Getting back in the winter surf after a lay up

Getting back in the winter surf after a lay up

posted in: Feel good, Newquay, Surf | 0

First of all, Happy New Year and thanks for reading this blog! Did you make any resolutions? I can see the point of view that one shouldn’t wait till the new year to make positive changes but I think there is something about a new calender and a new start. We are used to living our lives in annual cycles, the seasons, birthdays, product cycles, we always classify things by year. With the weight of one year turning into the next, it gives a little more clout to our intentions and the days either side where we are free from work allow us to slow down and reflect, and focus on what we want out of life.

The steep walls of Newquay Bay
The steep walls of Newquay Bay

My resolutions are fairly straightforward – up the fitness campaign to level 11 and find some really good waves to surf, these will probably be in another country somewhere. I also want to push Surf Sanctuary forward a few more notches and open up the video coaching side of things. I’ll make changes on the website soon.

This first blog of the year comes at a good time as I am now back into surfing mode after some time off.

If you’ve been out of the water for a while due to work, injury or just general life, picking up the threads of your surfing life in the middle of winter is not an enticing prospect. I recently had my longest lay up between surfs in Cornwall for many years – about two and a half months, meaning my first time back in the water was late December. Cracked ribs, a trip to Australia, and Christmas visitings were the reasons.

I like to call this place 'End of the road' because that's where it is, and also as a joke reference to the mighty Teahupo'o to which it bears no resemblance whatsoever.
I like to call this place ‘End of the road’ because that’s where it is, and also as a joke reference to the mighty Teahupo’o to which it bears no resemblance whatsoever.

It had been pumping in Cornwall for ages (still is) and I was anxious to get back in and surf since my ribs were fully healed. Ten weeks ago, you could still surf in a 3/2 full suit. This time of year, not so much. So it was quite novel to feel the grip of ice-cream hand ache along with ice-cream headache as I paddled out to get a few waves at Bothwick’s right in Newquay Bay.

The next day I went out again, same spot, and this time the hand ache and headache were less. Today I went out, the first day of 2014, and felt absolutely no discomfort in either my hands or head at all. The hands still went a bit numb and lost some dexterity, but there was no pain, so all I can conclude from that is that the agony of winter surfing is purely psychological, and after an adjustment period of about three surfs it will be like you never went away.

Getting above the lip for the first time in 2014. Great vibe in the water today.
Getting above the lip for the first time in 2014. Great vibe in the water today.

OK so ten weeks out isn’t like a year off, but you can still lose a bit of fitness and sharpness. Considering the confines of cracked ribs, I kept up with exercises that wouldn’t interfere with healing. To begin with, this was just walking the dog. As time went on, I started with small weights and doing high rep squats and isolation upper body exercises that didn’t demand much of the core but would still get the blood pumping. And once it felt as if the ribs were healed and only tissue bruising remained, I began some thoracic cage stretching breathing exercises and planks. It wasn’t a lot, but adequate to keep some surfing fitness.

It can be tough sitting back and watching others score fantastic sessions but everyone has time off sometime, even those that seem like they are constantly on the water. The body and mind need time away, and it can actually improve your technique as it weakens and breaks down bad repetitive habits that we all slip into. A pause gives you time to watch others and see what you like in their style, and then think about how to incorporate it into yours.

Laying back
Laying back

So, even if your body is out of action, the mind isn’t, so don’t feel like you’re slipping behind or losing out. Look at the things you can still do, be mindful of the opportunities you still have that others may not, and be assured that you will find yourself sliding down the face of a good wave again one day.