January 09


With many posting their 2019 training data, I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at my data in a little more detail and then examine what you could do to have a successful 2020.

My 2019 goals were two fold. 1) Have my best Gorge Downwind Championships yet and 2) Refocus on the fall whitewater creek races in order to a) defend my Ocoee title b) have a race I could feel good about at the Russell Fork and c) consider racing in the Green Race to honor a commitment I made to a close friend who’s sadly no longer with us.

The 2019 training plan was a modified version of a plan I had used in 2018 but with added short distance intensity in the latter stages of the preparation for the July “A” race. The ramp up to the Gorge Downwind Champs went  well with three key events leading the way. The 40km Youghness Monster was the first resulting in a win and new course record. Two weeks later I participated in the Almost Heaven race in WVa. At just 20km, it unfolded as I had hoped, with another strong performance. Then just two weeks later I lined up for the 10km Paddle Bender which is always fiercely competitive and fast. Intensity was high from the gun but my preparation felt good and I was able to mix things up with the always fast Flavio Costa for most the race before be broke me just a short ways from the finish. I was really happy to have challenged Flavio for as long as I did and felt the decreasing length and increasing intensity of these three races set me up really well for the Gorge Downwind Champs.

With the physical preparation well underway, I turned my attention to fine tuning the technical skills necessary to do well at the Gorge Downwind Champs. Downwind racing requires a unique skill set that is only learned in a downwind environment. I’ve been doing my best to accumulate and acquire these skills since finding surfski, but there is no substitute for actually getting out in that environment and learning. So I did just that by heading out to Hood River weeks before the race to learn more and add to that tool chest of skills. I managed to accumulate 384km of downwind practice in the Gorge, reinforcing the skills I had, learning more from the legends around me, all while maintaining a high degree of fitness. The race itself went incredibly well and I felt I got stronger as the race progressed even with the downwind conditions growing as the race unfolded. I ended up with my best result yet and wrapped up a great summer super stoked at the outcome.


While in the Gorge I had started to get some spasms in my lower back, especially after really hard, over race pace efforts. To cut a very long story short, after returning home from the Gorge, the injury just got worse and worse and after X-rays and MRI’s we identified some issues in my L3, L4 and L4 lumbar spine, most likely as a result of a life time of paddling, but thankfully, no so acute that they could not be addressed. Structured training did not resume until the end of October, but in the interim, I tried to remain active as much as the injury and rehabilitation would allow. But the bottom-line was that the second set of goals went out the window as the focus shifted from racing to healing.



  • SET GOALS – having a reason to train and a date on the calendar to work towards is motivating. Set short term goals as breadcrumbs that point towards your big goal of the year.
  • PERIODIZE – if you are doing the same type of training in January as you are in June, you are not providing the correct stimulus to get fitter and faster. Invest in a few hours educating yourself about the bodies energy systems and how to train them for your goals. At the very least, understand that the type of workouts that you actively avoid doing, are probably the ones you should be doing.
  • KEEP SHOWING UP – one of the key components to success is consistency. Even if you just have 20 minutes, get out there and do something. Consistency is key.
  • ENJOY THE JOURNEY – find new places to paddle, different routes or new friends to train with and enjoy the places that this incredible sport can take you.
  • FLEXIBILITY – when life throws you lemons, make lemonade. Even with a great plan, life will throw curve balls at you and you will need to adapt and that’s okay.