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I am really happy right now and loving kayaking!

Exactly one year ago I wrote an article explaining why I had been absent from the kayaking scene. Poor health meant I couldn’t be my normal active and kayaking obsessed self for most of 2023 which impacted on both my fitness and happiness. Roll on a year later and 2024 so far has been just wonderful! I am in a much better place and whilst the people I see regularly will know this, I thought it was worth an update on here too. I’m overwhelmingly happy at the moment and I am in a good place with my kayaking because of it. So here is a little life update for you!

I’ve got my fitness back!

I had not realised how fit I was until I lost it. I had times before when I felt ‘unfit’ but what I had previously considered being ‘unfit’ I now realise was still a pretty good baseline of fitness! After 6 months of essentially no more exercise than short gentle walks, I finally realised what being unfit really felt like. And I absolutely hated it. Feeling good in your body is so closely linked to feeling good in your mind and so when your body feels terrible, so does your mind!

February Adeventures!

I was trying to build up my fitness through walks and short paddles but by Autumn, I still felt very out of shape. So on November 1st, I committed to the goal of going for 2 x 5km runs every week. If I had to stop and walk repeatedly during those early 5km runs, then so be it. We are now in April and I have kept up my 2 runs a week every single week for the last 5 months! I am pleased to say that it has been effective and I finally feel fit again! Not only do I feel better but I am actually enjoy running again too!

Sunsets like this have helped motivate the post work runs!

Paddling more regularly has also been a priority and I am building my paddle strength back up. The focus on running has really helped with this. I am not quite where I was at the start of 2023 in terms of strength and stamina but I am doing well. I can manage a whole day of laps at the Tryweryn again so I think I am nearly there!

Happy days at the Tryweryn! Photo: Tom Clare

I know that there will no doubt be challenges in my future life and I will have times where I lose my fitness again. It has been reassuring though to know that what is lost is not lost forever (despite how it felt at the time). Building it up slowly and setting achievable goals is the way forward. Being physically fit and active is hugely important to me and it is so relieving to have those things back again!

Finding my love of kayaking again

Over Christmas 2023, I allowed myself to have a proper break. I switched off completely from work and spent my holiday reading good books, going for long walks and….. going white water kayaking! We had a very wet and wild festive period here in the UK and our rivers were flowing! I was able to get some wholesome days out on the water with friends in late December / early January and it really ignited something in me.

There were no expectations to these days other than to paddle as much or as little as I wanted and it felt so incredibly liberating. The few paddles I had managed in 2023 had felt almost like a chore. I told myself I should be trying harder to get back on the river and the pressure I was putting on myself to do so was reducing how much I was enjoying it. I felt energised from the rest I had allowed myself to take over Christmas and motivated to paddle. The game changer was that I was paddling because I really wanted to and not because I felt that I had to.

Last paddle of 2023! Photo: Kirstie Macmillan

The feelings I was left with on the drive back home at the end of those days were very similar to the feelings I experienced when I had just started kayaking. I was left excited and eager to share with others the details of my day, such as which challenge eddies I had managed to catch or the perfect little waves I had spent time joy surfing on. I was going home and already planning in when I could next get out on the water.

Surf wave! Photo: Tom Clare

The fire of passion that I have for kayaking on white water rivers was fully relit at the start of this year and I am pleased to say that it is still burning bright! I had almost forgotten how much joy the thrill and excitement of river running brings me and I feel quite emotional to think that I hadn’t felt this in nearly a whole year! Every single weekend throughout January and February I managed to go out river running and my heart feels so full.

Lush days on the Kent!

I had a wonderful long weekend up in the Lake District at the end of February visiting friends. I felt confident in my paddling and had the motivation to get out and even lap rapids! I had a moment on the Kent after leading the group down Force Falls where I just felt utterly content. I was back to the place I belonged and boy did it feel good!

Excited for the future

It is really hard when you are experiencing a low point in life to remember what the highs are like. 2023 had it’s challenges but 2024 I have felt like I am drifting on a cloud of positivity. Not everything is going to plan but my perspective of things has really improved. I am embracing a growth mindset and looking for the opportunities to be happy.

Dee day! Photo: Tom Clare

I feel lucky to have already got so many lovely days on the water and know there are many more to come! I have got some great weekends and trips booked into my calendar and am so excited to keep on chasing this renewed obsession with kayaking! Every day that I get to spend on the water truly feels like a blessing and I regularly remind myself just how lucky I am to be in a position to enjoy life in a way that not many people get to. The sheer joy that comes from white water kayaking is something that I don’t think I will ever get bored of and will keep chasing for as long as I can!

Party wave!

In June it will be my 30th birthday. (I am already planning a North Wales weekend of camping and paddling). My current goal is to paddle 30 different white water rivers this year to celebrate! I am already at 10 rivers so just another 20 (or more) to go! So please do keep inviting me for paddling trips! I also have a few big life plans coming up this year and so plenty to keep me motivated and to look forward to.

The happy face of someone who stayed upright going through Backbarrow!

Some words of advice

Finally if you are going through a rough patch yourself and you are looking to change that, I have two last parting pieces of advice to help you. Both really helped me to get through 2023 and get back to my old happy self.

Firstly – be kind to yourself. Whatever it is that is getting you down, being mean to yourself isn’t going to help. Not everyone in the world will be kind to you so you may as well be kind to yourself. Most people do better when given praise so take regular moments to tell yourself what you are doing well and what you are proud of!

Secondly when you are setting goals keep them achievable. If I had set myself the challenge to run 5km every day – I would have failed. I choose twice a week because it was a goal I felt I could manage. And I did! Choose realistic short term goals because you will be more likely to succeed in the long term this way.

The End

So there you go – a little life update! I am happy, I am feeling overwhelmingly positive and I completely in love with kayaking again at the moment. I am hopeful that the rest of 2024 is as wonderful as these first few months and I’ll keep sharing my happy rivers days on my social media accounts. Happy paddling and hope to see you all on a river soon!

Happy in my minion yellow boat! Photo: Tom Clare

2 replies on “I am really happy right now and loving kayaking!”

Glad you are back in the groove mentally and physically, and a happy paddler. Best wishes with your kayaking season – it looks to be a great one. Make sure you keep yourself strong and don’t overstretch. Be kind to yourself 😉

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