By Jim on Tuesday, September 21, 2010
On a glorious Saturday in Sydney the first Ocean ski race of the year was held at Long Reef.
Many paddlers of all different abilities gathered to test their skills. High seas had hit all south facing beaches last weekend, providing a great opportunity and learning curve for all paddlers, regardless of experience; you must train in all sorts of conditions was the lesson learnt.
The conditions on the weekend were windy with big surf. I noticed that lots of paddlers were very nervous just entering the water, using up lots and lots of energy before they even started. Had they trained in similar conditions they would not have wasted vital energy fretting over their preparation and performance. Nervous energy is one of sport’s biggest killers, preventing maximum output. You get in such a state about all the things you can't control and as a result you get to the start line already exhausted. Had you been in this situation in training you would feel more comfortable, then you would be fresh throughout the race, your training would kick in and your results would follow.
What to do?
Train in all sorts of conditions, windy, rainy, cold, and heat. Regardless of the condition, make sure it is a safe environment, particularly in big swell and surf. Always make sure when in big surf and swell you have all the right safety equipment: lifejackets, a leash and let people know where you are.
By training in these conditions you are prepared for any type of race conditions.
Look at where you could improve in each condition and work from there.
Warm up better.
Get on the water earlier, the amount of people who leave it to the last minute to register and get on the water is mind blowing. This is the worst sort of preparation for a race, because you don't get time to know where the race is going; knowing the course is so important. Choosing the right line is one of the most important things you need in your mind before you race.
Did you lack fitness throughout the race?
If so, where? If after 20 minutes, you need a structured training program. A structured training program will help you get all the right training completed so you can race at the best optimal speed.
Did you talk yourself out of it before you started?
If yes, you are not training in all conditions. All those days when you decided to go inside for a training session when it was windy will come back to haunt you.
Athletes who do their best have already done it at training. No one just comes out and WINS, they have trained for it already, often after months and even years of work.
If you are not enjoying it, you need to look at a few things.
Are you first of all in the right boat? Too many people read the internet and make their decision on what boat they should paddle by who is winning races. This is an interesting thing to look at, but if you have just taken up the sport you are not going to be able to handle the same model as the champion. The fastest boat is the boat that is the right way up!
Are you training properly?
If you just turn up to the river, lake or ocean and have no idea what you are going to do for training you will never improve.
After your next race, write down which two races from your point of view were the least impressive and how you can improve on those performances. Compare races when your results were pleasing with these and record common elements you employed that resulted in success. For many it may be conditions – so train rain, hail or shine!