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CROSS-TRAINING OF THE MONTH SUP

Rick Pearson takes to the water in an attempt to find out why, when it comes to full-body fitness, the only way is SUP

I’m floating gently down the Thames. In my hands is a paddle and under my feet is a 10-foot plastic board. Welcome to the wonderful world of SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding). The lovechild of surfing and canoeing, SUP involves standing on an oversized surfboard while using a paddle to propel yourself forwards. Unlike surfing, though, SUP isn’t restricted to the ocean. It can be practised on lakes and rivers. “If there’s a body of water, you can probably SUP on it,” says James Roorda, a Canadian now living in London and the club captain at Eel Pie Island Club SUP. “There’s now even SUP fishing.” But I’m not interested in the meditative qualities of hooks, lines and sinkers; I want to know how SUP can benefit runners. It’s time to grab a paddle, don a lifejacket and get out on the water.

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About Men's Running

We all think we’re giving 100% in races. But watching some elite athletes, their faces contorted in late-race agony, I can’t help but ask myself: how hard am I really trying? In Matt Fitzgerald’s How Bad Do You Want It? – a brilliant book with a toe-curlingly bad title – he writes about our ‘unreachable physical limit’. That’s not to say we are all super-athletes of unlimited potential. Quite the opposite: we are all wimps unwilling to break free from our mind-forged manacles. It is not the body that slows us down, but the brain. The bravest athletes – the Prefontaines, Radcliffes and Brownlees – get closer to their physical limit than most. The rest of us? My guess is that we rarely realise more than 80% of our physical potential. Yet we can, with consistent training and iron-willed determination, walk a little further along those hot coals. Perhaps not as far as Radcliffe or Brownlee, but further than we’ve ever gone before. It’s a theme that David Smyth explores further in the month’s ‘Suffer club’ article on page 60, speaking with some of these athletes about how they’re able to push themselves to their very limits. So next time you find yourself in a race, telling yourself the same old lie that you’re trying your hardest, be brave and ask yourself honestly: can I give more? The answer is, inevitably, yes.