Making A Plan: 10 Golden Rules of Paddle Training

In order to achieve maximum paddling performance, it’s important that you understand what goes into forming SUP and outrigger paddling training plans. You must take into account your experience, goals, lifestyle and events you are competing in. The objective of this training article, and all of our training content, is to give you a foundation of training knowledge. This way you can understand the elements of your customized paddle training program, or develop your own program.

After setting your goals, prioritizing your race schedule and understanding the importance of periodization, you should be able to determine the main events of your season and form a training plan. Not everyone needs to plan an entire year of training for an event. You might write out your year with the first four months dedicated to time with family and no focused training at all.

If you live in colder climates, you may be frozen off of the water for four months and need to form a cross training plan. Below is information to help you form SUP and outrigger paddling training plans that work for best you. If you have not already read this article on periodization, start there first.

Next, follow the steps below to put everything together and actually write out a plan.

If you are a Paddle Society Core or Pro member, we’ve written your plan into your customized paddle training program. Learn the principles of training below to understand how to best form a plan or to better understand your customized training program.

10 Golden Rules of Paddle Training

1. A high volume of training without sufficient intensity will fail to produce improvement, just as the opposite is true.

Translation: Don’t complete a 10-mile training paddle like you are on a lazy river tube ride or paddle only 2 miles like a bat out of hell.

2. If a workout is too hard or does not focus on the correct systems, a paddler will not improve or can lose previous gains.

Translation: Don’t push yourself until you are foaming at the mouth and don’t paddle 15 miles the day before your 5 mile race.

3. The work to rest ratio is extremely important and the exact specifications are unique to each individual athlete.

Translation: Don’t do a high intensity paddle interval and go straight into the next high intensity interval without taking a rest period. Also, don’t copy your friends workouts everyday.

4. Training load should build from week to week within each mesocycle and from mesocycle to mesocycle within the macrocycle.

Translation: Each week the volume and intensity of your workouts should slowly increase with easier weeks every 3rd or 4th week.

5. Volume and intensity must be periodically increased and decreased to produce improvements. Without this an athlete’s fitness will stay the same or decrease.

Translation: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Don’t paddle 4 miles every other day at the exact same pace and expect to make long term improvements.

6. High intensity workouts should be done with sufficient rest in between each session. More than 24 hours are generally necessary for proper recovery.

Translation: Don’t overdo it! Doing less is usually better when it comes to your training.

7. Each cycle should be followed by an easier week to allow for rest and recovery before the next cycle begins.

Translation: Let your body heal as you ramp up your training. This is how you make the big gains!

8. Specific preparation leading up to a race can make a huge difference in the success of a training plan.

Translation: If you plan to race in choppy water you should be training in choppy conditions or if you have a beach race you should be practicing your running beach starts.

9. Pay attention to your nutrition during training.

Translation: Training without paying attention to your nutrition is like putting cheap gas in a Ferrari. Your body is like a high performance Italian sports car, give it good fuel!

10. Plan out your training schedule in order to maximize the efficiency of each workout.

Translation: Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Forming SUP and Outrigger Paddling Training Plans

Once you understand these principles of training and have determined your A-priority races, you need to have an idea of the maximum amount of time you are willing to take to prepare for your main race. The time you choose might be nine months or it could be nine weeks. You do not need to stick to the full-length of time prescribed for each periodization phase described in these periodization phases.

The periodization phase durations are only benchmarks for a full-time, dedicated athletes’ annual paddle training plan. Many of you may not be interested or able to dedicate months at a time to paddle training. We realize that there are other things in life besides paddle racing (family, work, surfing, travel, and did I mention surfing?).

Instead, concentrate on smaller, abbreviated periodization phases that fit into your schedule. For example, you can choose for your base development phase to be 16 weeks or for it to be six weeks. Whatever you manage to do is fine.

Write as little or as much detail into your plan as you wish. If you are a Core or Pro member, we have written your customized  training plan into your training dashboard calendar. If you are forming your own training plan, start with at least a few weeks of paddling under your belt to prevent injury and have the greatest chance for success. Establishing this solid base will increase your chances for gaining results and preventing burnout.

Use These Steps to Form your SUP or Outrigger Paddling Training Plan

1. Print out the Paddle Society Training Planner and grab a pen! Viewing or printing out the Basic Paddle Training Program can help you during this process as well.

2. Count out the number of weeks you are going to use to train for your last major “A” race of the season. You might have an “A” race in July, and then your main “A” race in October. In this case, you should count out the weeks from October.

Write your major October race onto your worksheet. If you don’t want to plan out your entire season at once, simply write in the race you want to train for.

3. Work backwards from this date and fill in any races that you might have between the major “A” race and today.

4. Fill in the time between today and your major “A” race with all of the workouts from the different periodization phases. This can include paddle and cross training sessions.

5. Start your program with the entire 16-week Basic SUP Training Program as an outline for how the first 16 weeks of your plan can look. Follow this plan to the best of your abilities using the adjustments recommended based on the number of days you want to train per week.

The 16-week Basic SUP Training Program is designed for a beginner paddler. If you are more advanced, you can add 10-50% more volume and slightly more intensity on select days depending on the race you are preparing for and your experience.

6. If you do not have 16 weeks to do the entire Basic Program, fit in as many weeks of it as you can before starting the next phase of your program. For example, let’s say you want to do 14 weeks of training before your major 7-mile race. The first two weeks of training will be from the first two weeks of the Basic Program. After two weeks you can start a program you build to lead up to your race.

2-week Basic Program + 12-week Race Ready Program = 14 weeks of training

7. If you have multiple “A” races, then include the steps for peaking for multiple events.

8. You might plan to do the 16-week Basic SUP Training Program, but can only workout three days per week. A general rule if you have limited days for training is to always give priority to your paddle sessions throughout the program.

If you would like to do more paddle sessions but can’t, then fill in those days with cross training that correlates to your phase of training.

9. Now that you have your program drawn up, put it into action and prepare to get into the best paddling shape of your life!

Limited Water Access Training Plan

Some of you may not have access to the water because of freezing temperatures or busy work schedules. Use the information below to form your adjusted training plan.

1. Print out the, Smart Training Planner and grab a pen! Printing out the Basic SUP Training Program can help you during this process as well.

2. Count out the number of weeks you are going to train for your last major “A” race of the season. You might have an “A” race in July, and then your main “A” race in October. In this case you should count out the weeks until October.

Write your major October race onto your worksheet. If you don’t want to plan out your entire season at once, simply write in the race you want to train for.

3. Work backwards from this date and fill in any races that you might have between that major “A” race and today.

4. Fill in the time between today and your major “A” race with all of the workouts from the different periodization phases. This can include paddle and cross training sessions as outlined in Building Fitness and Periodization.

If you can’t paddle until six weeks prior to your major race but would like to start training 12 weeks before, follow these three steps:

5. Start week one of training 12 weeks before your event. You will be using the same criteria for workouts as described in the base development phase of periodization. Instead of paddling sessions, you will have to replace these with cross training sessions.

6. Use the aerobic and strength training workouts described in our articles and fitness section to create your own custom training plan.

7. When you are able to get onto the water six weeks prior to the event, you will be on a paddling training plan. You will have built a solid base of strength and endurance during your cross training and are ready to paddle. However, ease into paddling on the water and listen to your body.

Going out to hard in early paddle sessions can cause injury and burnout. In the six weeks left before your event, start with the beginning of the Basic SUP Training Program. Based on your level of experience and fitness, add volume, intensity, tapering and peaking during these six weeks as described in the periodized phases of training.

Forming SUP and Outrigger Training Plans Recap

Everything suggested here should be considered a guideline. Training programs need to be personalized to your own strengths, weaknesses, needs, lifestyle and the exact events you are competing in. If you’d like a one-on-one paddle coaching experience with a customized training program, consider become a Core or Pro member.

Hopefully this article gives you a good place to start if you are developing your own program. Feel free to contact us and we will get back to you with any specific questions you have when forming a paddle training plan.

What’s your favorite Golden Rule of Training? Maybe you have your own Golden Rules? Let us know and join the conversation on the Paddle Society Forum!

By | 2017-03-27T16:28:53+00:00 January 7th, 2017|Categories: Foundational Stand Up Paddle Content, Training, Training|