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Jul 13, 2016

Personal Goals for Growth

First off, great job on time trials everyone! It was a great turnout with so many newbies coming out and giving it a shot! (15+ I think). I'm really proud of all the effort that everyone has put in and how you decided to take the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and take a shot at the time trials.

As always, time trials are a great way to put yourself to the test and give yourself a personal benchmark to see where you stand as a paddler. However, on that note, I'd like to also give a little reminder (to our vets as well as our newer paddlers), that time trial results should be taken with a grain of salt. While we do use the results as a metric for seating boats for races, it's not the only thing taken into account. And for those of you that are new, or just need another reminder, you can find those various metrics here!

Another reminder is that times are not the only way to improve in time trials. Sometimes, as Devant and I are taking you down to the start line, we might ask what your goals are. Answers vary, but in general they end up being "be faster" or "be better". There's nothing wrong with these goals, but it's important to focus on the different parts of "be faster" or "be better" that will help you achieve them. Everyone will end up having different goals since each paddler is different, so take the opportunity to focus on individual improvement, whether the goal is to have a smoother run, maintaining your technique, having more control over your body, or even just getting the catch for more of your strokes. Having a more specific goal will help give a better guideline to personal improvement rather than the vague "get faster" goal. Even though they're individual goals, each step closer contributes to the team effort.

With one more time trial left in the year, there's still one more chance to test yourself, so get out there and work towards those goals!

You can find your pre-Big LB times here!

Jun 7, 2016

Paddling as a Way of Life

Two months have passed since our Adelaide adventure, where we competed in the 10th Club Crew World Championships.  So what's been happening since, and what happens next??

First, it's important to CELEBRATE.  Competing in Club Crew Worlds was a huge effort.  The training, logistics and support from so many people is what made it a success, and it's an accomplishment to be proud of.  We faced so many challenges in our journey.  Each time we pulled through, growing stronger and stronger as a club.  During and in the weeks after Adelaide, we shared stories, laughed at the wacky videos and cherished the memories of the "good ol' days."  (But it doesn't have to stop there!  Today is the good ol' days, and we should continue to celebrate it!)


Second, it's important to BREATHE.  An endeavor such as a world championship takes a lot of both physical and mental energy to prepare for.  It's important to recognize the sacrifices you've made and address all the little things (errands, brunch dates with family and friends, basketball games) that you've told yourself you'll take care of "after Adelaide" (for me, that was finding an apartment!).  Hopefully everyone's had a chance these last two months to unwind and take care of all those things we had been putting off.


Third, it's important to GIVE BACK and GROW.  After all the blood, sweat and tears (from both paddlers and supporters alike), we don't want to just take the experience and run for the hills.  It's time to give back and grow as a team and as individuals.  This can manifest itself in many ways, from sharing experiences to simply setting an example by being a "model Space Dragon."  We all experienced this adventure in different ways - as a competitor, as a supporter, as the at-home-cheering-section.  All are valuable experiences that enrich this team and add to the copper pot.  Becoming a better team doesn't always have to involve extreme personal sacrifices to hit your next PR.  It also means developing our bench and learning from past experience, so when it comes time to press hard for the next competitive goal, we are ready.


What I've just described is Paddling as a Way of Life.  It's maintaining our fitness and athleticism while still having balance.  It's working hard to reach a goal, then teaching the new blood how it's done.  It's recognizing the importance of the connections and the people in our lives, remembering why we love this sport and love this team.  And when the time is right, we will again put the pedal to the metal and see what we can accomplish together.


We have two more opportunities to race in the 2016 season - Big Long Beach and Portland.  Portland is uncharted territory for Space Dragons, where we will have the opportunity to face teams we've never raced before.  Big Long Beach is expecting some fresh competition from the East Coast, bringing USA National Team paddlers right into our backyard.  We all know that greatness doesn't happen overnight - it takes several months of training and consistency.  What do you want to do with the rest of the season?  Master the technique?  Build up cardio and conditioning?  Strength train?  Mentor the next group of up and coming paddlers? (but remember to leave the coaching to the coaches!)  Only 3.5 months left to make a difference!

Aug 9, 2015

Advice on being a media guy for a dragon boat team

That's me on the right, in my usual habitat--with a camera at the ready.

Intro

Hey all-- I'm James Nguyen, and I've been more or less the unofficial media guy for the Space Dragons for the better part of the last 5 years.  Over that time, I've had a good number of questions that I get asked frequently about equipment, covering tournaments (especially when travel is involved), and just requests for general advice.  After handling a few more questions at our most recent away tournament, I've decided to go ahead and post something to the blog that I can always refer people to.

Why Bother?

I'm clearly biased, but in my mind, Space Dragons fully embracing the use of technology and media has been to our advantage over the last several years.  You see lots of dragon boat teams with cameras on shore or head cams on the boat these days.  It wasn't that long ago that these were uncommon, now they're almost expected.  What teams do with that footage is where I think the difference is made.

We're Gonna Need a Montage

One of the things that I love about Space is that we've got a good number of creative folks on the team.   And with the vast majority of our tournaments documented in pain staking detail, that leaves ample video footage for those creative folks to create video montages.  While it's simple to just post the raw footage of race heats,  I genuinely believe that video highlight reels like this provide a huge bump to general team morale.  They serve as a team history or time capsule that can be visited as frequently as you like.  I've had teammates tell me that they still, years later, go back to certain videos and moments in time to help them stay motivated or focused.  When they get posted, they're conversation pieces amongst teammates that helps foster team unity.  I mean, who doesn't love a good montage!?

Some of my favorites over the years:
There is lots of art and sadly not tons of hard science when it comes to dragon boat.  What makes for the most effective stroke?  What's the most efficient way to approach a start?  Lots of intuition.  Media isn't going to help you there.  But where it can provide you with is near instantaneous feedback.  Is the boat sitting too low in the back benches?  What bench is our timing starting to break down?  Easily answered with some video footage.  Space Dragons' coaching staff also film all of our time trials and provide feedback to each individual paddler on their technique and what they should prioritize improving on during practices.  Does a paddler need to extend and reach more?  Do they need to keep their head up and open up their airways?  Need more leg drive?  Again, video footage that can be re-visited and super, super useful and worth the effort in recording, uploading, and analyzing. 

Gear, Gear, Gear

More than anything else, this is what I get asked about the most.  What gear do I use.  Why did I choose the gear that I did.  What do I pack with me when I travel on the road.  To the best of my abilities, let me try to address these.  I'm going to try to stray away from directly recommending specific cameras however, as technology is constantly changing and the moment I hit publish on this post, my words will become dated.  That said, I'll speak to the gear that I've used in the past and what I currently turn to, why it is that I've chosen the gear that I use (and why I've dropped other things over the years), etc.

Action Cams

For action (e.g. head) cams, the primary camera that Space Dragons use are Contour's line of action cameras.  We've had a half dozen of them over the last 5+ years, spanning 3 generations of products from the company.  In fact, our use of them spans a period in 2013/2014 where the company filed for bankruptcy (they've since seemingly emerged from it and are starting to produce new cameras again).  We currently have 3 in rotation with the team, but at one point have had as many as 4 in rotation.  Space sometimes fields up to 6 different crews (3 mixed boats, open, women's, masters), especially at our local races where travel costs / vacation time aren't a factor.  At any point in time, we might have 3 boats ready to hit the water, meaning having enough cameras to be spread amongst those crews means having multiple cameras in flight.

When Contour's future seemed uncertain, I had dabbled with steadily replacing our Contours with GoPro Hero cameras.  A number of teammates already owned various GoPro models from over the years, so I was familiar with the cameras.  And given what was an uncertain future for Contour, investing in the swap over seemed sound.  With Contour's resurrection, I'm not wholly convinced anymore but am instead of the belief that the two camera form factors each have their place in our arsenal.

Near fool proof operation.  Too bad they lag behind in modern optics.
When given to our callers and steers, the general feedback has been that Contours, typically worn via a hand band such that it rests on either temple (operator's preference) are more comfortable to wear.  GoPro's, typically mounted in a sealed enclosure, weigh significantly more and are worn via a "hat" that is basically two elastic bands worn such that the camera rests at forehead level.  Generally, the Contours are far more foolproof for the operator as well.  Operation is a simple slide forward of a very chunky slider on the top of the camera.  It's effectively the only point of interface on the top of the camera (the only other button on the camera is a button on the rear that allows you to check battery life and memory use).  It is very difficult to not operate the Contour properly.  GoPros on the other hand require the camera to be powered on the front face and recording operations started/stopped with a similarly sized button on the top.  We have had lost recordings in the past due to operator error in pushing the right button.  Not helping the situation is that GoPros generally are set to automatically turn themselves off after a set idle duration in order to conserve batteries--meaning callers and steers need to remember to turn the camera on.

After much use, the Contour wins hands down in ease of use, comfort, and battery life.  The GoPros however clobber the Contours in terms of picture quality.  Even more so when you factor in the newer generations of GoPros that record in 120 fps (1080p) or in 4K resolution.  The cost of that lovely, lovely source footage however is that battery life becomes abysmal.  Recording in either mode means that the small battery in the GoPro will die after approximately 40-45 minutes of recording time in my experiences (manufacturers estimates be damned).  



These days for race weekends or for any situation where the action cam needs to be worn, I'm having folks wear the Contours.  For cameras that can be mounted, say on a boat and attached via a suction mount (see above), I've been using GoPros.  We've done this to great success, both in practice settings as well as race weekends (when neighboring boats have been obliging), allowing me to capture footage at "water" level, from the side of the boat--a perspective that a worn headcam would never be able to provide.  As I'm always looking to improve our process, one experiment I'll be trying soon is having folks attempt to wear the GoPros with a lightweight chest harness--hopefully addressing at least the comfort issues with the form factor.  I think those cameras, especially worn by the steers, could provide some interesting POVs.

Cameras (SLRs) / Camcorders

There used to be a time where a standard part of my gear was a Nikon SLR and an array of lenses.  At first, the SLR was purely there for me to capture stills (or to hand off to a teammate to randomly snap photos) and I had a dedicated camcorder that was generally there to record the actual races from shore.  This was OK for awhile.  Two major issues started popping up however that I wanted to address.

  1. SLRs and camcorders don't share lenses or batteries.  For travel, that meant doubling up batteries and chargers, adding to my overall weight load.
  2. Camcorders (consumer grade) generally do not have interchangeable lenses.  Meaning any magnification they provide is going to be largely software based, not mechanical/optical. Translation: the more you zoom in, the crappier the footage you get would be.  In dragonboat, where you might be as much as 1/2 a kilometer or more away from your subjects at the start of the race, that's quite unfortunate.
Solution #1 came with me simply ditching the camcorder and using my SLR for recording races.  This at least solved problem #1 but didn't fully solve #2.  On the whole, your average SLR that has solid video capabilities (as most modern Nikons or Canons would) produce better video output than your average consumer camcorder.  They however introduce a whole slew of new problems.

  1. To actually record from potentially over 500m away means using a zoom lens, which depending on its range of focal length,  may or may not be capable of recording the action once the boats get closer.
  2. Recording video (of good quality) is far, far more difficult to do on a SLR than your average camcorder.  Most consumers, even those who own SLRs, don't know how to adjust things like aperture or ISO--which you can mostly get away with taking stills (auto all the things!) but can be a huge hindrance when trying to record video.
  3. I was swapping lenses.  A lot.  Race on the water?  Long lens.  Oh wait, teammates doing something zany right next to me?  Sheet.  Short lens.  Swapping back and forth became a chore.  And there was no way I was going to carry two SLRs, though I contemplated it.  The weight of two bodies was just prohibitive.  Especially since while doing all of this, I'm actually a paddler too and need to be able to hand off / drop off gear and swap it out for my paddling gear in an instant.  
These aren't the exact cameras I have in use, but the size differences are representative of my own experiences.

Where I've ended up now is that I've ditched my SLR and lenses and swapped to using mirrorless cameras.  Specifically, I've become a huge fan of the micro 4/3s form factor.  The cameras (and lenses) are generally significantly smaller than their SLR counterparts (ESPECIALLY the lenses). They generally run cheaper (hard for an apples to apples comparison, but I won't get into that here).  And frankly, many mirrorless cameras are WAY, WAY better at taking video than your average SLR.  They're not quite still up to the ease of use of your average camcorder, but they pack features that most SLRs don't (focus aides like zebra stripes or focus peaking, fully articulated screens, far better codecs and framerates).   Below is some sample footage I recently recorded using one of my micro 4/3s cameras and a long lens.




From an ease of use standpoint, mirrorless cameras sit somewhere between your average SLR that also records video and a dedicated camcorder.  The quality you potentially gain by splitting the difference is well worth it--at the expense of the SLR, in theory and in some contexts, produce better stills than what a mirrorless can.  Shooting dragonboat though, most of those contexts don't apply--I'm not shooting stills for print work, definitely not shooting in low light, and crazy shallow depth of field isn't what I'm after 9 times out of 10.

Because of the smaller form factor of micro 4/3s, these days I'm actually packing two bodies.  One will generally have a long lens attached (a 90-400mm stabilized zoom) and the other, which I'll generally wear on a strap while I'm recording video, will have some sort of portrait lens attached--generally a 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm equivalent, depending on what I think might be the most useful length depending on what's going on.

I love photography and videography, and as a new dad, I had no qualms in switching out some gear to suit my needs, both at home, and in support of the team.  For most folks though, they'll likely just use whatever SLR or camcorder they might already happen to own.  Either can work well for the purposes of capturing dragon boat races.  For me, the trade offs in weight and flexibility and image quality were well worth it.  Recording video on mirrorless cameras still takes some training (I can't just hand the camera to a teammate and be "here, go hit the button"), but recent tournaments seem to indicate that it's way more approachable to do than when presented with a full size SLR whose ergonomics simply aren't well built for the job of capturing video vs a still photo.

Other Gear

Invest in a halfway decent tripod.  Many cameras these days can provide OK stabilized footage built in, but the more and more you zoom in, the less and less any stabilization will be able to handle it.  Lightweight is great, but adds cost (but will save a little wear and tear on your body).  Something that folds up is a must in my book.  My two requirements in a tripod were that it had to be light, and it had to fold up small enough to fit into the duffle bag that I generally take with me to race sites.


Get yourself a decent camera bag to lug your gear.  If you travel as much as I do with this gear, do yourself a big favor, and go straight for the good stuff.  Any time I travel with my video gear now, I use a Pelican case.  They come with dense packed foam that can be cut out to customize the fit around the gear you want to travel with you.  Pelican cases come in multiple sizes, though I happen to use the Pelican 1510, which conforms to the smallest regulated FAA carry on sizes and even fits the overhead bins of some smaller planes these days that no longer fit "standard" carry on suitcases.

Not my load out, merely for illustrative purposes of how customizable the foam interior is.
When traveling now, I generally have my video gear as my carry on item along with a shoulder bag that I'll keep essentials with me--toiletries, maybe a spare jersey and shorts.  In the event of a catastrophe and my checked luggage is lost, than at least I haven't lost anything expensive and I'll still have a uniform to change into.  :P

For the curious, this is sold by Monster Cables and called the Outlets 2 Go


Pack a power strip with you on the road.  Doesn't have to be a full sized one.  I use a mini power strip that provides 3 outlets, folds in on itself to pack away neatly, and even provides a native USB port to charge USB based devices.  Since I often have a laptop with me, between this powerstrip and my laptop, I can simultaneously charge 3 USB devices at the end of a race day.  Super handy.

Misc Tips / Lessons Learned

Power is your friend

Bring spare batteries.  Note the plural of battery.  Not a spare battery.  Batteries.  I'm lucky enough to be on a team that has accomplished some major milestones over the last five years.  Almost all of which have been documented.  Because not only did I always bring my chargers with me, I also always had at least a couple spare batteries per device on me.  (If you're keeping score, that's a couple spare GoPro batteries, and a couple spare batteries per camera body)

For those items that instead have internal batteries or for items that have USB power plugs and can be charged at a race site, invest in a good, sizable battery pack, and PACK SOME USB CABLES OF THE CORRECT SIZE.  GoPros and Contours charge with mini USB.  Your typical Android phone charges with micro USB.  I pack several of both and keep it in my camera bag / Pelican along with a 25,000+ mAh battery pack.


Memory cards are fragile

On the one hand, don't cheap out on memory cards for your devices.  After having used many brands over the years, I will now only use SanDisk branded memory cards, and even then, only their Extreme line of cards.  I've been fortunate enough to not lose much over the years, but it truly, truly sucks the few times it has happened to me.  (As recently as last week, when I wasn't paying attention and used an off brand card and had it die within 2 hours of operation).

Even quality cards are but tiny little pieces of plastic with exposed data connectors on the back.  These things can get dropped and stepped on.  Dragonboat races generally occur in sandy or muddy or wet (duh) or otherwise dirty environments.  Bad things happen.  Carry spare memory cards in your bag.  If you are able, offload any important footage on site if possible so that you have backups of it in case a card is damaged or dies or lost.  Consider rotating cards over the course of a race weekend if you have no ability to offload footage while your'e on the road.


Don't lose your stuff!

I mean this in terms of your photos and video.  Although I guess it applies to your actual cameras and such as well.  If you're straight up forgetting about or misplacing your expensive camera gear though, sorry, but no advice from me is going to prep you for being a seasoned media vet.  To my original point however, Don't.  Lose.  Your.  Stuff.  BACKUPS ARE YOUR FRIEND.  I repeat.  BACKUPS ARE YOUR FRIEND.  

Do you know what sucks?  Taking all preventative measures and making sure you copy your precious footage off of your fragile memory cards and onto your computer's hard drive.  Phew.  All is good in the world.  Except it's not.  Hard drives die too.  Especially non SSDs, but even SSDs fail.  All things electronic eventually fail.  Accept that and prepare for that.  Back in 2011, Space Dragons won its big local race (known locally as "Big Long Beach") for the first time in the team's 10 year history.  The reactions on the boat were of pure delight and raw emotion.  I nearly lost that footage when I went to edit a montage together and the HD it was stored on died.  Fortunately, I religiously backup (for what it's worth, I use Backblaze, but any provider is fine) and merely lost the time it took to re-download a 2+GB file.  I would have been heartbroken however if I'd forever lost that footage of the team hitting a milestone like that.

Lenses

For the most part, I've been avoiding trying to steer people toward any specific model of camera or accessory.  I do think however it could be insightful to understand the lenses that I will typically pack with me for a tournament.  Keep in mind, with my switch to mirrorless cameras, the size and weight of lenses is significantly lighter/smaller, so I now find myself far more willing to pack a lens with me as a "just in case".  I'll try to stick to what I feel are MUST haves though.

Zoom
You're going to need a zoom lens.  Your position relative to a dragonboat at the start or finish line might be upward of 500-700 meters away.  If your'e wanting to capture everything, or at least have the opportunity to do so, that means your'e going to need some long glass.

For me, that's a 90-400mm optically stabilized lens.  (Technically 45-200, but micro 4/3s has a full frame equivalent ratio of 2:1, meaning all focal lengths on the lens need to be doubled to get the equivalent focal length on a full frame SLR).

Wide
You're likely going to need to take a team photo at some point.  And if your team is as large as mine, that might mean trying to squeeze 40-80 people into a single shot.  I have both a 15mm and 24mm at my disposal for this.  Frankly, I only pack a lens this wide for the express purpose of taking these team photos.  But when you don't have something of the appropriate width, getting a full team photo can potentially become basically impossible, and that's not really tenable either.

Standard Portrait
I love prime lenses (fixed focal length).  Like, I LOVE PRIME LENSES.  To the extent that is practical, I avoid using zoom lenses, and when I do have to use zoom lenses, I stick to fixed aperture if I can.  Prime lenses give a depth to the image quality that I feel is rarely matched in a zoom lens, and those that do, are always going to be quite costly.  My go to lenses are standard portraiture focal lengths--lens sizes that render images with as little distortion as possible and that generally render human faces in the most flattering possible angles.  I generally pack a 50mm and 85mm with me, and make sure that I have the fastest aperture possible for both.  Because dragonboat settings are often cramped (think marshaling or team tents), I'll also often pack a 24mm or 35mm for when I'm shooting in cramped quarters like that. 


Stay Positive

I do all this media stuff because I have a passion for photo and video stuff.  But I also do it because I firmly believe that it meaningfully makes the team better--which as someone who wants to give back to his team, is reason enough to do so.  To be a team's go to person for media stuff is often a heavy burden to carry.  Teammates can be quick to demand to see photos in the days even hours after a tournament.  It can mean having an extra several dozen pounds of equipment to lug around, sometimes halfway across the globe.  It is straight up work on race weekends when sometimes you'd rather just be hanging out with your teammates and relaxing.  It is quite easy to get down on shouldering that burden.  Only you as an individual can speak to whether that burden is one that you feel is worth the investment in time (and let's face it, money).  I'm super passionate about this stuff and even I have needed to take breaks away from it at times (fortunately having wonderful teammates pick up the slack when I wasn't covering it).  

Keeping a positive North Star has kept me stay grounded about it all.  And while there have been "vacations" from being the media guy here and there, it's something I've sustained now for 5 years for the team and my passion for it all hasn't slipped any.  Hopefully some of this ultimately proves useful to you and your team(s) as well!


Jul 21, 2015

Why we paddle


Why do we paddle?  

it's fun
it's healthy
it gets us in shape for beach season
the doctor told us we were "skinny fat"
our husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/mom/dad/kid does it
sacred royal blue is our favorite color

But really, what's it all about?

it's the connections we make
the people we care about
who care about us too

because we all know
who can't wait to take his shirt off
who reminds us of sid the sloth
whose other passion is climbing/running/fishing/gaming/cycling/comicon
who walked with a cane and a pimp swagger
who grew up in brooklyn
who wakes up at 2am to watch arsenal games
not to drink that galvatron

Here we have people to help us reach our goal
teach us to deadlift
get us an internship
be a mentor

here we have people to cheer us up
when we're in between jobs
when we hurt our back
when we didn't get the raise/grade/second date we wanted

here we have people to celebrate with
the graduations
the weddings
the new babies brought into the world

and here we have a shoulder to cry on
a strong hug for support
when we have to say goodbye to someone too soon

a few years short of racing masters
two years after graduating college
just months before taking a first breath of air

Whether we're at mother's beach every weekend
once a month
haven't dropped by in years

whether we wear sacred royal blue
green
a baby blue onesie 
anything in between

This is the community
the family

This is why we paddle.



Jul 6, 2015

HELL WEEK 2015 PRE-BLB/CCWQ!!

Here we go, folks!!  What's just around the corner? Why, it's BLB and CCWQ just at our fingertips is what!  This is a one-two punch if you will.  Everyone has been doing an excellent job so far working out (land) either on their own or with a group.  We've pushed our endurance and strengthened our muscles.  Now we must test ourselves for an even bigger challenge in the next coming weeks for huge tournaments!  What more to kick off the tournament mode than with high intensity, gut busting, lung/leg burning, Galen sweat level 8 all in you face kinda workout? 
It's H E L L  W E E K of course!




* Remember, we are ONE team regardless of your attendance to any tournament, everyone should support this.  Challenge yourselves and get'ta sweatin'!!



Rules:
- Always warm up before you begin and stay hydrated! No injuries!!
- Do at least 20-30 minutes of cardio per day
 - There are three tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold.  For example, on Monday, completing 3 sets of squat jumps completes bronze, adding 3 sets of the Ab circuit completes silver, and adding 3 sets of pushups (variations indicated) completes gold. - Do THREE sets of each exercise below, maxing out the number of reps you do in each set for 30 seconds! (If too easy for those beasts out there, try a full minute!)

- Unfamiliar with a certain exercise? Ask your teammates or look it up on 'youtube'

- Post on SpaceBook when you finish each day's challenge.
- Do this on top of your regular workout, not as a replacement for it. 

July 06th - July 12th
 



Monday:
STAR JUMPS (max for 30 sec)
AB CIRCUIT (per below)
WALL SITS (max out duration for each set)
PLANKS (5 x 1 min)


Tuesday:
SQUAT JUMPS (max for 30 sec)
AB CIRCUIT  (per below)
DIVE-BOMBER PUSH UPS (min 10 - max x3)

Wednesday:


100 DEADMAN BURPEE CHALLENGE!!
(you have 10 mins to finish!)
^if you've not attended water practice


Thursday:
TUCK JUMPS  (max for 30 sec)

AB CIRCUIT (per below)
PLANKS (5 x 1 min)


Friday:
WALL SITS (max out duration for each set)
AB CIRCUIT (per below)
 PUSHUPS (set 1-regular, set 2-diamond, set 3-wide) 
 

Saturday: 
RACE SETS - RACE SETS - RACE SETS!!

Sunday:
RACE SETS - RACE SETS - RACE SETS!!

 
*AB CIRCUIT: 30x crunches + 30x bicycle crunches + 30x flutter kicks + 20x leg lifts + 30x mason twists = one set. Do these as fast as you can. 3 - 5 sets!!





Jun 5, 2015

Mid-Season 2015 Time Trial





TT and erg data is up!  Great job, everyone!

With the additional transparency, please do your part to keep this a fun and supportive community.  We are all working hard toward our own individual goals.  Reflect on your goals and encourage each other!

All the trend data for the season is shown because that's really the only way you can get a complete picture.  Outliers are all too common and can be misleading when just looking at a single snapshot of results.  The coaches consider the entire season when looking at the data.

Don't forget to give a HUGE thanks to Esmer​ (cargo transport and master orchestrator), Devant​ and Chris​ (paddler taxi service), Rod​ (official clock), Robert​ (paparazzi), and Jeff​ (torture device master). 



And also thank Devant even more for the countless hours of video review!  Even just 10 min per video means almost 7 hrs of review to get through 40 time trialers.... and believe me, most videos take more than 10 minutes to really get into the details and figure out the right feedback.  That's on top of a full time job, other coaching duties, keeping up his own training and maintaining balance with other passions (e.g. climbing).  It's no small feat.



So pick your carrot and go get him (or her)!

Mar 16, 2015

TEMPEEEEEE HELL WEEK 2015!!

Stop the presses!!  As most of you know, we're gearing up for some intense racing on the water at Tempe, AZ. and this will definitely start ramping us up for Club Crew in Australia. Remember, we're ONE team regardless of your attendance there.  Everyone should support.  So what better way to welcome everyone back for some familiar pain, but fun and exciting workouts?  Team intensity!  Call it what you want... Pre-Tempe workouts, March Madness, chasing unicorns, etc. But just don't call it easy!  Challenge yourselves.  It's H E L L  W E E K !!

Rules:
- Always warm up before you begin. No injuries!!
- Do at least 20-30 minutes of cardio per day
 - There are three tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold.  For example, on Monday, completing 3 sets of squat jumps completes bronze, adding 3 sets of the Ab circuit completes silver, and adding 3 sets of pushups (variations indicated) completes gold. - Do THREE sets of each exercise below, maxing out the number of reps you do in each set for 30 seconds! (If too easy for those beasts out there, try a full minute!)

- Unfamiliar with a certain exercise? Ask your teammates or look it up on 'youtube'

- Post on SpaceBook when you finish each day's challenge.
- Do this on top of your regular workout, not as a replacement for it. Now get-a-sweatin'!!

March 16 - March 22

Monday:
SQUAT JUMPS
AB CIRCUIT

 PUSHUPS
(set 1-regular, set 2-diamond, set 3-wide) 

Tuesday:
PLANKS (3 x 1 min)
AB CIRCUIT 
WALL SITS (max out duration for each set)

Wednesday:
BURPEES (3 x 10 reps)
TRICEP DIPS
   
Thursday:
V-UPS
MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS
Three-Point Lunge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_4cQJC8Dwo

Friday:

ALLIGATOR PUSHUPS
AB CIRCUIT
SQUAT JUMPS
 
Saturday: 
RACE SETS - RACE SETS - RACE SETS!!

Sunday:
RACE SETS - RACE SETS - RACE SETS!!

 
*AB CIRCUIT: 20x crunches + 20x bicycle crunches + 20x flutter kicks + 20x leg lifts + 20x mason twists = one set. Do these as fast as you can. 3 - 5 sets!!

 

 

Mar 9, 2015

Making a Difference

Hey everyone.

Many of you have been asking around about how to get stronger. Of course the answer is to go to practice! There’s nothing that can truly replace time on the water. However, if you want to put in more effort, there are always options to workout outside of practice. I know that there are already a good amount of people that make time to work out during the weekdays or even after practices, and that’s great! Others might be unsure of how to start, what to do, or even how to do certain exercises, and that’s okay too. There’s no better time than now to start learning.

One of the best exercises for improving general strength as well as the core muscles we use for paddling is the deadlift. The purpose of this lift is to improve strength in your legs and back (super important for what we do). For those of you that are a little new or unsure about lifting, there are a few key things to remember.
  • Technique over power. While the urge to get strong quickly may be persistent, it’s more important that you’re doing it correctly. Disregarding technique for the sake of higher numbers could lead to injury, which would prolong your way to becoming stronger.
  •  Always warm up properly. Time may be an issue for those of us trying to hit the gym and get stronger for the team, but trying to lift without warming up those muscles can also lead to injury, which is can be more detrimental than anything to an athlete.
  • Everybody starts somewhere.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else at the gym is lifting. It’s more about personal progress. Start where you feel comfortable, and progressively push yourself to improve. It’s fine to have a goal or a carrot, but don’t get so caught up on someone else’s numbers that you don’t acknowledge your own improvement.
  • Don’t give up. Training is a consistent effort that takes time. Don’t expect immediate results from one or two months of training. Of course it’s important to give your body time to recover, but remember to keep pushing that wall when you can.

So for those of you that are just starting out, here are some basics on deadlifting.



  1. The bar should be above the center of your feet, and your shoulders in front of the bar
  2. Raise your hips until you feel hamstring tension
  3. Drive heels into floor, but don't lean forward or backward
  4. Keep your back straight and chest up

Some of you may feel uncomfortable going to the gym alone, and that’s okay. We have amazing teammates from all around who are more than happy to take you to the gym with them and show you how it’s done. If you can’t go at certain times, you can also take videos of yourself lifting and post them up or send them to someone on the team asking for tips, pointers, and technique critique. Our very own James Nguyen has also headed up “Space Camp” where teammates can get together at his house for lifting sessions, and it’s easier to ask for ways to clean up your form. Feel free to ask him about when and where to go for these lifting sessions.  If you’re in the Cerritos area, I’m also more than willing to go with you to a gym to work on technique or just if you need someone to push you to go and keep you accountable.


We have six months left until CCWC qualifiers. It's time to put in the work and get stronger together
Races are won and lost at practice. It's time to be the difference.

"You find out that life is a game of inches...
On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches that's going to make the difference between WINNING and LOSING. Between LIVING and DYING. "

 - Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday