So with the season gone what can, and should be done this winter?
1. Take inventory of the past season - Did you achieve your goals? If yes what will be the next goals for this year. Use the SMART approach I wrote about last spring. To achieve your new goals you may have to train differently. Not necessarily more, but on
higher intensity. It would be good to contact your coach for help, if you have one, or
ask fellow paddlers who can help with goal setting.
If you did not meet your goals for the season figure out why. Did you have an illness or injury leading up to your main events ? If the injury or illness was not training related than you should try the same program again and avoid the situation which led to your illness/injury. If it was related to your training consult with your coach or an experienced friend what to do to avoid the scenario. Overtraining - use of heavy weights or too much intensity are the most common denominators apart from improper warm-up . If you failed for other reasons it is most likely that your goals where in disharmony with your training plan so it is important that you take appropriate steps to avoid the same this season.
2. Lets pretend that step 1 has been taken and you are ready to go. Even if you are more into short distance racing like 200m or 500m, remember that canoeing is mainly an endurance sport. Your training should consist off mostly cardiovascular exercises with minimum durations of 20 min, an average of 45 min and a maximum of 120 min. The
longer training would now be a cross country ski training. If you have the conditions and own xc skis a 20 + mile session is going to be helpful provided you have some previous experience. Even as a novice the time on skis alone will be rewarding later in the summer. If skiing can not be done long distance swimming in the pool is another great cross training. Depending on your skill level go from 20 - 45 minutes nonstop. It helps in the beginning to interchange freestyle with breast stroke. Start with half and half and move 5% towards freestyle each week. By the end of the winter you may be surprised with your improvement. Now about weight training: there is one cardinal mistake many canoeists make, our weight training has too much influence from body building/strength athlete programs. Too many exercises are in contradiction to
our needs. Most of our exercises should be about pulling light to medium weights with a lot of repetitions. Sets of 50-60 reps lat-pull down with a proper weight are a better choice . The goal is to improve strength without creating unnecessary muscle mass. Heavy muscles can be detrimental to performance so we need to implement exercises to stimulate the right muscle fibers.
3. Now about the paddle erg. It is a great invention and I recommend using it during the off season. I have observed a few problems with the training on the erg. First off all there are many paddlers who focus on the display and become obsessed with the shown speeds and totally forget their technique in the progress. My advice is that you switch of the speed display and just focus on a nice long powerful stroke, keep your stroke rate around 60-70 per min and if possible install a mirror to watch your self and do corrections if necessary. The erg is supposed to help you to be in good paddling shape next season and not become a sport by itself. Excessive sprints will not help since you are not in your boat and don't have to deal with keeping upright, your internal and external oblique muscles perform differently in the boat than on the erg. On the erg they are totally part of your propulsion and in the boat they are also performing the duty of the suspension. I have developed a paddle simulator who brings in instability in the erg and is available to paddlers.
For the winter training I recommend to go between 25 and 60 min nonstop as a technical workout and as interval between 3 and 9 min with a stroke rate of 80 per min interchanged with easy paddle of half time of hard paddle. The maximum time for this training should be 42 min ( 3x 9min with 3x 4.5 min rest as example)
I hope this will help a bit.