I paddled for a year or two when I was nine/ten ish and raced a few Div 9 races and things but not very much. I restarted paddling when I was 16 just before Easter, I know it was just before Easter because I remember wanting to do the Wey to Elmbridge half marathon, but I was too old. Inevitably, I heard about DW, it’s hard not to hear about DW if you’re down a canoe club at Easter! I was intrigued (and blissfully ignorant of what it actually took to race). I spent the summer doing all the Hasler races I could, and getting more and more into paddling. Near the end of summer, my coach, Sarah, found me a potential partner, with a view to doing DW. He was Fred Rief, who paddled for Cokethorpe school, who had several good DW junior paddlers. By this point I’d only raced Hasler races and regattas but I was convinced I wanted to give the DW a crack. Continue reading
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
The South African kayaking national championships were held recently, using the exact same course that will be used for the ICF canoe and kayak World Cup in 2016 and World Championships in 2017. Every course is slightly different and people love to get the low down so we’ve put together a quick overview of the course and the weekend.
The course from the 2015 SA national champs. The same course will be used for the world cup in 2016 and world champs in 2017. Photo from SA Canoe Marathon Facebook.
Quite a few people take part in the Devises to Westminster International Canoe Marathon (DW) every year, with competitors ranging from existing kayak world medallists to people with only a few months paddling experience. Lots of people complete the Waterside and Thameside series and then DW but don’t have another canoeing target lined up, and we think that’s a shame so Paul put together a list of races we think would be worth a try.
Over the years I’ve heard of quite a few interesting races, though I should confess I haven’t taken part in all of them yet! (At the time of writing I’ve done five of the races, and although I’ve done DW as the four day stage race I haven’t done it straight through – maybe some time…)
Run on the Yukon river in Canada, this is as much an expedition as a race. The Yukon runs through some real wilderness and just making it to the finish is a big ask. The organisers give you a GPS so they can track you and pretty much wave you off at the start and wait for you 1000 miles later after 7 to 12 days paddling. You have to take a 6 hour break overnight (enforced by the GPS you carry) but other than that you’re free to race however you think best. You can use a kayak or canoe, and people have done it in singles and SUPs. It really sounds like a tough challenge, especially carrying all of your food and kit of so long. The organisers website says they’ve had 300 miles of cold rain, metre high waves and forest fires (not all at once thankfully!) but you can be sure Canadian lakes are going to be gorgeous on a good day. Oh, and they have bears wandering around up there too.
The race runs on even numbered years (2016, 2018…) if you’re tempted. Or maybe the shorter Yukon River Quest (450 ish miles) or the Yukon 360 (which is on a different river in the Yukon each year and only three days long).
The Yukon river near the start point of the Yukon 1000. Photo by Kieth Williams
If the Devises to Westminster was your idea of heaven then the Cheshire Ring might be as well. It hasn’t gained the same popularity and kudos, perhaps because it’s shorter. It’s 96 mile race along a series of canals with 92 locks and 5 tunnels, and you’re allowed to do it K1 unlike DW. You can also enter as a team and do a relay, each boat doing one section, if you don’t fancy the whole thing. Continue reading