Leave No Stone Unturned in Your Training
I’ve always taken the approach that there is far more that goes into being successful in achieving your goals than just going out and doing workouts. No matter the sport, if it were that simple everyone would be contending for championships, and we’d see many more people standing on podiums than we currently do.
In reality there is a long list of things you need to consider and boxes you need to check if you’re going to truly be “the best you can be” and contend for the top, no matter the sport, your age or gender. Winning isn’t easy, and even just being in contention is the result of lots of hard work, planning and dotting “I”s and crossing “T”s.
When I was competing in C1 I considered I was ready to race when there was a perfect alignment of physical, mental and emotional conditioning. And to get there I needed to take a very thorough approach to everything, not just my physical training.
I always imagined myself as a paddler like a Formula 1 racecar. F1 cars need the horsepower and at the same time the fuel economy to give them great speed and keep them out of the pits as much as possible. As a paddler I needed a high level of strength, power and power endurance as well as the cardiovascular fitness to keep muscles supplied with oxygen so that I could work at a high aerobic level almost endlessly. F1 cars need great transmissions that link their powerful motors to the drive wheels and great handling that allows them to get around the track as quickly and efficiently as possible. As a paddler I needed great technique that allowed me to connect big muscles to the water so I could pull myself by the paddle with maximum speed and efficiency, and I needed to perform technically perfectly in a variety of weather conditions. Developing such skills to the highest, Formula 1 level, takes time and a huge commitment.
Getting a handle on the mental aspects of competing in high-level sport is a huge, time-consuming commitment as well. You’ve got to work at it. You’ve got to do some of the things we’ve talked about in previous blog posts – develop pre-race plans, race plans and analyze performances realistically and effectively. You’ve got to be able to focus, to minimize distractions and deal effectively with those that invariably arise. You need to focus on the process of paddling fast, thinking only of executing with maximal effect skills you’ve honed for hours upon countless hours, rather than just trying to go as fast as you can go. You’ve got to make mistakes and learn from them. You’ve got to spend time developing the mental side of your craft. It doesn’t just happen to come to you all of a sudden on its own.
You’ll also find that racing in a state of emotional balance helps as well. You’ve got to truly enjoy what you do and be totally at peace with your performance, whatever the results may be. Pressuring yourself to succeed isn’t going to help, but having a deep, driving hunger to succeed helps. You’ve got to have things in perspective. Sport, no matter how serious you are about it is a privilege, we’re lucky to be doing it and it’s supposed to be fun, not life and death, no matter how serious we are about it.
So how do you arrive at such a race perfect level of physical, mental and emotional states? It’s not easy. You need to take a “no stones left unturned” approach to your
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS BASED ON LESSONS I’VE LEARNED OVER THE LAST 42 YEARS:
- LOVE WHAT YOU’RE DOING :: If you don’t enjoy paddling and being out on the water then why are you out there so much? Make sure you’re participating on your own terms and not someone else’s. Take time to enjoy every moment, whether they are successes or failures or come on a warm sunny day or a dark, rainy and cold one.
- Have a sense of curiosity about your sport. Let paddling capture your imagination.
- GOAL SET :: Start with a dream and work back from there all the way down to weekly goals and goals for individual workouts. Make them realistic. Setting goals every day and then assessing whether or not you’ve achieved them is a great way to get a firm understanding of your current level of performance.
- Have a good understanding of your own abilities. When in doubt err on the side of being humble. It will help you set more realistic goals, race with less pressure and actually enjoy your experience in the sport more. Plus you’ll probably make more friends.
- BECOME A STUDENT OF YOUR SPORT :: Make an attempt to learn everything there is about training, technique and the mental side of sport.
- Further to the last point, learn as much as you can about how to paddle well. A person with inferior fitness but great skill and technique can still have the occasional great race and beat everyone. The paddler with amazing fitness but poor skills and ineffective technique is far less likely to ever be successful. You can be the strongest, fittest person in the world but if you don’t paddle well you won’t do well. Invest time in optimizing your technique and, if necessary, invest in help from a coach to ensure you get it right.
- ASK QUESTIONS Never assume you know it all. Have an open mind and explore alternative ways to do things. Most of all, ask questions. There are lots of great resources and knowledgeable people who are usually happy to answer questions and offer advice if asked. Take advantage of what they have to offer. The only “stupid question” is the perfectly good question you had but were afraid to ask.
- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN SUCCESS Don’t rely on others to do the work for you. Only you can make yourself faster. There are people that can help you, but ultimately your performance is your responsibility, not theirs.
- HAVE A PLAN :: If you’re on a training program designed by your coach, know the plan. Make an effort to understand it. Take time to read it. Again, ask questions. Try to understand the why’s and the how’s. If you’re writing your own program then you’ve got more work to do in order to get it right. Do your homework. Develop a plan. Believe in it.
- MAKE A LIST of all the little things that might, in the smallest way, affect your performance. Nutrition, sleep, hydration, massage, etc., etc. Make the list as exhaustive as you can. Ask yourself if you’re doing the best you can in these areas. What can you do better? What does it involve? Can it make a difference? If it can, address the issue.
- Further to the point above, TAKE NUTRITION SERIOUSLY. What you put in your body not only fuels your activity but repairs and rebuilds it after the stimulus provided by training or racing. Training is important, butwithout providing your body the building blocks it needs you’re not going to realize benefits you should from all the hard work you do. And getting back to the F1 analogy, remember they don’t put ordinary fuel in those cars. You don’t see them fueling up at your local gas station. High performance machines need the highest quality fuel. Treat your body like a high-performance machine. Why should you fuel it any differently?
- MAKE CHOICES :: Nothing worth working for comes without making sacrifices. You should expect to have to make a few. You should be at peace with yourself as you make them. They should be easy to make. After all, is it really a sacrifice if it supports something that you really, truly, want to do?
These suggestions just scrape the surface of things you can or should consider as you pursue your paddling goals. It’s a journey you’re embarking on and these suggestions should help you get started down the right path but there’s going to be even more you’re going to have to think about along the way.
Paddle Monster is a great resource to help you cover all the bases and get to where you’re trying to go. We’ve worked hard to assemble an awesome coaching staff and provide the best and most thorough information about training, technique and racing available in a place where you get to ask questions and where every effort is made to provide meaningful, insightful and relevant personalized answers.
Upcoming Additions to Paddle Monster
We’re also working hard to expand what we offer so that we can provide even more comprehensive coaching and expertise to help people paddle better and paddle faster.
- We recently launched a new video analysis service to help paddlers optimize their technique and ensure it evolves as they gain experience and their fitness improves
- We just completed translating the posts and platform into Spanish. Only the videos and search remain in english, but this will help us with our growing population of Spanish-speaking paddlers in Central and South America, Europe
- On February 1st, we launch our new Nutrition Coach, Victoria Burgess. Victoria will provide expert nutritional counseling to those interesting in fully exploring the link between nutrition and high level athletic performance.
- On February 15th we start a 30-day Yoga Challenge with Coach Seychelle
- Continued support of our forums, which represent a supportive and non-judgmental community where we’ve already seen people stepping up, sharing information and helping each other towards their goals