So conditions for this week’s surfski training session were pretty much the opposite to those we endured last week – it was calm in the Cove and we even had some sunny breaks towards the end of the session. And TWELVE people showed up! It was perfect.

Fall in Deep Cove

Wes started out with a dynamic warm up, during which the majority of heckles were regarding flexibility and balance…clearly there are things to work on off the water as well as on. It was good to reinforce how important it is to warm up before getting on the water though, especially when it is getting chiller out. Starting cold is one thing, but starting freezing with rigid muscles doesn’t help anyone.

Once we were on the water it was time for individual assessments where Wes watched us for a few minutes then gave us some technical pointers. For me it was slightly nerve wracking trying to remember everything I was supposed to be doing and looking like I had been practicing (which I had been!!), and Wes told me I should lengthen my paddle, rotate more, and not ‘cheat’ by dropping my arms early. Awesome – I can work on that!

After watching all of us while we warmed up, Wes got into his coaching vibe and started yelling. Well, as motivation for the intervals! This was the bit that I had really been dreading, as I was really conscious of my lack of strength and paddling experience BUT the way he worked it out was great as it took account of the varying abilities while keeping everyone together. Genius.

The intervals were for 2 minutes at 80% pace, 30 seconds at 90%, repeat, then 2 minutes active recovery while we turned around and started again. We paddled basically from the Government Dock to the North 5 knot can, then turned and reversed it. It worked well because the faster people went further, but as we turned around, they caught us slower ones and we all kind of paddled together. We did this 7 times. No, 6 times. No, 7 (math was a little challenging for some people)!!

Interval training graph

I’m not sure how anyone else felt, but during the intervals it was really interesting to feel how I was focussing on technique, particularly during the recovery part. You can really feel the difference in speed you achieve after making a change when consistently going back and forth…which I guess is the point. Wes also paddled through the group giving feedback, which for me was to lengthen my paddle even more, and then just to keep on keeping on.

The warm down paddle was also a chance to work on technique, and here I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t quite as toast as I thought I would be. Hopefully the mid-week practice and gym sessions has made a start on getting me stronger. While I didn’t want to do any more intervals, paddling for longer wasn’t an exhausting prospect – there is light on the horizon!

Ask Coach – questions from this week’s debrief:

  1. If I take longer to plant my paddle, will my boat slow down?
  1. The simple answer is no! It is worth more to take the time to plant your paddle and avoid rushing the catch, which often results in splashing and is less effective. Most of the slowing of the boat is found at the exit of the paddle out of the water, not when it is entering.
  1. Help! My footboard is creaking…should I be worried?
  1. Absolutely not! A creaking footboard shows that you are putting force through your legs and feet – the more creaking the better! I tell my athletes that if they break a footboard I am actually going to be pleased with them…not mad that I have to replace it.

Next week for a few of the group involves video at Burnaby Lake – some people had been filmed that morning and by all accounts it was incredibly useful. One person even described it as humbling…sounds like something to look forward to. The mid-week session this week is supposed to be an hour with three x 20 minute sessions at a comfortable pace, with a weight regime at the gym. I’ve been out paddling since, and can’t wait for next week’s session.

PS – don’t forget Deep Cove Outdoors‘ sale on Think and Epic surfskis ends on Monday, October 31st. LOTS of great deals on surfskis for every level of paddler – call them at 604.987.2202 with any questions.