Articles, Skills

How to Be A Successful Paddler: Habits to Follow

a man kayaking in a lakeAny outdoor activity like kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking among others, requires a few winning elements to be successful.
As Stephen Cowey put it so well you need to have the end in mind. The ultimate goal is always to have some pleasure through an activity that you can realize any time any day, and you can experience with your family, children or your friends!
So here is a list of 7 habits you can practice any time, and get the maximum on your next paddling trip or exciting adventure!


Yes indeed, don’t go kayaking even on a flat water body for three hours right at the beginning of the season because you’ll get discourage pretty fast if you’re not fit.
Within 48h you’ll experience body aching on all your big group muscles, like shoulders, arms, and back muscles.
That will resolve very fast, but then it’s unpleasant and unnecessary.
Hence, it’s important to do regular exercises and cardio throughout the winter to keep our body healthy.
I got a gym set up at home to keep us busy during the long winter days!
See my son… How he developed those muscles-)

SECOND HABIT: Read Great Books and Inspiring Stories

When we get bored, it’s very motivating and exciting to read or watch videos on inspiring stories.
I remembered when I read an interview about Audrey Sutherland when her new book “Paddling North” came out!!
What a feeling! Suddenly I got re-energized, and look through my own equipment to get ready for my next canoe-camping trip -)

THIRD HABIT: Renew your equipment

Ok: Let’s be straight forward on that one. I don’t mean go out and spend $500 in just a few hours!
No. Instead, review your equipment, see what’s missing or too old.
You may want to get some new , ecologic water bottles, or find new cooking set for camping.
Maybe get another water proof camera that you’ve seen during your last trip!!

FOURTH HABIT: Make Plans to Visit New Places

If you go canoeing always on the same lake… well at one point it becomes very boring, and you don’t enjoy the activity any more.
You don’t even paddle efficiently.
So make plans to visit new places by checking other paddling blogs and prepare your trip.
That will guarantee some excitement and you’ll be looking forward to go out and paddle.

FIFTH HABIT: Practice Other Outdoor Activities

Don’t go for one type of activity. Try to be diversified and practice other things like SUP, biking, mountain climbing, scuba diving. In winter season, enjoy some skiing, snow shoeing, dogsledding.
The list for outdoor adventures is pretty long!
See this afternoon, I went out and did some cross country skiing.
It was so beautiful in the woods with all that fresh snow… Quiet time for me!


That means the best way to do it is to keep in touch with your friends or family and present them your latest adventures and great photos.
You can use your Facebook page and keep engaging, and you can also visit other people’s pages to find new ideas or share your experiences.


If you keep running during the whole week, and then go on a two-day trip canoe-camping with your kids, that could be a recipe for failure.
You’ll be so tired, you won’t really enjoy that free time in the woods.
The only thing you’ll probably keep thinking, is a good bath and some resting time in front of your TV!
So try to plan time to relax and free your mind and body to be available for your next outdoor trip!


Staying Fit Part 2

Let’s see how.

Early June 2008. Preparing for our first canoeing trip of the season.
Lift up the canoe on my shoulders.
Lose balance. Wrong decision.
Forced with my left arm fully extended to straighten the canoe with my car roof.
Bad idea!
The best decision would have been to let the canoe fall on the ground.
But no.
In a split second I decided to get injured rather than to get a scratch on my red canoe.
The result?
Over 3 months of shoulder pain and sleepless nights.
A paddling season “on the water” as we say in French –meaning no season at all.
A visit to the orthopedist simply to hear that only time will help –based on the RMI that demonstrated a 50% tear of the supra-spinatus muscle.
To make it short, it was only in October that I found a sport orthotherapist to treat that little problem and finally get my sleep back!
Then I did over 8 months of regular arms/shoulders stretching to be able to fully extend my left arm again. No fun.
My point with that story?One: Get fit before the start of the paddling season
I wasn’t fit at all to lift up that canoe and I exposed myself to injury fairly easily. I did nothing much during the winter season to prepare my body and big muscle groups to get ready for other types of movements that I usually do during summer time.
Let’s say that I was indeed fit at the end of the previous summer, but I did not maintain that level of cardio or muscle strength during the following months. It requires less effort to stay fit than to start all over again each spring.
Regular cardio workouts (spinning, jumping rope, cross country skiing to name just a few), cardio-based bodyweight exercises (plyometric push-ups, jumping jacks, boxing moves) coupled with stretching is definitely the right thing to do.
For instance, I like to do from time to time  Billy’s Bootcamp workouts. Guaranty you’ll sweat!!
I also use free videos and training plans.
Of course, best to check  with your physician what you can do (before starting anything) if you have some health concerns.Three: Live your life to be healthy
My personal definition (and there are a lot!!) is a combination of several “how-to-do” activities or lifestyles behavior:
• Eat well! Here is the dirty dozen to avoid.
• Learn to relax and… do it!
• Get and stay physically on shape year after year
• Learn to play! Surprised? Playing like our kids do help us to forget all our daily worries and make us discover a world we had almost forgotten. Believe me on that one –I do it every day.
• Educate your mind with spiritual readings or music.
So your turn now: Are you fit to start the new season?
Write your comments in the box below!
Cheers -)





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About Julian Thompson

cb787c59d2808e1f609076e790ca977e?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Kayaking Instructor (AKA)
Education: American Kayak Association
Lives In: Denver Colorado

I am a kayaking expert/instructor who has been fishing for over 15 years. Fishing is my passion, but kayaking keeps me on the water. I love to share my knowledge of techniques and tips with others. I live in Colorado with my wife and two kids and own a small kayak rental business On Grand Lake where I rent and instruct.