Whether you’ve just started in the world of paddling, we can guarantee that you are making paddling mistakes without even realising it. These mistakes are all easily made, but each one can seriously damage your performance. Here’s what to look out for, and how to avoid them.
You’re too tense
A relaxed paddler is an efficient paddler. Tensing up while you race leads to poor form, which in turn leads to wasted energy. Whenever you’re paddling do a mental check on any areas of tension, particularly in your upper body, and try to relax them. Are your shoulders feeling tight? Have your arms started to tense up? Are you balling up your fists too tightly? Try to perform these checks every 10 strokes and relax any problem areas of your body, and you’ll soon find that your paddling efficiency increases.
When your training is going great it’s very easy to fall into the trap of doing too much of it. A good rule of thumb to follow is never going above a 10-15 per cent increase in training distance per week. Any more than this and you risk over-training. Research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine found that even elite athletes can react badly to over-training, displaying both physical and emotional stress. That means putting those extra few kilometres in might not be so good for your training after all, and could even have a negative effect on your overall fitness.
You start sessions too quickly
You know the feeling: you’re out for a paddle, feeling like a million dollars, and you set off like a bullet. Fast forward two kilometres and you’re slumped over gasping for air wishing you’d started a bit more steadily. Saving your energy at the start of a training session will make you a better paddler, as you’ll be able to paddle at a more consistent pace and finish strongly.
You don’t refuel after training sessions
When you’ve finished a training session it’s perfectly normal to not feel like eating, according to research into athletes’ appetites carried out at Brigham University in Utah. However, refuelling your body after a training session is extremely important if you want to become a better paddler. The National Council on Strength and Fitness recommends a meal with a protein to carbohydrate ratio of 3:1 for optimum muscle repair and development. The 45 minutes after your training session are when your body is able to absorb the most nutrients, so this is the time you need to target for your protein and carbohydrate filled recovery meal or snack.
You don’t vary your training
Want to get bored of paddling and reach a plateau? If you’re paddling the same old training sessions over and over again you’re going about it the wrong way. Variety is a paddler’s best friend, and without it you’ll seriously struggle. Ask your coach to try to incorporate new training sessions like intervals or fartlek into your schedule. Or even try something as simple as paddling in a different boat, in different water or currents. Anything that mixes up your usual routine and that challenges your body will make you a better paddler.
You wear too many clothes
When you exercise, your body becomes warmer – it’s simple science, and will happen to everyone. That’s why when you wrap up warm to go out for a paddle, you feel far too hot after a couple of kilometres. Far from just making you feel uncomfortable, researchers at the University of Wales found that exercising when you’re too hot can lead to stress, reduced performance, and reduced immune system function. If you’re exercising in cold weather, wear clothing that leaves you feeling slightly cool when you step outside. By the time you start paddling you’ll soon warm up to a more comfortable temperature.