Since I received the news that I would be on Team Canada for the World Champioships, I have been focusing on how to make sure I am in top paddling shape come November. This is a bit if a change for me since I usually try and focus my efforts on August and September as they are usually the peak months for our local races. The challenge that I faced was how do I still compete in my regular races throughout the summer season but still manage to train in order to peak later in the season.
I did some reading of other racer's blogs including Larry Cain's blog (http://www.larrycain.ca/blog/blog/) and the strategy seemed to focus on planning out your race schedule and focusing on only a couple big races in which you wanted to perform at your best. Larry Cain talks a lot about training cycles and phases which can get fairly complex but to simplify I decided to pick a couple of local races that I would prepare for and the other races would just have to be additional training sessions.
To keep myself on track I enlisted the help of endurance athlete, stand up paddler, super mom and good friend Jen Segger based out of Squamish. (http://www.challengebychoice.ca/). Jen has worked with me before creating online training programs and being an excellent resource for all things related to racing and training. Jen and I e-mail back and forth regularly and she builds a week to week online program that I follow. The program includes plenty of paddling, quite a bit of strength training in the gym and some cross training. My experience working with Jen has been awesome and she's one of the few coaches/trainers that really knows stand up paddling as her and her partner Norm Hann spend plenty of time on the water.
I can't give up too much of my training program but our focus over the past few months has been strength building and interval training. I've spent more time in the gym in these past 2 months than I have ever before. The workouts in the gym vary between strength endurance and high intensity type workouts. We work plenty of different muscle groups through dynamic movements and lifts. A bit of a change for me has been a big focus on building leg strength. In the past I have thought that I should be in the gym working my paddling muscles like lats, back, shoulders etc. but we have been spending more time working on leg, hip and glute muscles to help compliment the muscles that are already strong from a season/years of paddling. It has been a challenge but also rewarding to see the changes in how I perform on the water after spending time in the gym.
On the water we have been working on training using intervals of varying length. These range from 1 minute all out sprints to 25 minute pieces at distance race pace. Interval training is all about pushing yourself and training your body to recover more efficiently. Interval training allows you to spend a little bit less time on the water but use that time in a more effective way. In my early racing days I used to just go out and paddle until I got tired which will help you get stronger but certainly isn't the most efficient way to build strength and endurance. I use a heart rate monitor for all of my training sessions so that I can push myself hard during the intervals and watch my heart rate come down during the recovery phases.
I've been doing my best to compliment my training with nutrition and some supplements. Q Energy Drink has supported me for a number of years now and I always have Q Energy drink in my bottle during workouts and paddles. Muscle MLK Canada has also been a big help over the past couple years as well. I generally eat a vegetarian diet at home which can leave me a little bit protein deficient for all of the training I do and Muscle MLK is an easy way to keep that up. I don't put too much focus on my diet but I generally do my best to eat clean, healthy and often.
The training has actually been a lot of fun over the past few months. I have enjoyed pushing myself and having goals really makes it easier to stay motivated to train. Whether you are a pro level athlete or a weekend warrior I think adding goals and structure to your training can really help get you faster and stronger. Hiring a coach or trainer is another great way to keep yourself on track and have someone there to push you to be your best. Please get in touch if you have questions about training or coaching or if you want some help getting motivated on the water. I always need training partners!