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Do you constantly wish that you could spend more time in your whitewater kayak? Statistics say that 79.219% of the US population resides within what is considered Urban Areas. I am currently part of that statistic. Most people attribute the amount of time that I get to spend in a kayak to the fact that I am currently a college student. However, this is not exactly always the case. Last semester I worked 20hrs/week while being enrolled in 16hrs of classes, and still managed to kayak at least 4 days/week consistently. Here is how I manage my juggling act and hopefully these tips will help you get more time on the water!

1) Diversity: Most city dwelling weekend warriors have to resort to local gyms for their midweek exercising. Gyms are a quick and easy way to get a work-out in. I typically find myself hitting the gym twice a week, but try to change it up! There is no training that is more effective than actually doing the specific activity you are training for on a consistent basis. Instead of going to the gym four times/week, consider two full-body, balanced workouts and two short kayak sessions. If you plan your trip to the river just right, you should be able to complete your routine within two hours including travel. This is about the same time it takes to travel to the gym and complete a workout.

2) Improvise: Sure, most of us do not live in a city such Asheville, NC where residents are able to utilize over 300 Green River releases a year, but there are options! Even the flattest cities typically have some sort of waterway that contains or mimics whitewater features. For example, the Metro Hooch section in Atlanta, GA drops less than 10fpm. Small shoals and slow moving water can be excellent for attainments. Attainment Sessions are just about the best cardio workouts someone can do in a Whitewater Kayak! Another small shoal alternative is slalom. Slalom can effectively build technique and boosts your short-term stamina. Slalom is a great way to train for longer complex rapids that may be seen on a class 4 or 5 river. The greatest thing about slalom is that you only need small shoals and a few gates or objects that mimic gates. You do not have to own a slalom kayak. I use my Jackson Kayak Villain and Jackson Kayak Super Hero and they work great!

3) Time Management: Before work, during lunch, and especially after work are the best times to get in your kayak during weekdays. Some days I would have to resort to arriving at work at 7am to log my time and make a gap large enough to sneak to the Metro Hooch for attainments or to the old Olympic slalom course in Atlanta before my classes started later that afternoon. It was a squeeze, but it always worked out. There is no relief to the body and soul like finding yourself in a kayak between the daily grind! If you get out of work at 5pm, you should have enough daylight most of the year to get to a local waterway and be off before dark. That is true at least for the lower 48 or similar latitudinal countries.

4) Quantity: Every now and then we get enough rain in Atlanta for small creeks with decent gradient to run. These creeks generally have poor water-quality, poor scenery, and mediocre whitewater. Now put yourself in this situation: You get off work with three hours of daylight to spare. You have been wishing you had called in sick today all day because your favorite river is running but you simply could not rationalize taking today off. Fortunately, the rivers surrounding your city are juicy with water, so what do you do? Commute home and sit on the couch or actually get to do what you have been longing to do all day, sort of…? Even though the water quality, scenery, and whitewater are sub-optimal, you are still able to gain valuable time in your kayak, and 99% of the time you will have no regrets that you went kayaking. The greatest thing about this experience is that you gain knowledge about your local rivers and the more you get out, the more you learn about which runs are worth it and how long the runs take to complete. This experience will only make the next time even more enjoyable!

Attainments, slalom, and mediocre local whitewater are all valuable ways to get your butt in a kayak during the weekdays. The more time you spend in a kayak, the more comfortable you will be in your boat, the better physical shape you will be in, and the more ready you will be to charge during the weekends!

Here is an edit of some of my favorite weekend and sick-day 😉 moments this year:

See you on the River,

Zach Fraysier