Proud To Be Supporting Tim
Tim Lodge is a GB Paracanoe Medalist who has battled disability, depression and anxiety to focus on his passion of canoeing and set his sights on Olympic success.
We began sponsoring Tim in 2019 to help support his Olympic campaign. We caught up with Tim in August 2023 following his recent win in the UK championship and with his sights firmly set on the worlds in Denmark.
What is your current training schedule and what are your goals?
I am currently training between 8 and 11 times per week. My days start with some yoga and stretching and then I’m on the water by 6.30am weekdays and 8am on the weekends. The water sessions usually last for an hour and are a mix of volume and technical paddling. I try and fit in 3 gym sessions in the evenings and usually go for a mountain bike run on a Sunday afternoon as recovery.
My main goal is to enjoy my canoeing and get the boat moving as freely and quickly as possible. It’s a very technical sport, the technique is complex and hard to maintain when you get fatigued. The aim is to feel complete connection and flow with the water even under tension and stress.
In terms of competition my goal is to perform well at the upcoming Para Event at the Canoe Marathon World Championships in Denmark later this month. I have been selected to compete in the open event and the KL3 Men which is my disability class. Both races are over 10KM.
Paris 2024 is only round the corner and although I have had some time away from 200M training to focus on the marathon I am feeling better than ever in the boat so who knows. My main goal is enjoyment and keeping healthy, the boat going fast is a natural progression for me now and for the first time in my athletic career I actually believe that I am pretty good at this too. Selection for Paris is in June 24 so I plan to have a solid winter after Denmark and see where that takes me.
How easy is it to work around your disability? What kind of things help/make it less painful?
Being in a boat is the only time that I am pain free. I have learnt to live at around 7 out of 10 in pain without it impacting my life too much. As I am getting older my disability is deteriorating so it’s even more important than ever to keep the rest of my body fit and healthy. This has become my motivation to keep going at the age of 51 which makes it an easier choice to make at 5am when I rise for training.
Many things help me maintain a level of pain that I can live and train with. My mindset and the story I give the pain is paramount, I journal and track my mindset each morning when I have my coffee before training. I find that by writing the way I want to feel that day training and living it becomes my true belief and then my reality throughout the day. Cold water and Ice really help to reduce inflammation and my pain. I have a cold bath every morning before training and use ice compression packs throughout the day on my knees and ankles. Yoga and stretching are also a part of my daily routine, it’s far from the yoga you see on social media, but I have developed a little practice of movements that keep me loose and connected.
How do you mentally prepare for competitions?
For me it’s all about enjoying the competition and being part of the sport at that level. It’s such an honour to be part of this amazing sport and the competing for your country is the icing on the cake. It’s what we train for everyday so the chance to be free and let the training do its work is a great privilege. You cannot help to be nervous and anxious running into an event. We all put a lot of training in to get to this point and it’s so important to trust this and more importantly to enjoy it. It’s not every day you put on a GB Vest and race for your country so I soak it up at much as I can.
I do things I love on the week of the events, light easy paddles feeling the connection to the water, cycling my bike, and watching movies. Visualisation also helps to calm me; I use mediation and visualisation techniques to bring myself into the present moment of connection and enjoyment.
How do you keep yourself motivated when things get tough?
For me this is simple. My disability motivates me to train and keep fit. If I didn’t have this sport, then I could easily be on crutches or even in a wheelchair by now. Over the last 3 years I have had major surgery on both feet instead of potential below knee amputation. This is the last surgery they can do on my feet, and the next stage is to take my feet off which I do not want to happen just yet. Canoeing is a great sport for people with lower limb disabilities, it’s a chance for me to keep fit and enjoy the freedom of the water. The more I keep fit, the longer I will keep my feet, it’s that simple and that’s my motivation.
How do you maintain balance and who supports you?
Balance is easy for me as my life is now all about keeping fit and healthy and canoeing is my enabler for that. I do need to rest more as I get older and maintain a healthy diet to keep weight off, but I enjoy feeling fit and healthy so it’s not such a difficult choice for me these days.
I set my own training with the help of my canoe club Wey Kayak Club and one of the coaches there Paul Dimmock. I also work on my technical paddling with Ivan Lawler at Elmbridge Canoe Club. I have a great balance between the two and am very lucky to have such experienced paddlers and coaches supporting me. I also have a great mindset coach and healer called Laura Adams who is an integral part of my off the water training and support.
From a sponsor perspective then Haydock have always been so very kind to me and supported me financially for boats, kit, training camps and competitions. It’s not a major sport for sponsorship support and I self-fund so without their help I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do. It’s great to have a company like Haydock on board that sees value in my journey to be the best I can be. I am forever grateful for their belief and support of me.
How do you balance your training regime around working full time?
It’s easier in the summer than the winter. We are on the water early every morning before work and then I gym 3 evenings a week after work. I have a good work life balance and listen to my body when I am tired. I will have a nap most days for 20 minutes after lunch and then a cold shower to wake up.
I enjoy working and training as it gives you something else to focus on aside to just training and competing. It gives you balance; I have done both and the years that I stopped work completely and just trained I didn’t get any quicker. I find I perform better with other stimulants in my life so that it’s not all about winning races.