Winter training and race plans…

So it’s really winter now. Those who went to Florida are back, and those who didn’t are probably not on the water. I was asked about what I do for winter training and what I think is important. Basically, what I’ve learnt is that cross training is simply cross training. It doesn’t matter if you’re swimming, running, skiing or rowing erging….it’s all the same. Some of you know I don’t swim. I used to swim but my recent choice of not swimming is because I think it can be hard on the shoulders unless you really vary the strokes. I’m not that good at other strokes so I can’t go the appropriate intensities and I always end up doing free. Anyway if you can, vary it up as much as possible, do every type of cross training you can, make sure you go hard sometimes and you’re all good. Once again, rowing erg, it’s the hardest.

What Mike and I have learnt from sport physiologists is that specifics are really important. So when you want to improve something that lasts 2 to 4 minutes you should actually train for 2-4 minutes and at the appropriate intensity. What is neat about a lot of what we’ve heard is that if you’re trying to get better at running a 1500m you won’t get substantially better by swimming for 4 minutes, or biking…etc. With paddling, I think, if you want to get better at it the best way is to do it. Of course, we don’t have that luxury in the winter so we have to make do. In recent years this has meant doing more specific workouts, like 4 minutes pieces at a hard intensity, rather than always big long runs, skis or whatever. I still enjoy the long skis and runs, but my winter training really boils down to a only 3-4 hard workouts a week. These are really intense and really hard. Not too many intervals, basically as similar as a paddling workout as a run can be. I’ve found these really useful in preparing for Florida and the type of work I’m going to do there.

I think if winter training is approached with the philosophy of: I’m training to be able to start training in Florida with the appropriate intensity and basic fitness level you’re all good.

Race plans: I’ve talked about these before. Basically it’s important to think about them well before you start racing, months before. As for the specifics of it that’s really individual and all depends on where your strengths and weaknesses lie. If you’re a good starter but bad finisher, well you have to figure out how you’re going to pace that. I look at it like I’ve got 100$ to spend from the start line to the finish line (you could just say a 100% to give…whatever). For me I can finish well, so I interpret that as being a place where I don’t have to spend as much, but because I start poorly I need to spend more in that first 250. Attila Vajda spent a 25$ each 250 at the Olympics, where I feel I spent about 30$ 30$ 15$ 25$. Not ideal but that’s what happened. It’s a decent analogy I think, and useful for figuring out how you have to divide up your race. So to make and use a race plan effectively, talk with your coach to and figure out your strengths and weaknesses, and than develop a race plan that suits those. Remembering that you have to use cue words, like power, hard, reach…etc. not sentences, and never use stuff like “don’t sit back”, it’s a guarantee that you will. If sitting back is a problem use “sit up” not “don’t sit back”. Anyway that’s an example, once you have a detailed race plan, you should go out and practice it as much as possible. Visualize it in the winter, in the spring throw some into your workouts they don’t have to be hard just stay focused.

Anyway hope that helps.

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