How I Improved My Kayaking Performance
In 2007, I decided to work on developing my kayaking throughout the winter to improve this aspect of my performance in multisport races which I was racing competitively in at the time.
As a training goal to get me through the cold Dunedin winter I planned to compete in the National 10km Kayak Championships. At this time, I was in my 3rd year of my PE degree, so with unlimited access to all of the Sport Science journals in the world, I set up camp in the university library for a couple of weeks researching the best way to improve my kayaking.
What was evident was that paddling alone was not the best way to improve performance and if I seriously wanted to step my kayaking I was going to need to get into the gym and do some strength training.
I knew that I could not afford to bulk up as this would hinder my other multisport disciplines (running and cycling) and I knew it had to be time efficient as I was still training my running and cycling, along with studying and working a part time job.
I finally developed a strength training plan that progressed me through the different training phases in line with my on-water training and saw me peak for the National 10km Champs in which I won.
The training plan still needed some adjustment though and I consistently tweaked aspects of it as I came across new research and training methods.
Around this time, I also started coaching a lot of athletes and as I got them into the gym I was able to see that it was not only me that this plan was working for but others were getting great results from it as well.
Over the next 7 years I worked with marathon and sprint paddlers, multisporters, white water and ski paddlers to improve their on water performance in the gym using this training plan.
Most recently I used this strength training plan with Jess Simson in her quest to win the Speight's Coast to Coast World Multisport Champs two years in a row.
The only problem I was finding with this training plan was that if an athlete did not live in Dunedin where I lived, it was really hard to get them doing the specific exercises as many were not 'mainstream'.
As the interest in my plan started to grow and after trying to explain and describe the exercises through email, hand drawings, bad photos and over the phone to those athletes who were not based in Dunedin I decided to sit down and create a complete resource that any paddler could use .
I formalised everything, outlining the 'why' behind the training, putting all of the different training plans together in one place, I constructed a periodised template so athletes could integrate the plan into their on-water training depending on the training phase and I outlined specific testing sessions so athletes could track their performance gains.
Most importantly I spent hours in the gym with kayaker Ryan Shanks taking photos and writing key technique points so no matter if an athlete lived in Dunedin or Dublin they would know how to do the specific exercises with safe and effective technique.
Paddle Strong was born
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