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Energy, surf travel and surf lessons


I’ve been having some downtime from surfing. That’s not so fun when it’s your #1 passion. However, even less fun is having your body and ego bruised even more from bad decisions. So I’m starting a discussion on how you manage your energy when there’s an abundance of surf and time, such as traveling on a surf trip, or spending time with a great instructor, like @doug. I think the choice of how much to surf and where to surf needs to balanced with one’s personal energy. I’ve had a couple times on surf trips where my skill level has gone from solid intermediate to seemingly upper beginner, just from injuries and fatigue. And when the energy goes, so does the confidence needed for effective surfing.

Here are the factors to consider:

Factors Taking Energy

  1. Surfing larger waves, and especially getting pounded either from getting caught inside or wipeouts.
  2. Injuries, even if they seem modest, can lower energy. Cuts and bruises hurt. Antibiotics interfere with digestion.
  3. Long sessions without hydration and food breaks will ruin session later the same day and probably the next.
  4. Offshore winds, as you have to paddle extra hard to catch waves.
  5. Missing lots of waves, such as by using a small board, surfing in a crowd, or in offshore winds.
  6. Unfamiliar surf spots, as you won’t be able to predict the waves as well, and there could be unknown hazards.
  7. Unfamiliar equipment can throw in another variable causing some wipeouts, and thus loss of energy.
  8. Training with an instructor requires more energy to focus on some changes.
  9. Overwork at your regular job and loss of sleep.


I’ve found that once I’ve gotten to the point of soreness and exhaustion, my body is plain sore. It’s hard to move on land, let alone on a fast moving wave. One day of recovery is not sufficient. Even two days seems optimistic. When I get really tired, it seems my body needs a solid 3 or 4 days of no surfing. That’s pretty frustrating when you’ve got limited time on a trip. Why expect you’ll be able to surf like a rock star if you can barely bend over to put on your shoes?


  1. Balance out the “Factors Taking Energy” with your energy level.
  2. Consider the conditions and what you’ll be doing the next few days. Maybe the conditions justify staying out that last half hour when you’re really dehydrated and tired, because it’s the last day of a trip or the forecast is for bad conditions.
  3. Avoid going over the edge fatigue wise, because then you’re down for at least 3 days in my experience.
  4. If you’re really fatigued, then pushing yourself when you’re fatigued will result in unpleasant surf experiences and longer amount of time before you’re 100%
  5. Fatigue can lead to injury.
  6. Balance out the selection of equipment and type of waves with your energy level. Minimize the “Factors Taking Energy”. I.e., if you’re tired, then surfing hard offshore winds and large waves may not be a wise decision.
  7. Get enough sleep and consider naps.
  8. Do some yoga and stretching.
  9. Eat nutritious foods, and don’t overeat to compensate for the loss of energy.

What tips do you have for managing energy on a surf trip?


This is an interesting perspective on energy and surfing, @justin. I tend to be far less calculated when it comes to catching waves.

I do find that on the whole, surfing supplies me a great deal of physical, mental and spiritual energy — as long as I don’t take from it more than what feels necessary. If I’m tired and out too long, my chances of paying the price increases the more I keeping waiting for “just one more wave.” My wife could get angry later on, too (lol).

Managing fear in larger/trickier waves requires a great deal of mental fortitude and concentration, and an even greater ability to let go without being reckless. The payoff, as I’m sure you know, can be huge: you get a profound boost of energy that lasts for several hours (or more), and a great memory for your mental highlight reel.

Injury aside, I really think the getting-sore-and-needing-to-recover part is a symptom of age :frowning: A few times this season I’ve had waves land on me in the worst of ways, and since then my neck has been constantly sore (lately my shoulder, too, and I don’t even know where or how that happened!). Ironically, though, it’s caused me more pain out of the water than in.

You’re 100% right on fatigue and sleep. They’re partners in crime. Some days I’m so beat I don’t even bother checking the surf, which would only take me a minute to do.

Overall, I pretty much go by feel. I know myself and rhythms well enough to pre-qualify my body for successful surfing. Daily stretching is also paramount.


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