There’s no wrong time to begin training

Larry Cain Paddle Monster Leave a Comment

Larry Cain

by Larry Cain

Well, here we are in the first few weeks of winter training.  It’s hard to believe summer 2016 is behind us and the work we’re doing now is preparation for the 2017 season.  We’re getting a lot of questions about the program for 2017 and some of the common ones involve concern about the level of commitment and joining after the training block has already started, so let me focus on those two here.

One of the things that I am always concerned about in the Paddle Monster forums is people getting discouraged or feeling somehow inadequate if they are missing training sessions that have been assigned in the various programs.  While on one hand I appreciate that they’re taking the commitment they’ve made to training by joining Paddle Monster seriously, on the other I don’t want to see them losing perspective and balance in their lives because they’ve decided to join us.  Paddling should enrich lives, not add stress to them.  And our goal at Paddle Monster is to help you get more out of your paddling experience, not have it take over your life.

We’re not all professional athletes

I think it is well worth remembering that none of us involved in Paddle Monster currently are professional athletes.  We have a few very high level paddlers with us, but even they aren’t the full time athletes like those I’m used to dealing with on National Teams in canoe-kayak or that we see at the very top level of SUP.  As such it is unrealistic to expect anyone involved being able to make the same commitment to training that a top level SUP pro or an Olympic athlete would.  And it’s unrealistic for you to expect that of yourself as well.  There is a balance that you should be finding between training and life. 

One of the most common posts that members make in the forums is looking for help on how to adapt the training programs to meet their needs imposed by time constraints related to work, family or other real life commitments.  The fact that they’re seeking help and not just missing workouts is the mark of someone with a professional level of commitment.  They’re working with me, the coach, to find the best possible way to train around the other commitments they have.  That is a far better approach than just randomly shuffling the workouts around without guidance or missing them all together.  And it’s a more realistic approach than skipping out on job or family commitments to train.  The truth of the matter is I appreciate that balance is important in everyone’s life.  My job is to help everyone find ways to train effectively, but not at the expense of that balance.

How to handle missing workouts

Often, when seeking advice on how to deal with missing or rescheduling a workout someone, will ask me, “Is that okay?”  My answer is consistent.  I always say on one hand, no it’s not.  Missing workouts will affect your ability to improve, or at least the rate at which you improve.  On the other hand I always follow that comment up with “Of course it’s okay”.

We all have realities we have to deal with.  Jobs, families and other.  We had them before we started paddling SUP and we can’t make them go away.  We shouldn’t want to, either.  They are a large part of who we are, and many of these realities are far more important in the grand scheme of things than paddling.  We just have to learn to find a way for training to coexist with them.   Most of us don’t choose our work schedules or the days and times that our kids need a ride to soccer practice.  We have to adapt to these things.  They are priorities in life.  We have to fit paddling around them.

Believe it or not I’ve seen lots of high level athletes – Olympians – have to juggle training schedules in a similar fashion due to commitments at school, work or with their family.  The rule is they do their best to minimize these disruptions to training, but the reality is they do occur.  The most successful athletes miss the least workouts and more importantly are the most focused at the workouts they attend, but even they miss from time to time.  It’s just the way it is. 

Missing sessions happens

So the message here is don’t despair if you have to miss a session.  While I appreciate commitment and the remorse or guilt you show when you do, I want none of it.  You need to figure out how to minimize the impact of a missed session, and if you can’t figure that out alone then I’m there in the Paddle Monster forum for you, to work with you and help you find a solution.   If you do have to miss a session, you miss it.  It’s not the end of the world.   You’ll just have to try to get back into sync with the program and do your best on every single stroke you pull.  And my job as the coach is to help you with that process as well. 

I’m not going to judge anyone or think poorly of anyone if they have a commitment that is non-negotiable and causes then to miss training.  If anything I’m going to respect that person for honoring their commitment.   Nobody else in the Paddle Monster forum is going to pass judgment either.  So as long as you’re doing your best and working with me to get the most out of the training program that your life allows, you’ll be benefiting from it.  And that is all that matters.

When it comes to someone wondering whether or not he or she should join after a training block has already started, my comment would be “What are you going to do in the meantime?” 

Don’t worry about falling behind. Just start

I get that people might feel like they’re behind if they miss the first few weeks or even the first month or so of a training cycle.  But aren’t they just going to fall farther behind if they wait longer to join?  The fact of the matter is, if you’ve decided to train more seriously, follow a program and seek out coaching, the sooner you follow through on it the sooner you’ll reap the benefits. 

The way Paddle Monster is set up, nobody knows where you’re at in your training and nobody really cares.  Everyone is at his or her own level.  While it’s true that questions you ask in the forum may betray the fact that you’re new, nobody judges you on that.  In fact, what often happens is more experienced members chime in with answers to your questions that are positive and helpful.  They were new at one point as well, they understand where you’re at and are eager to help you feel at home and get up to speed.  Paddle Monster is actually a community – and that is a big part of it.

The nature of training for paddling is very different that a math or science course.  It’s not like there is endless material to learn and that you can’t do the work in second or third year if you didn’t complete your freshman year first.  The reality is the prescribed work is quite similar whether you’re experienced or not.   The work doesn’t change that much.  What does is the quality and intensity of the way you complete that work.  You learn as you go, and make little discoveries that help you do the work better.  My job as the coach is to help you recognize the moments of discovery and help you consolidate the lessons they provide. 

Even if you join in the middle of a training cycle and miss a little of the base work at the beginning, you’ll still benefit from the more intense training that follows it.  And the great thing is that we always return to base training at the end of one block and the start of another so you’ve always got a chance to start from the beginning, but further ahead than you’d be if you’d waited to join. 

We’re thrilled with the number of people who’ve chosen to join us already, and stoked to be helping them towards their paddling goals.  We know we’re not for everyone, but if you’ve thought about taking steps to get more out of your paddling experience you’ll find we’re probably right for you.  We’ll help you through that process while finding balance as you do it. 

Happy training!


If you want to join a group of inspired paddlers who are training hard, to have access to the highest level of coaching, join Paddle Monster today. Join here: #trainingworks