Category Archives: Training

Thoughts on training

sunny river tyne

When the weather is like this, how could you not want to paddle!

Having had to pull out of DW this year, the obvious question that people have asked is “are you doing DW next year?”. Maybe… A good part of the reason I planned to do DW was to push me into training again. That worked, but now it’s time to have a reassess. I raced some sprints the other week and really enjoyed it, even if I wasn’t anywhere near as fast as I used to be. You can’t really focus on training for sprints and endurance things like DW at the same time though. So there’s a decision to be made. It’s made me look again at what I want to do and think about why I train. Continue reading

The value of focus in training

I see plenty of discussions about training sessions and programs but there’s some important subtitles of training that I don’t think get the time they always deserve. One of these is how much focus and concentration is put into sessions. It’s easy to just go through the motions when you’re training but I think it is important to be concentrating and to be present during the session. I’ve done many sessions where I paddled it but was thinking about other things. I’ve watched many others do the same. They aren’t completely wasted sessions but you don’t get as much out of them as you could.

You may well have heard of the idea that you need 10,000 hours of practice to get expert at something. It’s been distorted from the original research / idea but the key point really boils down to the fact that you can’t get good at something without deliberate practice. There’s a few components to deliberate practice but focusing on the task and getting feedback are key. Spend as long as you like pretending to practice but you won’t be anywhere near what you could have been with deliberate practice. Focussing on what you’re actually doing yield vastly better and faster results, as does performing drills and exercises that target areas you need to improve.

Getting feedback is very important. Without knowing if what you did was better or worse than before you can’t hope to improve it. Sometimes you can tell what’s happening yourself, maybe you changed technique and your time trial time improved or you lifted more weight (though you still have to make sure you actually notice it!). Other times you need someone else like a coach or training partner, for example to video technique or shout changes at you mid session. Continue reading

Devizes to Westminster training plan: a breakdown of the next few months’ training

dw-logoI’ve been posting a training blog / log but haven’t really covered any of the why behind the choices of sessions etc, but whenever I see someone’s training program (and I’ve got loads of snippets from various programs saved away) I always want to work backwards to what is driving the choices and overall structure, although it’s often nice to steal a session or two to add some new variations to your training. So here’s my best shot at breaking down the aims and thinking behind what I’m doing. Continue reading

Race prep: the basics

You’ve trained for months for a race, putting in hours of hard work and you want to deliver your best on the day; but what’s the optimal way to do it? Everyone has their own opinions and approaches but here are our thoughts. Backed up with copious amounts of trial and error and a sprinkling of science!

The type of race you’re doing will make a difference to your preparation but the general principles are the same, and hopefully you will get some help from coaches and other experienced paddlers. When thinking about the build up to a race, you can break it down into several phases, possibly starting a year or more before the race, but here we are going to look at the last week.

The week before

In the run up to an important race you want a period of easier training so that you don’t go into the race tired. This is known as a taper. Exactly how much you need to taper depends on the race, if you’re just doing a local club marathon race then you shouldn’t be resting for a whole week, one rest day just before is probably enough. This is because it’s more important to get a full amount of training in so you go faster months and years in the future. However, for more important races it is important to go into the race without being tired, and ideally having your form peak for the race.

Rest is important! You can’t make yourself go faster in the week before a race but you can definitely make yourself go slower. It almost certainly worth putting in a complete rest day 1-5 days before regatta. The exact sessions in a taper period can vary quite a bit, but hopefully you have a coach or some experienced training partners helping you set a program but the main point is to be reducing your training volume, so that the sessions are easier to recover from. We would strongly suggest reducing the volume but not the intensity of sessions as this allows you to keep your speed and keep you feeling sharp. For instance, if you normally have 8 * 4 minutes on a Monday you could reduce that to 4 * 4 minutes with 4 * 1 minutes at the end. Adding some extra speed work and starts might be a good idea in the taper period. This week is also a good time to get out in any crew boats you are racing. Continue reading