Is there a way to estimate someone's potential to perform at a given race by looking at objective data? There are tons of outside variables that will end up effecting the overall race results, like someone getting sick, tipping over, or even an equipment malfunction, but I also believe we can have a good idea of where someone will be able to finish based on their current fitness level. It would be a pretty safe bet that someone in the top 3 at a triple crown event is most likely going to beat someone that places in the 30s in C1 race. If that is the case, what would be the defining characteristic that would determine this? In cycling events, watts and more specifically watts/kg is now a pretty common metric that can be used to assess the potential of the athlete. This is because watts are an external measure of effort by the athlete, that doesn't take into account the multitude of outside variables that affect bike speed. It is my belief that watts/kg in paddling can be a great predictor of potential race performance.
Even more than in cycling, outside variables affect the overall speed of our canoes. Examples are current, water depth, wind, hull design, and weight of paddlers to name a few. In racing, most of these variables become the same for all the athletes. We are paddling on the same water, and usually in similarly designed boats, so races take out many of these variables and you can compare your fitness to your competition on that day. That would be all well and good if everyone could race every race, but that would never realistically happen, so for those of us that have to miss a race, how do we compare our current fitness level to others? That is what I want to explore with this experiment.
Watt/kg is a metric that can reasonably predict potential racing performance. The faster a paddler is in the water will be determined by how much power he/she can sustain over the race distance. Also, watt/kg will be dependent on time, a 5-minute race will require a much higher power output than an 8-hour race. In a similar manner that cyclists use an FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test to approximate potential race performance, especially in the 1-2hr range, I believe that we can use a similar test using a paddling ergometer to test one's watt/kg over a 5k distance for use in comparison over a 2hr race.
To test this hypothesis, we will have participants complete a 5k time trial on a Concept 2 Rowing Ergometer outfitted with a Paddlesport Training Systems paddle adapter. This test will be taken within 2 weeks of Canton Canoe C1 Pro race. This will be the race that we compare to the ergometer test to draw a conclusion on in regard to our hypothesis. 2 weeks is used as a time frame because there cannot be significant fitness gains made inside of this time period. It will also allow athletes to complete the test and be well recovered by the time the race happens.
For the test itself, we will first start the process by weighing the athlete. This measurement is needed to calculate walls/kg. The athlete will then begin a 10 min Warm Up on the Ergometer. In the 10 mins, the athlete will slowly increase the effort so as to prepare them for the time trial effort. This warm-up will also be time for those that are not accustomed to using the ergometer to become comfortable in its use. Following the warm-up, the athlete will have up to 5 minutes to start the 5k time trial. For this, we will be using the standard 5k workout already pre-loaded on the ergometer. This will countdown and record the necessary data for the distance and timing starts when athlete starts paddling. 5 minutes between warm up and time trial start is chosen to make sure that all athletes have relatively the same amount of time to recover between the warm-up and time trial. At the end of the time trial the athlete will record the following data to be sent to use for evaluation.
Time: the time it takes to complete 5k
Avg Power: This is the avg watts that was performed over the 5k
Avg Pace: This is the avg 500m pace for the entire 5k
Avg Stroke Rate: This is the avg stroke rate over the entire 5k
Avg HR: If the athlete uses a HR strap, this would be the avg HR recorded on the ergometer for the 5k
All of this data gets recorded automatically on the ergometer, the athlete only needs to check this once the time trial is complete.
The athletes will then provide us with their time trial results. After the completion of Canton Canoe Weekend, we will take the results of the time trials and compare them to the results of the race. This comparison will be used to then evaluate the initial Hypothesis
This is where we need your help. If you are interested in participating in this study/experiment, please either message me on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a concept 2 erg with paddle adapter and would be willing to let others in your local area use it to test that would help out tremendously and we encourage you to reach out to us. For this to actually work, we need as many athletes as possible to provide a larger sample size for race comparison.