Riding Bumps Long Distance Flatwater Paddleboard Training

The training is under way for the Cape Cod Bay Challenge.  We have downloaded the Riding Bumps flatwater program and we are off and running…well ok, there’s no running for me, but walking, paddling and weight training are happening.

long distance flatwater paddleboard training

Riding Bumps is the only long distance, standup paddleboard specific training program out there (at least that we know of).  I am not an endurance athlete, and have never aspired to be one, so I have no idea where to start to get ready for this event.  Riding Bumps feels like a good place.

They offer several different programs geared toward different types of races.  The program that we are following is for long distance flatwater paddling.  We won’t exactly be on flatwater and it’s not a race, but this is the closest program to what we are doing.  It is a 16-week program divided into phases starting with base 2 and pre-competitive, pre-competitive and competitive, and competition and race phases.

A recurring theme throughout the program is “train slow to go fast” and there are three basic elements of the training

  1. Training for specific amounts of time in specific heart rate ranges
  2. Interval training
  3. Well-rounded training including weights, cross-training, paddling, flexibility (though flexibility isn’t scheduled into the program) and nutrition.

These guys have a background in endurance sports training and have adapted what they know to the world of paddleboarding, both standup and prone.  So there is a lot of science behind it and while I don’t understand all of it, the basic ideas make sense.  We started the program a little bit behind.  Starting 16-week program only 14 ½ weeks before the event is not the best scenario, but at least we’re getting on track now.

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Once you have conducted a test to determine your Anaerobic Threshold you are ready to start.  You can calculate the heart rate range that you need to be in for the given workouts.  The paddle workouts are either for a specific amount of time in a specified heart rate range for the entire paddle, or a prescribed interval workout for a specified time.  The cross-training workouts are also either specifically time and heart rate range or interval.  And the weight training starts off slow and light, and like the rest of the program, increases in intensity and duration throughout the 16 weeks.  Everything starts off slowly for you to build a base so you can go fast later.  And each week of workouts is broken down very nicely in the program.


Not sure what I was expecting in getting ready for this event, but it wasn’t quite this.  I can’t stress enough that I am not an endurance athlete.  I don’t enjoy “training” for things.  I love to paddleboard, snowboard, hike, etc.  but don’t like “training” a whole lot to get ready to do any of these activities….I just like to do them.   It seems like you just get better at them by doing more of them.  It hasn’t taken long to realize just how far there is to go to be ready for the CCBC.  The comprehensive nature of this plan from paddling to nutrition and everything else necessary along the way is very helpful for me.  Left to my own devices I would have been pushing myself paddling more and more and would find myself burned out and having trouble recovering from too many too intense workouts too early on.

We have done a 12 hour hike in the White Mountains, and I nearly lost my mind.  Around the time it got dark…a little breakdown over crossing a stream (for the FOURTH time) and I was pretty sure we were never going to get out of there.  With an event like this, it’s no secret that it’s at least as much mental as it is physical.  And there’s not much talk about how you keep from going crazy when you are on the water for that long.

long distance flatwater paddleboard training

Hopefully some chatty people will hold up the back of the pack and not mind listening to me drone on.  Talking helps me forget about the time, but more often than not, I’m paddling, hiking, snowboarding, etc mostly alone.  Mark moves at a different pace (i.e. he’s not slow) and even if I could keep up, he’s not a big talker, especially when we’re out in nature and he’s just taking everything in and being happy to be alive.  So I talk to myself, a lot, listen to my ipod and do whatever else I can think of to take my mind off of the time.  It’s not at all that I don’t appreciate the beauty of where we are, or the effort that it takes to get where we are going.  It’s just the feeling of the land being SOOO far away and it doesn’t seem like we are getting any closer that gets in my head.

The CCBC undertaking is very exciting!  It is taking us to new places on many levels, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to do it and to take you along for the ride!



Tags: standup paddleboard specific training, distance paddling on a standup paddleboard,endurance paddling, paddle marathon, cape cod bay challenge, long distance paddles, long distance flatwater paddleboarding, riding bumps training program

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