November was a solid month of training for me, with a couple of club races, the state champs and a week of extra intense whitewater training making it particularly valuable.
The smaller races this month have provided me with an opportunity to carry over my racing skills from the international races into the domestic season here in Australia. The smaller water at the course where the state champs were held in northern NSW meant that competitors had to test their physical limits, ensuring that a high pace was maintained throughout the race.
When I returned from Europe this year I brought a new boat back with me, called an ‘Alius’ by MS Composite. Since then I have been perfecting my ‘fit out’, that is the Kevlar seat, the footrests and bits of foam that help to make all the solid bits more comfy. I used carbon fiber and resin to stick the seat in and ground it back with an electric grinder to make it the right shape for me. Now that I have finally finished this process I am noticing some improvements in the connection between my body, the boat and the water; an important aspect of my sport.
For some reason, despite it being nearly summer, the thermometer informed me that it was 18 degrees on the way to training yesterday. This is not such a bad temperature for slalom kayaking; it’s after the recovery ice bath at the end of the session that I really wished the sun would shine! All the rain that we have been getting is usually a kayaker’s dream because it means that all the natural waterways are running at a level high enough to paddle. I like to go ‘creeking’, which involves paddling a plastic kayak down creeks that are much more dangerous than your average slalom course. Normally I would say that this provides a great opportunity to hone my reactions and my ability to understand the water, but this close to Olympic selection I’ve decided it is safer to stay at home and away from potential shoulder injuries.
We finished off the month with a ‘whitewater week’. This is an intensive block of training where we binge on white water and are provided with individual consultations in the fields of sports psychology, skill acquisition, physiology, recovery, nutrition, physiotherapy and massage. After every training session we watch video of ourselves paddling taken from the bank and discuss with our coaches where we were paddling like gold medal winners and what areas need some improvements. If we were rolling in money this is what our training would consist of every week, but normally we can’t afford so much time on the whitewater – it costs a lot to run the whitewater stadium at Penrith. Nevertheless, this block of training has set me on the right track for some positive improvements in the lead up to our national championships in January.
I’d like to leave you with a little quote from one of my favourite authors:
‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’ – Oscar Wilde
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