I am training four people who are doing the Molokai to Ohau Paddle Board Race in August. Do you have any previous training programs I could follow? The race is approximately 52 kilometers. I have some ideas but would welcome any suggestions.
While I have not trained anyone for this specific event, I have trained numerous endurance athletes for a variety of events from climbing Kilimanjaro, The Around-the-Bay in a day cycle, the Hawkesbury canoe classic, The Relay for Life, The Comrades Marathon, several Ironman events and numerous long distance military endurance marches. Since I have only a rudimentary knowledge of board paddling, I can offer some advice in relation to key areas that are often neglected by technically based coaches.
Several key areas that will need focus include:
Specificity of Training
There are two key areas that need to be focused on in terms of specificity of training that are often neglected.
- The athletes must be conditioned metabolically to meet the demands of a sustained workload. Thus even if the distance is not trained, the amount of time under a sustained workload should be incorporated into the training program. This not only improves the metabolic system but also prepares the athlete psychologically to withstand constant fatigue, metabolically, anatomically and neurologically.
- The athlete must be trained in a variety of conditions that are likely to be faced (e.g., training in rough sea, rain, cold, etc.).
Prehabilitation (Prediction of and training to prevent injury)
- The body must be looked at as a whole, as must the technical strain placed across the body in the different positions (both on the kneeling and lying).
- A key area of concern will be the rotator cuff. Within the five phases of the stroke (Catch, Pull, Push, Exit and Recovery), the critical phases that place strain on the rotator cuff (especially the supraspinatus) are the Catch into the Pull and the Recovery phases. As such, you must ensure that the paddlers maintain sufficient ROM across the shoulder in full extension and the internal rotator muscles do not become excessively tight (which have the tendency to decrease shoulder joint space - watch for tight latissimus dorsi muscles in particular as they impact on both shoulder extension and an excessive internal rotation of the humerus).
- With the interrelation of the lumbopelvic region, watch for muscle imbalances as they will influence the integrity of effective positioning. In particular, pay attention to the muscles of the posterior oblique sling (latissimus dorsi and opposing gluteus maximus) as imbalances in either (i.e., range, strength or endurance) will impact on symmetry and optimal force transfer.
- Exercises will need to be conducted in a counter functional approach to decrease the impact of the high volume of functional repetitions. For example, the cervical spine will spend a long time in hyperextension to allow the athlete to look forward. As such, there may be a tendency for the sternocleidomastoid muscle to become overactive, and exercises for the deep neck flexors should be included to minimize the chance of cervical dysfunction.
- Another key area that should be focused on and is often missed is the psychological impact of not only the event but the administrational prelude. (Research has shown that psychological stress is linked to overtraining/undertraining). A key strategy would to use the "What if" scenarios for mental preparation (e.g., What will I do if I turn up and having decided to have a rest day, see other competitors training? Or what if the swell is bigger than expected either before or on the day of the race?).
- Also consider the use of relaxation techniques to decrease muscle tension while racing (e.g., relaxing the arms during the recovery phase. Think of the number of repetitions being performed – a relaxation of non essential upper arm and forearm muscles temporarily for even that split second will have an impact over a five to six hour event).
- Train in the clothing and with the equipment that will be used. This includes using the same supplementation the athlete will be using during the event. Review the course, look at any photographs of the area, talk to other participants, etc. Familiarity will help to decrease stress and anxiety.
While I do not profess to be a paddleboard race expert, I have found that many of the above areas are often neglected in training for ultra endurance events, and as such, I hope these can provide assistance. For the actual conditioning development, I would recommend reading the articles on periodization found on PTontheNet.com.