Paddling in the winter can be a bleak prospect for even the heartiest of kayakers. A winter gear kit is extensive and expensive, and chances are, until you get your heart rate up, you’ll probably feel like an ice cube. It can be tough to motivate yourself under these conditions. Below is advice from an Eddyline Superfan and highlights from top paddle brand articles on ways to keep up your fitness, motivation and paddle st[r]oke in the winter.
Winter is paddling's best kept secret
Hearty winter paddler and Eddyline super-fanLinda Kingsbury says winter kayaking is her favorite time of year to paddle.Kingsbury feels solitude and celebrating holidays are especially fiery motivation for winter kayaking. “I am motivated to paddle whenever I have free time, especially on days when I think I might have the water to myself, which is usually during the winter months. I enjoy the quiet solitude of being on the lake with just the sounds of nature and my paddle splashing the water. Winter Solstice is an especially meaningful day to kayak for me because, for me, it’s the anniversary of losing someone special. It’s a great day to get out and reflect. I also love to paddle on New Year's Day, marking a great start to the new year. See more of Kingsbury’s winter paddle adventures on the Eddyline Kayaks Owners Group Facebook Page.
Photos courtesy of Linda Kingsbury
Strength training al la Kialoa
Kialoa is a paddle brand originally founded in Hawaii, moved to Bend Oregon and later incorporated into Werner Paddles. In their 2019 blog post, Winter Training for Paddlers, former owner Meg Chun shares detailed workouts to keep fit for your planned spring paddle exploits. From warm-ups and stretches to aerobic recommendations and strength training, this article gives lots of specific advice on exercises and training that will directly translate to paddle performance results.
“The best cross-training activity for paddling, bar none, is swimming. Both lap and open-water swimming provide substantial aerobic and paddle-specific muscular endurance conditioning (core, upper back and legs) that translates directly to more efficient paddling. Swimming has the added benefit of preparing you for potential aquatic mishaps.”
Fly south for the winter
Like Major League Baseball, one option is to travel to a warmer climate for winter [spring] kayak training. Although the paddle based website, Paddle Ninja is primarily focused on SUP, outrigger and surfski racing, their Winter Training in Florida blog post shares some great ideas for tactics if choosing to paddle in the winter. Number one, travel somewhere warm. Number two, choose a location to paddle where you can enter the cockpit of your kayak from a dock, that way you don’t have to enter the water. Number 3, double up on electrolytes. The blog recommends NUUN tablets and pedialyte mixed with water in a camel pack. Also check out Gnarly. Number 4, keep intensity up. Go paddle with the goal of paddling hard, even if it means a shorter session. If you keep the aerobic activity up, you won’t be so cold. Experiment with this. You’ll be surprised how warm you stay.