Monday, 7 January 2013

Surfing and Strength

Argh! This every-second-day thing is NOT working. I may have to make blogging a daily thing just so that I actually keep it going.

So the other day I went for a surfing lesson because I've really really wanted to go surfing for SUCH a long time. I got the lesson as a voucher for Christmas so we picked a nice beachy day and I went out for a surf.

And OMG it was soo much fun!! I slipped into a wetsuit and jumped into the nice surf with a massive group of other pre-surfers with my specially-chosen board (I had about three after they kept swapping them). The instructors stayed around for a while and were super helpful, and they all had their different teaching techniques so that made it that much easier to learn.

And how can I not say that standing up on the board is the best part of all?! One minute, you're in the water, standing on the sand, then you're doing a rigid push up on your board, and before you know it you're on your feet guiding the board down to shore while trying to keep your balance. It's so invigorating and just fun standing up on that board!
But, of course, most of the time you're either taking your board back out to the waves or you're waiting for a good one. And waiting for an acceptable wave to ride can take a while. As you're doing that, you're watching the several other waves come by and trying to get your board over it. And believe me, when you haven't got the unbelievable upper body strength you need for that (like me), it's a pretty hard task in itself. And then you're hurling yourself over that wave as well, and wiping salty water out of your hair and eyes, and looking out to sea to see when the next wave will come while the sun is in your eyes, and trying to control the board with your hand that you KNOW will blister at one point, and making sure you're not drifting too far over so that your mum can take bad photos of you from the beach, and watching the surfers in front of you to make sure you're not directly behind them in case they decide to catch a wave. And did I mention that half of the waves you go over are ferocious and horrible and only have the intent of knocking you and your board over and wash you down to the beach?

You have to have a heap, a HEAP of mental strength to pull that wetsuit on, because deciding to go out is a challenge in itself. Surfing, to me, works by a very simple equation that goes like this:

Yoga + push ups + squats + the wrath of the ocean = surfing.

Let me run you through this.
The yoga part of this comes in when you have to be super swift about the way you move, and also about the balance and positioning. If you don't have your foot in the right spot at the right time, or with the right amount of pressure in the right area of the foot, you're bound to fall off that board immediately. You've also gotta have the positive mindful mindset of a yogi, because no matter what that ocean throws at you, you have to love it and show it a little respect because if you don't you won't catch a wave!
The push ups and squats are pretty self explanatory. The move from laying on the board to standing is basically like a twisted up burpee (no pun intended). You put your hands under your shoulders, push up your whole, straight body, jump your feet to nearly between your hands, and pop up quickly to find your balance. So yeah, an obvious duh for that part of the equation.
And of course, if you're at the beach you're almost always got to keep an eye out for that watery stuff called the ocean. It can get pretty rough out there. And that roughness can be worse if you're a little scrawny girl like me who has very little muscle. So yeah, surfing wouldn't be surfing without those crazy waves.

So we've come to the conclusion that surfing is a sport that's not for the faint hearted or for someone who's not 100% ready to get dumped by every wave that comes their way, and then to be hit on the head by your board. Then how on earth did I, a pretty tiny and boney girl, manage to go two hours without getting more than a few red marks on my hands and a little sunburn? The answer is this: mental strength. If you have mental strength out there, you have everything you need. Sure, that sounds a little... premature coming from someone who's only been surfing for a total of two hours, but out there, I felt the strongest I'd ever felt ever. Even though I mightn't have looked like I was doing much, just scroll back up to that list of everything you're doing while in the water with a board, and I was getting myself over those waves with all the power I had. And I'd had breakfast (ok, so it was a big breakfast) a massive seven hours before. During the time that I could take a breath for a second, I had to keep telling myself that I could do it, and that I really could stand up on the next wave I caught instead of get dumped under it (I didn't stand up on half the waves I caught).

Surfing, very much like any sport, is extremely mental. Once you tell yourself - or at least pretend - that you can jump up super quickly on the next wave you ride, or over the next wave coming, most of the battle is over.

And the rest of it is a whole lot of fun.


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