Race training the smart way

Words: Glen Phipps
Pics: Dave White http://davewhite.me

SUP race training can be done in one of two ways: efficient and not very efficient at all. If you’re looking to step up your game then have a nose at what Glenn Phipps from Movement Lab (www.movementlab.com.au) has to say. Glenn has trained some of the best SUP athletes in the world and therefore has his finger firmly on the SUP training pulse.

race training by Glen Phipps

So with some trepidation, you’ve picked your race, and looking at the calendar, realise it’s time to hit training hard. Real hard. Right?

The answer is: it depends. Training hard is part of race preparation, but it depends how far away the race is. The smartest type of training involves a progression of strength and conditioning work that allows you to peak for your race, whilst doing so with minimal risk of injury throughout the training and race.

This concept is known as periodisation. Periodisation refers to a planned manipulation of training variables, to both maximise training adaptations, as well as reduce the risk of overtraining related injury and performance reduction.

If we start by looking at strength training, the variables that are manipulated may involve the level of resistance used, the amount of repetitions performed, the number of sets, rest periods and type of exercises used. Without getting too heavy into the theory, the most common manipulation in this regard is known as a linear progression.

In this case, the variables make progressive changes every four weeks or so, as the athlete passes through different phases in training. This is different to what is known as undulating training, where the athlete mixes up these variables within a weekly training session. Both have their pros and cons. I like my athletes to have performed a linear progression with me at least once before I move into an undulating model.

In this case I would utilise the linear model over the course of a few months to prep the athlete to peak for an event, then shift to an undulating model if the athlete was now looking to compete in a number of events close to one another. This method would obviously be well applied to in-season and off-season training in a team sport scenario.

race training by Glen Phipps

Whilst most SUP athletes are aware of the time needed on the water for reaching a high level of performance, many shun resistance work, that is, until they need to. I see many SUP athletes come to me for rehab and strength training after an injury. Strength training is important, not just for injury prevention, but to allow your body to work as efficiently as possible.

Whilst all SUP athletes are aware of the importance of in the water training, I am amazed at how inefficient the majority of people I meet are doing this. Even the elite. Phasing your endurance training is something that nearly every other competitive endurance athlete is aware of. I’m not sure why SUP athletes think that it doesn’t apply to them. Individualisation is important in this phase, but following the recommendations here is a good start to giving your paddling training some structure.

I tend to follow less of a linear progression in this case, however, the goal of each phase is the important aspect to pay attention to. The science behind each of the phases is complex, and I have briefly alluded to some aspects of this in the third column. For all of these phases a 10-minute warm up should be performed. Across all phases include at least one long easy paddle a week and give yourself ample rest time.

It’s important to realise that these recommendations are very general. Both my online and face to face clients go through a variety of assessments to indicate strengths and weaknesses that dictate training priorities. It can be hard to subjectively measure your intensity, and even a heart rate monitor, if you haven’t run any tests to determine your heart rate zones, is very general.

We assume around 15-20% error for pre-set heart rate zones. Training plans will also vary depending on the distance of the race that you are looking to peak for. In the case above, this would work well for a distance of 10km. Logically, for a longer race, you would want to increase the kilometres in the program, and for a shorter race, the reverse.

movement lab

The body awareness that is gained from strength training alone is worth its weight in gold, as you become more aware of technique and potential muscle imbalance. Below is how I like to vary strength training for a new client:

Phase 1: preparation
Focus on muscle imbalance, mobility and potential injury
Phase 2: endurance
Increase muscular endurance whilst still addressing imbalance and efficiency
Phase 3: Strength
Increase ability of muscle to exert force, in order to move into the next phase safely
Phase 4: Power
Enhance neuromuscular system so that the athlete can exert power most efficiently into the blade, with lower fatigue levels

Phase 1-aerobic base (endurance)

  • Heart capillary adaptations, increased ventilation, enhance fat utilisation
  • One paddle per week that goes for 45-60 minutes with easy effort. Other paddles utilise a fartlek approach for 20 minutes with heart rate, or effort, not exceeding 75%

Phase 2-anaerobic threshold (stamina)

  • Increase carbon dioxide removal, respiratory muscle work, increased ability to remove muscle waste products
  • After a warm up, 15-30 minute efforts at 80-85% maximum heart rate. Any interval effort at anaerobic threshold.

Phase 3-Economy

  • Muscle capillary increase, increase strength (in line with strength training phase 3)
  • Shorter interval training up to 95% efforts.

Phase 4-Speed and power

  • Enhancement of both cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Increased recovery. Neuromuscular development. Mental toughness
  • Reduce overall volume of training. Short intervals,

I hope I have given you some food for thought here, or at least made you aware of the importance of strength training, and the need to structure your training. If you would like to discuss individual race planning, please contact me at glenn@movementlab.com.au

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