Surfski paddling is so much fun, just getting out on the water is enough to keep you hooked for life. But, surfskis and fitness paddling go hand and hand, which often leads to paddlers discovering the fantastic world of surfski racing. A new commitment to the fitness paddling and training lifestyle shortly follows! Getting a surfing app is what you will do first before watching surf contest.
In the beginning, just adding miles, keeping track of times and exploring new conditions to paddle in is usually enough for those new to the sport. But as paddlers become more comfortable in their boat, and more experienced and ambitious, the fire to improve and test abilities inevitably grows.
The only way to make real forward progress in your kayak racing and training is to plan properly, and then put the time in. You don’t want to take all the fun out of paddling, but taking the work seriously enables you to push harder and pass through boundaries. Setting and achieving goals is very gratifying, and can inspire you to step outside your comfort zone and discover aspects of the sport that weren’t apparent before.
Coaches and top athletes are a wealth of information on this subject. Who better to learn from than those who put it into action day in and day out? South African surfski paddler Sean Rice has made a name for himself on the international surfski racing circuit over the last few years, with podium finishes all over the world. Sean paddles out of Fish Hoek Surf Lifesaving Club in Cape Town, and is sponsored by Think Kayaks. Ambassador of the sport that he is, Sean took time to share some training tips and advice on how to take your surfski paddling to the next level.
Sean’s 10 Tips for Improved Surfski Training:
Do a minimum of 3 paddling sessions a week if you are looking to improve on your skill level. But, if you really want to see an improvement in performance, do 3-4 sessions during the week plus a longer one of 1-2 hours every weekend. Throw in some cross training such as running or swimming and soon you’ll be breaking through your PB’s (personal bests). It’s always a bonus to get training programs written for you by a coach. It takes away the worry about whether you’re doing the right thing or not.
Just about every session we do (except the long ocean paddles) revolve around some kind of interval training. Resting is important between intervals, but try limiting it to 1 minute for short sprints and 2 minutes for longer intervals such as 2000m’s. Being fast gets you onto runs which will then do the hard work for you!
I would suggest most of your interval sessions should be done on flat water, and the long distance paddles on the ocean. Speed and power should be all you are worrying about during interval sessions. Obviously take what you get water wise, but a good idea is to try timing your interval sessions for the less windy days (or parts of the day).
For ocean paddling, I would always choose downwind paddling if I have the choice. It takes a lot of skill and time to perfect downwind paddling, and it is fun, so it only makes sense to do it as much as possible! I personally like circuit courses as well every few sessions, as it gives you a bit of everything.
An unfortunate reality: the best tip for gaining competency on the ocean really is “time in the boat” (ha ha). Keep going out and get your confidence up, and that will have the biggest positive affect on your paddling.
There are quite a few really good technique videos on YouTube these days, a lot of them from the sprinters. Go through a couple of them and then practice while you do your warm up and warm down every session. No one with a sense of humor likes to go out and slog away for an hour’s session solely on technique, so I try compensating by doing a little every session.
Gym work does pay off. It takes a while, but with hard work it does help. I do 3 gym sessions a week to maintain strength. Concentrate on body weight exercises in the beginning and get advice on good technique. It’s the best way to get out of the cold weather as well!
Comfort directly affects your confidence in the boat, which directly affects your boat speed. Being comfortable is building block number one so boat choice is very important. I like to explain it to people this way: yes an elite boat such as the Think Uno Max may be super-fast, but with surfski paddling if you miss just one stroke it can make the difference. It only takes one missed stroke to miss one run, which unfortunately can cost you 50-60m! Miss a few strokes during a race and all of a sudden it makes more sense to slide back into the Evo II, which is more stable so that you don’t sacrifice your overall speed.
I don’t take any sports supplements myself, but I do race and train with a very simple electrolyte juice. They’re all much the same with regards to nutrition, but some can be quite potent and might upset your stomach over longer distances. I normally put in just less than what the tub advises as to make it easier to drink. Over really long races such as the Cape Point Challenge (50km), I normally take some energy gels with me. Two or three for the race, and one back up just in case!
Set GOALS! Make them attainable goals so that you know where you’re heading and what you want to achieve from your training – and never be shy to ask the guys around you for advice!
If you would like advice with training programs please feel free to send me an email at [email protected] – I would be more than happy to help out!
Check out this great video of Sean in action. In August 2011 he stopped by Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak in Vancouver, on his way to the US Surfski Championships in San Francisco. Deep Cove holds a hugely popular Tuesday Night Race Series, which Sean was able to attend while there. To make things fun and challenging, race organizers decided to hold Sean back by 3 minutes. This gave everyone a chance to catch a glimpse of Sean as he flew by in his Think Uno. The fact that we are able to get on the water with the world’s best paddlers is one of the things that makes this sport so great!