Introduction to Training for OC6
Paddling – sprint, marathon and even ultra marathon, in any craft, is classified as having STRENGTH ENDURANCE physiological requirements.
What constitutes “training” depends on the goals of the athlete and the crew.
Do you need to paddle for 7 hours, or just a few minutes? Are you training for a change race or for a sprint, or for a marathon or ultra marathon?
What is your starting point? What is your training and paddling background? What injuries and other conditions do you need to consider?
How long do you have to prepare for a particular event? What is the priority or importance of this event in the overall picture? What amount of time do you have for training?
Let’s begin with a few overall observations about the physical conditioning required to paddle an OC6 in very general terms:
The OC6 is a heavy boat and just training OC6, for OC6, will NOT make you the best paddler! Here are some of the reasons why:
Rating – most crews rate around 60 – 70 strokes per minute during a marathon race. This cadence is not fast enough to elicit higher heart rates, especially at marathon loading. So when you are training it is all too easy to settle into a “comfort zone” of sorts where your heart rate gets to a certain level and does not get much above it. That certain level is likely to be relatively low and while it might prepare you for anything with a low heart rate, it won’t make you fitter.
The weight of the canoe – being relatively heavy, the canoe requires more strength to paddle than some other types of paddling – added to a relatively slow cadence, you are, again, left struggling to get your heart rate up and effectively changing your fitness. The strength required is fairly “linear”, or using the same muscle groups in the same recruitment patterns, with the same loading. Just like your heart rate, your body will quickly become accustomed to this one level, which will become a “comfort zone”.
Long sets – many people avoid sprint repetitions for many reasons, the most common is the belief that if you are going to do a 2 hour event you should do 2 hour training! Because of the weight of the OC6 care needs to be taken, especially with older crews, that faster training sets are kept controlled. However, repetitions of short intervals with short rest periods are the fastest way to get your heart rate up and the fastest way to improve fitness.
Technical considerations – good paddling technique uses your whole body – foot to leg, to hip, to waist, to chest and back (torso), to shoulder and lastly, to arms. Poor paddling technique will make certain body parts tired but not elicit good all round conditioning.
Technique MUST always be, first, and foremost, in all training programs. There is absolutely NO POINT to long “phone book” training sessions with little or no consideration for technquie!
Getting fit is easy, but probably best done with activities that are not OC6, conditioning for OC6 races needs to be done in the OC6!
Ensuring all round strength and body balancing requires gym, circuit or personal trainer conditioning.
Power/weight is important, especially with consideration of your overall body weight, especially in comparison to the rest of the crew. If you need to, consider a weight loss program to assist your crew.
Lastly, your body needs to be well fed and watered to manage your life AND training!