Riding Bumps…paddleboard training to go the distance

We are nearing the end of our training for the Cape Cod Bay Challenge (CCBC), a 34 mile paddle marathon across Cape Cod Bay to benefit Christopher’s Haven.  For 14 weeks we have been following the Riding Bumps paddleboard training program.  The particular program that we chose is designed for flatwater races over 15 miles long.  It is the only paddle-specific program that we know of, and not being endurance athletes, Riding Bumps seemed like a fantastic place to start our training.

paddleboard training

It is a 16-week program.  We joined about 1.5 weeks late, but have been pretty darn good about following it since then.  It has been quite the journey.  We have learned

so very much in these 14 weeks!   Now that we are less than one week away from the paddle it seems like a good time to reflect on what we have done and what is left

paddleboard training

The program has taught us

  • More is not always better.  There is a tendency to believe that if a 2 hour paddle is good for you, then a 3 hour paddle must be better.  Not always the case.  The program paces you so that you do not overtrain and so that you train in the proper heart rate zones for maximum progress
  • Nutrition and hydration are of the utmost importance.  It seems obvious.  And everyone knows they have to drink when they exercise, but they have shown us how important it is to be prepared and consistent and not to be trying things for the first time on paddle day.
  • It is important to mix things up.  The Riding Bumps program encompasses cross training and strength training in addition to many hours on the water.  It shows you the importance of having a well-rounded and multifaceted training schedule so that you are getting stronger and working different muscles.  Overuse injuries are a real possibility if you don’t mix things up.
  • Technique is key.  It is not an instructional book about technique, but many of the paddle workouts focus specifically on technique.  You will need efficient technique to make it this distance.  Ten to twelve hours is too much for most people to just muscle through compensating for bad technique.
  • It has also been an exercise in discipline.  It has been challenging to fit in all of the workouts, and admittedly we didn’t make them all, but we did get most of them in.  And throughout the program they remind you to listen to your body and there are optional workouts in there that you can do if you are up to it, and you can skip if you need a little extra rest.  And they prompt you with which workouts are the most important to fit in (intervals!)


Throughout the process I ran into most of the things that they warn you about.  About ½ way through, I was overtrained and couldn’t get my heart rate up without having to work really hard.   Oh, that’s why I felt so junky and just wanted to sleep? Ok, take an extra day off.

Around week 11 they warn that many people get sick.  True to form, I got a sinus infection and was in lots of pain and unable to breathe for the better part of two weeks.  I took an extra day off that week too and muscled through the rest.  Other than that, the training was pretty smooth.

Because of our schedules, we had to rearrange the training each week.  That was doable, but it would have been a lot easier if we could have just followed it like it was written.  Trying to juggle long paddle days and not end up with intervals the day after a long paddle was a bit tricky, but we figured it out.

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Riding Bumps got us out paddling in weather that we would never have gone out in before.  Small craft advisories didn’t necessarily apply to us if it was our long paddle day.  Then when we got out in the bay and were paddling hard and going nowhere we realized that they really do apply to us and we better find another way.   We always did.  Many a tucked away cove and river were discovered during this process.

paddleboard training

Around week 13 the self-doubt started creeping in pretty bad.  I was pretty sure that even after all of the training and fundraising, I wasn’t going to do the paddle.  I would be a cheerleader and chauffeur for Mark, but would be waiting at the finish line for him rather than paddling in or riding the boat in.  Matt and Roche at Riding Bumps were fantastic about answering my questions the whole way through and when I expressed my concerns to them, they basically told me the same thing that a friend had told me “trust the training”.  The program is based on training tons of endurance athletes, triathletes in particular.  So they have studied the point of diminishing return in training and have done well to devise a program that pushes you, but not too far.

It wasn’t the training I didn’t trust, it was me.  I am slow.  I get things done.  I am tough.  I am stubborn.  But I am slow.  And for this paddle we need to keep up a 3.5 mph pace.  I’m not even close.  I’m more like 3.2 on a really good day.  After contacting the powers that be at CCBC it looks like I’m in for paddle day.  They encouraged me to give it a shot and if I end up riding the boat, so be it.

It has been an amazing 14 weeks, training for this incredible event.  There are many elements of the training that we enjoyed and will incorporate into our sup training in the future, but it has taken so much time away from the shop.  We just ran out of time to do a lot of the programs and events we wanted to do.  Hopefully we can get some of them done before the season ends and what we can’t, will get “bumped” to the top of the list for next season.



Tags: paddleboard training, paddle board training, long distance flatwater paddleboarding, riding bumps training program, sup training, training for sup, training for paddle boarding, training for paddleboarding, riding bumps standup paddleboard training program

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