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Slowing Down to Speed Up – SUP Tip: SIC Talk Story

Global Athlete Seychelle hosts SUP Tips on #sictalkstory talking about “Slowing Down to Speed Up” Seychelle hosts these Talk Stories LIVE on SIC Maui’s Women of Watersports Facebook Page.

Welcome to another edition of SIC Maui Talk stories! I’m your host Seychelle, and we have an interesting topic today, sometimes emotional. We’re going to talk about recovery. So I’ve titled this Slowing Down to Speed Up, and I want to give tips and advice for instilling the benefits of recovery and also helping you feel better about whatever recovery process you might be in right now. So we are going to talk about, working smarter not harder, some concepts when you do have to take time off for injuries, some day-to-day tips and advice, and also whether or not those longer term injuries, whether or not there was a forced or voluntary you know how to benefit from those times, and how the distance makes the heart grow fonder. 

I just want to preface this talk by saying that I’m going to talk about very generalized injuries. I’m not going to jump specifically into this injury or that injury, except to tell a bit of my own story and my own experience. I am not a doctor, I’m not a sports therapist. So this is just general training advice that everyone can apply to what it is that they’re doing, whether they’re currently recovering or not.

I’m also not going to give you specific diagnoses or practices for what it is that you’re going through, although I do always encourage to reach out and have a private conversation with me about it because I’m really passionate about helping people and sometimes just having somebody to talk something through or ask a question of is helpful.

Now we’re going to dive in to slowing down to speed up and what do I mean by that? You’ve probably heard that saying before and why it’s so true and why it’s so important. So, you’ve also probably heard work smarter, not harder. So progress no matter what kind of progress, but for this specific progress in terms of your paddle performance, it’s not linear.

We’re not going to steadily see improvements from day to day, from week to week, from month to month. We don’t just see ourselves getting better and better. It’s up and down and all around, and eventually when we’re on the right path, we are making progress and we can look back and see that. But we don’t feel it in real time and we don’t even see it in real time. It’s actually when we stop. We slow down and when we look back is when we see the progress. I don’t often encourage looking back – except for this because that’s when you’re going to see progress, not day to day. Right? So it’s not a linear process.

In fact when you’re really pushing hard day to day, and we are really training hard day to day depending on where you are in your training phase or training cycle, you might even be doing what you’re meant to be doing and still see a decrease in your speed or your performance and that’s because sometimes you’re really pushing yourself to a level of fatigue where you’re not getting the most performance and you will see a decrease from one week to another. That’s not something to get upset about. Unless it’s from something like overtraining. But again it’s helpful to see that. So if we’re following a program and we are going to have lighter days and recovery weeks, I put them in my training plans that I write and that I follow. We call it a recovery week or recovery session or recovery days and those are built in there. They should be built in. They’re built in because they are so necessary to the process of getting faster and so are those times of slowing down. So that’s one huge piece of it is not to expect linear progress but to know that it’s going to be up and down.

When you’re going to see the most gains on a short term versus a long term is that – on a short term, when you’re going to see the most gains is after those times, those weeks, those days where you have slowed down. But when you have done less, and where you have had a recovery week because you’re gonna be well rested, that’s when you’re actually going to see the most improvement long term.

That’s one tip about slowing down even when you’re not injured, even when you’re just following a plan, or you have goals and you’re going towards them. So another reason that it’s really helpful to take some time to slow down is because also on a day-to-day basis, or a week-to-week basis, that when we’re going slow is when we have the most time to work on our technique and yes, we want to be able to maintain our technique with intensity. When we do start to push it, in an ideal world, we could maintain our perfect technique and put that to the most intensity… and that’s just not reality most of the time.

Oftentimes we push really hard especially in those early stages or especially if I’m trying to work on something in my technique, I start pushing hard. When I say “I” I’m talking about the generalized “I” or “we” or “you”. We start to lose the technique. We start to fall apart a little bit. So it’s only really when that aspect of our paddling, our technique becomes so second-nature that we no longer have to think about it. The body just does it without me thinking about it and we can get to that in our training after long periods of time and doing lots of drills and really dialing things in to get to the point where I just feel it and I don’t think about it.

Yes, then I can maintain my technique with intensity, but that takes time and if I’m trying to change anything, if I’m trying to improve anything, if I’m trying to really dial in anything in my technique… I have to slow it down. Take time to just work on that whether you’re injured or not. Especially if you’re coming from an injury that’s caused by a dysfunction or imbalance in your movement patterns that needs to be corrected in your technique so that you can then get better or faster.

That’s what’s key a lot of times with paddlers in anything like repetitive movement, repetitive stress exercise that if there’s a dysfunction, if there’s an imbalance over time it can cause injuries and overuse injuries, chronic injuries and traumatic ones that all of a sudden… I was good and then I wasn’t anymore. Often times when we have an injury, that area of our body wasn’t happy for a while and it was talking to us and we didn’t listen or we didn’t slow down and we didn’t fix what needed to be fixed or alter what needed to be adjusted and our stroke in the way that our body was moving and then when we are injured. I cannot alter my stroke at a high intensity. I have to slow down and take time paddling slowly and just work on technique and to do that. 

Especially in the off-season because that’s the best time to be building your base and doing what we call low and slow workouts and rather than trying to paddle with intensity. Could I see an improvement in my speed or in my numbers and not increase my intensity? Yes because I’ve become more efficient, more effective, and I’m breathing in a different way. My technique has changed, right? So how can I improve my speed without increasing my intensity? When I can build a base, aerobic endurance and capacity at a low or slow level, that’s when I build speed and intensity on top of it. This actually works out better in the long run, and I see more improvement and more gains. When I’m working to add speed skills, acceleration, power on top of a healthy base, that took me a lot of time going slow to build.

Now let’s talk a little bit about taking time when you have to, when you’re forced to or voluntarily take time off for injuries. But injuries teach us, right? They’re not the best way to experience growth… of course, we would love to be able to have and experience opportunities for growth without enduring pain or injuries. However, they are one of our best opportunities for growth when we are injured. For some reasons like recognizing an imbalance or improper body mechanics in the way that it is that you’re moving or paddling and it’s a huge opportunity to embrace and maybe adjust your focus to other aspects that you’re typically lacking that you know you need to work on.

So a few key ones that came to me when I was writing the notes for this is mobility. How often do we say, “oh yeah, I know I need to work on mobility” and do you actually take time to do it? And not that we want to have to get to a point where we’re injured and we can’t work on anything else but mobility. Obviously I want to take time day to day in my recovery sessions to work on my mobility and what a blessing I could see it as when I’m not able to spend time doing my regular training on the water, that I have more time to focus on something like mobility or nutrition or improving my sleep habits. There’s a number of other ways that I can put in work, and call it training. It can be super beneficial, very productive.

So yes, you can be faster by working on your nutrition. I would almost guarantee you could be faster by working on building strength. You could get faster by improving your technique, and you could get faster by improving your body mechanics. All of these things can be done in recovering from an injury or just in your day-to-day time where you’re slowing down. So is this resonating? Taking off enough time when you’re injured or building your training back up slowly enough to actually assist you in your healing rather than delay it. So this can actually have a big effect. You can actually have a big effect on your time it takes to heal or whether or not you ever heal at all  because this helps the most initially and immediately how you approach your time off, your time in your recovery, and your time where you’re slowly building back or building up.

I’ll dive into one piece of my story. But when I first started paddling I was so ambitious. I was so hungry, and I was so young and naive and not intelligent about getting injured. I got injured pretty quickly when I really started increasing the amount of miles that I was paddling and building my base. Doing it at the highest intensity that I could every time I went out and paddled caused me to develop an overuse injury and it was also an issue with my technique, which I then had to address. But I had also got an injury in my hip and I ignored it, and I just pushed until I couldn’t walk. Finally I had to go see a lot of people about it. Long story short, I’m still dealing with this hip injury. I still have things that quite often inhibit me with this hip from this injury that I just ignored and, and tried to push through. Fast forward to 2019 five years later when I injured my neck, it was this really traumatic injury and I had to stop everything because of the amount of pain that I was in for a while and then go through a very extensive recovery process. During my neck injury I stopped and I immediately did everything that I possibly could, focusing on the healing and the recovery of that and really made sure that I was so conscious about how I was pushing myself and getting back to paddling in the right way. Not not pushing myself to do anything faster or feeling I should be doing things faster or being really impatient. 

My neck injury really hardly doesn’t bother me at all anymore unless I do something that sort of triggers it again. But I feel it’s healed. So that’s the difference in how I approached, trying to handle those injuries versus ignoring it and trying to just push through it versus “no, I’m really going to slow down”.

Often when something is injured, things haven’t been happy in that part of our body for a while it’s been talking to us and then the injuries sort of the like, “okay, you’re not listening, well, I’m gonna make you listen” so we can use that as a way to know ourselves more deeply to find imbalances, improve our body mechanics etc.

I’ve had conversations with several of my athletes about it, but I remember having a conversation with my coach at the time, Larry Cain about it, and I was getting frustrated because I was off the water again for another injury again, and I was just frustrated with constantly being injured. One of the things Larry said to me that was so helpful, and I hope you find it just as helpful… is like, being off the water really helps us appreciate it when we’re able to get back on the water. It helps us feel fresh, and have drive, motivation, and appreciation for being able to train. This is because when you push hard, when you’re somebody who trains hard, and you’re like, “this is what I have to do, this is what I should do, and this is what you know” you really drive yourself. 

It’s easy to get overworked. It’s easy to get burnt out, and please don’t injure yourself repetitively so that you don’t get burnout. There are better ways. But if you are injured, just think about how happy, how much appreciation, how much joy, how much you’re going to be reminded, how much you love what you do when you’re able to get back to it. With that energy and revival, how much is going to go into your training and translate in a positive way. So that’s where distance makes the heart grow fonder piece comes in. Which is true for so many ways in life. 

A little bit more in-depth about my neck injury in 2019…. You know every person, every body, every injury is different and it was something that my body had been speaking to me. For a long time, that part of my journey where I was frustrated because I kept getting injured and kept getting injured, that was the part that was leading up to this major injury where I actually had to stop. I wouldn’t have had it any other way because I learned so much in that time that I had to heal from the neck injury. But in hindsight I could have prevented it. I had two months off the water and instead of paddling, I was riding a stationary bike. So I’m always of the mindset that there’s something you can be doing right.

For me, mobility has always been a part of my practice. Nutrition’s always been a part of my practice. So I didn’t stop completely, but I had about two months off the water and then when I got back on the water, the only thing I worked on was technique. I am paddling really slowly because I had to retrain myself and I really changed a lot in my technique and I had to go slow to do that. I had to go slow because I didn’t want to hurt myself. I didn’t get faster in that moment, but the changes that I made to my technique, fast forward to 2019. By the end of the year, I won the APP World Championship because when I came out of it, I had taken that time off the water and then taken the time to work on my technique, and also taken the time to work on my mindset and really realize that I needed to relax and slow down and not push myself so hard and not work so hard. I discovered that actually less is more. These were the big takeaways from my injury. Recovery less is more. I trained so much less that year than I won, and I won so many more races and because I was more relaxed. So I hope that’s motivating for you. Visualize a hundred percent recovery and work for it.

That reminds me, some of the things I did is that I would meditate and I would visualize healing and that was a huge part of it. I very much believe in physically what I need to do to recover body mechanics, technique, and metaphysically what do I need to do to relax, to believe, to visualize in my healing and in my growth, if that makes sense. So I always approach things from the physical and metaphysical. The metaphysical is a huge piece of it that we need to be in balance. It’s a big piece of what I help coach with the athletes that I’m working with now, the women that I’m working with now is how to approach things in that much more balanced way.

Thanks so much for being here. Thanks so much SIC for hosting this and having us, and I hope this is really helpful. Have a wonderful rest of your day, morning, evening, wherever you are. If you want to make sure that you’re getting notified of future blogs, definitely join my mailing list. If you’re thinking about coaching, I would just love to hear from you, reach out and we can chat about things! 

Slowing Down to Speed Up - SUP Tip: SIC Talk Story