This week’s surfski training session was in two parts, for some of the group at least, as four of us headed to Burnaby Lake Rowing Pavilion bright and early on Saturday morning for the chance to star in our very own paddling film…or for a chance to see how we REALLY look when we’re paddling. Having never been there before, the facility at the lake is awesome – flat calm water and designated lanes which go for 2km. Wes filmed us for three periods of ten seconds on each side paddling at varying paces from slow to race, and one of my slow-motion videos is below…

After the whole group had been filmed, we headed inside to review. I’ve done video training before for other sports, but never for paddling so it was really interesting to see yourself paddle! As one of the group had said last week, it was pretty humbling, but also really useful to see. It was especially useful being filmed from both sides so you could really analyse what was happening with your stroke. For me, my left hand drops early, and I need to exit the water earlier. Let’s not even talk about when I went into ‘race’ pace – my technique really fell apart there in my efforts to paddle faster. So. Lots to work on.

Eric & Wes on the water

Our afternoon session was in a somewhat damp Deep Cove. Scratch damp – it was CHUCKING it down! That didn’t deter any of our hardy group though, and there were 13 of us today. Everyone looked actually pretty excited about getting our teeth into some drills, which Wes had said was going to be the focus for today. And boy, did we focus. Back and forth, back and forth…it was endless. Not really – it was awesome! Personally, I find drills really effective, I think sometimes to the point that I tend to over-concentrate and forget to breathe, which can be pretty essential. We did more, but the main drills we covered were:

  • Pause drill – hold paddle for a second at eye level before planting, focusing on getting your body in the right position (front arm fully extended, body rotated, and sitting up tall) before doing so. Repeat on every stroke for a minute, then return to normal paddling for a minute.
  • Twist drill – take a few strokes in the water followed by two strokes out of the water (with paddle at eye level) focusing on balance, full rotation and extension. Again, repeat for a minute and then revert to normal.

After that it was time for wash riding practice in smaller groups. This is something that I really don’t have a lot of experience doing, and when I’ve tried before I’ve found it hard to get that feeling of catching the wash. Wash riding supposedly reduces the amount of effort you need to paddle by 20-30% so it is really worth taking advantage of, especially during long races. I did find that I maybe got the feeling a little, but I know that, like everything, it is something that can only get easier the more you do it so I’ll add it to my ever growing list of things to practice!

Surfski training session group

This week’s questions in our hugely popular (!) Ask Coach section…

  1. Where should I be to get the most effective from wash riding?
  2. In a diamond, the person at the back point is going to have the easiest time because if it’s working exactly right, they are benefiting from two waves, but that hardly ever comes up in a real-life or real-race situation. In a race, being just to the side of the person just in front of you will give you a bit of an easier time. Where exactly will depend on your boat, but having your bow somewhere around the other person’s knees, about a paddle length away should do it.
  3. When I’m paddling hard, I find that my forearm is aching…what am I doing wrong?
  4. You might be gripping the paddle too hard. Try to relax your grip a bit, and just pull back easily. The strength of the stroke comes from pushing your top hand, not from pulling the bottom hand so take it easy 🙂

The individual paddle suggested by Wes for this week is a ‘decreasing pyramid,’ going from 10 minutes of pace paddling followed by one-minute rest, one-minute on hard and one-minute rest before moving on to the next time down, to 8, to 6, to 4 and to 2.  Gym routine is mostly as before, focusing on lifting to increase strength, and then throwing in some ab work too to work on core strength.