First, I am neither a scientist nor a physician.  What I am, is a woman who became a wannabe athlete in my late 30’s and found the study of how to train whether it be running, biking, swimming, lifting, and now SUPing stupidly interesting.  I’m a phenomenal trainer, not so great a racer.
In my illustrious athletic past, I was even suckered into being part of an “Endurance Athletes and Vitamin C” study at a 50 mile trail run.  They took my weight, spit, and blood, pre, post and during the race, as part of a “double-blind” study.  I put myself through this body invasion because I got a free university analysis of my body fat, VO2 max, AND a free heart rate monitor! Hah, I’m so cheap! The race and study was a disaster, with 90 degree temps at the start.  All study participants were restricted to the same fluid and nutrition amounts regardless of fitness, gender and size; OVER 50 MILES!  Did I say, the study wasn’t such a success?  I lost 9 pounds and hallucinated while walking the last 10 miles.  My training buddy ended up passed out in a ditch, no kidding.  We both saw Jesus, or thought we did.  Scary!  
So….I’m not an expert, but I’ve got a little bit of personal experience with stupid science.  At least what NOT to do.

SUP Training Right Now

Right now, SUP training and EXACTLY what we “should” do to succeed, is still a toss up.  Seems like we all use our own individual trials and errors as a guide.  There are lessons and clinics, but it seems there are only a few SUP “training programs.”  I’ve taken a tremendously helpful individual lesson with Jason Colclough at Carolina Paddleboard Company and I’ve attended clinics with Larry Cain and Dan Gavere.  At each one my purpose was simply to increase my knowledge base and become a more efficient paddler.   I learned the components of the stroke itself, race strategies, rough water tactics and strength training workouts.   What wasn’t covered, nor should it have been, was a training program that would work for me.

What is Out There?

There are the “Riding Bumps” training programs and eBooks.  It seems to be the most prominent program available.  I and many others used it to train for the Chattajack 31 last year.   One of their primary foundations is determining and using heart rate based training zones.  Specifically your Anaerobic Threshold because your AT is trainable.   They build your overall fitness, strength and SUP mileage using a periodization model of build and recovery weeks.  In contrast, I found one (by doing a Google search) by Connor Baxter where he seems to reverse common training concepts from other sports of building mileage slowly.  His program goes all out early with what appears to be heavy mileage, but he’s Connor Baxter and he’s young and he’s training for long distances in rough water.  Which one would work for you?  A mix of both?

So Much to Think About

There is so much to paddling sometimes.  There is the actual paddle stroke with the Reach, the Catch, the Power Phase, the Release, and the Recovery.  Which is all great until water or wind conditions are boogley and you’re just trying to keep moving forward, not sideways or backwards?  Then there are the choices in boards, paddles, safety gear, and clothing.  Something new every day.   There is using the Garmin for tracking heart rate effort, and then there’s using it (as Larry Cain mentioned in his Carolina Cup 2013 recap) to find the faster water during a race.  So how do we keep it simple AND train efficiently? What if you get an injury?  My training partner has put a very old sliding seat rower on his 14’ Bark Laird until he recovers from a back injury.  I chase him and that helps me do tempo work.  Yes, at my old age, I even do “tempo” work.

Start the Discussion: What Do You Do?

This article is meant to start a discussion of what are YOU doing?  SERIOUSLY doing?   We’re all at different levels of ability but we all want to learn, right?  Share what has worked for you in training and what hasn’t.  What are you changing, what are you keeping the same.  Maybe they’ll do a study one day of SUPers and you too can give blood and spit like I did (uggggh).  I’ll note here that the university who did the study above asked me back to do a study on blueberries as an antioxidant for marathon runners.  They offered a year’s worth of blueberries if I ran a marathon, on a treadmill, while they took muscle biopsies every 5 miles.  Uhhhh, I declined THAT one!  How do you figure a year’s worth of blueberries anyways and did I mention STUPID science?!

Spill the Beans: Your Answer Is?

Did you do other sports before SUP?  If so, which ones and at what level (recreational or competitive)?  Has your actual physique changed since paddling (loss of body fat, developed muscles in certain areas)? Do you follow a SUP training program?  Is it based on mileage, heart rate, a mix of both?  How’s it working for you?  Do you cross train and if so, with what?  What do you feel is the most important aspect of a SUP training program?  What about races, how do you approach them?  Do you use a Garmin or heart rate monitor during the race?  Or…do you just go b*lls to the w*all and see how it all turns out?  Do you pace yourself?  How do you train your mind? Do you do “secret training” and not tell your training buddies? (I have).  Do you feel following a training program takes the fun out it?
Let’s discuss!  Am I the only one that finds this stuff interesting?  Please say I’m not!
What are you doing? Weigh in!

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