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I've been paddling for 3 years, stepped up to solid Class III+ this year and on more than one occasion I've completely lost it and cried. Anyone else have this problem? My skills are solid, roll is solid...just HATE river running. Got into the sport for playboating, which I absolutley LOVE! Never cry while I'm playboating, just river running! Any advice? Please don't tell me to stop river running as this is NOT an option. I've gained some solid water reading skills from rivers and would like to get over this fear I have.
 

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There was an entire article in American Whitewater about a year ago that would be very helpful and encouraging to read on this very topic. Hang in there. It's a very emotional sport.
One other resource would be Darren Livingston
He cries all the time ;-)
 

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In addition to that article, Doug Ammons wrote a series of three articles for AW about the psychology of paddling and dealing with fear on the river in the last three issues. I'll see if I can find a link; it is both fascinating and very helpful reading.
 

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Yo dude, all we girls cry on the river! There is a great segment on a vid (maybe one of Anna Levesque's???) about crying on the rio. It is mostly girls, some guys, but it makes the point clear....lots of folks cry!
That said....ummmmmm, I say play more, down-river less if that makes you happy! One pro I know HATES downriver stuff, is never comfortable, but she can throw down tricks that are the envy of ever dry-eyed guy on the bank!

KJ
 

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I've had some girlfriends that cried after sex. But the only time they cried on the river they were usually screaming "I AM TRYING YOU ASSHOLE" Either way I take full blame.
 

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low water practice

I admire women kayakers. I think they're generally graceful and inspiring. Having several gal friends over the years that became comfortable in class V, and having two daughters that are rapidly excelling in the sport, I believe it is important to not try to hone your skills at river running at too high of water. Now is the perfect time. You can easily be doing class III and IV without the fast action intimiation factor. One thing about becoming a skilled river runner is to know how to slow the action down. Now is the time to be honing your slalom skills on the river. Get out there and slice and dice the river to pieces. Learn to catch tight micro eddies and then dart to the next one. To be able to stop anytime, calm yourself, collect your awareness and confidence, then look over your shoulder at what is coming up and be able to determine what you will have to avoid and where you will have to be getting to next. Learn to lean into rocks, how to use them as pivots or the wave cushion to deflect your trajectory. Boating with more skilled boaters that can dice the river to shreds and following their lead is a great skill builder. Fast water is all about be able to make quick decisions under pressure. Knowing that you can quickly opt to slow it down by catching eddies or deflect off a wave or rock in a bit of absorbing the speed effort and deflecting towards the next safe target is a skill practiced in low water first and early in the season. Then building upon those skills as the water levels increase through the season. It is always good to slow the action down and laugh in excitement about each success or fumbled attempt. Do it when the water is slow and the consequences are reduced. Practice, practice , practice. Keep smiling.
Cheers!
Ken
 

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I'd say get to the root of the problem. What is it that stresses you out the most? Is it the speed things are happening, like Ken says above?

A lot of people starting out are scared of swimming whitewater. Some people are scared of certain things like rocks, strainers, holes, etc. If it is fear of swimming, a good way to help with that is to get some whitewater swimming done in a controlled environment. A great way to do that is in Swiftwater Rescue or Raft Guide school (new raft guides flip lots of boats in training dumping everyone). I used to be pretty stressed about swimming whitewater, even easy stuff, but after having very capable people around you while you are swimming rapids, ferrying accross fast moving water while swimming, or just getting flushed downstream, the experience helps you work on that. The hard part is looking at some class IV- section and saying "1-2-3 go!" and taking the plunge while training.

Also for me, I used to choke on water and stuff. It is hard to swim whitewater when you are out of breath from just "fighting" the river beforehand. The cold water makes you carp, and you suck in some water and do the Larenzo spasm choking thing which is kind of scary in the river. Focus on relaxing and timing your breathing while swimming (if this is where your stress comes from)
 

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I've had some girlfriends that cried after sex. But the only time they cried on the river they were usually screaming "I AM TRYING YOU ASSHOLE" Either way I take full blame.
That was incredibly misogynistic... AND hilarious! I sent it to all my paddling gal pals!
 

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One entry found for misogynistic. Main Entry: mi·sog·y·nis·tic
Pronunciation: m
nis-tik
Function: adjective
: having or showing a hatred and distrust of women


Yes, I had to look it up. I didnt really see it that way but I did think it was damn funny.
 

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Thanks for this post! I'm so glad to hear I am not the only one out there. I too have the skills (bombproof roll, river reading, etc) but when I get out there to do some big water, I stop having fun because I am so nervous. I feel so stupid about it sometimes. The thing that has helped me the most is having a crew that understands my anxieties, and if I am nervous on a section, they just lead me through until I feel more comfortable on the third or fourth run. There are some sections that I have decided not to do because I am so nervous about them, and I think that is okay, because I got into this sport to have fun. I think it is important to push yourself to the next level, but try to find that balance between having fun and advancing to the next level.
 

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My wife calls me that. I had to ask her what it means. Dont send this to her. The last thing she needs is more ammo.

Oh, and I did teach her to paddle but she quit because of the same thing yall are saying. She was really only interested in learning to roll anyway.
 

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I think fear on a river has a lot to do with the group you are boating with.
Also, boating with someone you are dating doesn't work well while trying to learn. I know this from boating, climbing, boarding, etc.

GH, as political as you are, I'd have thought you'd have looked that word up during the primaries.

-d
 

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down river playboating

I don't know where your playboating skills are, but down river playboating is a blast. Kinda combines the two. You're constantly looking for good play waves to jump in and good rocks to splat on or spin over or wave trains that you can throw a wave wheel or something off of. It's great fun and it's hard to get scared when you're goofing around that much. There's so many ways to just be goofy (and safe) on the river. A couple girls I know talked about when they were on a river that has a lot of rafts they will determine before the trip that they have to call out every stoke they take like a raft guide before they take it. ( so you're constantly saying "left side forward, right side forward" etc.) It sounds really dumb, and it is, but it's absolutely hilarious. just goof around and have fun.
 

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New experiences scare me to the point that I pray (and I'm an atheist, so maybe I'm just trying to meditate). Any new river, and I grip up. Any new river at a higher flow than I've seen, and I grip. (ask GH about my day on the Numbers at 1800, jeez; I'd have gotten off the river if I didn't have to ferry across to the other side to do it). And everyone laughing about how I screamed trying to get back on line in Number 5 that day. They thought I crapped my pants (for the record, i did not).

I agree with tracing your fear to the source and dealing with the source. I love kayaking because it has required me to choose to compete against unconscious obstacles I create for myself. Fear is my largest obstacle, always.

For me, repetition has taught me that I have the skillset I need to be in the water I want to run. And I spent plenty of time working skill sets in water I knew very very well. Plenty of mistakes have taught me that while I make mistakes, I recover well, and I trust in my ability to recover. Repetition has taught me that the fear is there, but I can choose to ignore it and get downriver without letting fear cause me to lose focus.

I was really bolstered by an LVM I saw one time; one of the kayakers was saying how the thrill of kayaking was the difference between being at the top of a drop, not knowing if you can do it, being scared out of your mind, but launching anyway, versus the feeling of being at the bottom, looking up at what you just ran, knowing you succeeded, and the feeling of triumph over what you felt up top. I agree.

I've never cried at the top of a rapid, though I've wanted to. But I've cried at the bottom of several. It was a mix of relief at letting the fear out finally, and jubilation at having overcome it. I'm no adrenaline junky. Being afraid isn't fun for me, in any fashion. But pushing myself beyond perceived limits is one of my highest rewards. Fear is one of the limits I have to push through.

Reward yourself with the feeling of triumph at the bottom. I see that as sort of like muscle memory. It conditions you to fight the terror on your next run.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Wow, so many replies and some really solid advice - thanks! The root problem is the fear of the swim! I totally suck at swimming (plan to take some lessons this winter) and the fear of pinning on rocks. I boat w/an ACA instructor (who happens to be my hubby) so I have solid backup and believe me, on more than one occasion he has leapt out of his boat mid rapid because of a blood curdling scream out of me!

Thanx for letting me know that it's ok to be intimidated by the river.
 

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Routine can be very helpful in centering your mind before getting on the water. For me that's stretching in view of the river, saying a quiet "thank you" for the beauty and magnificence that is the river, get in the boat, splash some water on my face, paddle out feeling centered. It's sort of a pre-boating meditation that provides confidence and focus.
 

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Songs

Just remembered probably the most important thing. Get a song stuck in your head and whistle/hum/sing it on your way through the rapid. Again, sounds really dumb but it works. Makes the rapid a hundred times less intimidating when you've got "la bamba" going on in your head. I don't actually know all the words so I just swap in Mexican food items that I do know, which makes it even funnier. I think most boaters have some funny song in their head whether they admit it or not. I can't imagine I'm the only one.
 

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Thats so funny. I do the same thing. I generally use disco music, I cant help but grinning.
 

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I've been paddling for 3 years, stepped up to solid Class III+ this year and on more than one occasion I've completely lost it and cried. Anyone else have this problem? My skills are solid, roll is solid...just HATE river running. Got into the sport for playboating, which I absolutley LOVE! Never cry while I'm playboating, just river running! Any advice? Please don't tell me to stop river running as this is NOT an option. I've gained some solid water reading skills from rivers and would like to get over this fear I have.

Do whatever you feel is right. I never really playboat anymore but I used to all the time. Sometimes I think I might still be a better creeker if I did.
 
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