Do I quit surfski?

1 week 3 hours ago #34186 by manta
Do I quit surfski? was created by manta
Hi There

I have posted before on trying to increase my paddling speed and how I have been struggling. In January I hurt my right shoulder again (have had many surgeries and separations in the past) and since then paddling has not progressed at all, in fact it felt like I have regressed.

I finally had my should evaluated and it seems where it currently is, is as good as it is going to get. Surgery will not actually help anymore. The reason for the post is this, I am only able to put down about 70 - 75% power as my shoulder becomes the limiting factor.

I have played around with technique and fitness. The 75% variable is not going to change but of course over time as I get fitter that 75% may be more than my  current 75% if that makes sense. The end result is my current best sustained speed is around 9.8km/h and that is where it stays. If I push harder I almost immediately feel it in my shoulder and it starts to lock up making the whole thing quite difficult. I did a race on Friday, stuck to the short course but with adrenalin etc. pushed a little too hard on the way back to shore and my shoulder has been stiff and sore since.

I wanted to improve my paddling and perhaps be mildly competitive. In the area where I live we have amazing conditions and also amazing paddlers with the result it is quite competitive. My speed and struggling to improve due to my shoulder have essentially put me out of ever really being competitive. 

Onto the question. Do I stick with it knowing I will always be a back marker (which is just an ego thing) or pack it in? I don't want to pack it in but I also don't want to not be able to stick with the other paddlers in my area. I struggle in any group training as most people are quicker than me and I am limited in what I can realistically accomplish. Downwinds can also be quite perilous as I really have to watch how hard I push. In the exuberance of trying to catch a run my shoulder can be compromised and that makes the whole day suck. I have been practicing holding back and working on my technique. 

I feel like I'm moaning and whining (which I am) but would like some honest feedback to help me put things in perspective.

Thanks

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1 week 2 hours ago #34187 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Do I quit surfski?
I am much slower than anyone here and even I improve a lot I doubt I will ever be more than solidly mediocre speed-wise. By your line of reasoning I should quit and pick up needle point :D
Stacking yourself against others is a bad thing to do. There will always be "that guy" who runs circles around you while hang over and injured. It's an endlessly toxic thing to measure yourself like that.

To me 75 percent is quite good. The only question I would be asking myself us whether it is safe to continue at all. If it is I would continue simply because I love paddling.

Can you not adapt? Say take your safe effort level and increase the distance. I personally love the idea of being able to cover say 30-40 k at a time. I would probably even prefer that as a goal over shorter oomph.

And I want to say it again...lose the competition and do it for yourself and on your own terms.

Think Evo II
Epic V7
The following user(s) said Thank You: Hiro, mrcharly

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1 week 1 hour ago #34188 by manta
Replied by manta on topic Do I quit surfski?

SpaceSputnik wrote:
To me 75 percent is quite good. The only question I would be asking myself us whether it is safe to continue at all. If it is I would continue simply because I love paddling.

Can you not adapt? Say take your safe effort level and increase the distance. I personally love the idea of being able to cover say 30-40 k at a time. I would probably even prefer that as a goal over shorter oomph.


I think knowing my limitations I can be safe. I was a lifeguard and have extensive sea experience. I know how to get out of trouble. 

I was thinking of what you are suggesting. If I can paddle 40, 50 or more at my current max speed although I still would not be competitive I would at least be able to race. The short stuff ends up being more power where the longer stuff is more technical etc.

I used to be very competitive and was at a high level in another sport for many years. I am pretty sure this is just an ego thing and I need to get over it.

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6 days 22 hours ago #34189 by Davidw
Replied by Davidw on topic Do I quit surfski?
Other than what's in your post I obviously don't know much of your background and I'm no orthopaedic specialist, but for what it's worth...

I sustained nerve damage many years ago (20?). End result was that neurologist advised me that I'll only recover max of 85% of strength in my left shoulder.
I started paddling about 15 years ago.

I suffered a fair amount of shoulder pain over the years but since I've started to keep my shoulder strength up, I don't feel that it holds me back too much. I'm not near the front but I'm a good way off the back too.
Now and again between surfski, sup, swim and gym I overdo it and have to back off for a while.

If you are able and If you don't already do strength training I'd strongly recommend it, specifically a protocol like Pavel Tsatsouline's Simple & Sinister which I've found to be pretty kind to shoulders as strength programs go.

But patience is required. It's not an overnight fix. 

I'm also quite careful with the catch phase of my stroke, making sure the paddle is properly planted before I pull. It's a fine timing thing that I often practice. If I don't get it right these pull too soon, the force on my shoulder increases exponentially and it soon starts hurting. 

Hope you find a solution. 

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6 days 21 hours ago #34190 by Epicpaddler
Replied by Epicpaddler on topic Do I quit surfski?
I'd hate to see you quit if it's something you enjoy. I broke my neck when I was about 20. It's restricted my movement a bit, but every since then I try to enjoy life to the fullest.  I might not be a fast paddler, but I enjoy the competition and hanging out with like minded individuals. Unless you overdo it and suffer debilitating pain, I'd keep paddling for the enjoyment of paddling. 

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6 days 20 hours ago #34191 by Davidw
Replied by Davidw on topic Do I quit surfski?
If you don't already use one,  I'd consider getting a parallel blade like a Lettman 1 or at least hybrid like an Orka Inner.
In other words a paddle that doesn't load up at the front of the stroke too much. In my experience blades with a big catch on front hurt my shoulders more. 
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6 days 15 hours ago #34193 by Ranga
Replied by Ranga on topic Do I quit surfski?
Why are you paddling? Relax and have fun.
Most important is your stability, a stable craft will enable you to paddle correctly without any issues.
One piece of advice on your stroke: Keep your elbows down at all times. Generally lifting your elbows will cause your problems.

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6 days 4 hours ago #34201 by manta
Replied by manta on topic Do I quit surfski?

Davidw wrote:
If you are able and If you don't already do strength training I'd strongly recommend it, specifically a protocol like Pavel Tsatsouline's Simple & Sinister which I've found to be pretty kind to shoulders as strength programs go.

Since my first surgery in 2005 I have been pretty consistent with training both for strength and flexibility. I think were it not for those efforts I may not be able to use my shoulder much at all today.

Davidw wrote: But patience is required. It's not an overnight fix. 


Yip, this is very true. I have been at this for fourteen years but the initial damage was pretty severe and then over time more and more damage.

Why are you paddling? Relax and have fun.
Most important is your stability, a stable craft will enable you to paddle correctly without any issues.
One piece of advice on your stroke: Keep your elbows down at all times. Generally lifting your elbows will cause your problems.

I actually started with low elbows and then over time changed my stroke a bit to where I am now which is the most comfortable for me. 

I used to SUP before and that really made my shoulders ache. The stroke is quite high and then the torque on the blade just really upset the shoulders. I started surfski paddling to be on the water without the pain and it went well for a while. I think what has happened is as I have become more efficient and able to apply more power to the blade I have reached the limit of my shoulder's ability. So backing off a bit seems to keep the shoulders quiet but that also keeps me slow.

I am thinking of a boat upgrade to something a little skinnier which should add a bit of extra speed once I am the same stable. I suppose I will just need to be a lot more creative and see where I end up. 
Make peace with not being competitive and simply just paddle for the enjoyment it brings. I can still have a goal, how efficient can I be to minimise the effect paddling has on my shoulder, just change the game a bit.

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6 days 2 hours ago #34202 by SpaceSputnik
Replied by SpaceSputnik on topic Do I quit surfski?
Yeah, exactly, not being competitive doesn't mean not having goals.

Think Evo II
Epic V7

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6 days 48 minutes ago - 6 days 35 minutes ago #34203 by Watto
Replied by Watto on topic Do I quit surfski?
"Onto the question. Do I stick with it knowing I will always be a back marker (which is just an ego thing) or pack it in? I don't want to pack it in but I also don't want to not be able to stick with the other paddlers in my area..."

So much to say Manta. I'm 68. As a teen, like my folks I swam and ran on the heels of State champs (my folks behind two Olympic champs). Since then active in sport, among other things age group Olympic distance triathlon State champion, age group Open Water Swimming champ. Though paddling since late twenties in downriver Avon Descent,  into surfskis only in my sixties. Enter unbeknowns to me around this time  sinus node dysfunction - arrhythmia, chronotropic incompetence (heart rate not increasing under load) and bradycardia. Every race pretty much since  just watching people paddle away into the distance - little old ladies and their Zimmer frames disappearing over a wet horizon.. 

Subsequently have had a pacemaker as of Oct 2018 however still have bad days. Here's my heart rate last race (flat water) couple of days ago in ocean going max max flat out in an NK Storm 61.

Embarrassing. Trying hard and heart rate mid 40's!

Now back to your comment. Along the way as a result of rugby, cycling, and motorcycling injuries plus demands of long distance swimming (20 km races)  I have had four shoulder operations, three on my left shoulder.  See link and not for the faint hearted. Very messy in there. Surgeons instructions - no more swimming.

Shoulder Op

As the comments above  since your post, WTF are you chasing?  Some mates I paddle with talk only of paddling speed average - "I paddled 14.2kmh last week but X paddled 14.4kmh in Y boat ..etc".  I am putting a bit of shit on that attitude if that's all paddling is about. However of course these guys are getting their jolly's smashing and crashing through big ones, linking run after run and being in the moment. The paddling comparative averages though I have to let go of (actually never been much of a fan of that form of self-identification - I'm ok with me). 

My point though, take good hard look at yourself and I think you know the answer. If you're riding on ego alone, disappointment awaits. You know that old text  - "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. ... But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism."

Sorry to preach cobber but is true.Be your own hero. Suck up the personal disappointmen and get on with doing what you can. My immediate goals are The Doctor 2019, Mauritius Ocean Classic 2020, Rottnest Channel Swim solo 2021 (on my 70th) and then around Australia on my motorbike. Not valorising myself Manta, there are others doing much bigger shit out there, just saying, don't give in to it. I'm being my own hero and I'm good with that. 

Teddy Roosevelt: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are..
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6 days 26 minutes ago #34205 by manta
Replied by manta on topic Do I quit surfski?

Watto wrote:
Sorry to preach cobber but is true.Be your own hero. Suck up the personal disappointmen and get on with doing what you can. My immediate goals are The Doctor 2019, Mauritius Ocean Classic 2020, Rottnest Channel Swim solo 2021 (on my 70th) and then around Australia on my motorbike. Not valorising myself Manta, there are others doing much bigger shit out there, just saying, don't give in to it. I'm being my own hero and I'm good with that. 

Teddy Roosevelt: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are..


Good post Watto many a true word.
I think being that I was a national level athlete at a time and held a few national titles in my sport there is a competitive aspect to my personality. That being said being at that level is what lead to shoulder and other injuries which now plague me. 

I do need to change the game, in my head and out there on the water. Do what I can with what I have where I am to quote Teddy as per above. It makes a lot of sense and mostly it should be about having fun. One can still have fun being at the back or missing a run because there is always another one just behind it.
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5 days 21 hours ago #34206 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic Do I quit surfski?
There are some great replies to this topic.
You are being restricted by injury, and you know that the injury won't go away. 
That sucks. 
You want to race faster and harder; well, maybe you can't. Like others have said, you'll need to accept that you can't. Enjoy what you can do. Get very efficient, smooth.

A colleague and clubmate of mine, a couple of years older than me, is a good solid fast paddler. He's also battling to maintain body against the demon of age. 10, 15 years ago he was a near elite-level paddler. Now, every year he will have an inevitable decline in performance. 
What does he do about it?
Train, enjoy paddling, nurse injuries and not expect more than his body can deliver. When he pulls off a victory against a tough opponent, then he quietly enjoys it, when he has a good, tough race, he enjoys that. 

Enjoy what you can do. Plenty can't manage your level and speed of paddling. 

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5 days 20 hours ago - 5 days 19 hours ago #34207 by mcbit
Replied by mcbit on topic Do I quit surfski?
I agree, many good replies. Me, 62 years old and been paddling for 3 years. In my youth uk national level 400m sprinter, county level rugby wing forward; someone who could not bear to lose. Nowadays I’m I’m carrying a type 3 ACJ separation, if I changed light bulbs for a living they would have operated on it but since I don’t, they didn’t. Currently in my paddling i’m faster than some and slower than others and I’m happy with that. I’m out on the water almost every day trying to improve but also enjoying myself; which of course is the important part. Getting older and deteriorating performance is part of life and we shouldn’t let it get us down. Just enjoy the fact that you can still perform and stay healthy.

I strive to do the best that I can and continue to improve, I cannot do more. Just sayin’

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5 days 9 hours ago #34210 by RedBack
Replied by RedBack on topic Do I quit surfski?
Hi Manta,
Don't give up yet!
Do you have any video of you paddling that you could post?  It would be handy to see your paddling action.
I coach a few people who have shoulder injuries and in every instance we've been able to address their paddling issues through changes in technique and some specific drills and exercises.  They're probably not going to the Olympics any time soon, but they are at least paddling faster and with less/no pain!
I too have shoulder issues emanating from an accident that crushed one side of my body, so I know about pain and frustration.  Surgery is also not an option for me.
What exactly is/was the nature of your shoulder injury? 
What surgery have you had?
What rotator-cuff stability exercises do you do? 
Which part of the stroke generates the most pain?  (Catch, power-phase, release, recovery)
Sorry for the "Spanish Inquisition"! :-)
Feel free to PM me if you don't want to discuss this on-line.
Cheers

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2 days 8 hours ago #34217 by feeny
Replied by feeny on topic Do I quit surfski?
Nobody can out run the ocean, not with even the best shoulders. My ski journey is learning to do nothing with my shoulders at all, but instead find a way to use all of what the ocean gives me.

If you can tap along at 9.8km/h in the flat that's certainly enough to get a fair share of runners. Learning the bumps and where to point the ski  ...that right there is best thing in surf-ski! Riders of the ocean!

PS: Hehe, I'm pretty sure I paddled with Watto in Mauritius during a Sporty relay event one time... bugger me I thought I'd have to do a rescue from all the wheezing!! But nope, he wheeze-breezed through it. Inspiring, that.

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2 days 53 minutes ago #34221 by Watto
Replied by Watto on topic Do I quit surfski?
Was me indeed Feeny as I think we regaled in another thread. Developed pretty bad asthma soon after I arrived in Mauritius which turned into a chest infection so was not a well chap  in Sporty  relay or on  race day haha. Bit grim for awhile there but what doesn’t kill you etc etc. Going back next year matey hope to meet you face to face. Cheers. 

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