Florida… Finally!!

I’m back in Florida and thrilled to be here. It’s been hot and sunny, if not a little windy. It’s my 12th year coming down south to either Good Council Camp or here, in Indian Harbour Beach, also known as the Pines. For those who don’t know we stay in what are essentially apartments that range from single room apartments, to three room’s with a kitchen. The bigger room generally has around 4-5 national team members in them, though there was a time when it was 6, and i’ve shared them with up to 9. Now that isn’t an issue and we live in relative comfort. The best part about staying here is the canal we paddle in is about 7 km long from our dock to the top and pretty well sheltered. The times that we can’t paddle are few and far between. The Atlantic is about 2 km away and there are a bunch of great golf courses nearby that i used to frequent, but with my damn shoulder i’ve had to do a quick cost benefit analysis and it turned out paddling was more important than golf…at least for now. Other distractions include….not much. Our quarters are all within 200M of the boats and docks so going to practice is a cinch, we bike, do homework. And a large group of us go to a great gym here call the Melbourne Athletic Club, now run by Rick.

Training has been good, i’ve only been here since saturday but i feel strong and i think I’m paddling well…. or at least well enough for the first 5 days of paddling. To be honest i feel better than i have this early on in camp then ever before. Maybe having done this 12 times before is finally paying off. My workouts right now consist of a lot of…. paddling, but Mike has already begun to integrate some higher intensity short pieces. I’m not doing a crazy amount of KM’s this week, and i won’t be any week for that matter. This week will end up around 110km and that will probably be an average week for me down here. I’ve been busy doing drills and trying to regain that ever-elusive “connection”.

I watch bit of video almost everyday from either the Olympics or some old World Championships video to try and get a solid image of what i want to be paddling like. I don’t watch myself by the way, i try to watch Andreas Dittmer or David Cal and Attila Vajda. Of course, i always look at video of Canada’s Steve Giles, and almost always carry around the DVD’s of the Sydney Olympics where he placed third in the C1-1000m. The video watching is in place of proper visualization, i wish i had the mental focus to really sit down and get a solid image of myself paddling perfectly, but i can’t so i watch video of the best and i feel it really helps. I also like to watch video of myself from training every couple of days. At this point i think it’s critical to be able to get some visual feed back about how I’m paddling. I may feel great but sadly that doesn’t always translate into fast canoeing. So watching myself and checking angles and the movement of my body is really important.

I was in Nova Scotia right before coming south and had a chance to talk with Steve about technic and we both agreed that paddling a canoe well doesn’t feel easy, especially at the start of a camp. If you’re hips are moving well they should be sore and tired. ‘If you paddle in a way that feels easy chances are you’re not doing it right’ is a paraphrase of what he said. So for you younger canoers down here for one of your first times, that front leg hamstring should feel like it’s about to tear and your front quad should be tired as well. Your back leg bum-cheek should be working and those hips should be staying forward. Stretch like crazy and keep on pushing that front leg forward, watch Cal or especially Vajda and there front leg motion. Getting that down without bouncing the boat is one of the hardest parts of paddling well, at least for me! Train hard!

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