OK, guys. This one is a real doozie. It's hard to make something that is genuinely complex very simple. When I say complex, the way to do it isn't complex. But if you're looking for exact answers for your exact race distance and abilities - then it IS complex. What I've attempted to do here, albeit poorly, is provide a framework for you to get fit on your own by building your own program. In the most basic sense, starting from "ground zero" (which can be no athletic
background, or just coming from an off season) you want to start aerobically building your ability to keep going until you can complete your goal distance comfortably. You will use aerobic capacity and aerobic power style workouts (from the cheat sheet below) to achieve this preliminary goal. This is everything below the widest part of your "pyramid." Once you can go your distance comfortably, you will start to try to cover the distance faster. This will include more anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity work - but these two training modalities should not be attempted until you have a solid base of aerobic and alactic work (also known as general endurance and general speed)
Try to follow the crazy video here, but scroll down and I've tried to type it out better. I think I articulate better via type than talking! But I've attempted both ways for you visual learners.
Once you have your meso and micro cycles set from last time, count how many weeks you have to train until your event.
To build out your individual training sessions, I recommend drawing a pyramid.
Draw the pyramid and divide it, top to bottom, into the number of mesocycles you determined last time in the previous annual training plan worksheet: each level of the pyramid corresponds to a mesocycle from your annual training plan print out.
Then within each level, divide each level/mesocycle into the number of microcycles (this corresponds to weeks for most people) that you determined were in each mesocycle (this is the 2+1, 3+1, or 4+1 work+recovery pattern).
Now each microcycle/week gets filled in with the 5 types of workouts based on your target race distance.
At the bottom of your pyramid, where your training begins, all of your work will be very general. As you get closer to the top of your pyramid, your training will become more and more specific, and feel like your target or goal race.
We build each individual workout with 5 different “modalities”
We have Aerobic Power, Aerobic Capacity, Alactic sprinting, Anaerobic Power, and Anaerobic Capacity.
To download a "5 modalities Cheat Sheet" with a brief description of each and what we need it for, enter your email address here and it will be emailed to you shortly.
Ideally, once you’ve built your base, you want to include each of these modalities weekly.
During your base phase you will be using Aerobic power and capacity, with some alactic work only. This is GENERAL.
During your build phase you will use all 5 modalities to fine tune your skills and get more SPECIFIC.
Your current level of fitness and previous base will determine how long you should spend building the base of your pyramid! Regardless of your level, when you come back from an off season, some time should be used to work up to your goal distance at a slow easy heart rate.
To build the base, use Aerobic Power and Aerobic Capacity workouts. Refer to the cheat sheet on what these look like. Then, each week add an extra “interval” or two until you reach your goal distance.
For example, if your goal distance is a 5k go out and paddle for 5 minutes at a time focusing on making the board go fast with heavy pressure, followed by easier rest paddling for a few minutes, until you reach 5k. These will be your aerobic power days, if you do 5x5min in the first week, do 6x5min, then 7x5min, etc. until you get to your rest week and do 5x5min again.
For aerobic capacity days, you will try to paddle for longer periods of time, go 8 to 20 minutes before taking a break to reset and refocus your attention for a minute or two. You can build these week to week the same way you do Aerobic Power workouts, or you could increase the time period each week. If you did 4x10min in the first week, week 2 could be 4x15min, then week 3 would be 4x20min. No matter what you change, only change one thing at a time within each level of the pyramid/mesocycle for each workout type.
Once a week, even early on when things are GENERAL, add in some 15 second bursts of alactic sprinting. Alternate alactic days each week by doing these “fast” and doing these “heavy” Don’t go longer than 15 seconds, these are in place for neurological adaptations and we do not want to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the heart rate. Training too hard too soon can lead to aerobic deficiency syndrome.
Once you can comfortably paddle your goal distance, you are going to start doing it faster.
This is where the top half of our pyramid comes in. For any mesocycle considered "base" work, keep your aerobic power and aerobic capacity workouts in place each week, and pick 2 and start trying to do them faster. You won’t modify the time of the intervals too much as you’re going to start trying to increase the speed at which you can do them. Without letting your heart rate go into your anaerobic zone, try and get the speed of your aerobic pieces up so you are covering more distance in that same amount of time.
The big difference in the top of the pyramid, and mesocycles/weeks labeled as BUILD is that now, 2 out of your 4 paddles a week are going to be anaerobic. These will be 1 anaerobic power and 1 anaerobic capacity workout each week. If you can't paddle 4 times a week, then your mesocycles should be considered as 2 weeks long each. You will fill out a two week time period according to these guidelines.
For anaerobic power you’re trying to push as hard on your paddle as possible in 30 second to 1 minute efforts, as your hull speed increases, your stroke rate will also max out. Your stroke rate will increase to match your hull speed, until it reaches a point that you can’t paddle any faster, at this point the interval will likely be over. These are all out. Rest fully for 2-5 minutes. If your goal race is a 5k start out with 5 of these intervals. Unless you are a seasoned professional, and you’re going for an all out sprinting 5k, then you can probably do at least 10 of these, but you wouldn’t be watching this video.
Later in the week, at least 2 days later, you can do anaerobic power. These are burners, you’re going to aim for 1-2 minutes sustained at race pace, then rest for the same amount of time or slightly less. Tabata style intervals are a good example for training anaerobic capacity. When starting out, do as many as you can before your pace starts seriously dropping off. If your goal race is a 5k, then start with 5 of these intervals. In both anaerobic style workouts, progression each week can go two ways: you can increase the number of intervals you’re doing (just like the aerobic progression), or you can decrease the amount of rest between them. I would recommend sticking to only changing one of these factors in each mesocycle just like in the aerobic mesocycles.
As you near your peak, your intense anaerobic intervals get longer, and your long aerobic intervals get more intense. This is what we mean when we say training becomes more SPECIFIC. In addition to the 4 main workout types during your build cycles, try to maintain at least one aerobic recovery session each week. Also, always include at least one alactic sprint piece, which can easily be done in the same session with any of the other 4 modalities, but goes best with aerobic efforts. An example of using them in an anaerobic workout would be doing a 15 second race start and settling into race pace for 1:45min
This puts you on the water, ideally, 5 times a week. If you can't paddle 4-5 times each week, follow all the guidelines from this whole series, but you should seriously consider using a 2-week period as your mesocycle length for programming purposes.
This is not an exhaustive, all-inclusive way to build a paddle program. But it is a simple way that I hope you can understand and do it yourself safely. If you don’t want to do it yourself, or would like a pre-made plan, head over to my latest project Paddle Ninja for pre-built plans that build base and help you peak for your goals.