The Importance of a Training Group or Training Partner

The Importance of Training Groups from Paddle Monster on Vimeo.

When I was in Miami in 2015 to do a clinic, I was stoked to see that the group there did a lot of their on water workouts together as a training group.  I honestly believe whether you’re training on land or on the water, you get far more out of your training if you’re part of a group than you do if you always train alone. 

While training for the Olympics I almost always had a training partner.  Whether it was Brian Bliss, Peter Koschanow or Jack Chubaty, most of the workouts I did I had someone there to push me and keep me honest.  When they weren’t there I actually enjoyed the change of pace that came with being alone and the solitude of being alone on the water.  I could still train effectively (even without the advantage of today’s modern technology like a GPS and heart rate monitor) and had some refreshing time to myself.  But whenever I was doing really intense work, or when the training program was really nasty and I was feeling really rundown, it was great to have someone else there to push me, motivate me and to share the experience with.

Paddling is a social sport

Unlike swimming, which seems to me like such a solitary sport, paddling is a social sport.  You can have a conversation while you’re paddling.  Granted, if you’re paddling hard that conversation gets difficult to maintain, but in the rest between pieces or when you’re loading your board on your car after the session, you’ve got time to chat and share the experience of what you’ve just been through.  It is usually so beautiful out on the water it’s really nice to be able share that with someone else.  It’s a part of the workout I always look forward to.  The end of a long downwinder when we’re all just sitting on our boards talking about the great rides we had, the paddle back to the dock after a killer flat water interval workout and shared stories of pain or trash talking about who won what piece, or sitting together over hot coffee after a cold winter paddle – it’s all part of the awesome experience of sharing what you love to do with someone else who is equally into it.  Though I have always been fully capable of training effectively alone, these are the moments in paddling that I life for.  These are the moments I love, and these are the moments we want you to share with each other in the Paddle Monster forum.  Having a training partner or training group certainly makes the sport more fun, and whether or not you’re lucky enough to have people to paddle with every day or you usually paddle alone, we want the Paddle Monster community to be the group you can share your experiences with.

Training partners can help you elevate your game

When I was getting ready to race my C1 500m final in 1984 I wanted to do a very intense warm up.  I wanted to be ready to go harder and faster than I ever had when it mattered most, and I knew I needed a push to get me to that spot before I pulled into the starting blocks.  Peter Koschanow, who was sent to the Olympics as a reserve to cover all the races should someone on the team get sick or injured was essentially my training partner during the training camp in Sacramento and once we got to the venue at Lake Casitas north of Los Angeles.  He dutifully went out for my warm up with me and pushed me through three all out one-minute pieces.  He helped get me to the place I needed to be to feel shot out of a cannon on the start of my final.  A piece of the medal I won that day belongs to him for doing that, and it’s something I would have gladly done for him had the roles been reversed.  That is what training partners do.

Go ahead and share your Paddle Monster program with friends

If you currently have a training partner or group you paddle with, we want you to continue to train with them.  Whether they join Paddle Monster or not, there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue to train and share the fun of paddling with them, just because you’ve joined a new community.  In fact, I’d encourage you to take your Paddle Monster program and share it them so you can continue to train daily with the group that’s been there to support you in the past.  I’d never suggest you keep your Paddle Monster program secret from them.  I’d be asking you to turn away from them on the water when you were doing your workout, and that’s not what paddlers do.  When we see someone else on the water we instinctively want to paddle over to them and say hi.  We can’t help it – it’s just natural.  We never want to lose sight of that.

Groups can drive competition and help increase performance

It’s really cool when you go to a competition as part of a group in which everyone has trained hard and feels confident in their preparation.  Being surrounded by these confident people instils even more confidence in you.  You feed off each other’s confidence and it is no surprise when almost everyone in the group races really well.  That happened in fall 2014 when a bunch of us from the Toronto area joined Tamas Buday Jr. from Montreal at the Surf to Sound in Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Everybody had fun and everyone kicked ass.  For some of the group it might have been one of the most memorable weekends they’ve had in sport.  It was awesome.  The same thing happens every year with the Burloak Canoe Club at the Nationals.  Everyone is well prepared and the club has a real history of success.  Everyone feeds off each other and that usually translates into personal bests and athletes exceeding expectations.  We want to create the same atmosphere and culture of success amongst Paddle Monster members at events we attend.  Whether it’s a big race like Chattajack, or a smaller local event, if there’s a group of Paddle Monsters there we want you to meet up with each other and be inspired by each other and the confidence you have in your preparation.  We want you to race hard, kick ass and share the experience with each other so that you can’t wait to be part of something like that again at the next event.

Inspire each other

While paddling is almost always fun, training sometimes isn’t.  You’re tired, run down or maybe the weather is just so crap you’d really rather not train even though you know you should.  This is where your training partner helps you get out there and do your workout.  You don’t want to pick just anyone as your training partner or invite just anyone into your training group.  Look for that person who is positive, who looks at life with optimism, and who enjoys paddling and training as much as you.  They don’t have to be the same speed as you.  If they’re faster then they represent someone you can aspire to beat and everyday they set a standard that you can work towards.  If they’re slower than you then they’ll give a push when they can, they’ll keep you honest and won’t let you slack off, and they should inspire you everyday as they try to hunt you down in a workout.  We want you to be inspired by each other’s training experiences; we hope that the forum will be a place where you encourage and motivate each other, and a place where you learn from each other as well.

That group that I met in Miami sure seemed to have a great dynamic going.  They all seemed to truly enjoy sharing the sport with each other and as I was leaving to head back north they were all making plans to train together in the coming week.  If you’re already part of a similar dynamic you’ll have been nodding your head in agreement the whole time as you’ve read this post.  If you aren’t, then you’ve found your group in Paddle Monster.  We believe it will help your training enormously and make your paddling experience even more enjoyable.  So let’s hit the water and have fun. 

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