Why am I slow? My experiences of late...

4 days 7 hours ago - 4 days 7 hours ago #35551 by RedBack

PharmGeek wrote: I see people in my web training group or read about 10km weekly paddles among the pros over on SA etc and see their flat water 10km paces - insane - people holding those speeds have really built their engines - so inspiring 


I know what you mean.  I'm privileged to live in a place where I can paddle with and against former (and current) Olympic medallists and elite ocean paddlers on a regular basis.
Their "engines" are from a different planet.  I have no idea how they operate on that level.
For example, Kenny Wallace did a 60 minute training effort recently and knocked over 15.2km in flat water with no wind or current.
15.2km!!!  In one hour!  In training!
I find that (simultaneously) incredibly impressive and incredibly depressing.
*sigh*.

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4 days 5 hours ago - 4 days 5 hours ago #35552 by waverider
World championship speeds for K1 racing is approx 15kmh average for 5km distance and 14kmh for 25 km distance to be in with a chance of winning. Its still looks like they are cruising. They would be circuit times so any wind effect is nullified.

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4 days 5 hours ago #35553 by PharmGeek

RedBack wrote:

PharmGeek wrote: I see people in my web training group or read about 10km weekly paddles among the pros over on SA etc and see their flat water 10km paces - insane - people holding those speeds have really built their engines - so inspiring 


I know what you mean.  I'm privileged to live in a place where I can paddle with and against former (and current) Olympic medallists and elite ocean paddlers on a regular basis.
Their "engines" are from a different planet.  I have no idea how they operate on that level.
For example, Kenny Wallace did a 60 minute training effort recently and knocked over 15.2km in flat water with no wind or current.
15.2km!!!  In one hour!  In training!
I find that (simultaneously) incredibly impressive and incredibly depressing.
*sigh*.



haha - well I know what you mean!! I assume I’ll reach some personal elite level that is the top of my ability given some restrictions of time etc  but as I read and understand - if you have zero fitness background - it can take 4-6 years to reach anything near max aerobic fitness (per mark allen and Phil maffetone and such) so I figure I’ll perhaps be able to see some gains for years to come but holding over 13-14 mph for 10km?!?! Or more?!?! 

Well to quote Hayley: “slowly slowly to catch a baboon” (a phrase not used in the US but I rather now like it) 

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4 days 53 minutes ago #35555 by manta
Thanks for sharing @PharmGeek. 

I have been paddling for two years and my speeds and progress are nowhere near yours. I have some physical challenges with bad shoulders and wrists from years of MMA and Motocross. 

However I did a lesson with a pro coach to help me with technique. His words were basically you are too unfit to even worry about technique, get your engine sorted out and then we can talk about technique. So you are right a really good engine makes up for a lot. I have watched youtube vids of guys with the worst technique but they are super fit and they easily cruise at 10.5 - 11km/h. Speeds I can only dream about.

So my mission for the next year is to focus on my fitness. Do a structured plan and get the engine sorted out. I am 45 years old so I still have many, many good paddling years ahead of me. I know with my physical limitations I will never see the speeds some others are able to achieve but I want to be the best me I can be.

Thanks again for sharing your story.

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4 days 41 minutes ago #35556 by mrcharly
I don't think much of that coach.

What would he say to an older paddler, someone in their late 60's or 70's; "Go away, you are past it."?

What a horrible attitude.

The best technical paddler in my club, who had teen-years of sprint training in Spain (where they take their training very very seriously) said this to me "Technique is the last thing to go. When all your strength is gone, you can still have your technique to rely on. Technique will maintain your speed."

Technique can give you speed when you don't have strength. 

There is a paddler in my club, recently joined. 30 years younger than me. Runs a lot. Hits the gym, has muscles like a bodybuilder.
I completely smoke him on the water. Out sprint him, 10 *minutes* faster than him over 10km.

The difference is technique. I'm a shit athlete, I'm 52 with a low VO2 max. 
Find a coach who will teach you technique.

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3 days 23 hours ago #35557 by manta

mrcharly wrote: I don't think much of that coach.

What would he say to an older paddler, someone in their late 60's or 70's; "Go away, you are past it."?

What a horrible attitude.

The best technical paddler in my club, who had teen-years of sprint training in Spain (where they take their training very very seriously) said this to me "Technique is the last thing to go. When all your strength is gone, you can still have your technique to rely on. Technique will maintain your speed."

Technique can give you speed when you don't have strength. 

There is a paddler in my club, recently joined. 30 years younger than me. Runs a lot. Hits the gym, has muscles like a bodybuilder.
I completely smoke him on the water. Out sprint him, 10 *minutes* faster than him over 10km.

The difference is technique. I'm a shit athlete, I'm 52 with a low VO2 max. 
Find a coach who will teach you technique.


In his defence I really was that unfit. I most likely would not have been able to maintain proper technique for more than a few strokes anyway. He did give me pointers and helped me understand what proper shape is and how to maintain it. It was the wake up call I needed because I had thought my main problem was my technique. In the interim I have improved my fitness a bit and can definitely tell it has helped my stroke. 

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3 days 15 hours ago #35565 by PharmGeek
It’s common in my beginner limited experience to get advice that “technique is what’s holding you back” 

its less common to be told your engine needs needs some upgrades...

i dont believe in silver bullets but the reason I created this thread was that I believe in many cases building the engine is not a great enough focus? That fits my anecdote anyway but it won’t fit everyone’s

i don’t understand why a 70 year old paddler is any different though...I was not fit...if a 70 year old is not fit then the advice would be to work n the engine all the same - -  if there are physical limits to building up the engine than its obvious that technique will be crucial but age does not equal disabilities/limits per se - several 60+ paddlers beat me a few weeks ago lol

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3 days 14 hours ago #35568 by SpaceSputnik
I think I agree to a significant degree. Of course technique is very important but paddling involves a certain amount of ongoing physical effort. If you can't sustain that you will fall apart and need breaks often. It think technique and fitness here need to form a harmony to be effective.
I did a clinic with Big O and it resulted in almost no speed improvement. He gave me a few pointers, but the fact that I just can't push the boat through sustainably has not changed. 

PharmGeek wrote: It’s common in my beginner limited experience to get advice that “technique is what’s holding you back” 

its less common to be told your engine needs needs some upgrades...

i dont believe in silver bullets but the reason I created this thread was that I believe in many cases building the engine is not a great enough focus? That fits my anecdote anyway but it won’t fit everyone’s

i don’t understand why a 70 year old paddler is any different though...I was not fit...if a 70 year old is not fit then the advice would be to work n the engine all the same - -  if there are physical limits to building up the engine than its obvious that technique will be crucial but age does not equal disabilities/limits per se - several 60+ paddlers beat me a few weeks ago lol


Current: Think Evo II, Stellar SES 1g.
Past: Epic V7

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3 days 14 hours ago #35569 by PharmGeek

mrcharly wrote:
The best technical paddler in my club, who had teen-years of sprint training in Spain (where they take their training very very seriously) said this to me "Technique is the last thing to go. When all your strength is gone, you can still have your technique to rely on. Technique will maintain your speed."
.



A part of me gets what he is saying for sure....but another part of me does not. 

My mental confusion is likely a result of my to some degree "too literal mind" hahaha.

My non-literal thinking is that he is being a tad poetic in word choice and merely emphasizing how crucial technique is....

My literal mind sees a speed equation like Speed = Strength + Technique, and if Strength goes down, but Technique stays the same, then speed still goes down and does not "maintain your speed".....rather "the preservation of technique in this setting will mitigate yet further would be loss of speed"

Ok, there is your glimpse into my pedantic brain...I now feel very vulnerable :D 

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3 days 14 hours ago #35570 by PharmGeek
BTW...relevant to this thread, was my sorta initial realization or beginnings of it that "maybe you are just not damn fit enough?!"

I was listening to Nick Murray on a podcast "peak paddle performance"....and he was talking about (and ill paraphrase) "I cannot hardly reach my max HR paddling, running is much easier for me to push up my HR."

At that time upon me hearing that over a year ago, I did a double take and was like "wait, wuuut?? like I can paddle hard for 1-2 min and be at my max HR"

A seed then planted, I wondered "what the hell?"

The answer is now absurdly obvious, but at that time, I really didn't understand how to see/perceive "fitness"...and how your HR behaves is a good way of doing that.....so yeah....I was confused because I held the semi-confident sense that "I'm fairly fit"....but, nope...I was NOT....NOw months later...it takes me some VERY real and much harder effort to hit max HR's...come to think of it, cannot remember the last time I did...I think during a 10Km event in late summer in the final 200 yards to finish I did....

Nick Murry was paddling fit in that sense....I needed to get paddling fit....now my HR goes up slower...and recovers MUCH faster....I can look back and nerd out, and see this...hard interval sessions originally my HR would max out...then in rest period, would take 2+ minutes to fall back below MAF....months later, same analysis...20 seconds ish.

What would have helped me out of the gate besides crucial knowledge and execution of technique, is for someone to point out how crappy my engine was (I'm being tongue in cheek though..i realize it was not "terrible" back then...I just mean relatively)

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2 days 18 hours ago #35578 by PharmGeek

SpaceSputnik wrote: I did a clinic with Big O and it resulted in almost no speed improvement. He gave me a few pointers, but the fact that I just can't push the boat through sustainably has not changed. 

Since you posted your erg video - I would say more technique focus in your case is crucial. Having said that there simply is no reason that it would stop you from building the engine while you do it so they simply are not mutually exclusive.

its interesting in your case to ponder this question:

”what if right now at this very moment your technique was vastly improved and nothing else changed precisely how much faster would you go for 10k?” 

Hard to know that - for whatever it’s worth I’m betting your current stats would go up perhaps 30% but that I just pulled out of my bum - it could be more and it could be less...but it would be substantial I suspect. 

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1 day 11 hours ago #35586 by mrcharly

PharmGeek wrote:

mrcharly wrote:
The best technical paddler in my club, who had teen-years of sprint training in Spain (where they take their training very very seriously) said this to me "Technique is the last thing to go. When all your strength is gone, you can still have your technique to rely on. Technique will maintain your speed."
.



A part of me gets what he is saying for sure....but another part of me does not. 

My mental confusion is likely a result of my to some degree "too literal mind" hahaha.

My non-literal thinking is that he is being a tad poetic in word choice and merely emphasizing how crucial technique is....

My literal mind sees a speed equation like Speed = Strength + Technique, and if Strength goes down, but Technique stays the same, then speed still goes down and does not "maintain your speed".....rather "the preservation of technique in this setting will mitigate yet further would be loss of speed"

Ok, there is your glimpse into my pedantic brain...I now feel very vulnerable :D 


"the preservation of technique in this setting will mitigate yet further would be loss of speed"

That is what he was saying. 
There are paddlers who rely on strength, fitness and extreme athletic ability for their speed. Their technique is not great. With great technique, they can be beaten. Everyone gets tired during a race. Good technique can keep you going. 

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1 day 5 hours ago #35591 by PharmGeek
Yeah - no doubt about that! 

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12 hours 52 minutes ago #35601 by Wombat661
I come from biking, so there were fitness in the legs, but not arms, When I started 2 years ago, I just jumped into the boat and went with zero technique. I paddled like a kayak and tried to go fast. End up hurting my right shoulder after a few fast sessions. That took months to heal.
I tried again with just a tad more technique. That went better, but after a year, really hurt my left shoulder to the point lifting my arm up past shoulder hurts. I was lucky it took half a year to heal with no surgery. As you get old, you can't do that anymore.
Finally, I paid for the Oscar Chalupsky site and really concentrated on technique. Turns out every time I deviated from his technique, the shoulder hurts again. That was an great unintended "feedback" hahaha. With the right technique, I was able to catch waves as well.
If you start with no fitness, you better get your technique exactly right, or you are going to tear your shoulders apart as you gain fitness. There is a cross over point you gain enough strength to hurt yourself, by the time you realize it, is too late.

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11 hours 54 minutes ago #35602 by PharmGeek
I am dogged on technique mind you! Boy do I hope to avoid injury!! I’m 36 years old and I know it’s a big concern.

i work to keep elbows low and close to my torso as much as possible - so far so good but I’m not a super strong like POWER paddler - hopefully my being coached by Hayley (pro paddler and a PT - they call themselves “biokeneticosts”)

my forst 50k race a few weeks ago and shoulders felt great - boy I hope to avoid injury 

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11 hours 30 minutes ago #35604 by waverider
It really is a whole of the body exercise, and if you start to feel aches in one part, you need to work out why before you do develop an injury. Lets face it there are a lot of us older folks in this sport who just dont recover from strains as easily. Not to mention if turns into something serious while you are out there

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9 hours 50 minutes ago #35607 by Epicpaddler
The injury thing is very real for us "mature" paddlers.  I tore my rotator cuff in July and it took two months of no paddling and a month of easing back into the sport with a Greenland paddle. I thought my racing season was blown. Luckily, by focusing on technique I was able to bounce back and pull off a few victories. If I paddled the same way I did I year ago I probably would have ended up having shoulder surgery. The arms are really just a means to hold the paddle. By using core rotation it took 99% of the strain off my shoulders. 

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15 minutes ago #35614 by manta
I came into paddling with very bad shoulders. I have had shoulder surgery and I have struggled with my shoulders for many years.

I used to SUP but that stroke is not shoulder friendly. After injuring myself SUP'ing for the countless time I took up ski paddling while my shoulder healed. What I have found is that my shoulders are way, way better since I started ski paddling. I do a lot of technique practice because my shoulders are unforgiving.

I can only put down 75% as my max power. If I try and pull harder than that the pain is pretty instant and intense. I have had to focus a lot on keeping my elbows low and making sure to pull with my torso and not using my arms. I did an intense downwind the other day and broke my rules and pushed a bit too hard. The result was two days of very sore shoulders. 

Already half decent technique has helped me stay on the water as opposed to the SUP stroke. I am super slow in the ski because of my shoulder issues but I am hopeful that if I can work on my engine and get my MAF 10km speed to 10km/h I will be in a good place. 

Something to work towards!

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