So the long sunny days of summer have gone; even the sunny days that we have now have a real chill to them, not to mention the water is FREEZING, there’s a lot of rain in the forecast…all of which are less than conducive to making you want to get out there and train! Well. This post is here to inspire you!

Why do I even want to paddle in fall?

  1. This is an obvious one, but to keep your body in paddling form, you need to paddle. No amount of cross-training, however similar an action it might produce, is ever going to be the same as doing the action itself. If you want to keep those paddling muscles working at the same intensity…YOU GOTTA PADDLE!
  2. Fall can be a beautiful time to paddle – there are less people about, less boat traffic, and the colours of the forests are just incredible. So if you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself, be stoked on the fact that you’re out there appreciating it while everyone else is at home.
  3. Why not?? We’ve done lots of posts on appropriate clothing, safety considerations and measures you need to take when paddling in Fall and Winter. The old adage is true that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation. Check out our previous posts or come into Deep Cove Outdoors to talk Fall paddling gear.

Morning surfski paddle in Deep Cove

Okay okay, I’ll do it. But it’s dark when I get up and when I come home. When do I paddle?

Alright well this is a bit of an obvious one, but don’t paddle in the dark. If your work schedule means your only daylight available is at the weekend…paddle on the weekends. Even if your weekends are busy, you can get out at 7am right now, 8-9am over the winter, catch the sunrise on your hour-long paddle and then head home for a hot breakfast. Even if you can only get out once a week it’s worth it to keep your training consistent.

So what do I need to include in my training?

This is where we hand over to the experts – Burnaby Lake Paddling Club Head Coach and former Canadian National Team Member Wes Hammer, who is coaching a surfski clinic starting on October 15 and going through to December 3 in Deep Cove. Sessions will be two hours (ish) long, and there are also two video sessions at Burnaby Lake too. We asked him for some of things he’ll be focusing on in the sessions:

“Paddling can be broken down into three realms: Balance, Propulsion, and Boat Control.

  1. Balance: provides a structural framework for proper technique. (Being comfortably balanced in a boat allows for better hand position and a more powerful stroke)
  2. Propulsion: how we can efficiently move ourselves forward through the water.
  3. Boat Control: our awareness and effectiveness of our boat, paddle, steering and other equipment.

The fall sessions will focus not only on the Propulsion phase of the stroke, but will include drills and exercises to help with balance and boat control.

Posture: Correct posture allows for better rotation, larger muscle groups to be used and opens your lungs allowing you to breathe easier!

Hands at Eye Level:  A very common mistake is for paddlers to paddle with hands too low. Having your hands at a correct level allows for more power to be pushed down the shaft as well as helps keeps the blade at a positive angle for longer!

Paddle Parallel to the body (Block Technique), Having the paddle parallel to your body through the stroke keeps the body in the strongest position to allow power to come from the legs and back!

Connection. Connection is something that cannot be taught but only learned. When I feel connection I can describe it as “Paddling Hard but it feels Easy”. In Addition to connection we will be working on our flow and having a more efficient stroke.

In Addition to technical components we will be doing a number of drills, discussing Boat position, equipment setup, basic injury prevention, and will go over some key dry land strengthening exercises. I encourage everyone to bring all of their paddling related questions to me.”

Wes Hammer

You can sign up for Wes’ sessions by emailing him at – the full course is only $120 – that’s great value, right?? You have to be comfortable paddling the long course on Tuesday Night Races to take part to make sure the group is at a similar level.

Okay, that’s my paddling taken care of, what else should I be doing?

Well this is where cross training comes into it, and keeping your general fitness levels up so that when you come to paddle you are ready to go. We don’t claim to be personal trainers here, so just want to give you a couple tips to inspire you to go and find a method that works for you.

  • Core focus – bodyweight exercises that focus on your core strength are best. Planks, and variations on the classic such as spider planks and walk outs are great.
  • Lift weights – people who lift weights effectively find they get better results than people who just do cardio and bodyweight exercises. Which makes sense – the stronger your muscles get, the more you can do.
  • Cross country ski – specifically skate ski! If you haven’t tried this fantastic sport you are missing out on a great way to train. It’s seriously one of the best work-outs you can do, working your whole body, and particularly your core. Also – we run Tuesday Night Races up at Cypress Mountain so if you’re missing the racing vibe you can scratch the itch with us starting in January!
  • Consistency – make your fitness routine exactly that…a routine. We don’t mean you have to do the same thing every time, just that if you go to the gym regularly on Monday and Thursday mornings for example, it is easier to keep going on Monday and Thursday mornings.

Cypress Nordic Ski

And don’t forget to keep yourself interested. Use Wes’ coaching sessions, an appointment with a personal trainer, or lessons with an expert to give you new techniques and new ways to train.

Lastly – Deep Cove Outdoors is having a MASSIVE SALE on surfskis for the month of October! Prices are reduced to give you unprecedented savings so if you’ve been thinking about a surfski, if you’re new to the sport or if you’re looking at a replacement, now is the time to do it. Sale details are in our newsletter you can read here.