Training – What does it take

Well, what does it take to prepare for a 208km, 3 Day Marathon…..

Since we are into the New Year and in just a few short month’s time the first events will be here, I thought it was time to put together a training plan based on what I did last year in preparation for the RPM 200.  This training plan is reasonably adapted and could form the basis of your own training plan.

So, a quick re-cap of my 2013 training which prepared me to complete the whole 208km.

Last year, I started training about 13 weeks out and it consisted of 2x paddle sessions a week – 1 week-night session of approx 90 minutes and then a weekend session of between 3 and 5 hours.  Then, I was also doing at least 1 and up to 4 1 hour cardio sessions a week as well.  When it came to the crunch, I felt that I would have liked a couple more weeks in preparation.  I did complete the whole 208km and in a Class fastest time, so It was actually enough, but it really took it out of me!

So, the assumptions I am making for this plan is that you are confident in your chosen boat in wind up to about 30km/h and waves/wind chop of up to about 1/2M.  If you are not at this base level, then some additional coaching should be sought to gain confidence.

Over the last 5 years, what I have found is that there is no substitute for putting in the hours and the km paddling, but that is not enough!  In training, I like to do a minimum of 2.5X the total distance  of the event in my lead-up.

So without further ado, let’s break this down into what we should do each week, and then fit it into the Calendar!

Weekly Schedule

MondayRest Day
TuesdayRest Day
WednesdayCardio Session
ThursdayPM - Paddle SessionEvening/Twilight Paddle
FridayCardio Session
SaturdayAd-hock extra training.
SundayAM - Long Paddle SessionCommence Early Morning

My typical 1 hour cardio session consists of roughly the following:  12 minutes on the treadmill to warm up and increase the heart-rate – I aim for a fast walk (about 6.5km/h) and use the incline to increase my heart-rate (walking is easy on the knees).  I follow this up with about 25 minutes on the rowing machine, then onto the bike for a further 20 minutes, then back on the treadmill for about 5 minutes, before slowing it down over a further 2-3 minutes.  I use a heart-rate monitor and like to work out about 80-85% of my max rate for the whole time.

For my short paddle session, I like to try and work hard – I know 90 minutes is a fairly short session in the scheme of things so I do my best to keep it moving!  My longer session, I aim for “Race Pace” – a pace that I can sustain for the whole session

Lets put the time and commitment into a timeline so you will be ready to give it your all and make it all the way to the finish line each day.

The table is my baseline – I do some extra’s also that I try and fit in – I like to have a walk for at least 1.5 hours on the Sunday afternoon after the long paddle session, and when I can jump on a bike and cycle to and from work 1 or 2 days a week as well (for me this is around an hour each way)

Remember, we are preparing for a marathon, which is physically very demanding, so part of my routine is to ensure that I actually factor in rest times – and my schedule actually allows me to factor in Monday and Tuesday’s as dedicated rest days.  You should no matter what have 2 consecutive days a week to ensure your body has adequate time to recover.

Weeks until EventDateActivityNotes
Week 1610/FebBaselineStart Sunday Session at about 2.5 hours
Week 1517/Feb
Week 1424/FebEntries Open 1st March
Week 133/March
Week 1210/MarchRamp-up Sunday Session to 3.5 Hours.
Week 1117/March
Week 1024/March
Week 931/MarchLight/RestDo 50% of your weekly routine - 1 paddle and 1 Cardio Session
Week 87/April
Week 714/April
Week 621/April
Week 528/AprilLead - up Event
3rd, 4th - Back 2 Back
Week 45/MayEarly Bird Entries Close 11th May
Week 312/MayLight/RestDo 50% of your weekly routine - 1 paddle and 1 Cardio Session
Week 219/May
Week 126/MayEntries Close 29th May
Week 002/ JunThe Week of the Event
7th, 8th, 9th. RPM

What I have indicated is that for the first 5-6 weeks, we are in a bit of a build-up phase, so my cardio sessions will be a little shorter or a little less intense, and my Long paddle session I will start out at about 2.5 hours or around 20km.

Then, it is in full-swing and I slowly ramp-up my Sunday Session from 20 – 24 then 33km (3 laps of Westlakes)

I also factor in a couple of weeks where I specifically do less than 50% of my workout – as the breaks provide for an extended recovery.

Use the weekend of the Back 2 Back to take stock of how your preparation is going – and commit to the 200km.  If your  lead-up has not been what you hoped for, then there is always the 100!

Yes, life will get in the way, but the best thing to do is to not sweat it -and if you need to, taking  a week off should not affect your lead-up.

Feel free to use this and adapt it.

Additional Training

The only equipment that I use is a pair of 1.5kg dumbbells and a 3kg Bar.  As a paddle weighs in at just under a kg and up to about 1.3kg for a cheaper paddle, I like to use a pair of 1.5kg dumbbells when I am sitting on the lounge of a night.  I probably use them a couple of nights a week, and in the coming weeks I’ll put up a short video of how I use them and the 3kg Bar.

I do no other weight training, and do not use heavier weights and found that 3x the paddle weight works for me for a bit of light resistance.

Finally, find a training Buddy!  Last year, I managed to encourage a couple of other people to join me on my Thursday night paddles – and it really does help keep you focused and motivated.

The year that was.

It has been a while since updating so I thought it was time to re-cap 2013 and see how everything panned out.

Well, I started out with Several goals for the year – and some I hit, some I smashed and some, well, there is 2014!.

The first half of the year went quite well – and then things didn’t work out so well.  My favourite event -the HCC was  not so great this year for a lot of reasons.  My lead-up was pretty well a disaster – with a knee injury 13 weeks out that took out all of my training for 6 weeks.  Then, just as I started training again, being the victim of an un-provoked assault whilst on my way to work wiped out the mental preparation.

Yes, I did make it to the start-line, but only made it 31km down the River.  I was going reasonably close to my plan, but a combination of severe blisters and not really being mentally in the game put me out.  Then, with Car troubles costing a small fortune also put a damper on the Trip.  It was not a total waste, as I was able to see a couple of boat-builders and I hope that in the next month or so I will have a faster boat on order for this year.

The Christmas race was only 2 weeks after the HCC and I was in 2 minds as to even do it, but in the end, I got into the boat and did finish it.  It was not the greatest of conditions with the usual 20-40km/h headwinds for most of the 29km, I was just happy to have completed it – much slower than my previous year, in about 3H 53M or so.

I was hoping to have another crack at some of the MM, but it just didn’t work out this year and with their announcement of moving the race next year to be at the end of November, not sure if it is going to fit this year.

Lets see what 2014 will bring, but I hope that the Back2Back, RPM 200 and HCC are the minimum for me.  Almost time to set about putting my training schedule together for the rest of the year!