Endurance Training For Dragon Boat

Endurance Training For Dragon Boat; go slow to get fast!

If there’s one fitness mistake I see that’s extremely common amongst Dragon Boat Paddlers is they lack endurance fitness. Let’s talk about how endurance training for dragon boat can increase paddler performance. Most times it’s not an issue when we attend dragon boat practices and train solely for the 500M race. But if we have goals and aspirations to be a better paddler on our team or within a club we need to cross train to improve our overall performance. 

There are some key elements we can incorporate in an endurance session when training on the OC1, kayak or SUP as the slower rate and less intensity provides a ton of opportunity for reflection. I like to bring my head in the game as much as possible as this type of training provides a golden opportunity to improve our technique and incorporate mindset training focus!

Here are 3 steps you can take to get your head in the game and amp up your endurance training for dragon boat session:

For this endurance training for dragon boat paddlers I will be on the OC1 and use a dragon boat paddle.

  1. Set a goal: Your goal is what you want the end result to be. Although it may seem obvious that you are out for endurance training, a solid time goal helps us stay on target when we get tired or bored. For this type of training, I like to commit to 60 minutes or 3, 20 minutes pieces with 2 minutes rest between each piece.
  2. Set an intention: The intention is how you want to perform in this session. We can all pound out a session but how do you want to show up? Finish? How do you want to feel at the end that portrays the paddler you most want to be?  You can choose things like; being strong, staying in form or finishing with confidence. The intention is often the “theme” I like to give myself and by doing this I find it helps me become not just trained, but the paddler I aim to be.
  3. Choose a focus: Each time we train it’s important to have a focus but when we do long slow endurance training, I find I need a “cue” to constantly keep my head in the game. Without it I find myself solving world problems or compiling my grocery list. The danger in lack of focus is if I lose form and technique, I am either instilling bad habits or creating repetitive strain that can lead to injury! In this session I have chosen to focus on maintaining a tall torso and proper pelvis alignment. Endurance training has the tendency to make me “sit back and get lazy”.

In this video I use the OC1 and a dragon boat paddle.

Now that we have our head in the game here are a few tips to build an endurance training for dragon boat session with cross training on the OC1, Kayak or SUP:
  • Set a metronome or tempo trainer at 40 strokes per minute. This rate will most likely allow you to stay in the heart rate zone of endurance training while allowing the opportunity to focus. 
  • Use a heart rate monitor to keep you in your targeted heart rate zone of 1 or 2. This takes a ton of discipline for dragon boaters as we are used to medium to high intensity training and can feel like we aren’t doing much if we aren’t sweating and pushing it. But I urge you to find the zone and keep steadfast in it. This is the foundation that allows us to build the intensity for racing and competing!

Why is this method of training so important?

In short and without getting too technical, when we fully train an energy zone in a progressive manner, we are conditioning the heart to function more efficiently. By training one heart rate zone at a time, we are essentially peaking ourselves in that zone allowing us to move into the next zone with more conditioning. The idea is that by consistently training at a low heart rate, in time you will become faster without having to push your heart or body too hard. 


How to know you are making training gains:
 At the beginning of the season, I can gauge my current endurance fitness based on the distance I get in each stroke and the speed I achieve when staying in my heart rate zone. As I improve, I will gain distance per stroke and speed while staying in that zone!

If you would like a full training program for the OC1 that progressively trains each heart rate zone and energy system for high level competing, click here!

If you would like more information on the topic of endurance training for dragon boat paddlers, check out this article!

Here is the equipment I use in this session:

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