Some essentials tips to help you prepare for the BIG RACES!
The first 2018 HKSUPBA league race is less than a week away! So to help you prepare for the big day we have gathered some useful tips for you, check them out:
Know your pacing
Understand your body's ability and set your goal before deciding your pacing strategy. This is especially important if you are going to participate the endurance categories like the iSUP 2km race or the Elite 4km race.
1.1. Why is it important to properly set a pace?
Before knowing how to set your pace you need to understand why it is important to do so and the science behind it:
It is important not to overexert your body during a race if you want to reach the goal you set.
Pushing too hard or setting a pace that is faster than your body’s ability to handle it will cause an unsustainable increase in lactic acid. The only way to clear this additional lactic acid is to slow down.
Paddling too fast causes lactic acid to flood your muscles and interferes with muscle contraction. Even if you wanted to maintain a faster pace, it would be impossible to contract your muscles as forcefully and therefore you would slow down.
Bottom line - If you push too hard at any point in a race your body will literally force you to slow down. So make sure you set a pacing strategy that suits you before setting off.
1.2. What’s your goal? Your pacing strategy will depend on not just your ability but also if you intended to get to the podium, finish in the top 50%, or just complete the race.
At the start of the race
If your goal is to reach the podium or finish in the top 50% of the field, then your SUP race pacing strategy will almost always need to involve a sprint at the beginning of the race.
If your goal is to simply finish the race, you should not worry too much about sprinting at the start. It will be difficult to hold back during the initial stage of the race when everyone is paddling fast. But in order to reach your goal, you must follow your plan and not worry about the pace of the paddlers around you.
During the race - Even or Negative split
It has been well proven that using an even or negative split pacing strategy is the most effective approach to winning races in endurance sports.
Nearly every long distance running world record has been set while running even or negative splits. An even split means that the time for each kilometer paddled is about the same. Paddling a negative split means that you are paddling faster as the race progresses.
Note that paddling with even splits is not the same as paddling with an even effort. When paddling with an even effort, your level of exertion will feel the same throughout the race but your pace will slow. When paddling at an even pace, your level of exertion will seem easier early in the race and then gradually become more difficult but your pace will remain the same.
For more information on even and negative split: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_split
A good SUP race plan includes the knowledge that there will be a final surge in pace for the last leg of the race. If you start your sprint too early, you’ll burn out before the finish; start it too late and you may not give yourself a chance to exhaust all of your energy reserves.
To perform at your maximum potential, your goal should be to time your finish to “leave nothing on the table” with your energy stores depleted once you cross the finish line.
If your goal is to simply finish the race, then you may concentrate on maintaining an even pace to the finish. However, if your goal is to make it onto the podium or beat the paddlers in your pack, you will need to time your sprint so that you exhaust all of your power and energy right at the finish line.
Make sure your paddling posture is right and using a paddle that suits you:
First, you need to find the right paddle for you.
What this means is to find a paddle with the proper length in proportion to your height as well as having the correct blade size. If you have a paddle that is too long or too short, or too big or too small, it can hinder your performance potential and can even cause injury. A loose rule you can follow to make sure the paddle is the right length is to place a "shaka" above your head and use that added length to measure your paddle up to.
(Picture credit: http://www.paddlesurfing.com.au/sup-gear/buying-a-sup-board/)
(Video: Jim Terrell from Quickblade teaches you on how to choose your paddle length)
Also, having the proper posture is key to keeping injury away and staying stable. You want to keep your back relatively straight without too much bending of the back. With more bending comes a higher risk of injury.
(Picture credit: http://blog.rivierapaddlesurf.com/health-fitness/)
Also, you can try the 90/90 drill:
Hold your paddle just like you would when paddling and place up on top of your melon. Make sure both elbows are at 90 degrees and that’s how wide apart you want your hands. Mark where your middle finger on your hand sits on the paddle with a bright piece of tape or a sticker. It’s a nice reference point to make sure you are stroking the best you can out there.
Some paddling techniques you might want to know and practice:
Jim Terrell of Quickblade (who is also a 4-time Olympian) came up with four principles, which are widely known throughout the industry, about the paddle stroke which have helped to guide and mold some of the best paddlers in the world.
They are the "Catch Phase," "Power Phase," "Exit Phase," and "Recovery Phase."
The Catch Phase: Bury the blade in the water.
The Power Phase: Lean your body weight into the stroke to generate the most power.
The Exit Phase: Take the blade out around your feet or just behind, but not too far behind.
The Recovery Phase: Keep the blade close to the water.
And don't forget, DON’T PULL THE WATER
Make sure you are not ‘pulling’ the blade through the water as you paddle. Instead, you should plant the blade in the water and bringing ourselves up to the stationary blade.
Imagine a cross-country skier planting their poles and bringing themselves forward to the poles. The poles do not drag through the snow but remain firmly in place. This visualization will help you when implementing proper technique.
Know the course and water condition
If the race course is an area you aren’t familiar with, then get familiar with the locals and ask them about the water, wind, chop, currents, swells, etc.
Alternatively, you can also keep an eye on the Hong Kong Observatory website for the latest information on the weather conditions and forecasts.
Weather information for water sports: http://www.hko.gov.hk/sports/watersportsc.shtml
Make sure your equipments are in order
Obviously you want the right board and paddle, but here are some essentials that are “a must”:
PFD (Personal flotation device, useful if the water is choppy and there is a high chance you will fall into the water)
Leash (If you are tired, lost and/or far from shore, the leash will keep your lifesaving board tethered to you. Even in a light breeze, your board, if not attached to your body by a leash, will travel out of your grasp in mere seconds. So we highly suggest you use a Leash when racing)
Sun Protection (According to forecast, it will be sunny on race day, make sure you have adequate sun protection!)
Hydration/snacks for longer courses.
FOOD - make sure you got the proper fuel and enough of it:
If you want to win then start immediately crowding out the junkie, processed, fast food with whole foods: meats or plant-based protein, good fats like avocado and butter, loads of fresh veggies, and constructive carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, and bananas.
With nutrition power, you will lessen any inflammation that’s holding you back, and bring your body into 100% both for training and for winning!
Total calories: You are going to need to fuel if you are going to participate the endurance categories. 250 calories/ hour is a minimum.
Get up 2 hours before the race and get in 1000 calories: you are going to need more than you take in while you are paddling. Get up well before the race and chow down. Grabbing a banana or a muffin before you begin is a recipe for disaster.
Sleep Sleep Sleep
Get into the habit of sleeping at least 8 hours. Training is hard on the body, but what’s even harder is training when your body lacks the adequate rest it so desperately needs.
Start going to bed at least 30 minutes earlier for starters. Lack of sleep creates a stressed state in the body which can also lead to fatigue and lowered immune function….two things you really don’t want before a race.
Go to the race venue early and do a couples of warm-ups before the race.
On the day of your race, a great pre-race warm up is to take some time and hit the water with only 50% effort, while really honing on your technique.
This is a good way to warm up and remind your mind of your technique so that as that adrenal hits you at the starting gate, you can slam out some power along with that fresh technique.
Read the essential information on the HKSUPBA webpage and booklet beforehand. And more importantly, attend the racer’s briefing before your category to get helpful details, instructions and learn if there have been any changes as a result of conditions, or extenuating circumstances.
Also, make sure you know if the race you are in will be a beach start or water start. This will help you plan your strategy beforehand.
If it is your first race, stay calm, especially during the start of the race.
Race starts are usually a bit nerve wracking, especially that first time.
The pack will evetually thin out and things will calm down, and you can settle in to paddling. Take it easy at the start and let your nerves calm down.
That's it, that concludes our essential guide for the 2018 League race, we wish you good luck and more importantly, have a good time at the race.
See you there paddlers!