The Pacific Paddle Games presented by Salt Life will be a challenging event, no matter what race or races you’re involved in. Pros will have to deal with multiple heats over multiple days with a six-mile distance race mixed in. Open racers contending for the overall championship will have a Technical race one day and a Distance race the next. Even just dealing with the surf in the Open Technical race divisions will be difficult. But it’s nothing that a good training regimen can’t take care of. Here, we cover some basics such as strength, endurance, nutrition and skills with some of the best athletes in the biz.
Being in shape for a race is a no-brainer. How you get there can get a little convoluted. First, determine what event or events you’ll be participating in. Then, determine what kind of workout plan you want to be on.
“If I had to give one piece of advice to new or intermediate paddlers it would be, ‘Be consistent,'” says Brody Welte, founder of PaddleFit, one of the foundational SUP fitness programs. “You can’t just train hard once a week.”
A program that involves two days of strength training, i.e. paddle sprints, beach exercises, etc., and two days of endurance per week should suffice. Add some cardio to the mix on the fifth day for that extra gut check. And make sure you get a solid rest day at least once a week.
This is a part of racing that many paddlers overlook until right before the race. Are you going to wear a hydration pack on the technical course? Maybe not. But you’ll probably want one for the distance race, right? You should know the answers to these questions and know how your gear works. A floppy, ill-fitting hydration pack can be the difference between placing and not.
Pro racer and PPG contender Fiona Wylde is more dialed on nutrition than most racers—she was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago and has had to adjust her race-day program accordingly.
“Staying hydrated is extremely important,” she says. “You’ll perform way better if you drink enough.”
Also, if you’re doing multiple races, what are you going to eat in between? Wylde’s food plan is geared to prevent low blood sugar but will work for you as well.
“My favorite thing two hours before a race is a rice bowl, with beans a little bit of chicken and some avocado.” During the race she carries Clif Shot Bloks to prevent energy lows.
Don’t experiment day-of or you may feel sick to your stomach. Find out what works for you ahead of time. And make sure you get enough sleep.
There will be waves. Buoy turns. Other racers. Beach starts. Have you practiced these or been out in these conditions? Again, race day is not the time to paddle out into the surf for the first time. Try and show up early to get a feel for Doheny if you’ve never been before. Identify your weaknesses and work on those the most. Buoy turns in the open ocean are difficult. If you paddle on a lake, practice some on a windy day to get a similar feel.
“All of those minor skills add up to a huge chunk of the race,” Welte says.
Lastly, don’t forget to warm up, whether for your workouts or before you hit the start line in October.
“If you look at Danny (Ching), Candice (Appleby) and Annabel (Anderson) they can take up to thirty minutes to warm up,” Welte says. “If you’ve trained properly, a thorough warmup shouldn’t tire you out.”
Warming up properly means you won’t burn out in the first five minutes of the race or injure yourself going too hard. A combination of stretching and easy calisthenics will put you in a good spot.
We’ll see you—fully prepared—in October!