Here is a great write-up about how to scientifically improve your paddling using heart rate and zone training, it takes some work initially, but will pay-off huge in the end. Big thanks to fellow paddler Dean Burke who was a professional speed skater and bicycle racer for this information....
Heart Rate & Technical Stroke Efficiency
By Dean Burke
In Beau’s latest blog post, he talks about improving paddle stroke technique in a brief article that really talks about a few main things: The Stroke Itself (grip, cadence, paddle size) and The Feel. He’s spot on by summarizing that you need to keep an open mind about what works best for you.
But how do you know what is working best for you? In paddle sports, how do you test your stroke to know if you are getting results? Paddling is not like a bicycle. On a bicycle you can measure wattage and power output and see right on a graph what is working for you and what is not.
That said, here are some tips for making sure that your changes are the right ones.
If you are serious about improving your stroke and are a studious athlete, then I might assume that you are serious enough to be in a relationship with a heart rate monitor. And if that is the case, then I’m going to leap frog ahead of some things here and we’re going to start with how to leverage your already existing basic Zone Training to make improvements on the paddle board. If Zone Training is new to you, take a break here and go get up to speed on the topic. It’s not hocus-pocus. It’s real legit training and it’s how every other endurance athlete on earth manages what they are doing. If you are not in control of your heart rate, then your racing career is going to be a short one.
For those of you who have only thought of the heart rate monitor as a tool for helping guide you through cardio training - get ready, because it’s also your best tool for helping assist in honing in technique.
Here is the drill:
Establish a straight line distance. Point A to Point B. What that distance is really does not matter. It could be 500 meters or it could be 2 miles. What matters is that it is the same every time.
Use a lake if possible, so you are not fighting tidal exchange and currents. You want to have a place where you can train in the most consistent conditions. This practice is hard to measure if you are training in changing winds, tides or currents.
Using your Heart Rate monitor and a stop watch, paddle your selected distance from point A to point B. Do this while staying in the middle of your Zone 2 heart rate. (That number will vary based on your age, ability, etc. But for a lot of you, thats probably going to be in the 125 - 138 BPM range). The more steady you can hold that heart rate, the better. For me, I like to try and lock myself down at about 132 - 135 BPM.
How long did that paddle take at that given heart rate? Record it.
Now do it again.
And again. And again.
The goal is to reduce the time it takes you to get from point A to point B ,while keeping your heart rate locked in the middle of your Zone 2.
Well, Zone 2 is a good safe zone for building up your heart’s volume. It’s that magic zone where so much of your real training work is done. (Your sprints, intervals, etc. will almost always be based on a Z2 foundation. But again....this article is not about how to coach you through your Heart Rate zones. You need to be established in that kind of training before you get to this). In Z2, you cannot cheat by “muscling” your way through something. If you do, your heart rate will respond by going up. And when that happens, it becomes far more difficult to manage your stroke or efficiency and chances are you are flailing instead of creating focused power.
By going back and forth along your fixed training route at this controlled heart rate, you are now becoming focused on the only single thing you can help you get faster: improving your technique. Since Z2 is a zone that you can generally sustain for long periods, then you are now able to see your gains by way of efficiency and not get them confused with spikes in fitness or “how you feel.”
Give this a try (and give it some time). Be patient and focus on obeying the numbers. Don’t get yourself wound up and thinking that “pain is gain.” There is a time and place for the hard efforts and all that. This is not about those kinds of workouts. This is about defining a space in your regime for truly seeing what kinds of changes in your stroke are paying off. The clock does not lie and if you are true to the tests, you will see some of your biggest gains through this method.
About the writer: Dean Burke is a 40 year old local sport fanboy whose former professional life included a four-year stint globetrotting in Speedskating World Cup Marathons and many years of bicycle racing at various levels. Today he is father of two, serves as the VP for the Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission and is helping to develop SUP racing in the south Puget Sound region. Be sure to see our new race,www.NxWSoundrider.com and help share the stoke of SUP racing.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
My stroke is by no means perfect. It works for me though. It makes my board go fast. I've changed and tweaked it several times over the last 5 years. I have taken what I have learned paddling 6-man outrigger the last 2 years and melded it with my own self-taught sup stroke and a clinic and video review from the great Dave Kalama.
The "stroke du jour" we all keep seeing is the Connor Baxter inspired grip that involves choking up on the paddle shaft and increasing stroke rate. This doesn't work for me at all, but it certainly works for many. Rarely is there a person using this stroke who is in front of me in a race. Dan Gavere uses it and crushes me and obviously Connor would be WAY in front of me if we ever raced together! It's all about finding what works for you and not being influenced into a certain style just because you see someone famous doing it.
Dave Chun of Kialoa paddles always chuckles when I ask him about my stroke. His advice has always been the same... listen to the board. Don't worry about what you look like. Listen to the water coming off of it. Feel what makes it go fast and smooth.
There are a few tips I want people to take away from the following photos... First, about 80% of all my power comes in this series of pictures. When the paddle first catches, to about a foot in front of my toes is where the money is. I get roughly another 20% of forward power from that point to my toes, and close to zero power from my heel back.
Stroke rate is going to depend on paddler strength, paddle blade size and paddling style.
4 years ago I was using a tiny blade and a very high stroke rate. It has slowly morphed into a medium size blade and a slightly slower, more powerful stroke. Sometimes in the middle of a race I will chant two different mantras... Kalama's "reach dammit, reach!" and my own "slow is smooth, smooth is fast."
This really helps me toward the end of a race when I'm fatiguing and my stroke technique is falling apart.
There are some good things happening in these photos, and probably some bad too (-:
I've got good shoulder/torso rotation, decent reach and I'm fully burying the blade... digging deep.
I hope this is good info & everyone can take something helpful away from it. It's ever-evolving and will continue to change I'm sure.
A hui hou!
Photos by Sara Adamski-Satterlee
Friday, July 20, 2012
In the end, it was Cyril, myself about 50 seconds back, followed closely by Parker and then Spencer.
The 12'6" race was won once again by Greg Gilbert... can't wait til' he gets on a 14'!
Photos courtesy of Gorge Performance & Cybelle Creative Photography....
Matt Spencer leads me through turn #1
Men's 14' Podium
Cyril leading the charge with a fight for 2nd behind...
Monday, July 2, 2012
This last weekend was the 2012 Jetty Jam SUP race at Jetty Island, Everett, Wa. The race was well attended but unfortunately held at low tide, which made navigating the usual 5 mile loop around the island a bit tricky. A sand bar that protrudes off the northwest side of the island forced us to paddle about a half mile off-shore to avoid running aground. And another sand bar, with zero routes around it, forced everyone to run through ankle deep water for about 200-300 feet. That hurt, especially 5 miles into a 6.3 mile race. The last mile ended up being into the face of a huge incoming flood tide... not sure how fast I was going, but felt like about 3 mph. I managed to win the 14' class with 18 year old future superstar Dustin Sousley not far behind. Matt Parker was 3rd. Greg Gilbert won the 12'6" class with my Perfect Wave team mate Patrick Aio in second.
Photos courtesy of Scott Vande Vusse:
Photos courtesy of Scott Vande Vusse:
Under the watchful eye of Mr. Eagle
The first 1/4 mile sprint...
Running over the sand bar...