Florida Training Camp Geekery

Let’s face it … 2020 sucked on so many levels. As a result, I was determined to leap into the new year like it’s going to be the best year ever, and that meant a solid training block over the winter. So a warm weather training camp in glorious Florida came together as my spring board into what I hoped will be a great year of racing.

The Rainbow River in Dunnellon, Florida is one of my favorite places to train. I first found this place years ago while still serious about wildwater racing and have returned on and off since. Warm crystal clear water with a light current to keep things interesting, teaming with wildlife and without the hoards of tourists other parts of the state suffer thru. It’s a pretty awesome place to train for a while. Over the winter, it’s also fairly easy to find rental locations or a spot in one of the abundant camp grounds, ensuring we could stay in our COVID bubbles when not on the water. A few friends asked to participate and the winter training camp was born.


The training plan was a continuation of the work I’ve been doing with Maks Franceskin at MaksFit, with about 80% of the work in zone 1 and 2 (aerobic) heart rate. The training plans primary metric is stroke rate, so for reference …

  • A0: Less than 56 stroke per minute (SPM) & low heart rate. Can be used as active rest, warmup or cool down.
  • A1: SPM between 58 – 72. Huge range. A1 varies from easy {~60} to calm {~65} to strong {~70}. Sub threshold work and about 80% of the training volume. A good zone for technical improvements and build aerobic base / endurance.
  • A2: SPM between 74 – 88. At and above the anaerobic threshold. This is about where I would race a surfski race or a wildwater classic
  • A3: SPM between 90-110. Anaerobic effort. Sprint training. Can only be maintained for a very short period
  • RP: All out. No cap on SPM, heart rate or effort.


14h 56m (13h paddling + 1h 56m biking)
158km (118km paddling + 40km biking)
6h 7m in zone 1 heart rate
5h 27m zone 2
2h 20m zone 3
0h 35m zone 4
0h zone 5

That’s 77.5% of our training in our aerobic base building zone 1 and 2 heart rate, which is almost perfect. Personally, my body responded well to a challenging but not impossible week 1, with my resting heart rate (RHR) climbing slightly early in the week as it worked harder over night to adapt to the training stress, while then settling down in the second half of the week. Meanwhile, my heart rate variability (HRV), an indicator of how primed my body is to adapt to the training stress, showed a quick decline early in the first week and then continued to rebound to normal levels as the training adaptation took place. Bottom-line, a solid week.


15h 38m (14h 10m paddling + 1h 28m biking)
154km (123km paddling + 31km biking)
6h 46m in zone 1 heart rate
5h 57m zone 2
2h 35m zone 3
0h 44m zone 4
0h zone 5

This corresponds to 81% of our training volume in our zone 1 and 2 aerobic development heart rate. Once again, spot on. Interestingly, my body started to show signs of the cumulative stress of the training volume in the second half of the second week. Despite starting to feel quite fatigued, my HRV spiked on January 7th and remained elevated for three days along with a stable RHR, suggesting my body was primed for more load, which was counter to what my body was telling me. Then on the Jan 10th, the last day of the two week training camp, the wheels came off the bus when my HRV plummeted and my RHR spiked, clear indicators it was struggling to adapt to additional training stress and really needed some solid time off. Perfect timing, right at the end of the training block.

Over all, the Florida training camp was a great success, providing a great launching off point for the year ahead. The metrics collected at the camp show a significant training affect that I am still adapting too in my easy week back home in the mountains. Everyone that participated agreed that the Rainbow River is a wonderful venue with simple logistics for a training block like this. We’ll be back.