Full disclosure: I am not a big wave surfer. I’ve never paddled at Mavs. I don’t do tow-ins. You won’t see me at the Eddie. I mostly surf very cold closeouts. With that said, I do like to charge on alternate Wednesdays. I have been caught inside at Puerto Escondido on a rising swell. And, I understand that when one of the Long brothers screams at you to “go”, well, you pretty much have to go. The following five cross training strategies should help mortals like me survive in heavy surf conditions.
Body surfing is perhaps the best cross training strategy for heavy surf conditions. Surfers get into trouble in larger waves when they wipe out or get caught inside. Body surfing, as a pastime, is comprised entirely of wiping out and getting caught inside. Getting comfortable in the surf with no board is the best way to acclimate yourself to getting pummeled in larger waves.
Follow Mark Healey on instagram. That guy spends half his life underwater. Granted, most people won’t be able to ride around on Great White sharks, but spearfishing and free diving are easily within the realm of possibility for most surfers. Spearfishing will help you get more comfortable underwater. It builds your lung capacity, increases confidence, teaches you to equalize pressure, and increases underwater awareness. Spearfishing is a great way to catch a fresh dinner and cross train for heavy surf.
Hitting the pool
If you’re land locked or you live in a cold climate, the pool is your friend. I hate to tell you this, but pushups will not prepare you for a North Shore winter trip. Swimming laps will increase your paddle stamina. Sprints and underwater laps will increase your lung capacity. You’re going to need them both.
Biking is an overlooked tool for surf training. A hard ride on a stationary bike or road bike is a great cardiovascular workout. Additionally, biking works out your legs without putting too much strain on your knees. Leg strength is essential to more critical surfing, but leg muscles rarely get a workout during a typical surf session.
Seriously. Unless you’re already crazy (if you are, you’re probably not reading this) you probably have a little bit of fear surrounding larger waves. Fear is okay. Fear is good. Fear is designed to help us survive. Panic, however, will kill you. Meditation is a great cross training tool for heavy surf. Actually, it’s a great tool for anything. Understand that if you surf larger waves, you will fall, and you will be put in a critical condition. Visualize yourself in that position and train yourself to remain calm as you’re doing underwater cartwheels in the dark twenty feet below the surface. If you can train your mind, your body will follow.