Friday, May 31, 2013

Pain Ain't Weakness Leaving the body!
Face book has had a lot of exercise postings  including one that claims pain is weakness leaving the body. Perhaps it is meant as a spiritual metaphor, but it is lousy physiology. First, one must understand what exercise/training really is: controlled injury.

Take any system (muscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary) and you will find that it has its limitations. The combined limitation of, say, your running muscles determines how fast and/or how long you can run. When you train you slightly exceed that limit (not to the point of pain). That is the first step. The next, and equally important step, is to allow the insult (training) to mend. If you wait long enough and have not overloaded the muscle too much it will heal stronger than before and you will be able to work that muscle harder and/or longer.

If, however, you overload any system too much or (as surprisingly frequently happens) you do not allow a long enough rest interval before exercising again, the system will start to break down. The ultimate in this area is the over training syndrome seen in runners. It can take up to a year off for a healthy young individual to recover if they rest.(I have, sadly, seen this in my cardiology practice in young school athletes pushed by their parents).

Now we have lots of information, formulas and other things to let us know how hard we are stressing our symptoms. Heart rate for one (and our breathing pattern) can tell us when we go from aerobic to anaerobic levels of exercise. Another is pain.

Most stimuli (hot, cold, pressure, etc.) if applied in a high enough amount will be interpreted by our evolved brains as pain. It is not weakness leaving the is your body begging you to stop!

So next time you decide to go for a 10 mile paddle and at 1 mile into it you just don't feel like it, trust your guts and go home. You haven't recovered from your previous training. Going to the gym to "work out the soreness" from yesterday's training? That's like walking on a broken leg until it heals. Doubt me? I'm sure the autopsy will show I am right.

Paddle safe...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I am still returning mentally after an intense IDW workshop in Big Bay, MI. It was led by Sam Crowley who was kind enough to allow me on staff as an IT candidate. Jeremy Vore, a talented Level 4 ACA certified instructor was also a huge part of the event.

My first take away was the sense of organization and the thought put into the sequence of topics and events. Sam made me aware (I finally got it) about the difference between the staff presenting (to model teaching, not so much to teach the skill) and the candidates presenting (practicing what staff was modeling). Still with me? Time was precious and Sam showed me ways to keep things moving and getting from A to B with the minimum gnashing of teeth.

I was assigned classroom topics and spent a good deal of time writing lesson plans, gathering info and props and practicing. My chart presentation, intro to the ACA , talks on crossings and rules of the road all could have been better; but I felt that I got to the bones and passed on what the IC's needed. I intend to continue to improve on all of that.

On the water Sam taught me when he didn't know he was teaching me (yeah, I know, he always knows).  All I had to do was watch him model ways to engage a group, keep them moving and to remain STUDENT FOCUSED (heard you, Sam). Every time I gathered a nugget I made every effort to incorporate it into my very next lead role.

The students ranged from their early 20's to a young guy who was in his 50's. By the end of the workshop, as they did team presentations, I saw a bonding of colleagues with common goals supporting one another. As we did a final one on one, I (and I suspect Sam and Jeremy) were impressed by the insights of the IC's feedback. Most of them got it, knew what their future work needed to be and were positive around all we told them. That is a successful workshop (Kudos to Sam).

I cannot end this without a word about Jeremy who, although many years my junior, has much more butt in the boat time than do I. He is an accomplished paddler (was once a BCU Coach) and an effective (if sometimes poly-verbal) instructor. Far more importantly, in my judgment, he is a fine person with a remarkable sense of who he is, insight into what others need and integrity beyond what I see in most people these days. He is the future.

So, now it is time to organize all the notes and thoughts  that returned with me so I don't repeat my old mistakes. Oh yes, I must get to a book store and buy something for Sam. Anyone know of a book titled, "Jokes Guaranteed Not To Make Intelligent People Groan"?

Paddle safe...

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Dirty Little Secret
Basics, Basics, Basics

   So, just as accomplished musicians practice scales each day, skilled athletes practice basics and do so frequently. As I've commented before, I generally paddle alone and use some of that time to practice all the strokes. As a level 4 instructor working on more advanced certifications you might think that I have all the basics pretty much nailed down. Not so fast.
   Since getting my Cetus MV (a regular Cetus before that) I have had trouble with my paddle float self rescue. Now, remember that the boat is Swede form and widest behind the cockpit where, incidentally, is where I get aboard during a paddle float rescue. Well, I started missing more and more attempts until I was failing more than succeeding. Alas, was old aged (I am only 32) catching up with me? What to do?
  Too ashamed to attend a support group, I did what any intelligent 29 year old would do: I went on line. I read articles and watched videos. I listened to how some push the boat under themselves and how some pull themselves onto the back deck. And, after each research session, I went out to try what I had read only to find it didn't work for me. There I was at age 25, all washed up and (literally) adrift.
   Then I thought about how I had taught interns, residents and fellow and how I had always emphasized the basics. And I thought, what is basic to all these methods? Well, they begin by "swimming" to get one's legs to the surface. SWIMMING!
   Boat on car, drive to shores of Lake Michigan, paddle downwind to a cove where I wouldn't hurt myself or anyone else (or be seen if I screwed up again). Got in the water; float on blade (always first); inflate float (only after on blade); into position. Then a little self talk: remember all your judo and what you tell all your students: "If you're working hard at it, you are doing it wrong." I told myself to forget that I am an amazingly muscular 40 year old and that it would be technique (not force) that would get the job done.
   So, I relaxed, kicked and, like a catfish relaxing in the mud, casually swam onto the back deck and hooked a foot on the paddle shaft. Unbelievable. Back into the water, swim, back on the boat...over and over. My 35 year old heart beat with joy. I had not only found my way, I had done it with introspection and the wisdom of a 45 year old wizard. Now, if I could just do a head stand like Freya.

Paddle safe...

Monday, May 06, 2013

Back to Basics

   As I have frequentlly noted, I paddle mostly alone and begin each on water session by practicing my basic strokes. What sometimes gets forgotten are the self rescue techniques. I see others practice them in the pool over winters (as do I); but I rarely see anyone do them in real conditions.
   Add to the mix that I am waiting for NDK to ship me the seat for my Romany. So, I made a temporary (read: sloppy) closed-cell foam affair and took it onto Lake Michigan yesterday. After a little playing in what waves I could find, I went near shore, got out of the boat and practiced paddle float rescues. They went well and it felt good to be in the cold water (in a dry suit) for practice.
   Now, I have to get out with someone else so I can practice in conditions, something I generally don't do aggressively when alone.

Paddle Safe...