Pete Holliday is well known on the SUP UK race scene. With many racing years under his belt and much time spent focusing on his training both on and off the water Pete has learnt how to train effectively to achieve peak performance on race day. Having competed in many of Europe’s great SUP race events it’s given him time to tune and perfect his training techiques to get that competitive edge. In this feature Pete shares some of his thoughts on how best to prepare and last a full SUP race season in top racing form. Over to you Pete…
In the UK we have a long SUP race season. It’s about 6 months long and the race lengths and formats are all different, which makes it hard to plan and maintain your peak performance. Here are some tips for helping you get through it in one piece!
Plan your peak
Splitting the season down into 3 chunks:
Apr May – start
June July – mid
Aug Sept – end
Pick where you want to peak and adjust your training around this to intensify up to where you want to be at your best. It’s too long a season to stay at your best the whole time so it’s a decision you need to make during the long cold winter ready for the following year!
Stick to the plan
Once you’ve committed to your peak and planned your training you need to stick to it! This is hard especially if you have picked mid or end of season to be at your best, as early on you may well not be finishing races where you want to be! This is psychologically a hard thing to handle but self-belief here and strength of will is vital if you are going to succeed with your plan. It’s also important to remember your competitors may be on different plans too so you might be getting your butt kicked by someone early on, but chances are they may fade later in the season just as you’re hitting your best & the tables will be turned.
Listen to your body
If you want to keep racing all season you need to learn to listen to your body. When you’re exhausted rest, if you’ve had a tough race take the following few days off, if you feel even slightly run down its best to take a day off and let your body recover rather than do a half-hearted training session and put yourself out for a week with a cold.
Again confidence and self-belief are key here. You need to know that taking a day or two off will not affect your performance negatively. In fact more often it will have a positive effect.
Day to day life combined with heavy training and racing schedules take their toll on our body. They are all forms off stress and have equal effect on our immune system and wellbeing.
Some people really struggle to listen to their body (you’ll know this because you’re always getting coughs, colds, bugs etc). Try looking into yoga or meditation as a way to help untangle the drivers that are stopping you from hearing your bodies calls for help!
Take a break
Somewhere, probably after your peak, plan a break from paddling. Take a family holiday, go traveling, or just take a couple of weeks off training and go surf or paddle recreationally.
The first few days or even up to a week, you’ll probably struggle mentally not training, but trust me it will be worth it! To keep active just mix it up and go for a beach run, take a swim or go and try something completely new. Take the time to live, experience and challenge yourself with something else.
You’ll be amazed the thirst you’ll regain for training again after a break!
Look after your body
Final tip is a broad one! Just look after yourself. This goes for all year not just race season!
Eat healthily. This means real, organic and if possible local food, not processed, packaged supermarket stuff. Avoid sugar and processed carbs (breads etc.) where possible, get at least 8hrs sleep a night, and remove as many forms of stress from your life as possible. I highly recommend yoga & meditation to keep flexible but also for many psychological benefits.
Get a massage once a week. I know this can get expensive so consider what you can do yourself on a foam roller, tennis ball etc. Maybe strike a deal with your partner to massage each other every week?!
Have some fun! Go do things that make you laugh… surf, paddle downwind, and make sure you don’t let training take over your life.
So how did my 2014 season / plan work out?
Coming off a 5 month injury lay off late last 2013 I didn’t get back on a SUP until December. I knew I had already lost valuable winter training time so had to look towards mid / late season for my peak.
I put in some good winter training, helped by the milder winter we had.
The early season races were tough. I was getting 3rds & was working really hard in the races to a point where I had to take a few days off after each one to recover (the older you get the longer recovery takes!). Mentally it was tough, but some self-belief & reassurance from my training buddy Ryan James kept me focused on the plan ahead.
At Carbis I was feeling really good but an unfortunate issue of leash coming off put me at the back of the pack, as I had to stop & re-attach to avoid DQ. With no pressure I used it as a training run & still managed to cut through the field back to joint 3rd so was super stoked with my actual performance. By the time we hit the Bray Lake Ultra distance I was ready & the results came. I got 2nd finally beating Ben Payne who’d been ahead all season so far. I repeated the 2nd place result at the next race BaySUP Battle of the Paddle.
I then went to take my ‘break’, went travelling for a couple of weeks & got sick as a dog! A combination of Dengue Fever & Pneumonia put me in A&E & quarantine for a week & put a stop to my season. I was really hoping to have gone out to BOP California to finish the season on a high but the illness really knocked me out for some time. I still had a great year and am finishing the season with a few Outrigger races instead.
It just goes to show that even the best laid plans sometimes go to waste. You can’t control everything, so you just have to roll with it and take the positives… I’ve had some great recovery time and am ready to go for winter camp again.
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