The Two Components of Competitive LARD Training
First, as a disclaimer of sorts, the Los Angeles Racing Dragons (affectionately known as TeamLARD) is composed of both recreational and competitive paddlers. What makes LARD unique is that every single member is valued. It doesn’t matter if all you want to do is come out get some exercise and hang out with some good people or you want to become the best paddler you can possibly be. It doesn’t matter if you qualify for our Black boat (fastest), Red boat (almost as fast), or White boat (recreational/new paddlers), to us you are LARD.
If you fashion yourself a competitive paddler or want to become one, read on.
Although I am a lawyer by trade, and a LARD coach in my spare time, I am not the brightest person in the world but I am smart enough to know that to maximize a paddler’s abilities, she or he must be both coached and trained properly. Paddlers need to be taught how to effectively move a boat AND need to be trained to maximize one’s physical gifts in race conditions (of course, talent and being physically gifted helps!).
The Technical Aspects of Paddling
As for the paddling portion, the LARD coaches have a combined 72 years experience in both dragon boat and outrigger paddling. Granted, there are several ways to move a dragon boat but we believe we have an efficient and effective way to do it. We know how to teach you how to paddle. If what I am telling you doesn’t sink in, perhaps Leon, Jason, Chuck, Otto, or Megan will be able to better explain. Sometimes, it just takes a slightly different perspective or a slightly different explanation for a paddler to have his/her “ah ha!” moment and having multiple coaches with different coaching styles increases the possibility that your “paddling light bulb” will turn on.
The Physical Aspects of Paddling
I believe we have the technical aspects of paddling under control, but none of the coaches has a proper pedigree to effectively get our paddlers at their physical peaks for our target races. That’s the reason why for the last several years, LARD has engaged the services of professionals to get our paddlers peaking physically for our target races.
Dr. Will Wu is tasked with prescribing LARD’s land training. Dr. Will has a PhD in Kinesiology and is a professor at Cal State Long Beach in the Motor Control/Learning and Biomechanics Department. He also works with USA Track and Field and is USA Weight Lifting certified. He’s also my brother. 😉
TeamLARD’s land training consists of 2 weekend workouts and 2 midweek workouts. This is in addition to our 2-3 days of on water training. In the Spring and Summer, we have one weekly group midweek workout. Last year’s locations for the midweek group workouts were in Long Beach, Cerritos, Irvine, and Pasadena (Rose Bowl). Depending on need and desire we can add group workouts throughout the Southland. Some of our workouts are remarkably challenging, while others leave many of the uninitiated thinking that they need to do more but our paddlers realize that Dr. Will’s plan does not only relate to that one workout but the next target race and the multiple energy systems a dragon boat race requires.
The essence of dragon boating is to move your boat as quickly as possible from the start line to the finish line. Our workouts are tailor made for that goal. All that matters is how fast we can make our boat go. Every single rep and every single set that Dr. Will prescribes has that goal in mind. The goal is not body building. The goal is not finishing a marathon. The goal isn’t necessarily fitness. Working out harder doesn’t necessarily matter in a race. What matters is WHAT we are doing to become better paddlers. Are you doing a routine your coach watched on Youtube or read in Men’s Health? Or worse, did she or he just make up the workout? Or are you training the way a body builder or a fat person trying to get skinny trains? You should be training in a manner that will get you to your goal. If that goal is to lose weight, train to lose weight. If you want to finish a marathon, train to finish a marathon. But if you want to train to be the best paddler you can be at your next race, train to become the best paddler you can be at your next race.
Over the years, I have been able to witness and be a part of this team’s success. It always amazes me that we are rarely the most physically opposing team in our Competitive Division Final Heats. In fact, we are usually the smallest team in stature. But in racing, all that matters is how fast we can move a boat not how much we can bench press. Our training focuses on that and only that.