Rivermiles Forum
Rivermiles >> Ultra Marathon Canoe Racing Fitness >> Can I really do this?

Message started by coachdon on 09/25/17 at 09:42:24

Title: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 09/25/17 at 09:42:24
This is my first post, I have been lurking since I first discovered this race a few months ago.  My initial reaction was, "I have got to do this race!"
Here is my background:
51 year old male
Coach gymnastics as a career
5' 7" and currently 198 lbs (down from 212, goal is 180)
Average fitness for my age, I would guess.
My canoe experience started in September of 2015, when I was fully outfitted for a 6 day solo Boundary Waters canoe trip.  I probably covered 45 miles, and it was exhausting, painful, dirty, and one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I searched craigslist for 9 mos, finally found a Bell Magic, and now have everything I need for canoe wilderness tripping.  I have been back to the BWCA, and Quetico, the last 2 years, and have plans for the next 2 years to go a little deeper into wilderness areas.
That brings me to my "training" for next years 340, if I decide to do it.  :)
I have been hitting a local small lake at least 3 times/week, working on paddling technique, and trying to get more seat time before the cold weather hits.  Yesterday, I was able to get a long paddle in.  I did 33.9 miles in 8.5 hours.  The first 15 miles went great, then I had a few things working against me.
1.  I lost the current in the river due to dams.
2.  The wind picked up, not a lot, but it was a headwind or quartering most of the time.
3.  Sunny and 90 degrees on Sept 24th.
4.  I had a 3 liter hydration pack, one 32 oz Nalgene, and a 20 oz Gatorade.  I drank the Gatorade first, so I would have something to pee in without stopping the boat. I did the last 3 hours nursing the Nalgene of warm water.
4.  I brought about 800-900 calories in trail mix (That has been my fuel of choice on wilderness trips travel days), and I'm not sure if that was enough, or if I need to have some other source of calories.

I have done 22 miles/day paddling and portaging in lake country, and I have one other 29 mile day on this river (but it took me 3 hours longer).  The last 40 minutes, my dream of doing this race were crushed! I do feel better this morning, but I would like to get some input from others as to similar experiences, how to get my body ready, things I should try, etc. 
I will say that my core and lower back were the body parts suffering, so I think I am using better technique.  I probably should have switched to my tripping paddling style, (j-stroke, one side for extended periods) but I am stubborn some times.
Someone please tell me I can actually do this race!

By the way, my activity and calorie tracker said that if every day was like yesterday, i would weigh 133 lbs in 5 weeks!

Title: Re: Can i really do this?
Post by brad126 on 09/25/17 at 10:16:04
The first year I did it,  I paddled once or twice a week. Usually only five miles. My longest paddle ever, prior to the race, was 15 miles.  I had never been on the Missouri  River. I was in a 70 pound plastic boat. I finished in 67 hours and five minutes. Keep doing what you are doing and you will be fine.

This year I paddled three times a week. Usually six miles. A couple twenty mile training runs (on flat water) and one sixty mile race. I finished in 42 hours. It is definately not necessary to paddle super long distances in training. I focused more on very intense, short paddles.

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by HoganHaake on 09/25/17 at 11:51:08
Remember that if you're in the current, you're getting a free 2-3 mph boost. If you stay in your boat and eat meals instead of getting out at checkpoints, you'll finish. 20 minutes in the current eating dinner is a free mile!

You can complete this race, its mostly a mental exercise!


Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by oakcabinpaddler on 09/25/17 at 13:47:27
Yes, you can do this!

If you can average 4 mph on a lake, you will average 6.2 to 6.5 mph on the MR at normal water levels.

You're asking all the right questions now, so you have plenty of time to train and plan. You're off to a great start.

Older people, less fit people, less prepared people have finished the race. I was all 3 of those in 2012. The MR340 is an endurance race, and fortitude and preparation make all the difference. Protect yourself from the sun. Protect yourself from dehydration. Manage your nutrition. Minimize pain, specifically blisters and chafing. Stay in the boat; keep it moving down river. And prepare your body.

You mention core, specifically lower back pain after paddling 8.5 hours. Although it is not my profession, I am a certified personal trainer, and I can tell you from experience that if you add core fitness training to your paddling routine, it is highly likely that you will flip core fitness to your strategic advantage. Search Youtube for Functional Movement Fitness, or see a personal trainer certified in FMS, ACE or NASM OPT. Two one-hour sessions a week will make you a new person by the time registration opens January 1.

You can improve your on the water speed with this simple recipe: 1) Once a month, paddle long and slow for 8 hours or more. 2) Once a week, do 5 five-minute intervals paddling absolutely as fast as you can, allowing your pulse to fully return to normal between reps. 3) Once a week, paddle 3 20-minute intervals as fast as you can, allowing your pulse to fully return to normal between reps. 4) Core fitness training.

As far as nutrition, your body can only digest 250-300 calories per hour during exercise. Do not consume more, and do not consume less in each hour during your monthly long paddles, and during the MR340. And minimize the consumption of white sugar.

As far as hydration, consume some of your calories with your hydration. It saves time and eases digestion. The new Gatorade is much better than the old, but I encourage you to explore products designed for endurance athletes, not football players. I use products from Hammer Nutrition, First Endurance and Tailwind. Figure out how much hydration you need per hour, and consume religiously when doing long paddles and ultra races. Depending on the temperature, length of the race and how hard I am paddling, I consume between 12 and 20 ounces per hour. If you have even a hint of a headache after paddling, you are experiencing dehydration. Never ever allow yourself to become dehydrated.

Last and just important, feed and hydrate for recovery. For years, I used Hammer Recoverite. Now, I drink coconut milk, drink First Endurance EFS, and eat a banana and/or a Lara bar. If you feel like you got your butt kicked an hour after any training session, you did not feed and hydrate recovery sufficiently.

Go for it! Have fun! We look forward to seeing you on the water.

Ps. Welcome to the lunacy, and start saving now for your next racing boat  ;)

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 09/25/17 at 21:34:17
Wow, thanks for all the input!  I am going to make sure I read that last post a few more times, lots of info in there.  Then I will try those things for a few weeks, and read it again.

Definition of endure

1 :to undergo especially without giving in :suffer endure hardships endured great pain

2 :to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding though it is difficult, we must endure

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 09/26/17 at 13:35:33
Took yesterday off, but went out today and did the 2 minute intervals.  The "220 - age" formula for maximum heart rate isn't accurate, or I'm 23 years old.  I hit 197 bpm on the first interval.  Good workout, warmed up for 25 minutes, did 4 intervals, then a cool down.
I averaged 4.2 mph on the warm-up, just cruising with no perceived effort.  I imagine that would be my current race pace.  Hopefully it will climb with training.
Thanks to all who have commented, any other thoughts on preparing for this race would be greatly appreciated.  I have never done any canoe/kayak racing, or really any endurance sports, so I am looking to learn.

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by Manitou Paddler on 09/26/17 at 15:47:16
You can do this.....for sure, you already have the right attitude:

long days only remind you that it hurts.  Train short for fitness and a 20-30 miler now and then to work out boat logistics (seat issues, chaffing pfd etc).  I do not believe in lots of long and slow training runs...counter productive sometimes.

Also consider adding a rudder to your canoe.  I only put it down on my canoe(s) when on open water and covering larger distances...but it can allow you to switch sides when you feel it...versus to correct the boats trajectory.  And on a windy day....it will be a game changer.  The Missouri is a wide large open river...wind is always a factor


Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by Manitou Paddler on 09/26/17 at 15:51:01
Rudder with foot board and gas pedal style steering

You can buy this rudder and even decent foot pedals with steering off eBay shipped from china for $60

You will have to think thru how to attach and run the lines

You can use spectra (tree service throw line) for the lines....much better than metal cable IMHO
IMG_0352.JPG (2994 KB | 169 )

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by Manitou Paddler on 09/26/17 at 16:07:46
this is actually a very decent rudder and pedal system.  Very inexpensive and fiber impregnated resin...so very strong and light. The only problem is that it does not come with any instructions and the rope they supply is silly...as the design (they copied no doubt from sealine)is designed for braided cable or spectra line.  You will need to be able to vision out to attach and run rudder lines etc.   I will try to take some close ups of my rigs tonight to guide you and others.



Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 09/28/17 at 12:09:07
Thanks for the input.  I have been thinking a lot about a rudder, and would love to see more pics.  My Magic has a traditional seat, and I recently added wenonahs foot brace.  If I do any serious pushing, I find myself sliding to the back rail..  Any thoughts on a temporary, read removable, fix.  I would like to leave this canoe set up for wilderness tripping.  I have plans to build a strip canoe this winter that I hope to use on the race, and will plan for it using a rudder.

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 10/01/17 at 23:29:28
I had a nice workout today, 7.7 miles of circles on my small lake.  Averaged 4.5 mph and felt great.  I'm bummed that winter is approaching, hoping that I can get good paddling through most of November though!

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 10/12/17 at 13:42:35
I have been under the weather for a week, but coming out now, just in time for a weekend out of town working.  :(
Last week, I had a small window to get out and paddle, so I did one lap, 2.5 miles, around the small lake I train on.  Good news was I averaged 4.76 MPH!  And I wasn't trying to push hard, just keep up the effort since it was to be a quick workout.
Secondly, I am nearly finished converting a Nordic Track into a canoe erg.  I just need to decide what to do about the seating area, and foot brace.

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by HoganHaake on 10/13/17 at 12:42:39
If you want to paddle in the winter, seriously consider a dry suit. I use https://www.amazon.com/Kokatat-Tropos-SuperNova-Paddling-Suit-Pumpkin/dp/B00GUUXCAY/ref=sr_1_23?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1507916318&sr=1-23&keywords=kokatat this one. While the cheap ones are $500, you have to think about what your life is worth. Additionally your comfort should you get in trouble.

So get some good gear and paddle year round, the rivers and lakes are fascinating and empty in the winter time. Last night was month 107 in a row on the same river. And its different every time! Keep up the training, its awesome!


Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by GoneOutdoors2 on 10/19/17 at 20:47:07
This was my 2017 set up.  http://www.rivermiles.com/forum/YaBB.pl?num=1502815255
Was a game changer with the wind.  Agree with the shorter trainings,  helped a ton.

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 10/23/17 at 10:29:53
I paddled on a small lake Sunday.  Wind was about 10 to 12 mph with gusts around 20 I would guess.  6.9 miles and averaged 4.5 mph.  I felt strong throughout, so I think all the paddling is starting to pay off.  Going in circles, I was able to hide a bit from the wind when going into it.  Still times when I had to paddle hard to keep the bow pointed the right direction.
I have over 130 miles logged since I started training for this race.

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by Jaybee on 10/23/17 at 16:59:58
130 miles will get you a couple of hours out of Glasgow!

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 10/25/17 at 22:03:33

Jaybee wrote on 10/23/17 at 16:59:58:
130 miles will get you a couple of hours out of Glasgow!

I'm not sure if I should feel good, or bad, about that! :o

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 11/01/17 at 22:58:49
Been rainy and in the 40's for a few days, but yesterday the sun peeked out, and I got a chance to paddle 4 miles.  Water is still warm, but the air was chilly.  Fingers were getting cold by the end.  I also dropped my paddle, a first for me in 3 years of paddling.  It was pretty windy, and a strong gust hit right when I was switching sides.  Those 11 oz carbon paddles can become kites quickly!  Solo paddlers must always have a spare, mine was handy, but made me think about retrieving a $300 paddle from the Missouri River while sleep deprived and exhausted at night...maybe my paddle should have a glow stick attached...

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by 19shady69 on 11/02/17 at 05:46:30
You should absolutely add reflective tape to your paddle so that it is easily seen if dropped in the water after dark. Consider placing the reflective tape away from the blade area.  The reflection off of your navigation lights will become annoying if it blinds you with every paddle stroke.

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by GregStamer on 11/22/17 at 14:40:19
Even better, IMO, than reflective tape, would be to use a paddle leash at night or whenever you are feeling loopy / sleep deprived.

That said, I don't like using the leash at all times (gets in the way and can catch on any objects on deck), and it can be an entanglement hazard in surf / very turbulent water, so use thoughtfully.  I remove it in those cases.

I use my wing unfeathered (sits flat on the water) and even with tape it can be very difficult to see at night should you drop it.

Greg Stamer

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by coachdon on 11/24/17 at 15:03:29
I don't own a double blade, and will have a spare, I'm not seeing how a leash would function on a single blade.  Seems like it would be in the way every time you switched sides.  Maybe I'm missing a simple solution?

Title: Re: Can I really do this?
Post by GregStamer on 11/27/17 at 21:07:07
Sorry, didn't catch in the thread that you are using a single blade. I use kayak paddles so don't know what "single bladers" use, if anything, regarding paddle tethers. I don't recall seeing a tether on a single blade.


Rivermiles Forum » Powered by YaBB 2.5 AE!
YaBB Forum Software © 2000-2010. All Rights Reserved.