The Quest for Paddleboard Speed
Lately I’ve been trying to focus on increasing MPH/speed on my paddleboard. There is no better check in of your physical conditioning and technique than trying to go FASTER! Being able to increase your speed whether it be for racing or for personal training gains can be accessible for all. Many of us own performance race boards and getting more playful and trying to see how fast they can go can be a blast. As a coach and paddler I feel that being able to accomplish these higher level of speeds is an accomplishment worth owning.
Developing and managing the intensities of your breathing, cardio output, and muscle strain when done safely and properly is the matrix for these speed goals. Recently I spoke with a top level USA Ski Team nordic coach and she shared some training points in our brief chat.
1.) Make sure you use some form of electronic data collection/measurement, but don't let it rule your life. Obviously knowing when you’re in Zone 2 and Zone 5 is crucial, but being able to know when you’re there without devices is imperative. An athlete is a high performance organism and having the sensory capabilities is what separates the best from the rest!
2.) Most of her trainees spend ~80% of their time in Zone 2.
3.) When training in Zone 4 and Zone 5, make it matter.
After pondering these points in relation to my own quest for increased speed, I was also able to condense what I’ve been working on in my own paddling and while training others;
1.) Always get a good Zone 1 and 2 warmup before any execution of high intensity work.
2.) Get playful with your intervals during everyday paddles. EX: An all out sprint to a fixed point on your route such as a buoy, dock, or other landmark.
3.) Make sure you give yourself a recovery period between sprints.
4.) Learning to be comfortable while uncomfortable will become easier and more manageable over a period of time. This is when the magic happens.
5.) Increasing your paddle cadence to at least 50-60 strokes per minute is a benchmark we utilize.
6.) Make sure you are rested, well hydrated, and have had proper nutrition before any attempt with sprint work.
Going fast requires a whole different mind set, so don't over stress on being technically exact. It’s ok to GO FOR IT! The sprint stroke will not feel like a smooth/easy/comfy recreational stroke. One benefit that is very apparent while working on speed goals is how much easier, efficient, and smoother you eventually become at slower rates of speed.
BONUS TIP: I was able to lower my heart rate by upwards of 15 BPM with proper focus on breathing. Your first off the line sprint, make sure you’re not holding your breath!
For more on ZONE TRAINING, refer to our article, IS HEART RATE ZONE TRAINING THE MISSING LINK?