SUP Race Training with Karen Wrenn

We caught up with professional paddler Karen Wrenn from Portland, OR the current champions of the 100-mile paddle NYC.  We wanted to learn a little about how she trains for races.  

Photo: John Wrenn

Photo: John Wrenn

How many weeks before a race do you start your training focus?

I like to go into race season with a solid mileage base.  So, when it comes to training for an upcoming race I'm not worried about the miIeage and can focus on the next race's specifics.  About four weeks leading up to a race is when I focus in on that race.  The week before the race I should be tapering, so the three weeks before that is the real hard core part of the training.  Because I already have my mileage base dialed in I can focus on race techniques like buoy turns, interval training, sprints and race starts. 

Where do you train? Who do you train with?  

I train on the Willamette River, about ten minutes from my house.  The river is pretty mellow most of the time and is great for flat water training.  I always train by myself.  I like the time to myself so I have to use my training watch as my training partner, so I can judge my speed and to push myself. 

Photo: John Wrenn

Photo: John Wrenn

Tell us about your training: daily, weekly, cardio? Food?  

I love to train, so that helps a lot in the overall training program.  I try to be on the water three to four days a week.  I'm a big runner and use running as my main cardio base and run about three to four days a week.  I work out with a trainer in a gym two days a week where we focus on circuits.  We will do something to elevate my heart rate and then add in weights and balance and a lot of body resistance work.  So, as you can see, I am usually doing some sort of daily doubles.  Then, the dreaded rest day, It's hard to take a day off, but it's so important.  Food plays a huge role in the training.  I have to make sure I am getting enough of the right protein and carbs to keep my body fueled and ready to rebuild and recover for the next days training.  Also, I am all about hydration.  I believe hydration is the key to being recovered properly. 

I do a lot of distance and ultra-distance races.  The training for my ultra-distance races, like the 100 mile paddle NYC I did last summer, is a whole 'nother animal. Just my training paddle sessions can be up to eight hours straight on the water. It's a big time commitment.  Hydration and nutrition become a key component of the training and racing.  I have to train with my nutrition and hydration to figure out  how much I need and how my body will react while I'm under that much stress.  It's been a lot of trial and error during training sessions, but a key part, so that I don't bonk, cramp or get dehydrated.

Race week I begin my tapering.  I usually do some sprintis and race starts on Monday of that week.  I will go for a run or mellow workout with my trainer on TuesdayWednesday, I will go out for a mellow distance paddle and that's it for training that week.  Thursday, is usually the traveling day to the event.  Friday, checking out the race course and getting on the water for a mellow paddle to get a feel for the water there.  I try to eat really clean race week and stay really hydrated.  The morning of the race I will generally eat oatmeal with chia seeds, bananas and honey.  About an hour before the race I will take few bites of a NOW energy bar? During the race, I always wear a CamelBak with water and electrolytes. 

Check out training tips and awesome photos of Karen Wrenn in the new issue of Boarders Magazine available now! 

Photo: John Wrenn

Photo: John Wrenn

New TSR Paddle by Sawyer Paddles

There are a couple companies out there with home made products right here in the US.  Sawyer Paddles is one of them.  American made and hand crafted canoe and oar paddles since 1967 and now a focus on paddles for the fastest growing watersport in the world.  All of the SUP paddles are designed in house and the chief designer just happens to be the owner of the company.  Zac Kauffman tells us that "most of our designs come mainly out of trial and error, but with many paddlers in the company it's quite simpler to design, build and test."

What's new for Sawyer is a focus on racing and after picking up new team rider Mo Freitas they have definitely starting to make a name for themselves in the SUP world.  There racing paddles are the best of both worlds really, a mixture of wood and carbon fiber for both power and longevity, not to mention lightness and the prestine look of wood itself. Sawyer paddles is the definition for craftsmanship in the paddle industry.    

Sawyer Paddles.jpg

The TSR is there product of choice for overall performance as well as racing featuring a carbon fiber blade with laminated Western Red Cedar and an edging similar to ABS called Dynel Toughedge.  It also features an oval carbon shaft and an ultralight wooden grip.  What is unique and different than other paddles is the angle of the blade itself.  While the industry standard seems to be around 10 degrees +/- 2, Sawyer has gone with a 7 degree flat blade design. "The seven degree bend came primarily from our canoeing background" says Zac.  "We wanted to keep the angle slight for a smooth catch and release on each paddle stroke."  

Be sure to check out Sawyer at for more info.

Mo Freitas at Typhoon Lagoon in Orlando. 

Chicken! Paddleboarding French Bulldog

Remember Chicken the paddleboarding French Bulldog from the first issue of Boarders Magazine? You can get an exclusive look at paddleboard phenomenon, and cutest dog ever, Chicken in his new calendar benefitting the French Bulldog Network.  Their mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home French Bulldogs in need from commercial breeding kennels, import brokers, public shelters, private rescue groups, owners, and Good Samaritans.  "Our organization is comprised solely of volunteers who nurture and foster these dogs, as well as provide education and training. Our goal is to place healthy and happy French Bulldogs into forever homes.

Please donate $20 for a calendar  to help Chicken and FBRN towards their goal of selling 250 calendars.... in-turn giving $2500 to the French Bulldog Rescue Network! 

 Buy the calendars here: Chicken's Calendar