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Training For Races

(Or just improving your paddling fitness)

Most of us are going to have to figure out what our Zone 2 is and what specific levels of effort called for in training programs mean for our own training. If you have the time, inclination, and budget that affords working with a personal coach, then so much the better. See Coaches


Lisa Carrington Training photo from video

Energy Physiology

Training Techniques & Planning

Eric Bornes Summary of Surfski Training

Types of workouts, progressions, etc…

Lower Intensity Aerobic Work

Building your aerobic base and not burning out or injuring your body with too much high intensity work (and the relative effectiveness of % time spent in high intensity or long, slow training.)


  • Flatwater Routines - while considered one of the more efficient ways to train these can be hard work and challenge motivation. One of the best ways to battle motivation is to form groups of friends and like minded paddlers to do interval drills. Get a leader who uses a workout plan and who shuffles plans for variety (once again to combat boredom and “interval fatigue”.) If you do not have a lake to paddle on is there a local marina, inlet, etc. where the water is protected enough to paddle and work on speed and technique without too much disturbance from waves?
  • Downwinders, Tidal Rips - if you get tired of interval workouts on flatwater and have the on water opportunity to surf waves then by all means do it. These are the best kind of intervals possible (from a fitness perspective, not necessarily from a paddling technique one) - ones where you are having fun. Every sprint for a wave is an “interval”. Tidal rips (Deception Pass, Ambleside) tend to be the hardest fitness challenge because typically they work best when the wind is stacking up waves against a tidal current. Catching such waves is more challenging and more work because of the current you are paddling against. But you will probably see the greatest gains in your fitness from this kind of paddling. Tidal rip waves can also be pretty volatile so you may get some pretty good balance and boat control practice also if you find zones of the current that are within you ability to stay upright and catch some of the waves.
  • Determining Target Speeds (described for running, can be a bit more difficult for paddling unless you have some distances measured out where you practice (use your GPS to approximate?), but overall times and %'s should be transferable to paddling interval calcs)


Resistance Training

Typically involves wrapping something like a bungie and/or small plastic balls around your boat to add drag. It does not take much to slow you boat down and make it significantly harder to achieve or maintain your usual speed.

Periodizing Your Training For Peaks, Season, and Target Races

Masters Athletes Training Plans

The training concepts described in the following discussions are applicable to all age groups. Younger athletes may be able to tolerate higher levels of exertion and will want to augment some of the recommended training levels to suit their own age and ability to recover more quickly.

Race Training Programs for Older Athletes

How Surfski Athletes Train