The most important part of the race

What is the most important part of any race?


The answer is easy it is definitely the start. Those first few strokes when the water is still our perfect first stroke in dead water using our strength to move the heavy boat and accelerate it as quickly as possible. If we win the start then all we need to do is match our opposition and we win. By leading after the first 20 strokes we already have the mental advantage our opposition must be able to be better us over the remaining 400m to win and the seeds of doubt are already sown in their mind it’s a much harder race for your body and mind if you are chasing. That’s why we need to be committing everything for the first 30 strokes.  A 500m race is a sprint and no one should be saying I wish I hadn’t started so hard on a sprint. This is why the start is the most important part of any race and we should paddle it as such.


Following the start we enter the mid-section of the race. This section is the most important part of any race. Over 500m the start and finish account for less than half of the race the rest is the mid-section and this is why it is so important. I like to think that we are one of the best technical crews and if not we should be the opportunities to learn are there. The mid-section is where this pays dividends we are going to be efficient in the mid-section. By keeping our strokes long and paddling with perfect timing and the elusive rhythm we can be sure that all of our efforts are going into making the boat move through the water. There is no greater feeling than paddling alongside another boat confident that they are working harder than you for no advantage.  That is not to say we need to be slacking off here. To compete with the best we need to be pushing ourselves to those uncomfortable places but we need to make sure we are still paddling smart as we do it. By keeping shape and discipline we will find an advantage over our opposition.  This is why the mid-section is the most important part of any race and we should paddle it as such.


This brings us to the finish. This section is the most important section of any race. There are no prizes for winning the start or midsection no shinny trinkets, no warm glow and no adoration from your peers. This is why the last section is the most important. It is all about emptying the tanks and crossing the line knowing you have no more to give. However it is not about head down craziness and short strokes but instead lifting your head up keeping the same style and long strokes as before but committing even harder. This is where having been efficient comes into play at this point we hope to have more to give than the opposition and make sure we put it in the water. When that snap comes we need to be lengthening through the build and holding onto that length. If we have worked at the required effort for the rest of the race this should be hard. For some sustaining the rate and pressure will be too much. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Ensure the front of the stroke is hit well out in front and pull as strong and long as you can whilst staying in time. If we do this we finish ensuring everyone has worked to their maximum we can do no more and have given ourselves the opportunity to get the maximum from our crew.  This is why the finish is the most important part of any race and we should paddle it as such.

In summary the most important part of any race is the section you are in we must paddle each section to the best of our ability. What’s more we can break it down further to which stroke is the most important. It is the one we are paddling now. We should not be thinking about strokes we have already pulled or what the strokes in the future will be but instead focusing on making each stroke perfect whether that stroke is the massive pull to get the boat up and running the graceful but powerful strokes through the body of the race or those strokes you force yourself to pull harder still despite the world going grey and the pearly gates starting to open for you.

So that’s it then the most important stroke in any race is the current stroke. Whilst this this is true it’s not quite the end of the story. Whilst it is a crime to be saving yourself before the finish it is worse to be saving yourself before the start. We need to make sure our preparation is a strong as it can be so we can race at our true potential so it really is true that the current stroke whether that stroke is in the race or  on a cold winter morning on a training piece ensuring the stroke is the best it can be. Never shorten your stroke even at the end of a session. What’s more that most important stroke may not even be a stroke at all. It could be the next step on a run that extra rep of a weight or one more press up or sit up. Treat each as the most important part of your race and we’ll reap the rewards.