Turn On Your Off Season
Right now in the Bay Area, most adult recreational dragon boat teams are winding down for their “off-season” due to local races stopping until around April. Many paddlers will decrease the frequency of water training (if not cutting it out entirely) over the next few months. If you are a recreational paddler who has practiced and raced from April to September this year, you may be excited to have all this free time to go on a week long vacation for once or sleep in on weekends without the guilt of missing water time with the team. Don’t get me wrong, the long gap between local races is a perfect time to enjoy yourself away from dragon boat, but consider how your time spent will affect your return to the next season.
I read a great article by a cycling coach detailing his views on this very subject. You can read it here.
Essentially, all Bay Area paddlers should recognize that we are not professional paddlers in any shape or form. It is highly unlikely you are overtraining for dragon boat specifically and, as such, don’t need the time to recover from the sport like pro athletes can. Realize also that if you decide to take a break from dragon boat this winter, will you inadvertently be taking a break from exercise in general? Doing this can mean that you will come back next season weaker and more prone to injury than you are right now.
With this understanding, I recommend that everyone enjoy their time outside of a dragon boat but still challenge yourselves to enhancing your fitness in ways you could/did not while during the dragon boat season. After all, being a recreational dragon boat paddler may mean you struggled to allocate a few hours per week for paddling alone, never mind time to cross train. Work on enhancing your core stability, losing weight, stretch your tight paddling muscles, cross train in another sport entirely! The possibilities are endless but all beneficial to keeping good fitness while paving the way to a better and healthier start of the next season.