For those with consistent access to open water and racing major early season events like the Carolina Cup at the end of April, this phase begins on January 21. Here is where we start to ramp up work on the water, with anywhere from 4 to 6 paddling sessions per week depending on the level of the program. This work is supported by 2 to 3 strength sessions per week, again depending on the level of strength program, and 1 to 2 land-based cardio sessions.
This training phase is divided into two blocks, the first of which focuses on “accumulation”, in which development of specific (paddling) aerobic base is the main objective and is accomplished through high volume training which is for the most part at lower intensity. Refinements of paddling technique continue through this phase, and are tested and consolidated through the high volume of paddling that’s done.
Through this block there is a gradual introduction of paddling at increased intensity to allow the body to adapt to the more intense work slowly and safely. At the same time, this slow introduction of intensity permits the nervous system to adapt to higher intensity paddling at a pace that allows effective movement patterns and sound technique developed at lower intensities to be maintained at faster speeds.
The second block of training in this phase focuses on “intensification”, where development of high-level aerobic and anaerobic capabilities is the objective. This phase typically sees three extremely intense on-water sessions each week with one to three additional lower intensity sessions aimed at maintaining the specific aerobic base. These intense on-water sessions focus on anaerobic threshold work, aerobic power, lactate tolerance and alactic/neuromuscular power work. This is where paddlers develop their sprinting speed and their ability to grind out high-level efforts for extended periods of time.
Lastly, this phase sees a ten-day to two-week peaking process, in which the training load is gradually reduced allowing for “super-compensation” to occur. This can be likened to a spring being compressed. Consider all of the training stimuli presented in the training program as the force exerted that compresses a spring. This training comes at a cost in terms of fatigue, which is cumulative during each week and, though mitigated by well placed “recovery weeks”, is cumulative through the entire block as well. However when training load begins to be reduced the body begins to rebound from this fatigue, feeling stronger every day in the process. Ultimately the response to this greatly reduced training load is a level of strength, energy and nervous system control of muscles which is greater than normal and analogous to the spring as it expands to a length greater than normal when the compressing forces are removed and it is allow to rebound.
Throughout this block strength work continues two to three times per week working on the power endurance that we need to pull hard and dynamically on our paddles for sustained periods while racing. This 14-week block should see paddlers optimally prepared for races at the end of April/beginning of May.
Fpr those in colder climates who are unable to paddle regularly or for those in warm climates who are not racing important races at the end of April, the Paddle Monster “Off-season” programs we’ve been doing continue until February 25th when we’ll being a “Spring Base” program designed to get people on the water and begin developing their specific base for the paddling season. Cold climate paddlers racing the Carolina Cup or equivalent events in April should follow this program and work with me in the weekly training discussion for modifications to best meet their needs.
Happy paddling and remember, training works!