As another year comes to a close it’s normal to want to take inventory of your habits. It is also common to make resolutions in the hopes of forming new habits that will have a positive impact on your future. This philosophy is something you can also consider applying to your habits as a paddler.
New paddling habits you should bring into the new year include developing a safe skincare regime and creating a daily stretching routine. Create an effective paddling storage and stick to a regular maintenance schedule. Spend the new year practicing and perfecting your stroke, and keep building your core strength. When you aren’t paddling, spend time learning more about the waters and paddling conditions in your area.
There are constantly ways to improve the way we live and perform tasks. If paddling is a priority for you, remember there are always new ways to stay safe, strong, and paddling your best. If you want to make some improvements to your kayaking or SUP boarding lifestyle in the new year but aren’t sure where to start then keep reading. Below is a list of the top habits you should nurture and develop in the upcoming year.
Top 10 Paddling Habits To Form And Develop In The New Year
1. Start A Safe Skin Care Regimen For Your Time On The Water
The sun and its dangerous rays can wreak havoc on your skin, especially if you paddle for long distances. Paddling involves prolonged sun exposure with limited protection, which is why having an effective skin protection regimen is crucial to avoiding sun damage and even certain types of cancer.
Take the time this new year to find great sun protection and a routine that works well for you. Choose environmentally friendly and effective sunscreen for your face and body, and choose brands that don’t cause your skin to have bad reactions.
You should also make sure you have sunglasses that are polarized and UV protectant, and clothes like rash guards and wide-brimmed hats that block the sun's strong rays so you don’t have to constantly apply sunblock on your entire body while you paddle.
2. Ensure You Have Safe And Strategic Paddling Storage
Paddling storage is essential, especially if you have a kayak, canoe, or hard SUP board. These vessels all require space, and sometimes the storage is not ideal. While certain space limitations are out of your control, there are some ways you can ensure safe and secure storage for your paddling vessel.
Make sure you weather-proof your paddling vessel to the best of your ability. Remember that direct sunlight, temperature extremes, and ground exposure can all impact a board’s longevity. Make sure you develop the habit of always covering your board or boat to minimize environmental impact. This will keep your paddling vessel in great condition for longer.
3. Stick To A Regular Maintenance Schedule
In addition to properly storing and covering your board, you also need to ensure you keep to a strict and regular maintenance schedule for the board or boat. One of the best habits you can form as the owner of a paddling vessel is to keep to a maintenance calendar.
Make sure you check all the zippers, bungees, fins, and accessories on a seasonal basis. In addition to scheduled maintenance, another great habit is to repair small dings and issues with the vessel as soon as they arise. Waiting longer can result in prolonged problems and more major damage.
4. Stretch Daily And Stay Flexible Throughout The Year
While maintaining your paddling vessel is certainly important, you must first take care of your own body. The first step to ensuring your body is always ready to endure a long and strenuous paddle is to make sure it is flexible. The best way to keep your muscles loose and ready for exercise is to stretch daily.
Establishing a targeted daily stretching routine is a fantastic way to help you stay in paddling shape throughout the year. Stretching improves circulation, can prevent injuries, and is a great way to make your body feel good. Yoga is one great way to keep your body stretched out, but a simple daily stretch routine works just fine.
5. Practice And Continue Perfecting Your Stroke Technique
Practicing your paddling stroke is something you can do anywhere, and at any time. If you are still learning the ropes, perfecting your kayak, canoe or SUP stroke is a great way to take you to the next level in your paddling ability.
When you improve your stroke you can maximize your effort. This means you are paddling smarter, not harder, and thus able to conserve energy on long paddles, and go faster when racing.
6. Set Paddling Goals For The New Year
Just as you likely make a New Year’s resolution, or set a New Year goal, each year - you should work to achieve a paddling goal for the new year. Try not to pick multiple goals or anything that is unfeasible.
Instead, set an achievable goal that will yield a positive outcome. Maybe you can register for a paddling race of some kind, or perhaps you can set a goal of kayaking or SUP boarding in an epic location that requires planning and effort to reach. Regardless of the goal you set, make it something that will motivate you to continue achieving new heights as a paddler.
7. Test Safety Equipment And Check Expiration Dates
Safety is a habit everyone should have, but often gets neglected. Safety precautions and equipment are essential for every paddler and should be monitored closely. One great habit to ensure safety while operating a kayak, canoe, or SUP board is to test safety equipment periodically.
Ensure all lights, emergency signals, and inflatable safety devices are fully functional. You should also check all your safety gear that expires, like safety flares and emergency first aid supplies, and ensure that nothing is beyond its expiration date.
8. Learn More About Paddling Conditions In Your Area
It is true when people say that knowledge is power, and this applies to paddling as well. One of the best habits you can develop as an avid paddler is to research the waters that you plan to paddle.
Make it a point to always check the tide charts, and understand the currents well before paddling into unknown territory. If there is an area you like to paddle in frequently, consider doing a deep dive into the depths, currents, and intricacies of the area. This will help you understand the area you are paddling in and will result in a safer and better overall experience.
9. Stay Focused On Building Your Core Strength
In addition to stretching, every paddler should make it a habit to focus on core strength. You use your core constantly while stroking your paddle. This means that strengthening your core will also strengthen your stroke.
Your core is also crucial to your balance. If you SUP board or kayak in choppy conditions then you know that balance is paramount. Building more core strength through exercise will assist you in becoming a better and more stable paddler.
10. Keep Your Paddling Circle Strong And Always Have A Buddy
Lastly, as you embark on a new year of paddling don’t forget about the importance of having company with you. Paddling with a companion is important for several reasons. A companion can provide you with safety, help you share the load of storing items on longer journeys, and they also keep you company.
Paddling with another person is always highly recommended, as it is safer to travel in groups of at least two. But finding a paddling buddy isn’t always easy. Make sure if you have a paddling buddy you continue to nurture that relationship and stay in contact even when you go months without paddling together. If you don’t have a paddling companion then try to get one of your friends or family members interested in paddling this year.
Final Thoughts On New Paddling Habits This Year
As you enter into a new year of life and possibility, make sure you take a moment to think about what you want to do differently. A great way to change your life for the better is by forming new positive habits. This concept can apply quite well to your paddling life as well. Some new habits every paddler should consider adopting include creating a skincare and stretching routine, and ensuring there is consistent maintenance and storage for your paddling vessel. Try taking some time to perfect your paddling stroke, and read up on the waters you paddle frequently. Remember it is important to have a paddling buddy, so ensure you have one or two paddlers in your life you can count on. Lastly, set a paddling goal for yourself for the year so you have something to look forward to achieving in the months ahead.