Tips and How To's

Top 10 Tips to Winning Your First SUP Race

The first SUP race I did, I came in second….to last

That’s due to the fact that I don’t have a competitive bone in my body, and I would stop and let people pass me on the buoy turns so they wouldn’t fall over. As the saying goes,“If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter.” Hence, as a Certified Personal trainer, Certified PaddleFit Coach, and Certified Nutrition Coach, and over the years as an SUP ambassador for BiC SUP, I’ve developed a thing or two about training successfully.

So if your unlike me, and you DO have that healthy love for a little competitive racing, then I’ve compiled my quick and easy, top 10 training tips to get you running strong in that beach start to the finish.

Tip #1 Be In it to Win it

If you are going to win, you are going to have to paddle in “the drink”, everyday, or at least more days than not. There are seven days in a week, so choose to paddle 4 of those days at least.

Tip #2 – Choose Wisely

SUP races entail anything from 1 mile buoy recreational races to 100 milers like the one from LA to San Diego. Choose wisely the race that fits your likes and activity level. Not a sprinter? Probably don’t want to choose a short course. Hate going the distance? Better not sign up for Cape Code 32 mile challenge.

Tip #3 – Know Your Paddle and How To Use It

Making sure your hand placement is correct, your blade size is good for your strength level, and your paddle is long (or short) enough is crucial to staying strong during a race and avoiding injury. In PaddleFit we recommend the 90/90 drill: hold your paddle just like you would when paddling and place up on top of your melon. Make sure both elbows are at 90 degrees and that’s how wide apart you want your hands. Mark where your middle finger on your hand sits on the paddle with a bright piece of tape or a sticker. It’s a nice reference point to make sure you are stroking the best you can out there.

Tip #4 – Equipment Essentials

Know the conditions of the course, and what is necessary for it. Obviously you want the right board and paddle, but here are some essentials that are “a must”: •PFD

  • Leash
  • Sun Protection
  • Hydration/snacks for longer courses

Tip #5 – Food is Medicine…and power

If you want to win then start immediately crowding out the junkie, processed, fast food with whole foods: meats or plant-based protein, good fats like avocado and butter, loads of fresh veggies, and constructive carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, and bananas.

With nutrition power, you will lessen any inflammation that’s holding you back, and bring your body into 100% both for training and for winning!

Tip #6 – Practice Safe Sips

when training, use your hydration pack and train to keep yourself hydrated. One of the main reasons people bonk out of any race is due to improper hydration. Plan to drink a couple ounces every 15 minutes or so. This is get you in the habit of it during race day.

Tip #7 – Sleep Now or Forever Hold your Peace

Get into the habit of sleeping at least 8 hours. Training is hard on the body, but what’s even harder is training when your body lacks the adequate rest it so desperately needs. Start going to bed at least 30 minutes earlier for starters. Lack of sleep creates a stressed state in the body which can also lead to fatigue and lowered immune function….two things you really don’t want before a race.

Tip #8 – Tackle Technique

Every aspect of your stroke has to be tackled, from your reach to your recovery. This is the foundation of a solid stroking paddler. For tips on where to begin with your stroke, I recommend this most excellent blog by Dave Kalama: http://www.davidkalama.com/category/technique/

Tip #9 – D-day. “D”day you win, that is

On the day of your race, a great pre-race warm up is to take some time and hit the water with only 50% effort, while really honing on your technique.

This is a SUPer strong way to warm up and remind your mind of your technique so that as that adrenal hits you at the starting gate, you can slam out some power along with that fresh technique.

Tip #10 – Locals Only

If the race course is an area you aren’t familiar with, then get familiar with the locals and ask them about the water, wind, chop, currents, swells, etc. Just make sure if they are racing too, that you let them draft since with all these tips you are sure to be in the lead!

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