MKC Runners Clinic

By Jim on Wednesday, May 5, 2010

 Runners Clinic


The 2nd Mykayakcoach runner’s session was held at Fisherman’s Beach in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

With a mix of paddlers turning up for the session it made for a lot of fun.

Fisherman’s beach is a great spot for catching runners as it is tucked in against a cliff and a big rock face on the south side of the beach.

We started the session off with some drills where each paddler learned the basics of catching swells/runners. Talking about the length of stroke on how the length changes from flat water paddling to ocean paddling with swells/runners. After talking about the length of stroke it was time to do some drills that would emphasise the importance of the catch [the front part of the stroke]. The catch, no matter what sort of paddling you do, flat water, downriver or catching runners/swell, is most important part of the stroke.

The catch is the part of your stroke that makes the boat get the run that is needed to make you move forward; thus making it easier to catch swells/runners or accelerate the boat in the flat water.

We then joined into groups of twos, completing exercises in pairs that allowed us to simulate the feeling you should get when using your trunk to the best of your ability. A good paddler uses their trunk efficiently as you use all the major muscle groups. One of our drills was the trunk twist drill. This practices rotating your hips and shoulders together, which makes you use your trunk whilst feeling a locking sensation in your stomach. This is the feeling we want to achieve on the water when making a strong catch to get the swell/runners.

Once out at sea all paddlers started by getting the feel of the water under the boat. This is the opportune time to apply the drills. Paddlers waited for their moment to apply techniques learnt on the shore. Through out this time paddlers practiced maximising their catch whilst catching swells/runners.  Paddling for swell/runners is so much different to other forms of paddling as timing is everything. If you get your timing right you can make your ocean paddling so much easier.  You need to be explosive and hard on your catch, then the boats run allows you to rest whilst steering your craft onto a swell. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO PADDLE.

After spending the time to feel the swell we moved onto connecting swell/runners together.

This is where you catch the swell and whilst on the swell you look left and right to see the steepest part of the runners to surf. Keeping on your pedals all the time will help you steer from one runner to the next, taking as little as 5-10 strokes. Strong catch is needed here.

We surfed the swells/runners for sometime and enjoyed the surfing experience of catching these consecutively.

We closed the session with a race, the aim being to see how we would apply what was learnt in a race scenario.  Many people panicked and tried way too hard losing their timing because of the pressure they put on themselves. It is funny when people are catching swells/runners, they panic and think runners should just come to them. Naturally, they try harder and miss the runner altogether. 

My best tip is to relax, let the swell/runner go and get the next one. It doesn’t matter if you miss one or two swell/runners there is always more for you, just relax and steer onto the next one.

Going back out in the ocean as many times as possible and getting the feel for the swell/runners is the best way to improve.

It was a treat to see Dean Gardiner, Tim Jacobs, Michael Clues and Mark Anderson paddle past us a few times. It was great to see all levels of paddlers sharing and enjoying the same ocean.