Paddling into your thirties

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BoofandSwim
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Paddling into your thirties

Post by BoofandSwim » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:18 pm

Hi all,

I'm 30 now. I discovered kayaking in my twenties and it quickly became my main passion in life. I've paddled a lot throughout the last decade (mostly G4 with the odd bit of G5 when I was feeling bold), but for the last couple of years I haven't been able to do any proper boating due to location, work etc. and I'm starting to feel like the great days of my twenties are more of a distant memory.

I went out to an easy river the other day. Whilst it was great to be out on the water, I was struck by how bad I'd become - and indeed I capsized on a fairly easy bit of G3. My fitness is now noticeably, well, woeful too!

This got me thinking: Am I being realistic in my hope that I can one day consider myself a 'kayaker' once again?

Watching the younger generations come into the sport is fantastic, but it is beginning to feel like a 'young person's game' - I have definitely become more risk-averse in recent years. I know it's easy to become disconcerted when you're routinely watching Evan Garcia smash massive drops like they're gentle bimbles...

I'm curious what other people's experiences are on this? Is it realistic to expect a return to the 'good old days', whilst being a 'proper adult' with responsibilities and a slightly less resilient body?

Any input welcome!

Cheers!

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by twopigs » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:35 pm

I started in my forties, peaked in my early fifties and am gently declining into my sixties. You will become more risk-averse as you become older ..... but stay with it - kayaking is not all about G4/G5 - you can get enjoyment from developing other paddlers, putting your 15' foot open canoe into the same eddies that you made in your kayak on G3, visiting The Skerries and meeting the seals, running down your local G3 on a SUP, challenging yourself to paddling DW, not to mention going off on multi-day trips in the open canoe or sea kayak of your choice ..... Our sport has many branches - explore some of them.
Canoeing - bigger boat, broken paddle, more skill!

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by morsey » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:38 pm

Hahaha! B&S You're past it mate, hang up them paddles. Take up golf, or squash. Then once a year bring out the gear and paddle down the local. Each year your gear will get one year more retro and you'll look like a legend of the extreme. Obvs get yourself to the bar and give the billy big B's about the previous decade of paddling, before retirement.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by jmmoxon » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:43 pm

Hang on Simon, you're older than he is ;-)

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by morsey » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:53 pm

Yeah but I'm not a 'proper adult'.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by BoofandSwim » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:54 pm

Thanks twopigs and, err... cheers morsey!

I'd always planned on branching out as you suggest, but I didn't see that coming so soon!

I know if I hadn't taken the two-year break then I'd still be improving and pushing my grade, but I'm really curious about the feasibility of "getting back on-track" (i.e. getting back to my former skill and fitness so I can begin pushing my grade gain) at my age, especially with the problems age presents (lack of time, less easy to meet new paddling friends etc.).

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by morsey » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:00 pm

The simple answer to your question is:

Ultimately, motivation comes from within.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by BoofandSwim » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:16 pm

That's a great quote, but I'm sort of more interested in real-world feasibility than I am in fairly arbitrary motivational phrases.

That's why I'm asking if anyone else has been in a similar position, and what their advice would be. I'm also open to genuine, constructive advice from experienced paddlers, even if they haven't been in the same position.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by Jim » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:30 pm

Hell yes!

You just need to be able to find time and commitment.
I had a few quiet years in my 30's - I'd got fed up with hurtling down rocky ditches in playboats and couldn't face carrying creek boats around, admittedly I had also started kite buggy racing and then moved away from most of my paddling buddies who then went and settled down and had kids. I was still active (in buggies) but put on a load of weight and was getting relatively little paddling done.

Then just before I hit my 40's a new artificial WW course opened fairly close by so I joined a couple of clubs and started to get more active again using the WW course as a focal point. Initially I did some playboating and started trying to master my OC1, I also started to play polo again after nearly a 20 year break, and decided to do some slalom C1 paddling to help with the OC1. I also started joining a WWR training group to help with my sea kayaking (especially sea kayak racing which I had started to do occasionally in my WW break).

Over the last 3 to 4 years we have formed a polo team and taken it from Scottish div 4 to div 1, I have taken part in several Hurley Classic's (although I still can't do any modern tricks), progressed towards the top end of div 2 in slalom C1 and K1, knocked 20 minutes off my PB for the Oban Sea Kayak Race, and have made similar degree of progress in WWR K1, and recently started in C1 too.
If you are motivated by what you want to achieve, you should have no problem getting there if you can make the time to train for it.

As an aside, I have lost about 18kg (and counting) in the last 18 months (probably 10 of them in the last 3 months) - this is not directly related to the paddling, but the desire to get better provided the motivation to lose weight, clearly my fitness has increased at the same time.

I haven't paddled much grade 4 and 5 recently (its amazing how with a change of focus you can find challenges on grade 2 and 3!), but I have done enough to prove to myself that I still can.

I wouldn't suggest going as diverse as I have, but I would recommend picking up some form of paddling where you can tangibly measure your progress, which is easiest to do by starting something competitive. What you choose will depend on your outlook on life - a lot of adults struggle to get into slalom where we get regularly beaten by youngsters, personally I don't care about that, I have made a lot of good friends both amongst the kids and their parents with little on the water rivalries spanning generations. If you prefer to compete with people your own age polo would probably be the smartest choice, there are plenty of teams in their 30's, 40's, 50's.... but there are also lots of other disciplines to choose from. The competition might not be your end goal (presumably you want to get back to hucking falls agin?) but it is a good way to to get motivated and do some measurable training which will help indirectly with that goal.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by neonbowhawk » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:33 pm

Nice quote Morsey.

If you put the time in paddling regularly why cant you get to that level again?

Sure you may have to train a bit to keep your general fitness up more than you do when you are early 20s but you are only 30, not 40 or 50. The main thing here is you had a break from it not your age.

Keep your fitness level up and there is
no reason why you cant keep boating for another 20+ years

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by morsey » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:34 pm

Do you like paddling? Do you want to put time and effort into increasing your fitness and rebuilding your paddling?

If yes, then the barriers you describe will soon come down.

Is it possible/feasible? Of course.

I could describe my motivation, but that comes from within, is my motivation and from assessment of other paddlers it's not what the majority of recreational paddlers are prepared to commit to. So is that of any use to someone else? So them exploring their own motivational factors is more likely to yield. Have a good honest reflection of where you were, where you want to be, and how you perceive that to happen. Then get fired up. I joked about the golf and once a year paddling, but some people are perfectly content with that, and actually they enjoy the escape, relaxation and connection back to previous adventures. Myself I'm not really done with adventuring, I've thought I would have to stop several times, but motivation kicked in after extended periods of injury/recovery to get the boat shifting again. So for someone in their thirties to do gym sets on time precious days, and build back up on weekends, seems realistically achievable.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by Jim » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:03 pm

Motivation is key.
If you have the motivation, you will find a way to make the time and do the hard work.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by BoofandSwim » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:08 pm

Thanks all for your responses.

Jim and morsey, it's great to hear that you've both taken breaks and bounced back - gives me hope that I can do the same!

Jim, you sound like you've had a particularly diverse paddling career. I think diversifying as you have would probably help with my overall skill, too - I've just never really ventured far from kayaking the biggest rapids I'm capable of. I've also had the same problem with friends moving away, settling down etc. This once frustrated me so much that I went out and soloed a G4 gorge when the water level was huge - I nearly died... and learned my lesson!

The last few years have really shown me how easy it is to go paddling when you're in a university club, and how difficult things become afterward, especially if you've got a time-consuming job.

I suppose I'm giving consideration to this now because I'll soon be free to move wherever I want (so long as I can find work there), so yes, the excitement that I may be back on G4/5 again is creeping in!

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by davebrads » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:05 am

I've been paddling since my early 20s and I'm in my late 50s now. Things such as strength and agility naturally start to drop off from your late 20s onwards, but this can easily be offset by training at least into your early 50s. Fortunately whitewater kayaking involves a great deal of learned skills and you will continue to develop those skills well past your 30s and this will more than offset any drop in fitness.

I think I am having to accept that it is becoming a bit of a struggle for me to maintain my paddling fitness these days, however I am spending more time on my bike and less in a boat now so that will be having an effect too. One thing that I have noticed recently is that I am not reacting as quickly when things don't go to plan, and of course in our sport that is key to staying out of trouble.

I think the hardest thing to overcome at your age is the greater awareness of risk that comes with maturity. This may mean that you won't attempt something that you might have thrown yourself down early in your paddling career, but on the other hand your greater experience may allow you to make a rational assessment of risk so that you might run it anyway.
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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by NRB » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:30 pm

Hi - I can relate to this (although have had trouble accepting it for the past couple of years), Ha.

For me it's when the 'big trips' stopped, paddling on average twice per week at home, plus every day of a three week trip on consistently hard whitewater, every year, was a massive boost to confidence and ability on 'hard' whitewater. Without that 'big trip' I failed to continue the 'stepping up' I had been doing for years previous.
As far as attitude to risk/reward goes - that changed when the kids arrived. Psychologically I was looking at rapids with a 'glass half empty' approach, one which I had never adopted pre-sprog.

I paddle once per week (if I'm lucky) and I appreciate it loads more. I now paddle a longboat (LL stinger) and I have never had as much fun in a kayak in all my years paddling. It's a joy to have out on the water flat or white. I feel little to no pressure when kayaking and if I fancy a rapid I'll have at it, with fun being the focus - closely followed by self preservation :-)

Looking forward to the class 5 supervision when taking the kids out in a year or two.

good luck with it BoofandSwim

Nath

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by nippon » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:36 pm

I took up paddling after stopping a previous sport due to age.
(Inline skating - ramps, rails, stairs etc.)
I was finding that my bones were starting to break too easily as I wasn't as bendy as I was as a kid/teen. When the number of fractures I had sustained reached double figures I called it a day.
My brain had just got to a point where I was unwilling to risk another fracture, so my ability level plummeted.

I found a new motivation and I started paddling as a total novice at 28. I've been increasing my skills and grades of padding since. (I'm 33 now)

Age is irrelevant... to a point.
Fitness levels and skills will need to be kept in check is all.

I have a lady at my canoe club who just did her first trip on the lower Tryweryn. She is in her 70's!
She is motivated and relatively fit and strong. She hits Lee Valley every week and love paddling.
She will tell you that if you want to do something and you still can then do it. Otherwise you will be gutted you wasted the opportunity when you really can't.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by Chalky723 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:05 pm

BoofandSwim wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:16 pm
That's a great quote, but I'm sort of more interested in real-world feasibility than I am in fairly arbitrary motivational phrases.

That's why I'm asking if anyone else has been in a similar position, and what their advice would be. I'm also open to genuine, constructive advice from experienced paddlers, even if they haven't been in the same position.
You're being serious then? I thought this was just some sort of gag.

There are thousands of whitewater paddlers over 30, lots of them are probably better than you were at 20!

Hang up your paddles & buy a SUP mate - you've written yourself off without even trying.....

D
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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by DaveBland » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:25 pm

It's totally up to you. It is mainly about what shape you keep yourself in as you hit your 30s and have a break.
The paddling skills are easily re-sharpened with a bit of playing and easier ww when you first start. [Artificial course time?]

I had break in my mid 30s and got back into it in my early 40s when I moved to Canada and have had some of the best paddling years of my life since.
During my 'break' I didn't exactly stay in tip top shape either. I never was super fit to start with, but equally, I always did something to maintain a basic level of 'being able to do whatever.
Okay, now I'm early 50s, it's getting harder to stay in shape and to be honest the desire to push hard has gone and I'm more into cruisey grade 4s, but age isn't an issue.
Maybe just the type of paddling fun you have changes.
dave

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by BoofandSwim » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:10 pm

Yes, I think risk aversion is definitely going to become more influential as time goes by and I become more "wise". Taking this two-year break has given me time to reflect on all the incredibly stupid things I used to do!

NRB, the 'big trip' thing definitely hit me, too. I've tried to organise one for the last few years, but finding enough people who are available at one time is hard now that everyone has other responsibilities, kids etc.! I had thought about one of the professionally run trips, but they're very expensive in comparison (to the point of being prohibitive).

Chalky723, yes, perfectly serious! Of course there are loads of 30+ paddlers out there who are better than I was in my twenties, or indeed will ever be. I was more talking about getting back into paddling as you get older (and specifically getting back to my old paddling life), which is more difficult for numerous reasons.

It's great to hear how many people have enjoyed paddling so much as they've got a bit older - thanks for the inspiration!

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by jamesl2play » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:40 pm

If you think you have problems at thirty wait until you get to sixty.
The best quote so far is 'Hang up your paddles & buy a SUP mate - you've written yourself off without even trying.....'

There is far more to kayaking than just throwing yourself down rapids, you just have to adjust your mindset.

I have been paddling fifty years this year and still get a buzz when I pick up a pair of paddles.

I recently added a surfski to my fleet and am currrently trying to master that in ther biggest waves I can.

I too thought the post was a wind up.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by morsey » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:05 pm

Image

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by morsey » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:21 pm

Motivation, night sessions. #OutdoorGym
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMUnRyf-5gk

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by twicezero » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:38 pm

I started paddling in my 30s. My partner completed the Yukon River Quest at 39.

I think you'll be fine.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by twicezero » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:43 pm

Image

Ingrid here was 62 in 2013. She was still competing in the race in 2016. its a 444 mile paddle, btw.

You'll be fine if you be like Ingrid.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by morsey » Tue Feb 20, 2018 8:55 pm

444 miles, that's a lot of laps.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by twicezero » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:42 pm

If you go across the river, not down it, yes.

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by BoofandSwim » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:18 pm

That was indeed a very motivational video, morsey - cheers!

This thread was actually worth starting even just to to talk to other people passionate about paddling again!

twicezero, I suppose I haven't got much to moan about given Ingrid's achievements!

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by purelandexpeditions.com » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:45 am

Disclaimer*
I paddle for a living


I have been paddling since my early teenage years, 42 now - so about 30 years in a boat. I still look up to my paddle icons, who are now 10,20,30 years my senior. As I get older I feel I do not get bolder. I feel more settled in my paddling. I can still paddle the stuff I did in my 20s, I still want to explore.I always try and do one or two new trips each year. In the end, it is about the motivation for me. I cannot remember a time when I did not kayak. It is a driving force and thread that flows throughout my adult life. I live close to rivers, working on the river, it is all-encompassing.

I have friends that took a break from paddling, for work and family. Some came back to the sport as they approached 40+ others stopped. Those who came back later in life often struggled with fitness and how fast the sport had progressed - but step by step they were back to the level they were before.ayakers

Kayakers, Canoeists, Rafters - we are family.

Peace out

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by Adrian Cooper » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:58 am

There really is only one answer to this question:

Donald Bean

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Re: Paddling into your thirties

Post by SimonMW » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:01 pm

I started kayaking in my mid-30's and had only just learnt to swim. Just get out there, and stop obsessing about G4-5. Just have fun. Even in London there's easy access to WW courses even if you can only get there for an hour or so. No WW or WW courses nearby? Get a playboat and learn some flat water stuff. Need a tune up to get back into stuff? Book a days coaching somewhere.

If you want to do something badly enough, you'll find time to do it.

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