So this is the first update on the training regime I started a number of weeks ago. It’s 3 month since I started trying to follow a structured routine with 3 main aims.

  1. Improve Paddling Fitness
  2. Improve Stroke Technique
  3. Improve Self Rescue Techniques

Here’s an update on progress to date:

Fitness: I was primarily concerned with losing weight and increasing flexibility in the boat with increased stamina a lesser consideration. Three months in and I’m pretty pleased with the progress.

The headline statistic is that I now weigh in a pleasing 2 stone (28lbs/12.7kg) less than I did 3 months ago.

This is a combination of very regular paddling (which has been at a more intense level than my normal relaxed paddles) and very careful eating (reduced calorie intake, healthier food and no more food after 6pm).

Technique: Stroke technique feels as if it has improved – to an extent it can be difficult to quantify this paddling solo, however I have done some rudimentary video analysis to observe strokes. Kinaesthetically, things ‘feel’ smoother and more controlled. There are certain indicators of improvements for example the tightness of a circle turned using only reverse sweep strokes or degrees turned on a single bow rudder.

However isolated strokes are one thing, it’s their application and combination out on a days paddle that is more important and I certainly feel as if things are improved when I’ve been out paddling for myself or coaching other paddlers. I also feel as if I have a much better awareness of how I perform each stroke and ability to break down the body, boat, blade aspects of each individual stroke.

This routine came about following an evening where I received some coaching from Owen (IOW sea Kayaking). A repeat of this session would likely provide some useful external feedback on if and how strokes have improved.

Self Rescue: I am am equally pleased with the results. This is now vastly improved and slicker having been practiced in a variety of wind and sea states. A recent effort was timed at 20 seconds from hitting the water to being back in an emptied boat (although this was on calm water). However, I do need to work on the other balance skills I’ve seen used to improve boat handling.

Routine: This has altered over time – I through myself in at the deep end, too deep really and found after a few weeks that I was over stressing certain joints with the sheer number of repetitions. I’ve calmed down the number of reps of certain strokes and i’m now tending to do less sprints in between stroke practice, choosing instead to up the number of forward strokes used in a manoeuvre.

For example, if I am doing a Bow Rudder box – I will now paddle 15-20 or so strokes between each bow rudder as opposed to 8-10. Over the course of the session this keeps the heart rate ticking over for and seems to be aiding stamina.

I’ve also added in more strokes – low brace turns, draw strokes and hanging draws (draws on the move) and am happy to mix up some stroke work with a shortish paddle (hour or so) rather than stick rigidly to the routine depending on how I feel.

Conclusion: There’s still work to be done, however and I’m now looking at my next weight target and how to progress things further. That said, 2 stone lighter and I feel fantastic for it and paddling wise I feel much more controlled and at one with the kayak. It’s been worth all the cold, wet and windy nights dragging myself out to train when the warm sofa beckoned. Happy days!