Stand Alone… Suplife 2020

By David ‘tids’ Tidball 
British Canoeing Coach Educator & Chair of SUP Technical Committee
BSUPA Instructor ISA surf & Sup Instructor

David 'tids' Tidball

Olympic triathlon lifeguard/Exmouth lifeguard and waterports coach Tids (David Tidball)
copyright Matt Austin.

Corona Aware:

I was contemplating the corona crisis and our response to it as paddlers.
I wrote a series three SUP training this spring.
I decided they’d lost their relevancy.

This is  for those of you who are looking into the abyss of family illness, jobs, mortgages and rent at this moment in our history. I recently saw an article in Outdoor Swimmer recommending we use SUP as an alternative to swim training.

I usually do both, but my local pool has always caused me to severe reactions to its chemicals and the huge people traffic and the associated hygiene. I currently don’t swim, my no.2 son on the other hand has his lifeguard exam in a month so must run the risk.

So make your decisions carefully. If you are elderly or in a vulnerable group have breathing difficulties try some of the off-water self-isolating suggestions below.

More information on Corona can be found here:


SUP is closely associated with fitness and for me a necessary part of my life. Without it I would shrivel up. Fitness is the key to mental health and wellbeing.  

My son is in the team GB Cycling Team and was recently couriered home by minibus from Belgium. He’s been unsure how to arrange his life, with no racing but we discussed how best he can adapt. We will all have to adapt.

If you’re that fit, usually riding five hours a day with a race to target and the simple idea is to reduce quantity and increase intensity.

I sent him this advice

I see no reason why we shouldn’t borrow ideas and concepts from other sports.

Social Distancing:

I would encourage you all to continue to paddle, but to do so whilst reducing the risks to yourself and others. In most cases that will mean paddling alone – so beef up your safety. 

You can do this by planning your journey well. Download and familiarise yourself with apps like SafetyTRX and Paddlelogger. You can use them as your safe journey notification plan should you find yourself in need of assistance or just wish to re-assure land-locked loved ones.

You might have a few close friends to paddle with and no longer think that meeting with them is viable, so use increase your safety tools, technology, PFDs, flares, whistle, radios even EPRIBs/PLBs. 

The easiest way to ensure your spring return is successful is to change your mind-set. View this enforced break as an opportunity to train differently.


Whilst for may of us out favourite place to paddle may be some distance away the nearest place might be better to choose. If we treated our paddling as training and make it relevant and increase the intensity, rather than duration. We should not increase our risk of infection and can still participate in flattening the curve.

 I’ve never thought of paddling as a self-isolating sport, but essentially it is and outside is loads of water with very few people on it. 

Simple steps:

The key to a good season start is to choose some venue that fits your more restricted life. In some parts of the county paddling is a post work possibility, as the evenings draw out. 

Make yourself a target simple, target to go paddle once or twice a week for 20 mins, do a 5 mins warm up 10 mins efforts and 5 mins cool down. If the weekend allows double the time, but make it simple, local and safe! 

Paddle once, twice or three times a week if you can, but don’t’ beat yourself up if you don’t make lots of sessions count supplement the water training with off water training.

Off water:

All these methods are evidenced at improving your technique.

Supplement your activities with some balancing exercises, like Suzi Clooney offers

or your local gym workout in your livingroom versions of which can be found on you tube.

The key is don’t be too ‘British’ get some intensity into your exercise. Ryan Reynolds demonstates this well.

An ergo is probably out of most people’s reach, so some 6mm shock cord rigged to an old or short paddle shaft clipped around the garden gate is probably the best cheap alternative. Practice your stroke, or even spend time visualising your stroke. 

You could use a static bike, if you have one.

Mobility exercise: Is important, this is borrowed from the Dragonboat World. or do basic yoga.

If you have an Indo board or have thought about getting a similar here’s some dryside ideas.

The internet: rather than just binge box-sets use it for knowledge acquisition. Online training can be obtained for free if you’re not sure the BC Digital Library offers some ideas and free resources here:

Coaches: Develop you coaching do CPD (continuing professional development):

Newbies: If you want to get started in SUP in 2020 and your plans are knocked back by Corona virus, then you can watch this and see what you will be aiming at once the ban lifts:

If we have 16-20 weeks of this isolation period to go so make a plan to adapt and train safely. 

Next: I’ll build a homemade ergo mentioned above and show you how you might plan for 16 weeks of isolation.

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