Having now been in the job at the Great Outdoors over a year now, I've seen the shop grow in stock in stature and in customers, The great Outdoors IS a kayak store once again having rejuvinated.
We have always been a huge sponsor of paddlesport in Ireland and this year was no exception, we have had a huge presense again this year, supporting flagship events like the International Liffey Descent and Junior Paddlefest as well as other events such as Galwayfest and student intervarsities plus many more.
As a person I have learnt a lot about business and what it really takes, its a tough industry with paddlers always after the best deals especially when your main competition is one of your best friends, to make headway you need to be out their participating, really on the ground with what works what doesnt and whats new, I came into this role as a paddler mainly focused on freestyle over the past few seasons but with most people suggesting that my paddling time would decrease hugely, I decided that 2013 I wanted to take shorter trips into Europe with my creek boat.
This was a bold move having not travelled much with a creek boat And watching the freestyle world championships from home I was definately upset not to be their but in review, Ive actually paddled more and met even more new people in 2013 than any year of paddling.
People often ask me where am I back from now, as I always seem to be away, the trick is to use your holiday wisely and work hard in between.
Work has given me the income to fund trips away as well as a place I can vent outside of the working hours.
If I were to break it down I paddle 200+ days a year, and I definately dont get that much holiday. for any sport you need to be committed I want to be fit to travel while im away I want to push my self on new rivers and sections and its important Im fit every day of my trip, I dont want to spend a week warming up I need to be on and ready to go,
Look at this year some of my supposed warm up days -Egua, Italy. Passer, Italy. Wellerbrucken, Austria. but was I able for this.... Certainly. Because of the preparation id done at home.
This year ive managed a selection of trips away which if you scroll up theirs plenty of blog posts and videos to show
Wicklow, ireland, Val Sesia, Merano, St Gallans, Dubrovnik, London, Wales, Oetz, Portsmouth, Dartmoor across 7 Different countries in a grand scheme its not alot but for a chap with a full time job who was to get less paddling time this year is undoubtably impressive.
So what do I do.
- To make paddlesport my life I have to love it. If I dont enjoy my time on the river I need to get off simple.
- Paddle everything - how many people use the excuse theirs no water, we are on an Island surrounded by water, crack out the sea kayak, or get in the marathon boat if your a social person hit the polo, slalom and flatwater freestyle does wonders for your core and technique or take an open canoe for a gentle spin. I can and will paddle everything. I enjoy being in the water whatever the craft, by mixing it up eliminates boredom and keeps things fresh and enjoyable.
- Paddle with friends - a huge part of enjoying paddlesport is the company its who I paddle with. My best friends are people ive met through kayaking. Get out on the water with them its sometimes just the motivation they need to get out as well.
- Paddle alone - when theirs noone else about thats no reason not to paddle, by paddling alone theirs a lot to learn both about yourself and your fears, im not telling everyone to go out alone but its not an excuse, how many evenings ive turned up at the canoe club and just done a slalom session or taken the marathon boat out alone, take a watch and lose yourself in times.
- Try and push yourself everytime your out -wether its flat water or moving water work hard on the water make it feel like youve done your best if it means higher intensity or better technique attempt to learn and try different things you can push yourself mentally and physically everytime your on the water.
- Understand principles of training - by understanding and tapering your sessions will reduce the risk of overload and injury, injury is the biggest fear for any competitive or active person not being able to paddle would drive me crazy last year I pushed myself too early in the season and picked up a niggling torn tricept which really hampered the end of last season for this year ive worked hard to alter my sessions to work hard but without injury. Im now into November and still paddling well and at a good level of fitness. Its simple things which really makes a difference.
- Look after your kit and it will look after you, I paddle everyday and I can still get out each day in warm dry kit. Take some time at the end of each session empty your boat and hang out your kit to dry. Wet kit is no excuse not to paddle its an inconvienience to you but im going paddling anyway. Goto lidl / aldi / great outdoors stock up on base layers things you wear everyday on the water. Perfect christmas presents! Keep paddling when it gets cold, generally our best water comes when its cold (typically) to take advantage of this get yourself set, some warm drywear, good thermals, skull cap, neo socks and paddle mitts/ gloves make sure your warm everyday your on the water to enjoy it more.
- Set targets and aims - always have a plan write aims and goals or talk about them with friends, just from chatting to friends I know what they really want to achieve some are realistic others pure adventurous but do what you can to assist people reaching their targets and in turn will help you reach your own.
- Trust a crew - set yourself up with a group of friends and peers who you can call, understand their working patterns and days off and plan accordingly for when theirs water. If your looking to improve you dont want to be the best in the group always try and paddle with people better than yourself across any discipline will help you to grow and improve.
- Be confident in your own abilities - this is something I really think makes a difference by being confident and knowing your able to do something, mentally puts you in the right mindset to undertake the take. Whether its a big drop a huge wave or believing you can score a goal its important. By putting doubt in the way your attention is looking for the escape option the easy way the mights and the maybes if your not feeling it walk away their no point getting hurt. But believe in yourself instead of a maybe look and understand what you can do and look at the challenge around that.
I paddle because I enjoy it and because of the friends I have met and paddle with, sometimes the post paddle coffee is more important than the time on the water itself.