How to Paddleboard and What I Learned

Venice gondolierThe first time I saw paddleboarders, they reminded me of the Venice gondoliers without the striped shirts and skinny, long canoes. Then I learned it builds core, leg, and upper body strength. I’m all about exercising while outdoors. Being landlocked in Colorado, adopting a new water sport intrigued me so I reserved a paddleboard. I wondered if I would spend more time in the water than on the board. I didn’t know I would learn some life lessons too.

Union Reservoir in Longmont only allows power boats to put around and fish, so it’s a paddleboarders’ paradise. I rented a board and grabbed a paddle. I set the lifepreserver on top of the board where it taunted me. I wondered how many times I would spill and if I should put it on. I looked around at the graceful paddleboarders gliding across the lake and tensed, knowing grace was a gift given to other people. I must have been sick that day.

Paddleboarding Paridise

Ask questions and learn from instructors.

Since I took whitewater canoeing for one credit to become a junior in college, I knew the strokes. J-stroke is performed like the letter looks when paddling on the left side and it is mirrored on the right. C-stroke is the same. Holding the paddle behind me against the board would turn it quickly and slow it down. The paddle had a slight bend. I assumed it should be held to scoop the water.

“Nope,” said the instructor. “It’s counter-intuitive, but you hold the paddle so it angles away from the water with the scoop inverted.” Good thing he was there. It would have been a pretty frustrating day.

I walked into the cool water and stepped onto the board. It wobbled so I hung onto both sides. Since I had knee surgery, I couldn’t kneel with both knees. I stood in a squat and hoped I wouldn’t flail around and fly into the water in the first few seconds. Using my core and leg muscles, I stood up gradually and then inched my way to the center where there was a grab slot. I placed my feet on either side and let out my held breath.

Form in Paddleboarding

Being an observer, I watched others paddling around. I bent my knees and kept my back straight. After a few tentative strokes, I felt pretty confident.

Then, I turned my head to look behind me. The board tilted. I almost fell in.

How to Paddleboard and What It Taught Me

Life Lesson #1: Never look back.

With all the death our family over the last two years, I have learned to be more aware of what is happening now. We can’t change the past and there’s no way to predict the future. We only have the present in which we are living.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we got warnings, like falling off the board into the lake, to remind us to focus on what we are doing? Regret and worry are time sucks. Both of them prevent us from enjoying life. And who really wants to fall into cold water? Okay, if it had been ten degrees warmer, I would have taken the plunge.


Life Lesson #2: Work hard, play harder.

I paddled along the shoreline into the wind. Although it was only a light breeze, I still had to work at making any headway. Little by little, I stroked toward the opposite shore.

After ninety minutes of paddling around, I was done. I sat down on my board, aimed at the boat house, and coasted. There’s nothing like relaxing while enjoying labor’s just reward.

Chillin Paddleboarding

Life Lesson #3: Don’t judge. Try it, you might like it.

Will I go again? Definitely. My upper body felt the burn. Next time, I’ll paddle harder to work on my core. I love the exhausted feeling of exercised muscles.

With the sky above and the water below, it is a meditative sport, if you can block out the yapping dogs playing on the beach. Maybe I’ll take my Bichon, Roxy, sometime!

Paddleboarding with Dogs

Have you tried paddleboarding? Would you like to try it? What’s your favorite way to exercise?

Click here for more of the Wild Ride

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91 thoughts on “How to Paddleboard and What I Learned

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        1. I have a knee I shouldn’t kneel on and I never used it. I didn’t have a problem surfing since it was a foam board, but this one was plastic. I just bent my leg and crouched to standing. It really was pretty easy!

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow. Longmont. I haven’t heard that name for a while. It’s been some time since I was in that area of the country, but I remember seeing that little town’s name on my way up to Estes Park. I didn’t know there was a reservoir there you could boat on.

    Thanks for kindling some memories, and for drawing some cool life-lessons from your wild ride.


    1. I forgot to mention I wore my old scratched sunglasses since I was warned about how easy it is to lose them. It was fun!
      That’s so true about standing. I felt like standing up in a canoe! If I moved around, I rocked the “boat.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good for you for trying!!
    I am in awe of the paddle boarders out there doing what they do. While on vacation I observed an older man paddle boarding in the ocean. Honestly, I was a nervous wreck watching him from the comfort of my beach chair as he tried to get out beyond the surf. Lesson #4: Have patience and be persistent eventually you’ll meet your goal.
    Ps. I was Googling the number for the Coast Guard, just in case.


  3. I haven’t done it since my surgery. I’d be very curious to see what the strength and balance deficit in that leg does to me on a paddleboard. Some great lessons learned from this, especially about not looking back. That was how I fell in. Trying to get back on that thing when the water is over your head is not easy. It was a mistake I only made once. Hahaha!


        1. Oh, wow! Will you celebrate your five year mark? I’m planning to party hardy a year from now. I’ll finally be done with my anti-estrogen pill. My risk for recurrence will less than it was before I got cancer since I don’t have real boobs anymore! 🙂 I’m glad to meet another thriver!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Mine is a rare benign tumor called a desmoid tumor. There isn’t much data on them, so I don’t even know if the five mark rule applies to this. I had a recurrence about a year and a half after my surgery. Then I had a year of tamoxifen and a little more than a year of oral chemo. My tumors have only been dead for less than a year now, but there is growing evidence that the oral chemo I was on is very effective against desmoids, so I’m hopeful this will be it for me. Fingers crossed! Congratulations on almost five years. ❤️


            1. I’m so glad the oral chemo worked! I’ll send you positive healing vibes. 🙂 Tamoxifen flatlined me for two years and so does Anastrozole now. When I wake up super stoked about something, like today, I try to hang on to that feeling. That’s how I am without medication every day. I can’t wait to feel like myself again. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  4. There are loooads of people that paddle board near here too, but I sort of fancy trying kayaking more. Have you tried both? Which do you think is more fun?


  5. My family and I tried paddle boarding for the first time this summer. Every single one of us loved it. A great activity, and yes, a wonderful workout.


  6. I have a friend who plays tennis regularly that tried paddleboarding and said it was definitely a workout. If she had a hard time, I knew I wouldn’t survive it!! Haha! I still haven’t tried yet but I have gone canoeing before and loved it. This makes me want to give paddleboarding a try!! Maybe I can!


    1. Of course, you can do it! I wonder if she went with other people. Trying to keep up with others could make it competitive as opposed to going at your own pace. Let me know how it goes.


  7. I want to do this so bad. I think I’d be pretty good at it. I’d also like to try surfing, but I’m a little scared to try that. I have a little bit of a phobia of water so water sports aren’t really my thing, but I love kayaking and those paddleboards look like so much fun. Plus, I have a sick need to overcome my fears so I’m going to try surfing some day. Hey, I tried snorkeling. I wasn’t very good at it, but I shall try that again too.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Now I want to do this even more than yesterday.

    Have a great weekend!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


    1. I think you’re right about facing fears. The more we overcome, the more we succeed at other things. You would love it, Patricia. You can go at it with the idea of a workout or enjoy the flow!


  8. I have been wanting to learn how to paddleboard! I’m landlocked too (in Oklahoma). Hope to sign up for a class some day before the weather gets too cold. Thanks for the tip to not look back. 😉


    1. Hey, Eileen!
      I bet you will love it. The challenge is all up to you. The faster you paddle, the harder the workout. I would love to try yoga, but would definitely plan on taking the plunge. Ha!


      1. Haha yes! I want to try Stand Up Paddle (SUP) yoga too. I think poses like downward facing dog, side plank or lunge will be super difficult since I’ll be wobbling. (I haven’t been practicing yoga in a while.)


  9. Those are amazing take-aways from a paddleboard. Your post makes me want to be paddleboarding right away but I must settle with those lessons first. Thank you, Susie!


  10. Oh, I so want to try this! We can hire them at a lake near here for 10€ an hour and after reading your post I have to give it a go soon. Thanks!!


    1. OOOooh! Sounds like you’ll have to give it a go. Once you’re up, it’s just about simple paddling. Trying yoga on a board might be a different thing. The ocean? Whoa! Let me know how it goes! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. SUSIE!! I am so glad you tried it. This has been on my list forever, but the couple of times I’ve made a reservation for it something happened! Total burn, but I try and try again. So awesome that you got to do it. And I’m loving the lessons you learned especially No#1, that is something that hit me when the kids were born and again when I started the meditation challenges. I love that reminders keep getting sent our way. I’m so happy you got a chance to do it and that it was an great experience. Love that it. And that picture of you coasting … dude totally relaxing. What a nice adventure.


    1. Hey, Guat!
      You would LOVE it! I can’t imagine rocking back and forth in the ocean while paddling. The challenge would become like surfing; just stand up! There may be come coves where it’s calm. Another challenge would be trying yoga. Whoa. I’d lift one leg and would dive right in! I think I’d be great at Shavasana. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You’re so intrepid! I tried water skiing exactly once, and couldn’t figure out how to get up on the damn things. My ideal water sport is floating around a pristine pool on a floating bed with a cold daiquiri in hand. Now THAT, I could score Olympic gold.


    1. Ha! I bet you could, Peg. You have to try everything more than once unless you have beginners luck.
      I loved waterskiing back in the day. My friend made us learn with one ski. I still remember that second when I finally felt balanced and would yell, “Hit it!” By the time I actually was pulled out of the water, I’d be all over the place. It was a thrill to get up. So much fun.


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