Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ask Fem!

Dear Fem,
How can you do Olympic Trials if you have not been paddling? It doesn't seem like your training is very smart!

Dear Anonymous,
That's a great question. Actually, I have been paddling in upstate NY-- I get out as much as I can when the waterways aren't frozen. (And when I don't have too much homework!) We upstate paddlers supplement paddling with cross-country skiing, kayak-erg workouts, and weightlifting. It's actually a really fun break from the intensive on-water work we do during the regular paddling season.

Unfortunately, in the USA, kayakers have little to no funding. In order to pay for training, travel, competitions, and the entire lifestyle, we have to find our own jobs and sponsorships. Based on the fact that the US women have 1 spot qualified for the London Olympics-and I was ranked 7th at our World Championships Team Trials in July 2011- I chose to train for the 2012 Olympic Trials in upstate NY so I could finish my college education at Geneseo. Without completing my undergraduate degree, I would never make enough money to continue in the sport for the next 4 years. It was a tough but necessary sacrifice that I made so that I could vie for a spot at the 2016 Olympic Games.

I will be proudly competing in the 2012 Olympic Trials knowing I trained the hardest I possibly could in a colder, northern climate while attending university full-time!


Anonymous said...

After your Olympic trial will you be doing any canoe races? You kicked my but two years ago at the Run Of The Charles in Boston and I've been cheering for you ever since. Best of luck!

Unknown said...

Hey, Emily,

Bob here. You may or may not remember me. We ran into each other a few times at CrossFit when it was back in Fairport last year.

I was hoping you might be able to give me a couple of good tips. If I'm in town April 28 (iffy, due to an out-of-town wedding the next day), I'm planning on doing the Flower City paddle triathlon, which includes a 3 mile kayak paddle on the Genesee, 20-mile bike ride, and 5k run. I'm fine for the run, and will deal with the bike. As for the paddle...

I've kayaked several times -- very recreationally and very casually, over the course of many years. I actually prefer ocean kayaking, but that's not an option. ;) I know this may be hard for an elite paddler, but I was wondering if you could offer one or two very basic tips for someone who's had very little instruction (i've learned some basic strokes and how to roll, but never practiced or got much feedback). Like, what are the biggest mistakes that beginners make that can readily be fixed when we attend to them? (For ex: pushing more or less with the top hand, putting or not putting your back into it, paddling at a pace that's too fast or too slow, pulling the paddle too far back or not far enough, placing the paddle into the water at the wrong angle, etc.).

Goes without saying that I need to practice and train as much as possible. I've been using the rowing erg quite a bit this winter, but as I found it was busting up one of my wrists, I recently switched to an upper body ergometer which I actually think mimics the paddling motion a little more closely. I hope to get into an actual boat as soon as possible (I don't even own one. Will be renting one for the race.)

BTW: When I have paddled on flat water, my biggest problem seems to be getting the darned thing to go straight. It veers left, then right, etc. Doesn't seem to be related to my right-hand dominance.

Any tip(s) would be appreciated.

Judging from your blog, looks like things are going well for you and you are still kicking it at CrossFit. Very cool!


Emily said...

Hi Bob! Of course I remember you! Awesome that you're doing that race. I've actually been teaching kayaking in a pool this winter for people doing that race who need to learn how to kayak!

In my opinion, the number one thing to remember when kayaking is you don't kayak with your arms; you kayak with your lats and core, by twisting. Core rotation is much more efficient than "arming it." You can practice this by making a rectangle shape. Hold the paddle out in front of you- between the paddle, your arms (bent at 90 degrees) and your chest, you should have an approximate rectangle. Now practice holding that rectangle while paddling-- this will force you to use your body to twist, rather than pulling with your arms.

Another thing to keep in mind is that any time the paddle is behind your hips, it is slowing down the boat's forward momentum. The paddle should be out of the water when it gets even with your hips. I pretty much start taking it out when it gets to my knees. You might think this makes for a really short stroke, but you just need to reach out farther at the front of the stroke. Basically shift your entire stroke so it's completely in front of you.

I'm going to be doing 2 clinics April in at the Genesee Waterways Center for people who want to hone their racing skills before the race. If you send me your email, I can put you on the mailing list for info! My email is kayakemily AT gmail DOT com. :)

Emily said...

Anonymous #1:
Yes, some canoe races are probably in the cards for this summer. :) I am pitting for one of the Forge teams at the 70-miler and then I'll be racing canoes at Madrid 2 weeks later.

Anonymous said...

Based on the total body and core workouts you have been doing you will still be awesome! With all the experience you have had, the muscle memories are there. You are amazing! Keep up the good work!!!!!