This Evening’s Kayak Workout

I often get asked about training for kayaking–whether it be for adventure racing or pure kayak racing. People want to know how to improve their technique, how to get faster. Just as often, I scratch my head at how some of these people can be asking that question. Many are accomplished runners, bikers and/or swimmers. Many are elite-level athletes or former college athletes. Many have also trained themselves to a high level in those other sports. My first question is usually, “Well, how do you train for those sports?”

The systematic athletes will talk about base miles, aerobic base, long, steady, distance training, interval training, and periodization. They’ll also talk about drills to improve technique and workouts to practice transitions (in triathlon) or to simulate race conditions (training in the rain, heat, or cold). Once I get that out of them, I typically ask, “And, what makes training for kayaking any different?”

Sometimes I get blank stares. Sometimes I get a wide-eyed “Aha!” look. Yes, it is very easy to transfer the type of workouts you do for running, biking or swimming to training for kayaking. There’s no reason you can’t do long, steady distance, interval pyramids, anaerobic threshold training, or technique drills in the boat. Now, when you are first starting out, I do recommend a good bit of long, steady distance mixed with technique drills. But, eventually, depending on your goals, you want to incorporate other types of workouts.

As Aaron and I have just started our serious training for the Colorado River 100 (Labor Day Weekend), we have started with some lower intensity distance paddling. While I’ve paddled the fast Motion Tech tandem quite a bit, Aaron hadn’t been in the boat but once prior to our starting training–so, there is some adjustment time. But, Aaron also is an experienced kayaker and our progression to higher intensity and even longer sessions will be rather quick.

This evening, I opted to break things up a bit by introducing Aaron to some interval work. We’re still working on getting him used to the boat and to following me–getting him to better mimic proper, efficient wing paddle technique. So, I started with a strong, steady 10-minute warm-up. Following the warm-up we filled the rest of the hour of paddling time with one-minute, high intensity intervals followed by two minutes of easy “recovery” paddling. Because we are still working on many things–and I wanted to strive for the best quality work and technique in the interval–I opted for a recovery time that was double the work time. Eventually, we will shorten that recovery time to one minute and then to 30 seconds.

Following the last interval, we had about two minutes of cool down paddling–just easy technique paddling to get us back to the boat ramp. After stowing and washing the boat and paddles we opted to top the workout off with four sets of 25 log bench rows in the Feed the Warrior Gym.

We’re making good progress in the boat already. This Sunday, we’ll get in our first longer paddle–three hours or so on the Hillsborough River.

~ by kipwkoelsch on May 28, 2010.

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