Friday, June 15, 2007

Always Working It


People are always asking me how fast my Kruger Dreamcatcher is, and often want me to compare it to my speed in my sea kayak. Most paddlers are pretty obsessed with speed, and I'm certainly one of them. Nothing to do with racing, just something fun to measure. On average, I think I'm still a bit faster in my sea kayak, but it's not a fair comparison, the boats are so different. And I know many who paddle a Kruger who can leave me in their wake. It's not about the boat but the engine (paddler).

Under good weather conditions (winds ~5mph), on a lake (no current), my typical cruising pace in the Dreamcatcher for a 6-8 mile paddle is 4mph, 10-15 miles is about 3.8 mph, and 20-25 miles at 3.6 mph. These are training paddles (not social paddles) non-stop, paddle always in the water, and with a steady continual yet comfortable pace. In my WaterTribe challenges, where I'm paddling 40-50 miles a day, my moving pace generally stays about 3.5 mph (if no headwinds), but my overall pace drops to 3.0-3.2 to account for eating, peeing, stretching, breaks, etc...

Mark Przedwojewski, owner of Kruger Canoes, taught me how to paddle one handed, while eating with the other. It took a while to develop enough strength in my wrists, and it's kinda like a party trick. As Verlen said, "your not moving if your not paddling". But as Silbs would say, "I digress".

This afternoon, I went to the lake for an 8 mile paddle, I was especially interested in what my overall pace would be.

I've been spending a lot of time working on my technique of switching hands, and was really curious to see the benefit, not so much with speed over this distance, but with efficiency. Using a single blade, 20 strokes per side feels optimal to me, but I've been amazed at the loss in speed and the effort needed to quickly get back to speed if you miss 1, 2 and worse 3 strokes with a lazy or bad hand switch. During a 300+ mile challenge, efficiency becomes very important.

Also, I was curious what impact there would be on my speed without the GPS in front of me the whole time. I almost always have my GPS with me (remember, I'm a statistician, I really like studying and working on the science of paddling, a GPS and heart rate monitor provide me with great data to play with :). As strange as it sounds, I've suspected that having the GPS in front of me actually slows me down, by allowing me to settle on my "usual" pace, rather than working at a paddling pace based on how I feel. I've noticed that I rarely feel like I worked very hard, or even feel like I've gotten a workout, even after a 20 miler. I think my "usual" pace might be outdated.

So I put my Garmin Forerunner on the deck where I couldn't see it, and planned a nonstop 8 miler to the 64 bridge and back. I paddled a pace that by feel, was a good hard cruising pace, and that still allowed me to sing along with my MP3. I figured I was still in a heart rate zone between 2 and 3. I'm wishing I had the heart rate monitor on, but I don't like it paddling with my torso rotation and PFD.

As I suspected, my pace was much improved. The overall stats were 8.48 miles, 153:07 minutes, average pace 13:20 min/mile or 4.5 mph. I think 4.5 mph is quite a decent pace for a 8 mile workout, and I'm especially pleased at how consistent and sustained the pace was.

The true test will be how I feel tomorrow when I wake up :)

1 comment:

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

:-) and you said you were slow... Awesome!!