2019 Sup Racing Fitness Program

 In Academy
Photo: Heather Jackson

– Written By: Natali Zollinger
River Race Season is approaching fast, and we want to make sure you are setting yourself up to have a fun and successful season. Below is a basic outline of the 4 different style training blocks and a sample overview of how to incorporate them into your training schedule. If you are looking to start a program specific to your sport or race season, contact
Natali Zollinger and she can help you build one.

  1. Rest/Recovery Block (1-2 months)

You should start any intense training program with a healthy and recovered body. You need to be 100% confident with being fully rested from the previous years activities before going into another season. You should take 1-2 months to enjoy life, minimize stress load, visit family, try new activities, cross train or take a vacation. You should also be focusing on, or start a consistent bodywork schedule. Whether it be yoga, pilates, sports massage, foam rolling, structural integration, reiki, reflexology, tai chi, or chiropractic work, you should pick ones that you connect with and stick to them throughout the year. My favorite recovery method after every race season is a 10 session Rolf Series that focuses on re-aligning your fascial tissue to improve movement and optimum human function. I love it and would recommend anyone to try it out!

This is also a good time to add in low levels of cross training. Changing up your workouts by adding new movements will help you be an all around better paddler and athlete. This is where I like to hang out with my friends/family to go mountain biking, road biking, rock climbing, swimming, trail running, or hiking. No need to go hard, this is your time to have fun and try something new.

  1. Base Level of Fitness Block (2-4 months)

Only when you feel fully rested and recovered is when you can start developing a base level of fitness. Establish this first before adding on the heavy stress loads of training to your body. Take the next 2-4 months to introduce low to high intensity mixed with short/long durations of exercises that focus on breath, form, technique, and balanced movements. This is a great time to get a membership at a gym to maintain a weekly workout schedule that should include:

  • 2-3 days of cardio endurance (running, swimming, and biking)
  • 2-3 days of specific paddle training (power, form, technique)
  • 2-3 days of strength training (weights or crossfit)
  • 6-7 days of mobility work (yoga, foam rolling, pilates)
  • 1-2 days of higher intensity cross training (hiking, mountain biking, climbing, trail running)
  • 2-3 days of body weight training (squats, lunges, pushups, pullups, planks)

You can do 2 a days (2 different exercises in the same day), but be smart and don’t overdo it! Rest and Recovery is a huge portion of training throughout the year. Listen to your body and take several breaks throughout this time frame.

  1. Pre Season Block  (3-4 months)

As an athlete the next 3-4 months leading up to your race season should be your hardest training block yet. During this phase of training, paddle intensity and workouts should be increased. Time to focus on the other parts of racing too: race starts, buoy turns, passing paddlers on the river, drafting, and race finishes should be practiced in all conditions (good and bad). It’s good to train in the uncomfortable and the unfamiliar so your body never gets “USED” to just one style or condition of training.

You should also be practicing: paddling through rapids, navigating the current, eddy (buoy) turns, peel outs, or paddling through gates all while varying your intensity and speeds throughout the workout. In this block, getting a HR watch (I recommend the fenix 5 from Garmin) will help you understand what heart rate zones you should be in and when to challenge these while increasing your work load and Vo2max. Make sure to maintain good form and technique as you continue to add physical stress to your body.

If you are in the same city/area for this block, consider joining a gym or a crossfit box to maintain strength and work load. But don’t forget to balance out these higher cycles of stress with cycles of rest, repair, and recovery.

  1. Race Season (2-3 months)

This is the block where all your hard work finally pays off! You should continue training, but varying your load from week to week. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a great phase to be in during your competition block, by increasing your intensity, but shortening your workout times. Think Short, Hard and To the point, but don’t forget to allow for rest and recovery days as needed. As you get closer to your final events, decrease your training and rely solely on all that hard work you’ve done to carry you through the rest of the season. Remember, less is more, listen to your body and don’t overtrain!


I hope this helps and gives you a better understanding of how to train throughout the year. If you’re interested in starting your own specific program, contact me (Natali), I’d love to help set you up for success!

To Health, Highwater, and the Pursuit of Happiness
-Natali Zollinger
Badfish Team Rider, RVR2RVR, Fitness Trainer


If you’d like a little more guidance you can also purchase my Pretreat workout videos. These were created to help my clients get ready for my retreats.

$20 for a 6 Video Bundle

These are yours to have for as long as you’d like! Download them to any device so you can workout ANYTIME or ANYWHERE in the comforts of your own home, while on the road, or on vacation! Each video pairs up with each day of the week. The goal is to repeat them every week for as long as you want, wherever you want. NO need for a gym, all you need is a mat, the videos and a place to sweat.

  1. Mondays in Motion (Cardio Based Video)
  2. Tone it up Tuesday (Lengthen + Tone Video)
  3. Wednesdays WOD (Bodyweight Strength Video)
  4. Tabata Thursday (HIIT Video)
  5. Freestyle Friday (Tips on how to use nature as our gym)
  6. Stretch it Out Saturday (Yoga and Recovery Video)
  7. OFF DAY

Reach out to me at natalizollinger@gmail.com if you’re interested or have any questions.

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