Paddling on your own will only take you so far
There are times when training on your own may be necessary. You cannot make the regular club practice, your training partner(s) are out of town, etc. We’ve all done it. If you are a bit competitive, you’ve also experienced the added mental push you received from training with one or more fellow paddlers.
Training with a group helps keep you accountable. You don’t want to let the group down by not showing up. Peer pressure can have a positive effect.
Training with a group also helps you push yourself. When paddling with a group or even just one or two other paddlers, I guarantee you will push yourself harder than were you to attempt the same workout on your own. You’ll be trying to outpace your friends. It’s just a natural fact. The best paddling groups are those with a wide range of abilities. Faster paddlers benefit from paddling with slower paddlers and vice versa. The fast paddlers have an opportunity to chase down others, a skill in its own right, while slower paddlers will benefit from the knowledge and experience of the speedsters.
Training groups can be found in a variety of different formats depending on where you live and what craft you paddle. Here in Southern California, the network of outrigger canoe clubs form the backbone for group paddling. Given the similarities in stroke, many outrigger paddlers also paddle standup boards (SUP) to cross train.
Anthony Vela’s Performance Paddling training club in Dana Point, California is likely the most well established group training program for standup paddlers. All of Performance Paddling’s members have made measurable progress towards their goals, be it overall fitness or improving their time in regional SUP races.
If there isn’t a paddling club near you, try to set up a regular training schedule with other paddlers in your area. You’ll make a batch of new friends and your skills and fitness level will improve.
Have fun and see you on the water!