• A Training Plan Starts with The Off-Season

    I often get asked how to train and how to make a training plan. So I’m going to share with you how I make a season plan starting with the end of the season. 

    Your season just finished, last race done and dusted. All the hard training is over and the race is too! Phew. You are feeling enthusiastic and charged to make next year a better year. Or maybe you are over it. Done. Burnt out and exhausted. Either way, if you are planning on reaching your goal next season, what you do in your off season and pre season matters, as does setting yourself up with a training plan for next year.

    Here are a couple important things I’ve learned about how to have a successful paddling off-season. 

    Rest and recover and listen to your body

    If you have been training and racing hard then you have about 2 weeks before you will start to loose your fitness and muscle mass. So take that time to enjoy life in all the ways you were missing during season.  Spend loads of time with your (non paddling) friends. Take a complete and solid break for one to two weeks! You’ll feel amazing.

    Once you have done that…

    Do something different

    Go hiking biking, running, roller blading, and swimming, anything but paddling! Do something you’ve neglected that you used to enjoy. What is something you have always wanted to try, but never have time for it? What is something you used to love doing but haven’t done for ages?

    Move your body weight

    Outrigger is a power to weight ratio sport, so your ability to move your body weight + the canoe weight and the resistance of the ocean is so important. Over time as we age, we can either loose muscle or focus on maintaining and building it up. Functional strength is key, use the gym but also get out doors and do fun challenging things!

    Heal your injuries

    That nagging shoulder pain? You might forget about it during your break, but it won’t go away on it’s own. You need to break up any scar tissue, mobilize any parts that have frozen and strengthen muscles that may have become weak. Get help from someone who has had a similar injury and successfully rehabbed it or from a qualified person. Try a masseuse, physical therapist, chiropractor, personal trainer, osteopath, or acupuncturist. Work with someone who understands being an athlete and preferably is a paddler!

    Once you are rested and recovered and excited to train again (don’t underestimate the part about being EXCITED to train again) it’s time to start.

    Here are three quick tips to help you make a training plan

    • Decide on a goal. Pick something that you are excited to do!
    • Determine what that goal involves – is it a race? Then what is the distance, what are the conditions and what craft is it? (OC1, OC2, SS, SUP, OC6?)
    • Make a training plan and include areas that you need to improve on in order to achieve your goal.

    I’m including a picture of my OC1 training pyramid to get you started. This is a simplified version of a 24-week training plan with four-week cycles (three weeks building and one week recovery).   Send me questions, and I will gladly answer them as my next email. 

    Happy Paddling!



  • Food and Paddling

    This past weekend I did a small group workshop with some women who are racing OC1 here on Oahu. We talked about training, technique, recovery and food. It was fun and funny – we shared our ups and downs and I shared some technical bits and pieces. 

    I think one of the most under utilized areas of training and racing is fuel – hydration and food. So I thought I would share with you what we talked about because it’s so important to how you feel all the time! 

    Experiment, experiment, experiment

    There is no substitute for trial and error and you will make mistakes, but then you won’t make the same mistake twice.

    • Experiment with food under high intensity conditions to see how your stomach will respond to eating. If you struggle to eat, it will get better with practice and ‘conditioning’
    • Experiment with food storage and the logistics of eating. This is best done during long slow distance training. Where are you going to stash your food? How are you going to get it in your mouth?
    • Experiment with hydration and food together. If you are drinking sugar and eating sugar, you are likely to feel pretty gross after not too long. 

    Here are a few other take-aways:-

    • What you eat AFTER sets you up for your next training session.

    • How SOON you eat after training is super important so your body can use food for fuel instead of the muscle you are trying to build up.

    • Drinking sugar, for most people, does absolutely nothing to help performance (especially when doing distances longer than 1 hour).

    • Don’t forget electrolytes! As athletes, we sweat out so many trace minerals and the best way to replenish those is through an isolated electrolyte – not through a sports drink. Seek liquid drops you can add to your water or capsules to take before during and after races or training. 

    I hope you’re having fun on the water wherever you are, whether it’s winter or summer!

    All the best,

  • Surfing Natural Openings

    Surfing Natural Openings

    Would you love to master surfing your outrigger or surf ski?

    I would. Its thrilling and magical and pure joy. I have spent years trying way too hard to surf.

    No matter how strong I got, how much training I did, it never translated to catching more bumps. Frustrating! Enter exciting new concept: Stop working so hard. Instead, use just enough energy and look and wait and feel for things to open up. What?! This goes against all my programing that I just have to pound it out and work really hard all the time, non-stop.

    I finally had a breakthrough when I found a connection between ‘Natural Openings’ (a Life Coaching term)and what Kamanu Composites writes about in their blog post on surfing (hint - read it if you have not already!)

    "Every time you catch a wave you need to put all of your effort (mental and physical) into connecting into another wave. It doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by scouting your opening and getting to it."

    Scouting your openings

    “Effective and transformative action arises from recognizing and responding to natural openings…Opportunities to inquire into a subtle change in the client’s (insert 'oceans') energy, often non-verbal” -CFT Text book

    OH! and get this- “Natural openings are an easy opportunity to make changes without struggling!”

    IT'S ALL ABOUT NOT WORKING SO HARD! Relax and let if flow.The subtle shifts in my Life Coaching clients are often non-verbal, which they definitely are when open ocean surfing and reading the energy of the waves!

    What does this mean to me, you and our surfing success? 

    Watch for an easy clear next direction, be in the moment in tune with the energy of the ocean all the time. Scan gently all around you 180 degrees – what is forming, what is opening up? Go for it, then relax.

    The steps for surfing from Kamanu’s blog are:

    1) Catch the wave

    2) Put in just enough energy to stay on the wave, but avoid dropping into the trough

    3) Scout for an opening in the wave ahead of you. It could be right in front of you or it could be twenty feet to the right 

    4) Once you find it, get to it. Some openings might require five easy strokes and a slight turn of the rudder, while some will require an all out burst of speed. Your priority is to get through the opening and onto the bump ahead

    5) Start again at #2.

    We are trained culturally to make everything harder than it is. Once you have acheived a base level of strenght and fitness, breath, relax and let the Ocean open up and show the way! 

    For practical training tips on how to develop surfing skill – Contact me about coaching or enquire about my surf camps and clinics!

  • Give me a can of coke, NOW!

    Give me a can of coke, NOW!

    Have you ever had such a strong food craving during or after a race or training session that you would have sold your soul for it?

    Our bodies send us strong signals and if we know the language they are speaking then we can come up with answers. Intense cravings are a sign that something is missing or going wrong with your food choices.

    How to dial in nutrition before your target Outrigger race

    Practice Eating

    Training is just that – training, even related to food. Even though you think ‘I don’t need to eat, i’ll be fine’ cause you are right, you will survive without eating, BUT – if you do eat you will be stronger to the finish, and be able to maintain mental focus through the race, AND recover faster so you can go out and do it all again! While your competitors are struggling to get out of bed having depleted every drop of stored energy during the race and not re-fueled after the race, you’ll be getting ahead of the game ready to go the next day. Always fuel your body, especially if you plan to hammer it.

    Learn what gives you sustained energy

    Have you ever bonked or had a hard time staying focused? The most common reason for bonking is over consumption of carbohydrate (sugar – in different forms) before and during a race. It is becoming more and more well known that for some people, eating protein and fat during a race gets them to the finish line with better sustained energy. Are you one of those people? (find out by following the advise in number 1 above).

    Choose food that is appropriate for the distance and type of event.

    Endurance race food guidelines (iron event longer than 2.5 hours)

    • Eat early - Eat Protein and fat first for sustained energy and before your stomach starts to shut down digestion.

    • Eat more simple but real carbs next (ie not gel shots)

    • Save pure sugar (gel shots) for the very very very end for a quick, easy boost

    Change race guidlines

    Change races have escort boats, you could bring something that requires a fork and knife to eat. Really! pretty much anything goes. Chicken legs and potato salad? Go for it! Steak and beans? Great! Whatever works for you. Just eat the real food within the first 1-2 hours of the race, and move on to the gels and liquids later.

    Solo and iron OC6 races

    You need more creativity for these.
 Paddling is not a hands free sport, so eating requires extra thought

    • Zip lock bags work well. (you can Re-use them! Or multi purpose a bag from another item)

    • Make sure you have thought about bite-sized portions.

    • Find out what does not agree with you – ie repeats on you – if you try during training/shorter races. For example Salami is great for fat and protein, but may not work for everyone!

    • Accounting for greasy hands by practicing what you are going to eat.

    Make your own food

    Your refrigerator, assuming you go grocery shopping, should be able to provide better nutrition than a packaged bar. Packaged food is just hugely expensive cheap sugar – total rip off! Peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich – that would be carbohydrates, fat and protein. Or try chicken breast and avocado, higher in protein, lower in carbs and sugar and still has fat. Bars are cleverly marketed fast food. They make you think you have to eat them for some special reason. Nothing special - just real food will do.


    – From Underground Wellness Sean Croxton

  • Racing Molokai on a Surf Ski

    Molokai Solo on a Surf Ski

    Early on in the 2013 the season, I set my goal as ‘just do it’, without the pressure of a result based on time or overall placing or a best effort. Why was this mindset  important in my training and racing experience?

    The goal was relevant and attainable.

    I travelled to New York 6 times in the 9 months before the race, adding an element of physical exhaustion and time pressure that was out of the norm for me. Expecting a ‘best’ performance would have left me feeling stressed during my training and disappointed with my result.

    Growth and learning.

    I was able to experience what 32 miles on surf ski is all about and what specific issues might come up over that distance with that discipline. Now, I feel prepared to build a plan for the next time based on experience. I feel confident in my ability to ‘do the distance’ in a Surf Ski and need to adjust my training to ‘do it competitively’ next time.

    2013 was a year of less than ideal wind. North and North West winds meant that when I looked over my left shoulder back towards the southern tip of Molokai I sure was wishing I could turn around and go back! 

    I am so excited to have completed my first Molokai Surf Ski solo – 32 miles from Molokai to Oahu. After 4 consecutive yearly OC1 crossings, I thoroughly enjoyed the new, challenge experience of Surf Ski. I'm hoping next time, it's a down wind screamer!

  • Coaching Solo Crossings

    Coaching Solo Crossings

    Coaching and being support for Molokai Solo Race

    In April 2013 I coached Andy Cummings across the channel and was able to help him achieve the title of Molokai Solo Master World Champion status!

    I get a huge amount of energy from pulling ‘best performance capable of’ out of a paddler. This starts with mindset leading up to the race. Strategizing and reviewing each detail – the food that will be eaten race morning, trips to the bathroom, loading of the escort boat, warm up protocol, start piece strategy, breaking down the race into mentally manageable chunks, and planning what to eat, how and when to eat it.


    Andy had one main request, that I never use the motivational calls of ‘Good Job’ or ‘Awesome’. This was the best feedback a coach can ever have. I needed to know what would motivate him and keep his mentality sharp so he could perform.


    For Andy’s race, knowing where his competition was and judging accurately the pace that he was pulling away, as well as when he would catch and pass someone was a tactical necessity for his success.

    A solid race plan

    Andy set very specific and measurable parameters for this race:

    • Start piece heart rate of maximum165
    • Average heart rate through the race of 140 
    • Speed above 6 mph average (in flat/headwind conditions)

    Eat real food

    Andy’s also used my ‘eat real food’ strategy adapted from Sean Croxtons JERF philosophy, and reserved sugars and gels for the very end of the race. Andy’s perceived energy levels were the most stable out of any racing he has done, especially compared with his previous channel crossings.

    Aside from being extremely proud of his achievement, I am also thrilled with my experience as his coach. This is the 3rd person I have coached across the channel and I love it nearly as much as racing myself. That’s a lot of love! Congratulations, Andy.