Training for Races


What’s up everyone!

I’m fairly new here on Team 206, but I’m stoked I found it and really believe it’s a rad resource for building community and helping people out!

One of my goals this year is to compete in as many open class/novice races I can afford to and to have fun while doing it!

My questions: What are some basic race training techniques people use? I’ve been mainly tracking progress based on time over a distance, factoring conditions. Is there a fairly standard time per mile I should be aiming for?

I really appreciate any advice y’all have and would like to get out on the water with any who are willing! (I currently am renting boards as I can’t quite afford one yet. But, I do have access to an older, heavier, surf style board; but hey, at least I can get on the water!)


Category: asked July 2, 2013

8 Answers




Thanks for the support… and welcome to the team!


You could get lot’s of answers to the above, but one good answer came to me from NW Hall of Famer Cyril Burgiere; if you can average 6mph in a race, you will win the NW.


I think he’s right, and he’s proven it :)


Having said that, I personally don’t train with times (maybe I should) because there are so many factors.  I do it more organically; I try to work my way through the food chain, so to speak, at weekly races:  Short flatwater courses, I try to catch/beat Dustin.  Long flat courses, I try to see how close to Cyril I can finish.  Downwinders, if Dan Gavere is around, I try to catch him.


For  me, the speed then takes care of itself and my body naturally improves in skill/speed due to competitive drive.  The key would be to race twice weekly in the summer, and start your friendly battles with your closest peers.  You will all improve, but you want to improve at a faster rate (maybe read “Change Your World in 71 Days,” – the art of 1% improvement daily) due to consistency.


That help?


I think Renick has a proven formula for improvement; make sure you get his take as well :)


Thanks again for your support!


@nate-dietz there are different strategies to choose from when developing your program, but the first thing I would suggest is to choose a goal, you might say “to get faster and catch Matt” or you can choose a specific event that you wish to do well in, as your ‘peak’. When helping Renick with his program, we chose ‘Round The Rock’ as the goal to work towards. Once established we can then work backwards from that date to build a periodic schedule. If you notice in any of the workouts I post on the site or on Facebook, there is usually a period number, this will give you an idea of what that period goal is, and since we are all on different schedules it would be up to you to assign the workout to your program.

What @matt is advising above is also a good strategy, and known as Progressive Overload; increasing your training and speed in linear progress. It is easy to plan this program since you increase load as your fitness levels increase and you see progress incrementally. This type of program works well with competition as your motivator and if you have an open schedule.

I have also adopted the goal of 6mph average, as this gives you a way to gauge your progress, I am not there yet. Best advice I can give you is to take stock of where you are and define what are your strengths and weaknesses and begin a process to capitalize on your strengths and improve your weakness, which is best done in a specific method. We all have a fairly predictable performance limit that is unchangeable. The potential to be great in a particular sport is determined largely by our genetics and then enhanced or limited by our environment and training. What we do to realize that potential is up to each one of us. If my weakness is my technique, I’m not going to improve my technique by just paddling more often, I need to focus specifically on all the phases of the stroke and how I can improve.

Which brings us to Specificity Training, where we focus on different energy systems and increasing thresholds. For our purposes, we’re concerned with three separate energy systems; power (LT / oxygen independent); threshold (just below LT); and endurance (oxygen dependent). In simpler terms, the first is the highest power that you can generate over about 15-30 seconds, the second is your typical Urban Surf/Perfect Wave/Shilshole race pace, and the third is Round The Rock, 2 hrs and beyond. These are not mutually exclusive energy systems, as there is oftentimes an overlap in the energy system being utilized.

Join us for #Team206 workouts on Green Lake, we just started up and will be locking in a schedule soon. We can talk further about your goals and how to plan a program.



Joe and Matt have great advice.  If you check the training section you can see some work outs that have been put together with work out duration and percentages of effort per duration.

My best advice is just get as much paddling time in as possible.  I try to paddle everyday, or at least every other day in the summer.  If I am going everyday, I will usually choose which days I go hard and which days  I just try to relax.  I generally paddle between 2 and 4 miles on a given day.  Also like Matt said hit up the local races, you will meet tons of great paddlers and get better just by hanging around on the water.  I also think that racing has no replacement, you just go harder when you are in a race so get out and DO THOSE WEEK NIGHT RACES!!

Keep the questions coming!




These replies are GOLD. Thanks Matt and Joe. I have similar questions as @nate-dietz regarding training, speed etc. These answers are extremely helpful. Thanks guys!



Sorry a little late but I guess better than never! Great answers from both Matt and Joe. I don’t have much more to say than what has already been said, but here is my take….

The first one is something you seem to be doing already, keeping a track on a measurable distance. Whether it’s a mile, or a race that you do once a week, or a course you paddle all the time, having something to measure your time on is key.

Next I would set small and big goals. The small build up to the larger ones. For instance maybe one smaller goal is shaving 1 or 2 seconds off a distance for the week. A larger goal like Joe stated, could be picking out a race that you want to do well with.

Then after that it’s training. There are many different ways to train. And it also depends on what you have in mind to train for. Intervals, distance etc.

As far as speed goes per mile like Matt said, if you can hold 6mph on a race, you’ll be doing very well!

One other thing I would take notice to. When you see people who do well in any race, OC, Prone, SUP they all put in a ton of time on the water. So get as much water time as you can. That is huge. Learn how to “read” water, currents, etc. Get to know your paddle, and hopefully soon, your board! Look at the top finishers and see how they win. I know I watch Danny Ching all the time, just to name one. Also do exactly what you just did, ask questions. I don’t know of anyone that wouldn’t help answer a question for you in person around here.

Last like Boe said come on out and race with us when you can. There is nothing like a race. It’ll get you used to racing and you get to see what and how it’s all about. Plus like Boe said you get to know people here! That’s the real fun.

Anyhow I hope all of our answers help and welcome to the club! Hopefully we see you in person on the water soon! Also we’ve been posting workouts on here the past couples days, feel free to come to one of those anytime!


Note – a significant amount of my recent improvements have come from preseason 1 on 1 or 1 on 2 coaching from Joe w/video and commentary.  I forgot to mention that.



Thanks Matt!

I totally agree with you – I’m more of a “train by doing and see how I stack up compared to others”, rather than a “train by tracking numbers, etc”.

I need to get out and hit up some of these local races at Urban Surf and Mountain to Sound. Just deterred due to time, lack of a board, and ability to rent. But, when I can, I will!


Thanks for the insight, Matt, Joe, Boe, and Renick!

The guys at Hemel were nice enough to let me borrow a board and I’ve been getting out on the water as much as I can. Using a distance finder on Google Maps I’ve been tracking how long it takes me to go a certain distance (usually about 3 miles every time I go out). Tracking that, experimenting with my stroke, and getting on the water as much as possible, has really helped me progress.

As some of you mentioned, I think the competion factor is huge! So, I’ve registered for both the races this weekend: the Urban Surf Race at Green Lake, and Stroke the Slough. Kinda nervous, but decided to just go for it!

Hope to see some of you guys out there. I’m going to try to hit up some of the mid-week races next week too.

Thanks again!