Sharing coaching knowledge

Thanks to those who encourage everyone to post their training ideas and thoughts. What will strengthen our paddling community and increase the quality and safety of training for all is the sharing of knowledge.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am reluctant at times to share as this may upset some of my coaching clients, but I’ll be judicious 🙂

If I was to suggest one type of workout that will always make you faster, it is easy technique work at your individual aerobic threshold.

However, we all like to work hard, so here is a really good workout for athletes of all ages and abilities to boost their peak VO2 (a measure of ability to carry and extract oxygen from the blood);

10-15 minute warm up at very easy pace

If you feel you need longer to warm up, you are probably tired and will not get optimal benefits from this type of workout. Consider taking an easy day instead. Use this time to address technique work, drills and social time.

3-4 intervals lasting 3:00 minutes each taking 6:00 minutes of active rest (at your easy long distance pace or under 70-75% peak heart rate) between each interval

Do these as if they were 3:00 minute races; your goal is to cover the maximum distance possible in that time. If you pace it properly, the first 30 seconds to minute will be relatively easy, then middle minute hard and the last minute hardest yet. All the while your hull speed should be relatively stable and not drop off. If you start too fast, you will go anaerobic very shortly and you hull speed will drop significantly, as will the quality of your technique.

The recovery interval must be active rest. If you don’t move or paddle much you will not go very fast, or be able to work hard on subsequent intervals as your body accumulates metabolites and muscle acidity remains high (can you say pickled?). Recovery at too high an intensity and you also fail to recover properly. Luckily, unless you try to paddle at a race pace suitable for races shorter than 10-15 km, your muscles will probably still recovery quite nicely despite your best efforts otherwise. Your performance may suffer for other reasons (i.e. psychological, neural / coordination problems, technical failure, etc.), but your muscles will be working fine.

10-15 minute warm down at an easy pace

As with warm-up, use this time to address technique work, drills and social time.

Peak VO2 itself is not a golden egg of performance, but it is part of the picture. Easy distance training is critical to maintaining high percentage of your peak VO2 speed for long distances. Easy distance training is also critical in your ability to recover from hard work. Easy distance training is also critical for quality technique work.

As you build fitness, at some point you will have to decide enough is enough and then switch to working on maintaining your speed at peak VO2 for longer, so slowly begin reducing the recovery duration between intervals. Then you will need to begin reducing the peak VO2 effort level down to one more appropriate for the durations/distances you will be racing over.

Keep it simple, progressive and systematic and you won’t go wrong. These are basic principles of training

Alan Carlsson
Engineered Athlete Services

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