How Long Can You Leave It?

By Jim on Sunday, January 1, 2012

This is a follow up blog after about a year and a half, I have just re-read what I wrote back then. I still am enjoying paddling more than ever, enjoying racing and enjoying going out and catching runners and waves.
The last 4 points of my last blog are interesting –
1. Employ a coach to give correct technique and monitor me regularily
2. Work more on fitness through swimming and running
3. Train a few times a week out in swell and runners
4. Balance is everything
I still really believe in these four points and I have gone about improvement a little differently. I have been training at least once a week on a kayak with top grade paddlers – Jim Walker, Tony Schumacher, Nathan Smith, Luke & Jake Michael and many others. What this has done is to be able to see up close how the best train. What they do is train really hard and do all the little things correctly. This I have then been able to take with me when I train on my own or with a smaller group on the ski in the ocean.
Having a coach is essential. If you have time run and swim, unfortunately I don’t have the time, but every now and again I will swim or run maybe once a week. I train twice a week out in the ocean which is essential for me as that is where I race. Balance when paddling is so important. I wish I worked this out earlier. My balance has improved out of sight, how? Catch at the front part of the stroke and drills. But how do you do this? GET LESSONS!!
Here are some of the things I have learnt in the last 12 months on the back of lessons with Mykayakcoach and training with some of the best paddlers.
- Paddle fast at training and you will paddle fast in a race.
- I consistently train 3 days a week (Tues,Thur & Sat) at my age this makes sure I am recovered. You can then make sure that the sessions are done at real quality. Previously I would train more sessions but half the sessions weren’t done correctly or with a real purpose.
- Practice racing every training session. Every session I do some form of practice for racing, both mentally and physically. It may be a 3 minute effort in the middle of the session that I work on at race pace as if it was the start of a race.
- Train in a group and chase down a faster paddler, when you catch him/her, find someone else to catch. Matching up with someone is critical as it means no matter the conditions you can compare.
- Don’t be unrealistic, I am never going to paddle like Tim Jacobs or Tony Schumacher. But last week on sat on Tony’s wash for 30secs. Maybe next time I can last for 40secs?
- Don’t be afraid to fail at training, but learn from it and keep working.
- Don’t be concerned if you need an extra minute rest, you will paddle with more quality in the next effort as a result.
- Catch – on both sides gives rhythm and boat run. Through lessons with Mykayakcoach it came out I was not paddling on the left side properly. The paddle was going in but never with power on the catch. The change has meant my boat run is better and therefore more speed.

Racing – solid pace the whole way
Working with Mykayakcoach he has taught me that doing a good consistant pace for the entire race is essential. I was going off the line at 14km/hr for a couple of minutes and then was spent and then averaged about 11km/hr for the rest of the race. What I am doing now is working hard at the start and then keeping a good pace all the way. I am now averaging 12km/hr and did this at the 20 beaches race in Sydney this month.
Family man – work life balance?
Mykayakcoach put out a blog on work life balance. I am married with a full time job and 3 young kids so fitting in paddling is difficult. So this blog really hit home for me. Training 3 times a week really helps here. But when do you get time to work on your technique and make the necessary changes? I get on the water 10 mins early and do drills when I am fresh. This has meant an extra 30mins of technique and drills a week.
Catching runs
Catching runs on a ski is a skill which really can’t be taught, yes there are certain do’s and dont’s but after that you need to get out there and catch them. The most important thing to remember for me is you have to catch the runs, don’t let the waves catch you. You need to work very hard when the run lifts the back of your ski and then surf the run. I used to always think I could go easier in the runs and the waves would push me along. You actually need to go as hard as you can for about 4 strokes then you can rest.
I paddle a Think Uno Max out in the ocean and I really love the boat. I also own a Think Uno which I also love. The Max has a bit more rocker so surfs well. My opinion is that the Uno is a bit flatter so goes well in small chop and the Max has more rocker so is good out in the ocean. So the answer for me is to have 2 skis!!!!
Coaching – is it for everyone?
I come from a background of swimming and playing golf before I took up paddling. Does Tiger Woods have a coach; yes. Does Ian Thorpe have a coach; yes. I don’t understand why so many people paddle around without a coach and wonder why they never improve........You may think you are doing certain movements but how do you know, you can’t see what you are doing. You need a coach to look at what you are doing and change you to correct positions. You feel it and then try and replicate it. Getting into bad habits are difficult to change. So get a series of lessons so you can follow up on where you left off and gauge if there has been improvement.


Video to watch to see how Will has improved.


  Will paddling at the moment.


Before lessons.


Will catching runners.