9 Weeks to 9 Miles per Hour
Updated: Sep 11
Can I do it?
Can I get my Stand Up Paddleboard to 9mph in a 50m sprint in only 9 weeks? The answer is "maybe."
The way I see it, it's the perfect timing to do a maximum strength phase. Especially if your first race this season is going to be either Chattajack or Carolina Cup.. so many fingers crossed.
In a maximum strength phase, early in your paddle training season, you increase the number of muscle fibers you have the potential to recruit for any given effort. As paddlers, we'd like to recruit many fibers, but we don't want to make those fibers any bigger because increased bulk and weight doesn't do anyone in paddlesports any good because of drag. Each year I follow a 6-8 week maximum strength progression while I slowly start increasing my mileage after my "off season." A true max strength phase does what we need, increases recruitable fibers for use in paddling, but stops short and doesn't do a "hypertrophy" phase - I always just skip that and go straight into some power development and strength endurance leading up to an event.
Why a maximum strength phase helps paddling is simple. Increasing your 1rm also increases your 3rm... and your 5rm etc. All of your reps become a lesser percentage of the maximum you are capable of. In paddling, each stroke is lighter to someone that is stronger. If you train your strength endurance, then the stronger paddler can paddle longer until failure, because each stroke uses a lesser percentage of their maximum ability (where your body kicks into anaerobic metabolism will also play a role, but that's a topic for another day). Maximum strength training improves performance for both short and long distance paddle athletes.
For the current challenge, I think I only need about 5 insanely solid strokes to post a top speed
(because the APP fast track is about reaching the fastest speed possible, not the time in which you finish the 50m - which is pretty neat).
My goal is to hit a 9mph, I don't have to hold it or anything... good.
I'm going to try a few different tactics. Starting fast, starting slow, starting on my non dominant side to save up energy for my good side...
I'll keep everyone posted with weekly updates. So, follow along each week to see if I can break 9mph in 9 weeks.
But don't just watch what I'm doing - participate right alongside me!
In addition to the weekly #SUPtips I'm crafting for the APP's Instagram to help you get a fast time, I've published MY training plan. If you go over to Paddle Ninja and look through the plans, you'll see one called "Maximum Strength." This is an 8-week plan outlining the training I'll be doing to hit 9mph. Yes, the plan is 8 weeks, but I "tested" myself last week and set the 9mph goal while I still had 9 weeks remaining.
I went out my first week to post some 50m Time Trials...
but there were quite a few people out and the boat wakes were EVERYWHERE. I hit 9mph alright... but it wasn't under my own power. So, alas, it doesn't count.
I was sure not to make the same mistake twice, I found a very secluded canal to conduct my 10x 50m time trials... all out.
You can scope out the Garmin GPS Readout of the session HERE to ensure I'm telling the truth or whatever.. But that being said, something made it read out over 20mph on my 3rd interval!!!! So you can't just scope my max speed for the session. It was my 5th interval when I hit a blistering, lung-busting 8.9mph... I don't think 9mph is going to be very easy.
After talking to Johnny and Danny about my goal, I started thinking about my training plan for the effort. Danny, being the fastest SUP sprinter on any given day, had something to add about that (watch the video). The "Maximum Strength" plan over at Paddle Ninja does just what he indicates is needed to reach max speeds.
WEEK 3... cont'd
After hitting 8.94mph in week 2, I decided to take the week and do some more neurological training. I hopped into the Outrigger Canoe and worked on my speed/blade turnover as well as getting the feel of the boat at my goal speeds. Johnny and Danny both had a lot to say about using the canoe as a cross-training tool...
It was time to make a second attempt... I was feeling OK. Even though it was super hot out that day - I felt like the neuromuscular connection of better technique needed to be reinforced after watching the video of my first attempt more closely. I did a few quick stroke accelerations and a few pure power pieces to warm up before cruising over to the protected channel for my all-out efforts of 50m. After the 3rd one in the channel, I was hot and had had enough. I was going to pack it in. I didn't get to check my times until 4 days later when the Garmin outage was fully resolved. I was shocked!! Not only was the 8.7mph that popped up on my watch for the interval where I missed the paddle on my start not the top speed for that effort (I actually hit 9.1mph there!) but my top speed in my last interval was 9.6mph!!! I freakin did it. And when I went all out on my way home in the main channel WITH a strong wind and a slight current to my aid, I wasn't even able to hit 9.6mph - my mind definitely wasn't with it at that point, even though I was still going for it. I remember feeling "enough" as I counted down for the 9.6mph attempt. I wanted to hit 9mph SO BAD so I could go home and start my weekend. When I thought I was no where close, I was pretty deflated. But now I'm wondering what I can do with 4 more weeks... CLICK HERE for the Garmin Connect File
If you've been following along with what I've been sharing on the #APPFastTrack tips, that sums up what I've been doing to prepare myself. Just when you think Stand Up Paddling couldn't get any weirder, I present to you, a sports training montage. I think this is me trying to make myself believe that paddling in flat water is fun. Just kidding, it's great. See how much fun I'm having in the montage? The past few weeks have been all about practicing and watching videos to pick them apart and improve my technique. There's really no big training secrets - it's just consistency. Before I head out, I activate my push and pull muscles with my CrossOver Symmetry Bands before doing a few heavy lifts to increase my muscle tension (use code April15 to: 1. support me & 2. save money). I pre-fuel with vitargo and recover with Garden of Life Supplements.
It still isn't the ocean.
Week 8, I finally gave in to one aspect of peer-pressure. I went down to post a time trial in salt water... The result was a VERY FAST TIME. There was a lot of moving water, currents, eddies, boats, wind. If you can think of it, I had it - with and against me. I thought the tide was going to make things "easy." And, although my first two attempts reached 9.1 and 9.6mph, which were well over my 9mph goal, they weren't a blistering speed. It wasn't until my 3rd attempt that I found a pocket of water where I really felt my board lift up, when I felt that, I increased my stroke rate and power application to try to get in the hardest 5 strokes I could possibly take. The result was an 11.4mph top speed. Although I'm happy with the speed, it highlighted the need for us all to write the conditions in which we're posting our speeds. If someone without access to buoyant, moving water were to compare themselves to athletes in different conditions, they may become discouraged. So, if you're stuck on a lake somewhere, just set your personal goals and don't worry about what others are doing!!
My final go in the flat water canal. Watching the side by side comparison from week 1 to week 9 alone is enough to know I've improved. I hit 10mph: here's the link to my Garmin Connect File. I just had to go back to the canal to see if I could reach the original goal. I couldn't leave it at the salt water attempt. Even though it would be a very fast time in the APP Fast Track competition, to me, it wasn't an accomplishment.