Five Quick Training Tips For All Levels of Stand Up Paddlers
by Suzie Cooney

author of the newly released book:

SUP Bible How to Increase Your Stand Up Paddling Performance, Beginner to Elite

How To Increase Your Stand Up Paddling Performance,
Beginner to Elite 

What I’ve learned over the years of training myself and training all levels of paddlers for SUP performance, is that all of us can still learn more. From waves to flat water to downwind action, we can always improve our strength, incorporate better nutrition,  learn how to rest more, and we should examine often our training routines, and also how to manage our mind set.

I routinely come across many SUP athletes, even the pros; who over complicate their training and in the end their results are less than stellar. Usually it’s because they over analyzed everything leading to paddle paralysis, drank too many weird concoctions and heaved their guts out at turn one, or most commonly over trained and/or got hurt or sick before their event and the list goes on.

In this article I want to briefly talk on point out about few things you may already know or not, so it’s good to revisit or maybe learn or think about something new.

  1. How to Measure Your Perceived Level of Paddling Effort: Really?

Measuring your own paddling effort can be tricky. If I were next to you, I bet your 5 (out of 10) would be my 3. not to say you’re not working but we tend to express on the side of a lower sense of effort, versus reality. So the next time you’re training, take a mental snap shot of my graph that I developed to get a real sense of your cardio or training effort.

SUP Cardio training with Suzie Cooney

Now that you have a visual play around with the different numbers and rate yourself and pretend I am next to you. What would I say to your 5?

  1. Keep Nutrition Simple:

Yes, it really is that simple. First hydration. Basically the rule of thumb in training or competition, or if you are exploring some amazing river way for over an hour; consider adding a simple electrolyte to your water. In a pinch sea salt literally works. I am a fan of Hammer HEED. Always carry water because you just never know. Drink every 15-20 minutes even if you are not thirsty. Your cells cant talk so just assume.

When it comes to food, fill your tank a little before, maybe during and definitely after for fastest recovery. Select high a quality complex carb with protein about an hour before you head out that you know you can easily digest and that overs sustained energy. My first choice is oatmeal and a banana. During an event or long distance, pack something like fig bars to munch on. After heavy competition or training your window is 30 minutes to replenish. Your body needs protein and carbs to reestablish itself to a more normal homeostatic state. Believe it or not good old fashion chocolate milk is amazing. I prefer a ready-made small protein shake and keep on ice in my truck.

  1. Have A Plan
SUP training photo owned by Suzie Trains Maui

Alysha Sparkmann on Maliko downwind training run

Smart wins, if that is your goal. Have a plan way in advance that allows you to chart your progress towards that goal. Make sure your training program is achievable, realistic and allows for ups and downs. When you get to the waters edge, know if you are going left, right or straight, hard, easy or both. Having a training plan or session strategy each time you hit the water allows you think about what you can do better with each stroke. So then, you need to record your work. Refer to my book How to Increase Your Stand Up Paddling Performance for more on how to write your own program. I also offer a free downloaded SUP Training tracking sheet. Just have something to refer back to and use to look ahead.

  1. Turn off the Chatter

Clear your mind of external and internal distractions. Make your paddling sessions your time and try and block thoughts or your to do lists that may consume you. Shake hands with yourself to eliminate the stresses of work and life. Prepare the night or day before so you can make your time extra valuable and enjoyable. If you’re running around looking for your water pack or leash or sunscreen, that’s time wasted. DO NOT make calls while you are paddling. Nothing annoys me more when I see this. It’s rare but technology is a curse. Replace the chatter with some motivating or soothing tunes or just listen to nature.

  1. Even the Best Rest

I know this is easier said than done, but if you’re like me I have a thousand and one things I want to do every hour of everyday besides paddle. It’s very hard for me to downshift to second gear after revving hard all day in 5th. I have a routine now that forces me to shut down everything so that I’m in bed by a certain time, otherwise I’d just keep going.

Tell your mind it’s time to rest and don’t feel guilty for taking a day off from paddling or training. It’s amazing how something so simple is still the hardest thing for many. Think of your cells, your muscles, your bones and joints that need a break so they can also regroup, recharge and deliver for you the next day. Nothing is worse than heading out into the surf or even pleasure paddling feeling like a tired, worn out flip flop.

Most of all make your training fun, find a training buddy and don’t take it all so seriously. The best of all is that you’re on the water enjoying that glide and the feeling of freedom.

Aloha and see you on the water!

Suzie Cooney

To go more in depth on all of these topics and more, check out my new,  top-selling book,  just released called How to Increase Your Stand Up Paddling Performance, Beginner to Elite.

Here’s a sample of what people are saying:

on September 18, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I have been paddling for over 7 years and have found “How to Increase Your Stand Up Paddling Performance” a great resource for SUP training and technique. Suzie is able to provide great suggestions that work for the beginner to the expert. Using core strength is a key to being able to paddle longer distances without tiring out. She explains it perfectly so most anyone can pick it up. Living in Seattle can be tough getting out on the water in the winter time but this book provides great suggestions for developing your own SUP exercise program to stay fit when it is too dark to paddle. I think it is a great book for any level of paddler and I will be using it as a guide for a long time.
on October 7, 2015  
Format: Paperback1 of 1 people found this review helpful

I just got a copy of Suzie Cooney’s new book, “How to Increase Your Standup Paddling Performance, Beginner to Elite”. Suzie is the real deal, she runs a personal training business on Maui and trains all kinds of people, from those that are just trying to get more fit to hard core, elite paddle athletes. In her spare time, you’ll probably find her paddling Maliko, surfing and doing the occasional little paddle, like crossing the Pailolo Channel over to Molokai or paddling Molokai to Oahu. When she’s not doing those kinds of adventures, she’s giving back in a wide variety of ways. Her beginner fun paddle and casual ‘race’ during the Olukai weekend are just a couple of examples. Anyway, if you are interested in fitness and, specifically, how to up your game on the standup board, you couldn’t ask for a better authority than Suzie to write a book like this.

This is the kind of book you want to keep around for a reference. I would call it a SUP foundation-training bible. So much is covered in this book, it is extremely comprehensive while staying truly substantive. If you are into Standup and want to learn more or you are a seasoned competitor, this is one of those must-have books you’ll want in your library. Anyone that wants a total training reference for the sport of stand up paddling should check it out.

on September 14, 2015
What an amazing book! Suzie has packed this book full of helpful information about all of the important elements of standup paddling: training, gear, recovery, nutrition, and more. All of the information is presented in a thoughtful, helpful way. The book is also full of excellent photos. This book is a tremendous value for anyone who is interested in SUP. As someone else noted, this book is destined to be the SUP training bible.
on September 7, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book is blowing me away. Even though I always read ebooks, I was torn between buying the printed or ebook version because I was worried that the ebook wouldn’t measure up. Because I didn’t want to wait for the mail, I went with the electronic version and frankly, it’s the best one I’ve ever had. I can’t believe the quality of the pictures — even when I zoom, it’s pixel perfect (I was showing everybody). I’m only a few chapters in and learning a lot. Suzie doesn’t assume the reader knows the basics and actually breaks fundamental concepts down in a way I’ve never seen. Totally stoked! It’s going to be struggle not to move to Maui 🙂

New Book by Suzie CooneyTo get your copy click here:



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Aloha & Welcome to our Suzie Trains Maui & The Mind Wins First Ohana! Mahalo for signing up for our private and secure email list. In strength, Suzie Cooney, CPT, CNTC

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