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Sunday, April 18, 2010
Slow down to Speed up
I know, what the hell is that supposed to mean, slow down to speed up. A few years ago I stumbled up an interesting discovery when training for a really long OC-1 paddle ( approx. 250 mi.). At that distance your pacing becomes one of the most critical factors in your success, besides hydration, nutrition and rash control. Part of learning to pace for that distance is being really, really efficient. Which means maximizing absolutely every glide. How do you maximize every glide? By learning to read every bump in the water that’s within 30 yards of you and your craft. In fighter pilot terms, everything in your 7:30 to 4:30 radius.
Now for everyone looking for the secret to gliding, pay attention: There is none. Yeah, sorry to let the cat out of the bag, but here’s the skinny. You have to spend a lot of time on the water, and it has to be quality time. Pay attention to all the bumps, try to see how they move, and experiment. It’s sort of like trying to learn how to fly a plane and play chess at the same time. First the plane part, you are essentially learning to soar, using each bump to propel you along. Next the chess part, here’s where the experimentation comes into play. You have to learn to anticipate what is going to happen because the bumps you see are history, the only efficient way to get to them is to catch the bumps you can’t see yet. The only way to do that is by experimenting. Simply put, you have to screw up a lot before you figure it out. The one thing I can tell you for certain is that going straight towards your target is rarely the fastest line when bump running. The bumps aren’t going straight, so you can’t either. Most the time it’s fairly chaotic, so you have to weave back and forth to maximize the bumps.