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Coach Casey Training Zones

In the past three years that I have been writing programs for fellow SUP paddlers I've played around with different training zones.

While it isn't too big an issue while on your own it is an issue when following a program or if you are training in a group. Basically you want to get the most out of the session and for the group to remain somewhat close to each other. To get the most out of your training you need to use each of these zones at various times. For speed work you'll be using more of Zone 5 and then Zone 1 and then for endurance work you'll be using more of those middle zones, it all depends on what race it is you're training for and what it is you want to work on.

While I believe a heart rate monitor is the best way to figure out your true training zones, personally I find it a bit tricky to look at my watch while paddling. Another way to train is by using a pace, again it requires looking at a screen while paddling but it also varies a lot in paddling depending on the tide, wind and depth of water. The guide below is based more on feel and listening to your body rather than looking at your watch for your heart rate or speed. I find it's pretty useful so have a read a let me know what you think.


REST (0% Effort): not padding at all


Zone 1 (20-35% Effort): effort we use at the start of a warm up or during an active rest period in-between sets. Tapping along without putting much effort into each stroke. You can easily talk and should not be sweating.


Zone 2 (40-55% Effort): effort we use at the end of a warm up, starting to get a bit of glide but can still hold a conversation and you should not be out of breath.


Zone 3 (60-75% Effort): Long and strong, our most efficient stroke. Can talk but not hold a conversation. Right on the edge of sweating and breathing heavily.


Zone 4 (80-95% Effort): Long and strong, with a bit more effort. Can not talk. Squeezing on each catch and beginning to sweat and breathing rhythmically.


Zone 5 (95-100% Effort) : Short and Sharp stroke, this is an all out sprint. Heart rate and cadence should be right up. Sweating and out of breath at the end of each effort. Focusing on the front end of the catch and abbreviating the power phase of your stroke.

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1 comment

  • I believe you need 2 mechanisms to guauge your Training Zone % , first is the body, listen, feel , how long can you hold this pace for (which is basically your lactate threshold) , gives you a great idea what % range you are in . 2nd is speed , taking into consideration the wind , tide , waves etc , Once you have the speed indicator dialled in then you can measure the effort you are putting in to maintain that speed under the current conditions , these 2 items go hand and hand to achieve the correct Training Zone. But before you can give your speed a % ranking you need to go out and establish your 60% 70% 80% and 90-100%. Jimmy has the formula to do this and i have the MAKAI timer .

    For example Lets use speed I know there abouts my 9.1-9.3km is aprox 70-75% pending on conditions, say flat to mild ocean conditions
    9.4-9.7km is approx 80-85% pending on conditions , say flat to mild ocean conditions.
    9.8-10km is approx 90-100% pending on conditions , say flat to mild ocean conditions.

    Each session that i have control of i attempt to hold the program , as best i can to suit the conditions . What i most try to do is fringe in and out of the lactate threshold to help the group , once your body has the ability to remove the lactate from its system you can basically start to hold higher % for much longer time periods , and thats the goal.
    Heres my observations on race results : you know the training program put together by JC is working just look at the 12 tower Results pretty sure the group had 10 placings on this current program.
    Heres my observation on training: Turn up on time , if Brett is talking during an interval its bang on 70 so stay with him for pace. If Dick drawings goes way out in front , don’t go with him , you will just relax and complete the session without any challenge to your lactate threshold . If jimmy paddles with us in the lake on his 12 foot ocean board and you can hold his pace and your on your 14 footer ocean board then you know its a true 80%, if you can draft him on the last set for 6-minutes your working at 85-90%, well into your Lactate threshold for some.
    Now that Ben has a velocitek Makai he knows his speed and now needs to keep himself honest on his effort . If your training with the fox Kissa you know that his background was iron man so his body has the ability to train right on the lactate threshold after all those years , so its going to be 85 for the entire session ,, Rule of thumb is to stay 2 boards lengths off him then you know your about 80% , if you get too close and spoke him he bangs on 10-15 quick strokes and takes you out into the 90-95% and drops you , based ocean conditions flat to mild no Runners . The bloke who has got it all dialled in with speed, heart rate and feel is Dave Hume , he has a water proof jay car set up on his board . Under standing the science behind the program is must , maybe i did learn something at college it only took 5 years Or i may have it wrong?
    Car Park Observations : Never listen to the Fox when he says , he has been too busy to train , because he is a secret trainer , beer is the best anti inflammatory , Are you going to work today yes means No.
    Sarge.

    jason kennett

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