I asked for questions and you answered. Or at least three of you did…..
Here it goes for two of them…these are paraphrased, if i miss something let me know. the third will be up shortly it’s about winter training and i think it’ll be a bit longer than these.
Question one: Do you do drills to improve technically or do you just go by feeling?
I do a lot of drills. Or i should say i do drills a lot, there are only so many you can do. I think they’re a great asset when trying to make changes technically. I don’t think we do enough of them, many sports do tons of drills to nail down the finer technical points and i think we can really benefit from them. When doing a drill i try and really exaggerate what i’m working on. I also use feeling, but if i’m having a bad day my feeling will change. Feelings can be really subjective which i guess is why they’re called “feelings”. Usually by doing some drills i can end up feeling better. Mondays are a day where i can essentially never feel anything. If i’ve taken sunday off i feel like garbage on monday. It’s a good drill day. It’s like looking at video, if the video looks perfect but you’re not feeling it so much. I wouldn’t worry, there aren’t too many canoers out there who do well and don’t “look” that good paddling their C-1’s. In crew boats there is more room for variation. So if you feel bad listen to you coach when they say to move something, or try something. Eventually it’ll feel better, thats what practice is. I’m in Florida now and i’ve done drills at least every second day on average.
My two favorites are both more for the catch than the exit. The first is a drill to help keep everything moving forward through the second half of the stroke. It’s all to easy for a canoer to sit back and bring that top arm way back before setting up for the next stroke. To counter this i do this: 1) Paddle comes out of the water and i make it horizontal, parallel to the water. 2) as i set up for the next stroke i go forward with both hands, almost leading with the “top” hand (my left, as i paddle on the right) keeping the paddle close to the gunnels of the boat and parallel to the water. 3) is catch without worrying about getting a perfect set up. the focus is to keep that top arm moving forward, it helps to prevent sitting back and it keeps you weight and momentum going forwards.
The second one is a close front foot drill. I do this to make sure I’m putting weight on my paddle it helps to smooth the boat i think. Basically if you don’t put all your weight on the catch, you tip, so it works pretty well. 1) bring your front foot as close to your block as you can, i’m maybe an inch away. 2) reach as far as you can. 3) put your weight on the paddle because if you don’t your swimming.
Second Question: What do i think about when i race?
Good one. Not much is the short answer. I try not to think about anything other than what will make me go fast. That is different things at different points in the race. At the start it may be thinking about staying smooth. In the middle, my hips, and near the end, power or stroke rate. To do this effectively you need to practice it, and learn to use Key words. Words like hips, power, reach…etc, are all good key words. If you find at the 450m mark you are always shortening your stroke a good key word would be reach. It’s all very logical, the hard part is training it. That requires effort, and that effort has to be done on the water or during visualization. I like doing race plans paddling. I go out and i pretend I’m racing a 1000m at Duisburg, or Atlanta or Montreal. Doesn’t matter where i am, i imagine I’m at which ever course and i pretend I’m racing all my competitors. It’s like Sesame Street, it’s all imagination and pretend….but it works.
Other than key words, there isn’t much i think about. I’m not a particularly nervous racer. I have fun, but at the same time take it very seriously. I’ve put a lot of effort into it and i think it’s ok that i’m serious about it.