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‘The Flow State is being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter: Every action, movement and thought flows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, you're using your skills to the utmost and the result is a feeling of spontaneous joy.’ - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Live2Flow is the concept of a man trapped in an unfulfilling career who decided to pursue a life of Flow.  This blog is documents the activities of a man who swapped a desk for the great outdoors, dedicating himself to better his personal performance in his chosen sports and to pursue his passion of coaching and training others; the objective is to literally Live2Flow.  This is not a selfish obsession, Live2Flow aims to take these experiences to others and through passionate coaching and guiding help them experience Flow for themselves.

A Long Road to the Devises-Westminster

Vaughan getting to grips with the basics
Vaughan getting to grips with the basics The elusive straight line! A hint of the flailing spider... Team work developing

The conversation went something like this:

Vaughan: “My brother and I want to do the Devises Westminster Race this year, do you think it is a realistic ambition?”

Live2Flow: “Well, if you have reasonable paddling skills and dedicate yourself to a training programme it should be within reach…”

Vaughan: “Well, I’ve never paddled before and my brother has only paddled a few times...”

Live2Flow: “It sounds like we need to get started as soon as possible!!  Let’s meet later this week…”

The first test of Vaughan’s dedication came in the form of persistent heavy rain on the morning we met.  Not an ideal start to your first paddling experience and enough to deter the timid but not only did he turn up as planned, he even managing to be cheerful!  After a quick chat about his objectives and the plan for the day we got kitted out and down to the waters edge, choosing a fairly stable sea kayak as the best boat to get started in considering the ultimate target.

As he tentatively found his balance on the water and took his first few strokes I think for the first time Vaughan truly appreciated what a long road it would be between learning how to hold the paddle and the smooth, rhythmic stroke that would enable him to endure a 24hr kayak race.  Over the rest of the morning we went over the basics of manoeuvring the boat then went on a short trip up the canal focusing solely on forward paddling.  Vaughan made good progress and by the end of the session the stroke was starting to look smoother and forward progress was mostly in a straight line!!

We met again the following day and continued this theme of developing a smooth forward paddling technique.  It would be fair to say that despite Vaughan working hard at this it became clear that it wasn’t going to come naturally to him; his tendency is to want to pull hard on the blade and perform quite jerky, powerful strokes rather than settle into an easy rhythm.  You could say he needed to be less disco and more ballroom if you like, as his jerky movements were not going to see him through the D-W, so we continued to work on focus points to improve this aspect.  By the end of the second session Vaughan reached a stage where he had achieved a good BCU 1 Star pass standard and was a competent, safe paddler.  In any other context he could have been happy at that, but as a would-be D-W racer we parted knowing he now needed some time to practice that forward stroke keeping in mind the focus points we had discussed.

Of course, addressing Vaughan’s technique was only part of the bigger picture of D-W success as there is also the question of the right equipment and a competent partner!  For the final session I was able to meet Jono, Vaughan’s brother and D-W racing partner, and see the borrowed K2 that they were considering for the event.  Both paddlers were a little bit apprehensive after their first practice together that had resulted in a number of spills into a cold Thames so the team was on the back foot.  After a quick review of the basics with both paddlers and short session in K1s to review forward paddling for both as individuals it was time to see the team in action.

At first there was an element of ‘flailing spider’ to the pairs coordination on the water but after some discussions on teamwork, roles in the boat and K2 techniques there were big improvements and glimpses of a team working in harmony.  However, much of this was hampered by the K2 they arrived with, which was shorter than most K1s and entirely unsuitable for the D-W.  The team resolved to get some specialist advice and source a better boat and blades for the event but seemed buoyed by the morning’s achievements; despite being held back by the boat they had seen enough positives to start believing that their D-W attempt was still possible.

Live2Flow enjoyed working with Vaughan and Jono and took great satisfaction from both introducing a newcomer to the sport and helping a team towards their ambitious goal.  I look forward to watching their progress and provide further coaching if they need it.  Go Guys!!!

Live2Flow is available to low ratio personal coaching and bespoke BCU Star Award training.  Contact him using any of the options here.


Created on 15-Jan-2013 at 11:52

On 29-Jan-2013 at 13:58, Simon@Live2Flow wrote:

I am sad to report that Vaughan and Jono will now have to wait until 2014 to complete the D-W due to injury. Not long after completing the coaching above and progressing well on their training, Vaughan cut his hand open quite badly on some broken glass as he was getting out of the boat during a training session. The depth of the wound means that it is taking some time to heal and this missed training time has made their already tight D-W build up programme impossible. It is a massive shame to see these guys have to put their ambitions on hold for another 12 months but they remain determined and I am sure will make it to the start line in great shape for 2014.