Greetings everyone! My name is Robert Norman, I’m 23 years old, I live in Inverness FL where I work as a personal trainer/fitness instructor and I broke the SUP 24 hour world record at Nathan Benderson Park on February 11th. Leading up to the event, there were many logistical hurdles that needed to be tackled in a well calculated manner. There was no detail that could be overlooked. This started at the foundation of an event like this, physical capability. I’ve been on a SUP board for a little over 2 years and every paddle stroke I’ve taken since was setting the foundation for this attempt. Leading up to the event I had to begin planning out very long paddles, ranging from 6 to 12 hours, some hours in the darkness. I needed a resource that would allow me to train muscles and skills related to SUP, but was different enough from SUP to prevent over-training of the same motion. That’s when I turned to prone paddling.
I got my hands on the Riviera 12'x20 Prone Paddleboard through my sponsor shop CGT Kayaks in Bonita Springs. I had no prior experience, and didn’t know a single person that avidly trained prone. The first time I jumped on a board I flipped it immediately. Being on a 21 inch SUP board I assumed it would be cake, and I was immediately humbled. At that moment I knew mastering this discipline would elevate my SUP game. I had a basic idea of what knee paddling was and with a little practice I began connecting the dots. I firmly believe it has a direct correlation to your SUP stroke. The arms become a lever, and you begin to use your core and legs to pull the arms through the water, just like how your arms remain straight with a SUP paddle and you use the larger muscles to paddle. You really become one with the water and literally “feel” the power you create during propulsion. Again, this directly translates to SUP, where you need to feel the water behind your blade during each stroke to keep the efficiency level high. All the components are similar, just the method to achieving them differ.
Having this resource allowed me to train for the event 6 days a week, without the signs of over-training setting in. I alternated usage of the prone board and my SUP board, using the prone board in predominantly sprint style workouts and the SUP board in predominantly distance style workouts. The prone helped me keep my explosive Type II muscle fibers in check which were vital to keep strong for the event. I mentioned the prone board being a different kind of tippy, and having the board flying across the water in a sprint makes it even more susceptible to flipping, so I was even able to really fine tune my overall balancing. Learning the nuances of what made my prone stroke successful made an impact on how to really engage my paddle during my longer SUP sessions which made a huge difference during the event (estimated 60,000 strokes.)
Prone paddling on the stomach is the most humbling position physically, but I believe the knee paddle is much more akin to the single blade paddler and I can see correlations in body movement and single arm engagement closer to a 2 bladed paddler. I typically alternated between the two positions but would consistently go faster, longer on the knees as my body was still learning the new muscle patterns. Physically going 2-3 miles on the prone for me right now is harder than most distances on the SUP, and that’s what I love about it. I remember when going 2-3 miles on the SUP was hard, and resetting the feeling with a new discipline has been energizing, it is something new and relevant to conquer. It has helped my SUP game and adequately prepared me for the hardest challenge in my life, so I’m excited to see how it will continue to expand my abilities.
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