutes run. The trick, just do it. Don’t think about it or you’ll only find an excuse.  Mine was all too easy, I hate treadmills.

That’s the travel side of things, but I am also realizing that as the summer turns to fall, and Jose is kissing our New England shores, the weather and length of day is no longer my friend. I can’t get out for a run anytime I want. And with the water getting colder, so my SUP will see more time in my garage than the lake and river. Outdoor stuff is still possible, just a bit more challenging or I can’t do yet because snow has not yet arrived (need to ski! need to snow shoe!).

What’s a girl to do? Use my work at home days to my advantage! I had a 50 minute call with my team today where nothing was to be presented and all we were doing was grocking on a strategy to cover an evolving technology space. I could either sit at my desk with my phone in my ear, or I could get off my lazy a$$. I chose the latter. With 7 minutes to spare before my call, I threw on my workout clothes, grabbed the phone, and headed to my elliptical.

The call was interactive, engaging and actually fun. I went back and forth muting and unmuting my phone as I would jump in to contribute so as not to distract the conversation with the sound of my machine. I also did what I thought was a decent job of speaking and sharing, although a bit breathy.  Alas, it didn’t go completely unnoticed. Back at my desk my colleague Cinny had shot me an email…”Are you running or biking during our call? love it! <end>”

exercising

I have to say though, it was a great workout, one of my better elliptical workouts. I upped my calorie burn by about 50 calories for the same amount of time and got my heart rate up to 134 when I’m typically in the low 120s. Maybe I should do this more often! Those meetings must get me riled up.

Machines aren’t my favorite workout mode, but when all else fails I need to not think about how I’m getting exercise time it and just work on making it happen. It really is a lifestyle change that thankfully isn’t as hard to do anymore. I feel good after my workouts just as I do when I run, SUP, hike, and bike. I also get the benefit of keeping my weight off. Over the past month I hold pretty steady at 111 – 112, and that is with the Five Guys burger a week ago and the over indulgence on pigs in a blanket and Guinness this past Saturday night at a hockey party.

Life is good.

 

Traveling by SUP; Paddling the Charles

Last weekend I tried out stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and fell in love. It was so much better than kayaking and canoeing. I didn’t have to sit in water. I could see out across the lake. And, I got an amazing full body workout for what felt like little effort.

So, today, I went to the Charles River with Tom and rented a SUP. We trekked down the river, peeking in on various coves where herons, swans, ducks and geese all were handing out. We took time to relax where I at lunch on my board and Tom in his kayak. I powered against the current and wind. And at the end, my legs were getting tired, I could feel my abs and sides, and my arms were becoming rubber. But, it was all so good!

I pulled into the dock where a college student helped me off the board and asked how it went.  When I told him we had made it down to a big bridge about two and a half miles down, he was surprised. Standing in line to pay for the session I realized most people only stayed out about an hour.  We were out there almost three.  How could you resist? We had a nice 5.2 mile trip today in sunny 80 degree weather.

Anyway, I am definitely thinking that in the spring I’m going to get a board. Besides cruising along rivers and lakes, there are these great SUP yoga classes and I can even take it with us to the ocean. I’m not going to surf through. I saw some videos and it is exactly like real surfing which I failed at miserably and it scared/scarred me for life. But, a little foam to cut through and then paddling parallel to the shore is just my speed.

Not really a true ‘travel’, but it was a quick journey that was every bit as Zen as my runs (which I also did this morning before we left). If I’m in a city with water and SUP rentals, I may just have to switch between running and paddling on my trips. I’ve go so many coming up this fall from San Francisco, Las Vegas, NYC, Chicago, Switzerland and Tokyo. Almost all have water ways.  Will I be lucky enough with weather to SUP? I sure hope so.