Sustained paddling stroke

As a cyclist, I am accustomed to peddling constantly with very little coasting. As a somewhat new flatwater kayaker I would like to duplicate that feeling yet I feel a need to take pretty frequent breaks . My low angle paddling stroke seems good with torso rotation and no wrist discomfort. It seems like slowing down the stroke helps, but I seem to be always speeding up. Granted this is not the biggest problem, do I need to just get more paddling in? I am going for 6 mile paddles a couple times a week right now. Thanks for the help

It takes a bit to get into it. Paddling more will definitely help, developing the muscles and such. Also occupying your mind can help. I know its impossible to tell yourself to stop thinking about it, but try not to think about it. Also, try to paddle with your head up and focus on things in the distance to set short term goals. You will eventually hit a grove and find yourself paddling non stop for miles.

If it makes you feel better, I paddle a lot and have started cycling a little. I can’t pedal continuously for very long at all. It feels weird.

Ryan L.

Try something different …
High angle europaddle: Get a shorter paddle with a wider blade, preferably light and well made.

Try high angle paddling. There are very proficient low angle paddlers but my experience doing it seemed like it wasted energy. You may feel like you have to go after it harder with a high angle stroke but it seems to be more efficient in transferring power.

Try a greenland paddle. Completely different feel. Almost seems effortless with a nice fast boat.

Paddles make a huge difference
Paddle weight makes a huge difference over distance, you are swinging the weight of a paddle thousands of times in a mile. Paddle cadence can also be effected by blade size and stroke duration.

The analogy has been made that different paddles can be used like bicycle gears, lighter weight and smaller blade for a higher cadence count.

If I am going out for a workout I like to paddle down stream as a warm up, then return up stream as current corrections keep me paddling. It also teaches me different strokes and breaks up any monotony.

2nd the GP
Using a Greenland paddle just naturally sets a sustainable pace for me - a comfortable cruising speed that doesn’t fatigue. I find the relatively narrow blade of the GP ‘catches’ really smoothly, and the buoyancy of the wood seems to make the stroke’s exit easier. It’s not hard to overpower the blade, and this sort of acts as a governor to keep stroke effort low.

For me, it’s important to remember to push with the upper hand, which uses the big muscles in the shoulders and torso rather than much smaller biceps and forearms. Once I get that working, the GP makes cruising along almost effortless in any sort of reasonable conditions.

I second all of this advice, it exactly characterizes my experience with the GP.

just a matter of getting in shape
Like running or whatever, it’s just a matter of getting in better shape. The difference between a weak paddler and strong paddler is not the paddle type - no magic paddle out there to make you a stronger paddler. Like every other physical sport, you iron out technique, and it simply takes work. Barring some special physical condition, you can paddle non-stop just like you bike.

Smaller blades for me, as well as
lighter paddles.

The most commonly used paddles are too big bladed for me.

Same for AP
Aleut paddle is very similar in this regard. Made for high cadence, low angle, long distance endurance paddling. Low impact on the body too.

Be Patient
You’ll eventually be able to paddle without frequent breaks like you do bicycling. Your body is learning a new movement and needs time to adjust. Kick it up to 3 days a week to help speed up the process.

Right away, I caught that you use a low

– Last Updated: Mar-25-13 7:11 AM EST –

"angle stroke".
Try a higher angle.
You also might want to think about getting a wing paddle.
Another thing you might want to do is some interval training.
It doesn't come over night. Just keep working at it.

Jack L

Just starting?
From your profile - your paddling experience is quite limited.

I would recommend a forward stroke clinic before you start investing in different paddles, unless it is a GP - there always is use for some wood around the house.

There is a small chance that your forward stroke is flawless, but that is really difficult to judge without having seen it.

Perhaps you could look for local kayaking symposia? - good place to meet other folks interested in kayaking and brush up on your skills.

Good thoughts
Thanks so much for all the ideas and suggestions, very helpful, will go to work on them.

Cheers, Saxon

Different paddling gears…

– Last Updated: Mar-25-13 9:40 AM EST –

Just as bikes have different gearing so do kayaks,
via paddle shaft lengths, weights, blade sizes.

Cyclists can use too high a gear grinding their joints
and causing themselves pain in a similar manner to
paddlers using too large a blade face putting lots
of stress on their upper body.

Spinning can be done with a paddle as well, so perhaps
having a "spare" paddle on deck might help
to change the cadence a bit during an outing.
Start with a heavier paddle and as you fatigue
then switch to the lighter paddle.

A musician drummer buddy of mine will switch
to shorter sticks towards the end of a long gig
to shave a few grams off the repetitive motion.

3 Stroke
I have a friend who has a kayak tour company and he taught me a stroke he uses. You take 3 strokes on your paddle, then rest for one stroke, then 3 more, rest one, etc. It doesn’t seem like much but over the course of the day it does seem to make a difference.


GPS & pace yourself

– Last Updated: Mar-25-13 9:35 PM EST –

Doing that helped my consistency. When paddling alone, I tend to sprint, rest, repeat. The GPS pacing helped me stay on task when training for a race.

My suggestion
Combine time on the water with stroke instruction and then practice proper technique.

Most of us who are just learning to paddle need to learn and practice torso rotation in our forward stroke technique. When you start perfecting maneuvering strokes and your roll you’ll learn that it’s ALL about torso-rotation.

My two cents.

Good luck.

paddling vs. cycling
Boats never coast. You are always breaking water. It’s like cycling uphill all the time. So you have to pace yourself. Pace doesn’t mean slow, it just means that until you develop the stamina, you learn what your body can do for extended periods. In the spring, I have to really pace myself from overheating in a drysuit and from not paddling all winter.

By Fall we are like animals on the water with highly enhanced conditioning and never really tire out.

I go through the same thing on my bike.

Sprints really help
For me, sprints are the fastest way to improve form and endurance. What I try to do is five sprints of one minute each at a fast pace (where I cannot talk) with five rests between and a fast cruising pace (Just able to hold a conversation) and repeat for more times.

Doing this every other day really helps me. It is amazing who much smoother my stroke is the next day. I also think I get back up to summer endurance levels quicker.

I’ll be working on it this spring and let you know how it goes.

Another thing that sometimes helps is some really really long paddles. Go as far as you can in 8 or 10 hours. Stop as little as possible and do not have any rest stops be longer than 15 minutes. I think after you can paddle three hours regularly it is possible to do a long paddle once or twice a month until they become the regular Satuday paddle.