Kayaking fit

Posted by Ken Campbell March 8, 2012 1 Comment 737 views

With winter winding down (if you can believe that), I’m looking ahead to the projects I’ve got coming up this year and questioning my fitness level. Maybe “questioning” isn’t the right word; maybe “fitness” isn’t the right word either.
I have been on climbs where the uberfit in the group were the first to poop out. Likewise, I’ve been a part of wilderness kayak trips where the most physically prepared members of my group weren’t necessarily the ones who handled the rigors of the journey the best. There are a host of intangibles that go into determining success, many of them happening above the neck. It doesn’t really matter how many push-ups you can do, how much you bench press, and yet it sort of does. It’s a balance.
Skill can trump fitness, to a point. (Think of the fat guys playing racquetball down at the YMCA. They’re good enough that they don’t have to move too much; consequently they don’t break a sweat all that often. Their skill compensates for their poor conditioning.) Kayaking can be like that too. I know some excellent paddlers who are carrying a few more saddlebags than they should be, yet they continue to perform at a high level.
But here’s the question: if you have the skills, wouldn’t you be even better if you were in better shape? It stands to reason, yes? There’s good, and there’s good enough, and often the two concepts are used interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. But they don’t, not really. It’s usually those of us who need to get in better shape who conflate the terms.
I may have just answered my own question. I don’t think I have gone to seed, but I do think I could take the fitness level up a bit. I firmly believe that kayaking – especially the kind of extended wilderness paddling that I have on the schedule – is about 90% mental. Still, it would be nice to get the most out of the other 10% too.
Time to man up, lose that winter padding. The clocks change this Sunday, Daylight Savings Time begins… that might be as good a time as any to push the reset button.

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