When the Covid-19 lockdown was first announced I thought, as no doubt many others did, that this was going to be a great opportunity to get out in boat or on a board a little more and take my daily exercise on the water. How wrong was that assumption! It was only a matter of days before the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust decided that even recreational paddling was deemed an unnecessary activity and advised us to not go afloat. While an understandable decision, and one fully supported by British Canoeing, it came as a heavy blow.
My last paddle was now over a month ago and I’m missing it! Rediscovering the lanes around my part of the Thames valley on regular cycle trips and an enhanced workout regime in my home ‘gym’ just aren’t the same as time on the water.
Nonetheless the creativity we’ve seen with ways of keeping fit and engaged with our sport during the lockdown has been amazing. Even the briefest glimpse of any social media platform in recent weeks has shown so many different ways of living with the current social distancing measures. I’ve seen introducing the family to SUP on the garden pond, kayak rolling across the lawn and racing on ergos via video conferencing to name but a few – and no doubt there’s been plenty else that I’ve missed.
And as well as keeping physically active we’ve also found plenty of ways of keeping our minds engaged. I’ve particularly enjoyed the programme of free webinars that British Canoeing has been hosting for coaches and leaders. Even though we’ve not been able to meet face-to-face it’s been good to share ideas with friends and colleagues across the paddlesport community on topics like building rapport with course candidates and delivery feedback and debriefs. The programme has been extended as the lockdown has. If you’ve not seen this already it’s well worth a look. You’ll find details at https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/membership/paddling-portal#webinars-podcasts.
As we head into May I’m mindful that this should be my busiest time on the water and this year is clearly going to be different. And like everyone else in the paddlesport community, I’m looking forward to sharing experiences on the water – and resuming running courses – as soon as possible. Until then I hope you can join me in staying fit, staying engaged and staying safe!