Where to start huh? From the outset it can seem a complex task to decide what training to do, when to do it, how much time to spend doing it and then what to eat?!? The reality is it is a complex task. However when broken down into individual sections each aspect needed to prepare yourself for race day becomes clearer.
When we talk about race preparations there is the big picture, which I am covering throughout this article – actually getting you to race day – being fit, ready and fueling yourself along the way. Then there are the micro details for race day and the days leading up to the race itself. These micro details are just as important as all the work you’ve put in to get yourself to this point and can be the difference between having a successful race or everything falling apart on the day.
I’ll break it down in to some simple steps below that I hope you will find useful in the days leading up to your race and race day itself. I’ve drawn upon experiences from my past life as a middle distance runner and have been able to successfully apply them to SUP racing.
- Know where the race (location) is, this will allow you to focus on the race on the day not stressing over finding the venue and throwing you off focusing on the job in hand.
- Check your kit the day before your race to make sure it is in good order, fin is attached or in your bag if traveling, paddle is without damage, leash is in your bag (if required for your race) favourite shorts, top, sunnies etc. are all to hand – you’re getting the picture have everything you need ready.
- Arrive at the race with enough time to check the course, check the start orientation, environmental factors – wind, swell – this could help you decide where on the start line you want to be.
- Warm-up! Do your warm-up, don’t be put off by what other people are doing, do what works for you and what you have been doing in your training sessions leading up to this day.
- Hydrate yourself as you would prior to training, keep a water bottle with you that you can sip on leading up to the start of the race. Consider if you need to carry water during the race. Make sure you are hydrated in the days leading up to the race.
- Breakfast on the day. This is very individual and must be similar to what you would eat on a normal training day – don’t try something new on race day! This can have negative effects such as feeling sick, cramping etc.
- On the days leading up to the big day avoid alcohol, eat nutrient rich clean natural food, keep hydrated, get 8 hours of sleep a night. Again don’t try anything new with your diet in the lead up to the race unless you have previously tried this in training!
- On the day – relax and enjoy it, you’ve done the work so now let this shine through in your race.
Choosing your race – where to peak
This is an interesting one as your season maybe long or feature a series of races that you want to perform well in, or just be one race you are aiming for!
Luckily the lead up is the same whether you are focusing on one race or a long season of racing!
The first 8 to 12 weeks of your training should be spent building a ‘base fitness’ this is often referred to as ‘zone 2’ – training at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
The reason for this is you are building a solid foundation of aerobic strength also it is during these training sessions that you should be performing perfect technique so that when it comes time to train at or near race pace your technique will remain efficient and unaffected!
The next step once ‘base fitness’ training is completed is to start to do shorter faster training sessions at or near your race pace, you’ll want to do this with around 8 weeks remaining before your target race.
Incorporated within the training it is wise to incorporate strength training, resistance based (with weights) as well as body weight resistance, done right this will help to minimize injury from the increased intensity of speed/race pace training and racing itself!
Now you can look at the race you are aiming to perform well in or where you want to peak in your season and count the weeks back to work out where to start your ‘base fitness’ training.
Weekly Training Programs
Putting it all together – how your week is shaped with training is largely determined by how much time you can allocate to training throughout the week. It is important to be realistic here and take in to account your other commitments, work, family and commuting etc.
The main reason to balance your commitment of hours dedicated to training is to avoid becoming fatigued through a lack of time for rest and recovery! Below are some tips you can implement to help plan your weekly training.
- Remember to make time for rest/recovery and nutrition – there are 3 parts to the puzzle that build success and greater race performance.
- Train for your goal, if you are competing in 5k races then train for 5k races – training marathon distances won’t make you faster at your 5k and just leave you tired, fatigued and slow.
- Load your week with hard training sessions followed by rest days or easy/active recovery days.
- Once you have completed your base training focus you training week on training at or close to race pace, this can be broken down in to smaller distances that make up the total distance for your chosen race.
- If you have time and are sufficiently conditioned you may be able to train twice a day if leaving enough rest between the two sessions.
- Consider introducing massage in to your weekly training plan – to help aid recovery, repair and growth.
- In the two weeks leading up to your race, reduce the volume and increase the intensity to include, sprints and full race pace efforts.
Interval Training (race training)
This is a type of training that involves performing hard efforts interspersed with easier efforts.
It’s these faster sessions mixed with slow sessions for recovery that will increase your ability to sustain a higher pace (race pace) for a longer period of time and give you endurance.
Remember lower the volume of training as in the example speed training phase week and increase the intensity.
This can be done over very short distances, equal a total of your planned race distance or be longer than your total race distance. Remember to mix it up and progress the sessions by changing the effort time, distance and recovery.
This is an area where everyone thinks they are an expert! It’s definitely great to experiment, do some research and see what works for you individually and if you follow some of the basic steps below you’ll be on the right path to fueling yourself in the best possible way – getting the most from your training, and optimal performance on race day.
When preparing to train and get yourself race conditioned your diet is a crucial part of the 3 piece puzzle. Get it right and you will be able to train and perform to the best of your abilities, get it wrong and you can be left feeling fatigued, sluggish and worst of all become ill.
You’ve heard it before I’m sure, ‘you get out what you put in’ and in terms of exercise this couldn’t be any truer. The food you eat is the fuel that gives you the energy to exercise and perform so give yourself the best opportunity of success and try and implement the steps below in to your life and training schedule.
- Eat seasonally – choosing vegetables and fruits that are in season
- Eat more vegetables than fruit
- Eat fresh lean meats and fish
- Always check the labels and avoid foods that contain added sugars, preservatives.
- All your meals should contain a balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
- Fruit juice may taste great but remember is very high in sugars! You certainly wouldn’t eat 5/6 large oranges in one go!
- Staying hydrated is important – your pee should be a straw colour. Try and consume water regularly throughout the day and during your training sessions. If you are training in hot conditions you may need to take on more fluids and a salt mixture to stay hydrated – so bare this in mind.
Well I hope the info in this article will go some way to helping your get closer to your competition goals and help you get the most from your training sessions. But ultimately, work hard in training and enjoy the races ahead of you!
All in all SUP racing is fun and accessible to all, check out our video from our annual Super SUP Sunday race: