Difficult Topics: 6 Things You Were Dying to Know about SUP (But Afraid To Ask)

From intercourse to chafing, we cover it all. The things you were dying to know, but didn’t know how to ask. Or maybe you knew. If you already knew, good for you! I didn’t when I started and I made a fool of myself or hurt myself I even cried in front of some people when I shouldn’t have.

Peeing in a cold, long distance race

We were waiting in the cold for the grueling 31 miles of the 2013 Chattajack to begin when some of the ladies started talking. “Well, what if I have to pee? Would my whole draft train stop? Will I get out of the water?” The men have it made; they just stay on their board and can go off the side. The women, if really wanting to go for time, have a bit of a predicament.

I was taught the art of board peeing in the Holland 11-Cities race. This one goes 220km over 5 days. You’re often amidst cow and sheep fields with nowhere to really get out of the water. After my first incident, where I pulled over to the side of one of the canals and punctured my hollow board, I realized that I was doing it wrong. Tiffany Ward, a great kite surfer and all-around fun girl, mentioned that I should just pee on my board. The next day I had to go, so I just went. I’m a blonde, so I didn’t realize that pee on your board didn’t mean pee in your pants. There I was, very uncomfortable as the warm became cold, a little gross, and my recessed deck pad was also… gross. It wasn’t until the next day when I was paddling with Tiffany in a draft train and she stopped paddling, dropped trou, and squatted on her board. She then rocked the rails to flush the board. I had a light bulb moment, and now I am a master of the craft.

At Chattajack, as we froze our buns off, a group of ladies with full bladders were eager to take pee-on-board lessons amidst the fog. Men kept a respectable distance, but looked on and laughed as I demonstrated the famed technique with an added level of modesty. If you leave your bathing suit bottoms or underwear on while you squat down on your board, no one sees your booty, and you can move it to the side. You then replace all of the clothing, stand, and rock to flush the board.

Uncomfortable chafing

Sometimes you will get some uncomfortable chafing. The main complaint of my significant other is cafing from the hydration pack straps on his man-nipples. I think he’s just sensitive, but I’ve heard it from other people too. Sometimes wearing a tighter shirt/rashie can alleviate this problem. Men, however, often wear baggier clothes or no shirt at all. They make numerous other hydration pack options like belt/fanny packs. If you don’t need instant access to water, just strap a bottle to your board.

Another source of chafing comes from climbing back onto your board while surfing. In the chest, this is easily fixed with a rashie. However, climbing back up to stand time and time again can start to wear on your knees and forearms. When you’re learning to surf, your undoubtedly going to fall. It’s OK! You’re learning. But don’t go wearing knee high socks and emo sleeves. Just be aware that the coarser your deck pad for keeping you on the board, the more skin you will loose climbing back on. Pick up a “chafe stick” at your local athletic store and move on.

Falling on your board

There are times you’ll fall on your board, you may even take a rail to your undercarriage. Sometimes the board will smack you in the face. Sometimes when climbing back onto your large railed race board in turbulent seas you’ll take the board’s edge to that weird woman bone scientifically know as the mons pubus and be sore for 3 days. It’s bound to happen at some point, just be prepared. When you’re surfing, you can try learning more paddle braces to prevent falling altogether. After that, try to fall with your legs together. Good luck.

If your board comes up to smack you in the face, put your paddle out like Donatello in the Ninja Turtles (he was the one with a fighting stick, and my favorite). When you’re under water, cover your head and keep your chin tucked into our chest until you’re sure the coast is clear. I’m sure you’ve heard all of these safety tips, and I just wanted to reiterate them. However, eventually, you may still get smacked. It’s OK. Know when to use butterfly bandages and when to go get stitches. Surf with a buddy that knows when to tell you that you need stitches and won’t let you put a band-aid on something huge. Know the signs of concussion. Did I mention always surf with a buddy?

Pre-race, um, intimate activity with your spouse

Two hours before the race is a no-go if you’re being competitive or going for a personal best. It could just waste energy. However, if you can not expend a lot of energy, a study found that sexual stimulation in women can lead to the release of a pain-blocking chemical that will “decrease overall muscle tension that an athlete might be experiencing, which may allow her to engage in physical activity at a higher, more intense level.” The spike in testosterone levels in women following activities can also improve performance. Within 4 hours of the event, women can also feel more relaxed which may lead to an increase in range of motion. Historically, men have been urged to abstain because it was thought that lower hormone levels would lead to less aggressive performance. However, intense testing in athletes has found no correlation between intercourse and a decrease in physiological performance, but if for some reason a person feels different psychologically this could cause changes.

You will cry

People will tell you that SUP is the greatest, the events are fun, the people are great, and you’ll have the time of your life. This is all true. What is rarely mentioned is the times you will cry. At some point you may set goals and you may venture outside of your comfort zone. After months of training, you may get hit with circumstances beyond your control. You may be paddling as hard as you can go, with winds or currents that seem like they’re pushing you backwards. This might make you cry, or scream, or something of the sort. Other times you will meet your goals or accomplish something great; that can also cause tears. Can you imagine winning a big race after years of training and racing? Sometimes your friends may drag you out into the open ocean with waves and great white sharks. This might cause fear, and that fear could also cause you to cry. Whether they are tears of defeat, joy, or fear – you will probably cry at some point. That is OK.

Don’t say, “I was wishing you would fall in the WHOLE TIME!” to your race mates!

All right, we’ve all thought it. There is a girl or guy right in front of you, and you know if they fall in, you have a shot at winning.

I’ve even heard lore of people far back wishing such things about those decently ahead of them!

Whether you have a shot at the race or not, whether you are thinking it or not, you should not, under any circumstances say, “Man, I wish you had fallen in!” It’s not too nice. Even though they may be the nicest person in the world, and laugh it off, some of them don’t really know what to say or why you’re saying it.

One day when I started out I had finished a race close to a girl that I admire and respect. She was one of my people to beat. This means no disrespect, quite contrary, it is just personal improvement and goal setting. I admired her ability and wanted to attain a similar level. Like the newbie I was, I said, “One day, I’m coming for you!” In what I thought was a respectful and playful tone. She said, “Oh, I know!” Looking back, I regret this. You don’t need to tell these people who they are – they know it. They see you back there when they round the buoys and they know you’re training and gunning for them. Don’t remind them.

What I should have said was, “You really killed it out there!” Or, “I’ve been working really hard, and one day I’d like to be able to go that fast.” I like option #1 better; #2 sounds a little weird. But, I digress.

Either way, what I’m saying is: You put respect in – You get respect out. Respect those in paddling now and one day they will respect you when you’re out front. I think this gets lost in the higher tiers of competitiveness, but should be realized and emphasized. No matter what level paddler you are, respect your fellow paddlers; always speak with kindness and encouragement. It’s better for the sport as a whole!

This story was originally published on AprilZilg.com
Photo: Laura Glantz Design & Photo

April Zilg, Pro-SUP Athlete

Author: April Zilg, Pro-SUP Athlete

April Zilg is an internationally-recognized standup paddle athlete, competing in both sup racing and sup surfing. She has held a spot in the Top #10 world rankings for three years running. When not competing or training, April gives lessons, teaching clinics, guiding SUP yoga or SUP surfing. She is a WPA SUP Instructor, an ACA L2 Essentials of SUP Instructor, and SUP Yoga Instructor. She is a North Carolina native and currently trains in Wrightsville Beach with Carolina Paddleboard Co. but also available to travel for group clinics and offer online coaching for those not in the area.