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The Benefits of SUP for Runners

July 20, 2013

By Karla Polinaris

My name is Karla Polinaris and I am from Costa Rica. I’ve been a surfer for more than 20 years, and a trail and ultra marathon runner for about six years. I’m a mother of two wonderful kids, and I am the owner of Green Iguana Surf Camp in Dominical, Costa Rica, where I am also a Standup Paddleboard (SUP) instructor.Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 12.46.10 PM

My passions—the ocean and surf, running and the mountains—ended up complementing each other.

Before I started running, I already had the habit of getting up early for dawn patrol surf sessions (if the tide permitted). So when I took up running, getting up early wasn’t a problem. It was actually nice to go for a good run, come back and get in the water. You cool off and end up with a full body workout. When I started doing this, I realized how each sport was helping the other.

How do running and SUP complement each other? In SUP surfing, you use your core muscles a lot—for strength; stability; balance. In running, the ideal is to get the energy to move your legs from the core down, starting with a smooth and correct pelvic rotation that will move your legs accordingly. SUP promotes the use of your core for strength and stability. In addition to that, your legs and glut muscles are getting a constant workout.

“My passions—the ocean and surf, running and the mountains—ended up complementing each other.”

Another benefit of SUP for runners is the posture. Good posture is directly linked to the efficiency in your running technique. The efficiency and quality of your paddling also depends on good posture. You use very similar posture in both running and SUP. In SUP, you tuck your pelvic muscles in to create a slight bend on your spine, to lean forward and reach out with your paddle. In running, you also tuck your pelvic muscles and lean forward going up the hills and also to catch speed.

Focus is another benefit. When you are in the ocean, you are in a whole other element—water—that can change from one second to the other. So, in SUP you have to focus on where you are going, eyes to the front, thinking about your posture and stability, sensing your body and adjusting when needed. Just like in running.

Respiration is one of the most important things in running; it is just as important in paddleboarding. You paddle, you breathe, you take strides when you run, and in both sports you breathe at the same constant and controlled ratio.

To sum it up, I highly recommend paddleboarding as great cross training for runners. It is not only really fun to do, but also a low-impact full body workout that will help you improve your running. Plus, surfing is good for your soul, and salt water cures it all!!

See you in the water, or on the trails!


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