How to Train for a SUP Race

Getting into the competitive sport of Stand Up Paddle Board Racing can be daunting.

There's steps that we're here to show you through all the wisdom of Roch Frey to get you where you want to be!

Now that we’ve survived the worst of the pandemic, we’re expecting SUP races to make a comeback.

A lot of paddlers discovered SUP during the global lockdowns and are now looking for ways to take their paddling to the next level. Training for a SUP race will help you get very focused on our paddling and will get you into fantastic physical shape!

 SUP Race Board

According to Roch Frey who specializes in SUP race training, “the principles of training for endurance sports is essentially the same whether you are cross country skiing, running a marathon, cycling, doing a short distance SUP race such as the Battle of the Paddle, or an ultra-endurance SUP race such as Molokai.

Athletes need to focus on their endurance base, periodize their training year, follow the rules of performance nutrition, and avoid overtraining at all costs.

Additionally, athletes should strongly consider cross training to promote fitness gains while reducing repetitive use injuries that are so common among paddle athletes.”

 what you need for a SUP Race

With this Roch’s words in mind, here are a 10 rules of thumb to consider when training for your first SUP race.

1. A high volume of training without proper intensity will fail to produce improvement, just as the opposite is true. You want to become adept at tying your level of output to the length of the race you are training for.

2. If a workout is too strenuous or does not focus on the correct systems, a paddler will not improve or can lose previous gains. So over-doing it can be just as counterproductive as phoning your workout in.

3. Your work-to-rest ratio is critical, and the exact specifications of this are unique to each paddler. Recovery is important to locking in your gains after a brutal workout.

4. Each week the volume and intensity of your workouts should slowly increase. Then to vary the load, you will want to add easier weeks every 3rd or 4th week.

5. Volume and intensity must be periodically increased and decreased to produce improvements. Simply repeating the same workout every day will cause you to plateau. Variety is truly the spice of life here.

stand up paddle board race

6. High intensity training (HIIT) should be done with plenty of rest in between each session. In a perfect world, you will rest 48 hours between HIIT (shorter intensity followed by longer rest periods) or Tabata (longer intensity followed by shorter rest periods) sessions. Adding in a long, slow paddle in between sessions is a good practice.

7. Each cycle should be followed by a lighter week to allow for rest and recovery before the next cycle begins. To see real durable gains, you need to give your muscles and joints time to recover and rebuild.

8. Specific preparation based on the conditions you will be facing is critical to your race day success. Will you be dealing with a lot of chop or swells or currents? Train accordingly so that you don’t find yourself doing a lot of swimming.

9. Pay attention to your nutrition during training. This is often overlooked by athletes that are training intensely. Make sure that you are eating clean, whole foods and upping your calories pre and post workout.

10. Plan out your training schedule in order to increase the efficiency of each workout. We all have busy work lives so taking a half hour or so each week to write down your goals and plan for the coming week will increase your effectiveness exponentially.


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