Thursday, May 31, 2007

Preaching to the Choir

Photo of Steve (KneadingWater) and I during 2007 WaterTribe Everglades Challenge. Note duck tape square on Steve's bottom lip, this for sunburn protection.

Half the fun (even more actually) of doing a race or challenge, is the training and preparation. The event itself is so short lived, and so much more painful, that the enjoyment is all in the training. It's why I race to train and why I always have the next race identified.

If you love your sport, there is no better way to assure you'll get to play a lot. It's not about competition, or being fast, but assuring it'll be an enjoyable experience. Make it a priority, plan your training time, put in the hours, and your guaranteed an active life, and a much more comfortable event. There is no doubt that it is a big time commitment, but if you love it, how else would you want to spend your time :)

I see the Capt'n has also been posting information on training. His latest post is a good review of the basics, the 6 laws of training, for any sport. Lucky me, friends that we are, I get in on some of the secrets too :)

It's interesting how training plans are so similar regardless of the sport, running, biking, triathlon, and of course paddling. I've also found it interesting that training plans for 'winning' vs 'doing well' vs 'just finishing' are also quite similar. All focusing on the most important hours of comfortable distance endurance work, then primarily differing in the amount of speed work that's incorporated. I've always been honest about being a 'just finishing' kind of trainer, making sure I put in the endurance time.

Another friend, paddler, racer, and blogger is Marek (Mountain Wayfarer), his fit2paddle blog is not only devoted to training, but also has quite a bit of invaluable information on technique, great stuff for both the racer or the cruiser. I'm a big believer in incorporating technique work in your training. It's not about your mind knowing how to do it, it's about your body learning, practicing, and remembering it. My philosophy; If you think you know it all, then I don't want to know you.

Don't forget the importance of of simulation training, and please include rescue training. The event is not the time to discover that your food doesn't sit well in your belly, or your shirt chafes, or your cuticles rip every time you stuff your tent into it's tight dry bag. How are you planning to do #1 or #2 during the event :) Simulation training also allows you to acclimate and condition your body for the conditions you'll experience, for the MR340 this will mean heat. Challengers will need to learn how much fluid intake and electrolyte replacement their system will need.

Outside your boat, and floating in the water is not the time to wonder what's the best way to get back in it, it needs to be automatic. I've got the core strength to paddle forever at the right pace, but like many women, I don't have the upper body strength to lift myself up and back into the boat without using aids. I keep trying, but can't get the Kruger Dreamcatcher to roll yet. My kayaking friends and I have great fun doing rescue simulations, including rescuing injured (various kinds) paddlers. If it's going to go wrong, it goes wrong in a big way. Rescue practice is non-negotiable, be prepared, you gotta practice this.

If your new to training and planning for events, keep checking in with your event's website. On the MR340 websites forum, many of the other challengers are posting lots of good information about the river and their training plans and techniques, as well as previous experiences. Di and Chuck, last years tandem record holders, paddling solo this year, posted they were planning a weekend training session to test their lighting systems on the water. Bryan Hopkins has posted great information about paddling at night on this Mighty Missouri. Lots of information out there.

This past weekend, I managed a shorter paddle Friday night, then had a great time paddling 5 hours Sunday night till midnight with my son Alan. We camped out in our Hennessey hammocks, then braved the masses on Monday with another 4 hour paddle that morning. Actually it was great fun with all the chop and confused water from all then boat wakes on the lake.

Be prepared, and happy paddling.


Capt'n "O" Dark 30 said...

You make me smile...

Midwest Paddle Adventures said...

As you mentioned, night paddling is very important for the MR340. If nothing else than to escape the heat and humidity of the Missouri July. At night on the Muddy Mo, being a good listener becomes just as important as sight. Developing skills to "hear" water going over a wing dyke I think will be key. As a finisher from last year wrote, as strange as this sounds, barges can be hard to hear until they on you. Keep the ears open!