Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ - #healthynurse Spotlight Series - Lauren Rodriguez, RN
Kansas City nurse trains for her third 340-mile paddleboard race.
Lauren Rodriguez is a Kansas girl, born and raised. She’s also a water-lover. Whether it’s swimming, water-skiing, canoeing, or stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) — the water is her sanctuary.
In addition to being a water bug, Lauren is competitive. With that combination, it’s no wonder she is training for the longest nonstop paddling race in the world — the Missouri River 340 (MR340). Lauren’s already completed it twice. Each time was a major accomplishment considering the route is 340 miles long.
“I am one of the two women to ever stand-up paddleboard this race and the only woman in the world to do it twice,” said Lauren. “This year, one year after major wrist surgery, I’m doing it again.”
A Love for the Water
There’s something magnetic about water that pulls Lauren in. She’s always lived near it, and when she moved to San Diego, she bought her first paddleboard. From the moment she plopped it in the ocean, Lauren was hooked. Even after returning to her roots in Kansas, the water-lover still paddleboards often.
“I paddleboard at least once or twice a week,” said Lauren. “It makes me want to see how much more I can push myself to go faster and farther. Today I paddled 14 miles.”
Her initial curiosity about paddleboarding grew to a competitive interest. She signed up as the only woman in a group of ten to paddleboard the MR340. Being part of that group gave her peace of mind and a sense of comraderie.
“It’s such an adventure,” said Lauren. “I didn’t know what to expect. We paddled for 24 hours, took a nap for 2 hours, then got back on the water.”
At one point, Lauren was separated from the larger group. She was left with just two others on the water.
“We paddled through the night,” she said. “Our goal wasn’t to break records, but to finish. And we did.”
Challenge Accepted, Again
The next year, Lauren signed up for the MR340 again, only this time she went solo. It was a different experience paddling by herself, spending as much as 7 to 8 hours alone on the water. But groups would pass, and she’d keep pushing herself forward.
“You only have 88 hours to go the full 340 miles,” said Lauren. “I paddled all the way from Kansas City to St. Louis.”
A Lifetime of Staying Active
Lauren’s always been competitive. She’s done more than intense paddleboard races — she’s also run marathons and biked across Kansas.
How does she do it? She puts herself first by:
- Waking up early to take a walk with the dog or get some training done
- Preparing healthy lunches ahead of time to take to work
- Forcing herself to take her 30-minute lunch break, no matter how busy she is
- Listening to music on her phone to give her a mental boost
“95% of the challenge is mental, and only 5% is physical,” said Lauren. “Figure out a way to hold yourself accountable. Make up your mind on when and how you’re going to start.”
Lauren’s other advice:
- Find something you love. You’re not going to stick with it if you don’t enjoy it.
- Find someone to exercise with if you need motivation and accountability.
- Don’t withhold things from your diet, but focus on moderation. You won’t stick with a diet plan if you eliminate your favorite foods.
- It usually takes 3 to 6 months for permanent change. If you stick with it long enough, it’ll become routine.
Lauren Rodriguez, RN, is a nurse at Kansas City VA Medical Center in Kansas City, MO.
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