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One of the worst things for me about doing the Chattajack race on the Tennessee River was having to leave my paddle ohana behind and come home, knowing the long dark tea time of my soul – Winter – was coming. I missed those folks so much that it hurt almost more than my muscles did after the race. There was always that letdown because the main event of my racing year was over. The thing that was the focus of my life for so many weeks came and went in what seemed like just a few short paddle strokes. Suddenly, there seems to be no purpose. Nothing to look forward to. Next year seems so far away. If you live in a place where the weather is about to turn cold or already has, it's almost too much to take. It's easy to slump on the couch and binge on cookies, ice cream, and bad TV.

Tips for Beating the Chatta-Blues

So, here are some things I found helpful in beating those Chatta-blues. I pass them on not as any sort of mental health professional because I am not. But rather as someone who has done six Chattajack races, and this is what has worked for me.

Start Planning your 2024 Race Bucket List

Start working on those paddle goals for next year. Maybe it's a race you've always wanted to do or a place you have always wanted to paddle. Think about doing something new or different. That always helps me get excited for the coming year.

Join a Training Plan or Group or Both

Sign up for a training program like Paddle Monster's or our Facebook challenge group to help overwinter with accountability and to connect with people who are feeling like you are. Paddle Monster's off-season program just started, so jump on board!

Change up and Plan your Winter Workout Routine

I always found the time after Chattajack to be perfect for reconnecting with mountain biking and trail running - the things I tended not to do when in full-on paddle training mode. Now is a great time to re-commit to getting specific shoulder muscles and my quads stronger.

Get Organized

Now is a great time to organize your summer paddle gear so it's ready when the weather turns warm again. Go over your paddles, boards, leashes, tie-down straps, etc., and look for damage or things that should be repaired or replaced. Make a plan for getting that done in the off-season.

Treat Time

Maybe treat yourself to something that will help make getting through the winter more fun, interesting, or comfortable. It doesn't have to be extravagant – but it should help you get excited about land-based work, cross-training, or braving the elements to paddle. Ideas: new paddle clothing, or special winter gear, that balance board you've been eying; you get the picture.

Plan Paddle Social Time

Missing the people was always my biggest trigger for post-CJ blues. So, planning a reunion with your paddle ohana is a great way to stave off those feelings. Your get-together doesn't have to be expensive – maybe just meet for coffee or tacos or a weekend. Get it on the calendar. It helps to have an outing to look forward to.

Try something new or reconnect with an activity (or people, for that matter) you used to love or spend time with before you went into training obsession overdrive.

Immerse Yourself in Water-related Media

.Watch some surf and sup movies – some of my favorites include Step into Liquid and Chris Aguilar's Destination 3 Degrees featuring Jenny Kalmbach and Morgan Hoesterey.  Better yet, get your paddle ohana together for a movie night.

Read something paddle-related like Susan Casey's The Wave, Daniel James Brown's The Boys in the Boat, or Sam Low's Hawaiki Rising or maybe grab a local guidebook for your home state or a neighbor state and scout out new places to paddle.

Above all else, take care of yourself and be good to yourself. Have fun. Relax. Recharge. You earned it.

Got any excellent self-care suggestions? Share them in the comments!

1 Comment

  • mona r barbera
    Posted December 9, 2023 at 7:21 am

    HI Lisa,
    I love your article, great ideas. I have noticed that when I let go of my discipline after my last race and go into active rest, I feel un-tethered and floating. I have lots of ideas about what I am going to do during active rest time (try pickleball, swing dancing, hiking, etc) but I rarely do them. It’s more like an off/on switch than a gentle transition. I think I am going to try to be more organized about my active rest plans, schedule them and really do them. I also find it so interesting to think about discipline in training – it is a great asset, but maybe it has its downside. Some part of me wants to just let go of everything, but then it feels too loose.

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