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Lessons of Training with Nick Judd

Nick (our March ambassador) is a keen racer, SUP business owner and an inspirational person to talk to. Hearing his stories about balancing work, family, and SUP is something we won't get tired of and will take inspiration from. Here are some of the lessons he's learned from his training and how that helps him get the most out of any session, on or off the water.

16 things I’ve learned while SUP training (and why you should train too!)

(1) Get a plan, from an expert

Before I had a training plan, I would train… but without any real purpose. I would usually train over similar distances, at the same intensity – usually flat out, obvs – and expect different results. Suffice to say that didn’t really work! Structure is important, so reach out… there are plenty of people with the knowledge and expertise to guide you.

(2) Consider a lesson

Before you delve too deep into a training plan, it’s worth having someone cast an expert eye over your paddling technique. Getting race fit is one thing, but becoming more efficient, and optimising your stroke, can also pay huge dividends. Keep an eye out for workshops near you, too.

(3) Set a realistic plan

There’s no point signing up to a plan that’s not realistic or achievable. Chat to a coach and explain what time you’re willing to give, and together you can design a plan to suit your lifestyle. Signing up to something you can’t achieve means you’ll soon ditch it, or lose motivation.

(4) Don’t compare yourself to others

Everyone’s relationships, family life, jobs etc are different. Someone single or without kids and who lives by the water, is going to have more time and opportunity to train than someone who commutes or works long hours/lives nowhere near water/has a family/parents to care for/a demanding job (delete as appropriate). Do what you can.

(5) Make time

This one is a biggie. We’re all busy, but not having time is not an excuse. No matter what your situation is, you can find at least 30 minutes one or two days a week to focus on yourself. Short workouts are better than no workouts. Find your time windows, and maximise them.

(6) Set a realistic goal

It’s good to reach for the stars, but set your goal too high and you may lose motivation. Just think realistically about what you want to achieve on the water. You can always increase your goals as you go.

(7) Don’t expect overnight success

Getting faster on a paddleboard takes time, so don’t expect to see huge gains immediately. Training for a specific event? Give yourself plenty of time. Some people see their best results in years 2 and 3 of a training plan, so think long term to avoid disappointment!

(8) Go slower to go faster

This is possibly the biggest learning I’ve had on my SUP training journey. I spend about 80% of sessions in zones 2 or 3 (of 5). Going slower enables you to build a base, while also working on the stroke fundamentals. To understand the concept of ‘going slower to go faster’, I can recommend this book: It’s about running, but the principles apply to SUP. If it works for some of the best athletes in the world, it’ll work for you.

(9) What’s best for YOU?

What works for one person might not work for another. Do you need to have a trainer who you can meet face to face? Or do you simply need a training plan that you can crack on with in your own time? Me? I’ve always struggled with discipline when training for anything, so I signed up to a plan that holds me accountable, and with a coach who comments if I miss a session or two. Do what works for you.

(10) Data helps

You don’t have to be a slave to tech, but there are apps and gadgets that can help you on your journey. A SpeedCoach (or similar)  is great, while using Garmin/Strava/Paddle Logger to track your sessions will enable you to monitor your progress.

(11) Be kind to yourself

There’ll be weeks when life throws you a shit sandwich. A work deadline, an illness, injury… whatever it is. If you miss the odd session here and there, don’t beat yourself up. Listen to your mind/body, and look after/be kind to yourself.

(12) Love/hate relationship

There’ll be days, maybe weeks, when you just don’t want to train. That’s fine, and totally normal! This is where it’s mind over matter. Turn up, do the thing – just get it done – and go home. Sometimes the ones you’re looking forward to the least are the ones you’ll enjoy the most. They don’t all have to be amazing sessions either; just do what you can. A shit session is better than no session. And if you’re bored, that’s a sign to mix things up. Swap a paddle for a run/swim/cycle.

(13) Phone a friend!

Training with others is waaaaay more enjoyable. Push each other, hold each other accountable, chat, challenge each other etc. I have @water_like_silk to thank for pushing me, and getting me out on the days where I can’t be arsed.

(14) Watch others

Watch and learn. Are there paddlers you admire? See what they do when you’re racing against them. Do you have weaknesses? See what others do in those circumstances. Utilise YouTube and social media, there’s loads of advice out there.

(15) Leave that comfort zone behind

Usually train on flat water? Try and find something more challenging. Rubbish at turns? Add them to the end of your session. Slower on one side? Find out why, and work on it. Push yourself – your capabilities are endless!

(16) Just do it!

When I started training, all I could think about was the end goal. It was a means to an end. Now I’m just enjoying the process. I feel fitter/better in my everyday life. I’m enjoying the discipline, and I think it’s important that my kids see me pushing myself. I’m a faster runner, a more patient dad, more focused at work… training regularly is so rewarding. And if I can get faster too, happy days.

If you want to get in touch or follow Nick's adventures, check out his links.


Words - Nick Judd & GBSUP

Photos - P3T Photography & Nick Judd

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