The following is a translated and summarized from an article by Irene Maardalen originally appearing in Birkebeinern Magazine, No.4, 2014. Translation and summary by Inge Scheve exclusively for AXCS membership.
The Aukland brothers, some of the best long-distance skier in the world, grew up paddling kayaks in the summer, and activity that now is a central part of their dryland training.
“At that time, we paddled rather than roller skied. We would paddle sea kayaks for hours, and could feel the effect on upper body strength. But it was certainly not a great cardio workout for us back then,” says Anders Aukland, who at 42 is still at the World-Cup level even in the 10K and 15K events.
However, the Aukland brothers have swapped the sturdy and stable sea kayaks for tippier race shells, which requires much more technique to maneuver. Additionally, they have joined a paddling club.
“I’ve learned to paddle with efficient technique, which allows me to do intervals in the boat. I paddle because I love being on the water and I love paddling. I rather paddle than ride a bike. And being a part of a paddling club is inspiring,” says Aukland.
Not only does he get a great upper body strength workout, he now also gets a good cardio workout from the hours he puts in on the water. “You don’t have to kayak to become a better skier, but I’m sure a lot of skiers would benefit from paddling. It’s an extremely efficient strength workout that targets abs, back, arms and shoulders, as well as the important core muscles. In a lot of ways, paddling does much of the same as a good double-pole workout on roller skis,” he explains.
“For me, kayaking has become an important part of my dryland training and a relevant training method for marathon skiing. It’s a fun, motivating and challenging activity,” he says.
Aukland recommends contacting experienced paddlers to learn proper technique before getting on the water. He also suggests considering carefully what kind of boat to start with. For those who already have some paddling experience, and want to challenge themselves further, Aukland suggests trying a tippier boat that is less stable and will challenge your balance and core more and lets you cover more distance.
Top advice for getting started
Start with a safety class, and read up on safety and technique. Ask the boat shop if they know where to sign up for a clinic or a class, or contact the national kayaking association to find a location near you.
Spend some time choosing a boat and a model. Consider your skill level, physical fitness and ambitions. If you are fit, you can choose a kayak that is less stable than someone who is less fit. Either way, pick a boat that feels easy to paddle.
Don’t forget that you can rent a boat too, until you decide which is right for you.