It was a cloudy, calm summer morning, about 60 degrees and the flags at the Deschutes River were lying lazily calm as I headed to the water for a few hours of intervals. Board of choice was the 12’6″ Starboard Astro Inflatable Deluxe – great glides and fast! My paddle was the adjustable Tiare from Kialoa.
The water looked invitingly glassy – then the first gust powered down the canyon in my face as I started on the first up current .7 mile segment. Holy cow – Mother Nature was master of these intervals. The deal was: paddle hard or go backwards.
OK – I was in! Today my focus was on really using legs to drive the board forward with each stroke. Grabbing insights from a number of recent clinics the goal was keeping form and technique on every interval segment.
Fiona Wylde (at Santa Cruz Paddlefest)- Bend your knees more and get your bottom hand lower. (Check)
Zane Schwetizer ( at Standup 4 the Cure) – Use your legs. Keep your hips facing forward during the rotation of your stroke then bring your board to your paddle. Quads are powerful drivers.
Dave Kalama (at Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge)- Drive your paddle quietly and solidly into the water on your catch – be sure you have a solid catch before you start to bring your paddle back.
It’s amazing how a race pace interval against wind and current can fly by when the mind is fully focused on technique. When I got to the rapids that marked the turn point it was down current and down wind recovery time.
Whooooosh, in a nanosecond I was back at the put in – ready for lap #2. And so it went for almost 2 hours. I usually balk at training when the up current river segments are 15-25 mph wind in the face – but today “nature’s intervals” were all about focus and surprisingly were FUN.
Everyone wants to make the most out of their training and get faster. Everyone wants to paddle faster, but actually paddling faster still tends to be elusive. Lets review a few things that can help you either increase, or keep up, the speed while you’re on the water stand up paddling.
To go faster we need to focus on our technique! When you zone out or stop focusing on your cadence and reach, form breaks down and you start moving slower. Take your own game plan to the water, rely on your training, and focus on your technique.
You’re focused and you have a solid cadence, now you want to really reach. When paddling, you want to get every inch of reach you can to propel yourself forward. Further reach gives you a longer pull, this means your blade is in the water for more time. In theory you keep your board moving, as opposed to when you’re recovering the blade and your board is decelerating. The companion of reach is exiting your paddle from the water – at your feet, not behind them. The moment your paddle begins pushing water up rather than powering your board forward it’s wasted effort. An entire training session can be an exploration of catch and reach. (Bend those legs)
Make it a game. Train with a buddy. Set a goal. And best of all, celebrate when you’re done. A session out on the water is what we live for – make it great!