Eight weeks ago today I attempted surfing for my first time. Though not in great shape I felt I was strong enough to take on the sport. I could swim several laps of a pool without stopping. I could tread water for long periods of time. I could beat my kids in a 200 yard sprint. I could hit a softball into the outfield and run around the bases with ease. I could beat my 15 year old at one-on-one half court basketball. I could slalom water ski. I couldn't surf.
Balancing on the board (on my stomach to paddle out) was crazy hard. My arms ached after just getting through the shore break. I had a hard time catching my breath fighting against the waves. My back hurt from twisting to watch for oncoming waves. My legs hurt after treading to keep balance straddling my board while sitting and waiting in the deep water. At this point I hadn't even attempted to catch a wave.
I started an exercise routine following the plan on gppfitness.com. Aerobic circuit training with weights is what I guess I'd explain it as. The goal was to strengthen my core for balance and stability and to strengthen my arms for paddling and my legs for standing up on the waves. I did this dry land training 5 days a week and I surfed about 3 times a week. Only surfing could really strengthen best the muscles that I needed to hone.
Once I started catching the waves my neck and back and abs were hurting from keeping my head up while paddling. My arms hurt from pushing up on the board. My shoulders hurt from paddling. My thighs, lower back and abs screamed at me for trying to curl them under to stand up. My feet and ankles hurt from trying to balance on the board.
I am still doing the gppfitness plan and I have added running a couple days a week to build up my cardio endurance. I have changed my diet a bit because I've noticed that I recover better from the exercise and surfing when I eat more protein (this was cleared by my doctor--liver tests came back excellent). A quicker recovery means fewer days between surf sessions. More surf sessions means more opportunities to get better at surfing.
So, do me a favor: if you are coming to Hawaii and plan to surf and are in similar or worse shape than me, get yourself in shape first. Build up some strength in your arms and neck and core. Do some swimming and practice treading water. Do some burpees to prepare yourself for popping up on the board. Do this so that when we go out surfing we can have some fun together and get you standing up in no time. And if you don't do any of this and come to Hawaii and surf your first time out do me another favor: lie to me and say you've been training for months. It will make me feel a lot better.