Paddler Problems: 10 Signs of Post Paddle Withdrawal

Cali Paddler is proud to once again welcome Paddy Paddler and her journal entries to our tribe. For anyone who has come to the end of their season, and now wonders, "'what next?" and finds themselves sitting at their desk watching GoPro footage from past races, rocking to the rhythm of their craft, this one is for you!

Dear Diary…

10 Signs of Post Paddle Withdrawl - Paddy PaddlerThe Catalina championships have come and gone, and before I even knew it was happening, suddenly the sun has set on my racing season. To be honest, I have been fantasizing about this for months - trying to remember what an open schedule felt like, wondering what my other friends were doing on the weekend without me.  Every weekend I thought about how good it would be to sleep in on Saturday mornings again…

But now that the off season is here, I’m totally miserable.  I’ve been told this is quite normal “withdrawal” that follows any long cycle of extreme endorphins.  But I have a lot of weird symptoms…

  1. Loss of Identity
    Who am I without paddling?  How did I fill my time in the past?  I am a stranger in my own home every weekend as I try to remember the other activities that brought me joy.  I get restless when I watch movies for too long now.  My tolerance for mundane “Netflix and Chill” weekends has dropped significantly.  I tried going for a jog around the neighborhood, but it’s simply not the same.  My cat eyes me suspiciously for being home so often.  My phone isn’t blowing up with pictures being posted online or texts from teammates looking for a carpool.

    Do I even have friends?
  1. My Wallet is Full
    Between the travel expenses, the t-shirt booths and the mountains of food I would consume during the season, my budget got used to being stretched to the very limit.  Now my wallet is full of money.  I started shopping for an OC1 online today.  That should fix this.
  1. I am getting WORK done at WORK
    Though I enjoy my job well enough, half of my brain was always preoccupied with a checklist of weekend logistics.  What to pack, where to be, race strategies, wondering who would be in my crew this week.  Now what is there to day dream about?  May as well drown my sorrow in the distraction of work – I got a compliment the other day on how productive I’ve been.  I may even be able to start accruing vacation soon…
  1. Sleeping in on the weekends is hard
    At 7 AM my eyes snap open in a panic.  Am I late? Did I not set my alarm correctly?  And then I remember that I am not obligated to do anything at all.  I relax and snuggle back into my pillow, but deep in the back of my sleepy brain, some sadistic part of me is a little sad.
  1. Loneliness
    Is it just me, or is it REALLY quiet around here?
  1. Spending time with Significant other / friends/ family
    The “black hole” from which I suddenly emerged has left me confused.  I have all this time to spend with friends and family, but do these people even know who I am? They don’t understand what I have been through, even the ones who really try to get it.  Suddenly my inside jokes are not so funny anymore, and I was finally asked to stop describing my “paddle butt” at the dinner table.
  1. Watching paddling videos online obsessively
    My online activity log is chalked full of “LIKE” actions on any and every season picture I can find.  Old, new – it doesn’t matter.  I’ve been researching dated YouTube videos and watching the continuing action in Hawaii with a romantic sigh of longing.  There is an entire paddling family out there in the world, waiting for me to go and join them.  I don’t know if I’m ready for that… so in the meantime I’ll just watch them virtually and stalk them in the creepy hours of the evening.  And on my lunch break.
  1. The Hunger
    The hunger is fading, but I feel the need to feed anyway.  My stomach thinks it is still fueling for time trials and racing, but my tight jeans remind me that these are calories I haven’t earned…
  1. So excited for the Winter Surf /Football season
    I joined 4 Fantasy Football leagues, and signed up for surf alerts.  They are a decent distraction, but I’m not totally convinced it’s helping.
  1. Where did these clothes come from?
    Not long ago, I couldn’t find a clean pair of paddling pants to save my life.  I felt like I was doing laundry constantly just so I wouldn’t have to wear anything moldy to practice.  Having too many t-shirts was an impossible thought - but now that all the laundry is done, clean and either put away neatly or heaped strategically around my room, I’ve had to go out twice to purchase more hangars.  A new dresser might be needed as well, just for the new paddling clothes and equipment.

Possible Remedies

  • Denial
    The denial strategy worked for a week or so while I rested the sore muscles, and while I could simply pretended it wasn’t over yet.  Instead I keep telling myself that any minute I am going to be heading back out to the water. 
  • HEAL
    The scars and bruises on my body are beginning to fade, at long last.  I finally got a chance to sign up for regular yoga and got a massage.  The therapist asked me with alarm what sport I could possibly do that makes my shoulders so tight. I guess the body could use a little love…
  • Organizing a Paddler Dinner
    I miss all the stories and loud voices.  I want to know what everyone else is doing with their new found free time.  Maybe they will want to get back on the water in a couple weeks?
  • Revisiting my Reading List
    Everyone kept quoting “Boys in the Boat” all summer so I finally picked up a copy at the book store.  I cried, I sighed, I had to put it down a few times and let the memories of the crew sink in.
  • Setting Goals for Next Season
    Before I started paddling I couldn’t do a pull-up.  Now that the season is over, I still can’t.  But now I have all winter to get better, stronger, faster … all those things that will make next year even more amazing. 
  • Winter Paddling?
    I could not help but start researching other races in the winter.  From the Monterey Bay Crossing to the Molokai Hoe – there is a great big world of year round adventure to be explored!  My SUP buddies keep pestering me to give my solo career a go, maybe that’s just what I need.

My friends and family may not really get it, but at least they listen to me every once in a while.  And who knows … maybe next year I’ll get a couple more of them to pick up a paddle and come out with me to be adopted into the crazy paddling family.

<3 Paddy Paddler


Be sure to enjoy some more paddle diary entries from Paddy Paddler!


Team Writer Megs Phillips - Raised a Cali beach bum, playing in the sand and surf before she could talk, Megs has enjoyed white water rafting, dappled with OC1's, SUPs, and kayaks, and is a deep lover of all things ocean, river, rapids, and lake related. In 2010 she discovered outrigger canoeing and was instantly hooked; paddling with Ka Nai'a Outrigger in Santa Barbara. Her contributions to Cali Paddler are amazing and much appreciated!

Should you have an idea or topic for her, feel free to send it our way and we will pass it along! In addition to following her here at Cali Paddler, we encourage you, no implore you, to visit her personal blog: Paddler Problems, where you can enjoy more of her fun writings and comics.

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  • ALberta M HO - November 02, 2016

    Sounds like me but, I to have. Day job trying to catch up as much as I can being productive and I do have one more fun race to do ?Master Blaster her I come?

  • Jess - September 22, 2016

    I found a solution, though very temporary. I had gotten through all of six days of post catalina rest and all yoga all the time. And then … On Saturday evening, Na Wahine called my name. Rest can wait. Molokai, here I come

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