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May 23, 2018


At the start of the year did you sign up for a race and are now wondering how best to train for it? We asked Ollie Shilston to explain how you prepare for some long distance and technical races. 


“ I try and split my training up into three phases, three four week phases. I have an endurance phase which is the first one I go for, and that generally consists of long steady paddles, around three a week. It’s not always easy with UK conditions, especially in the winter and fitting it around work, so there are a few things that I do to get my training in. I swim in the mornings, paddle whenever I can, do gym sessions, and surf as well. I switch between all four. Another benefit is that doing different things keeps it fresh. 

If the surf is pumping during the race preparation period, I use that opportunity to get used to my race board.  I take my race board and go into the surf on that. I’d do hard efforts, which means instead of hanging around out the back and not paddling between rides, I’d make a conscious effort to keep moving when out the back and to work really hard between waves. Remember though your aim is to prepare for your race, so be open to sacrificing things for a short period of time with regards to skipping surf sessions. These twelve weeks for me are twelve weeks where I concentrate on paddling. After the worlds I’ll have a break and a bit of down time, and get all the waves I want.”  

Build your 12 week training program

Things to consider

• Choose a peak race and a race goal
• Pick a start date and plan duration.
• Decide on the appropriate paddling volume and frequency and weekly workout structure.
• Divide your plan into Base/Endurance, Strength and Speed periods.
• Plan your peak training week.
• Schedule tune-up races and recovery weeks.
• Schedule progression of workouts.

An Example from Ollie Shilston’s training  diary

Base/Endurance PHASE

4 weeks 

Monday – Swim
Tuesday – 40-50min steady SUP paddle/Downwinder
Wednesday – Gym
Thursday  – SUP paddle 3x(6min, 4min,2min increasing speed)
Friday  – Am Swim, Pm Gym
Saturday – SUP surf
Sunday – 1hour 5min long paddle (increasing 5mins per week)

Strength/Endurance Phase

4 weeks

Monday – Swim
Tuesday – 40-50min steady SUP paddle/Downwinder
Wednesday – SUP paddle 8x 4mins (1min recovery)
Thursday – Gym
Friday  – Am Swim, Pm SUP paddle 3x 1mile race tempo.
Saturday – SUP surf/Race board in outs through surf.
Sunday – 1hour 25min long paddle. (increasing 5mins per week) Speed/Race Phase

4 weeks

Monday – Swim
Tuesday – 40-50min steady SUP paddle/Downwinder.
Wednesday – Gym
Thursday  – SUP paddle 8x 2mins \ (2min recovery)
Friday  – Am Swim, Pm SUP paddle 6x1min, 6x30sec (2min recovery)
Saturday – SUP surf/Race board in outs through surf.
Sunday – 1hour 45min long paddle (increasing 5mins per week)

All dependent on conditions

Generally before races I would taper down the week’s training to ensure a good performance.
If the surf is good I would often change sessions to incorporate the surf!
I’m a big believer in training how I feel. So if I’m not feeling 100% I don’t push things and likewise if I’m feeling great I will push hard in sessions
I think the key to training here in Cornwall is flexibility. The conditions often determine what training I do.
Before I start a period of training I generally have a good level of fitness because of my work and lifestyle.

A big thanks to Surftech, Surf Commission, ZRE Paddles, Vestpac hydration and Lavacore Paddle Clothing. SUP

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