SUP Race Training with Paolo Marconi: 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts

Originally from Piombino, Tuscany, Paolo Marconi has been making a name for himself as something of a quiet force on the international SUP circuit over the last couple of years. In 2017, he’s managed to pick up a number of accolades and has secured some very respectable results, notably placing 3rd at the Oxene Fuerteventura Downwind Race (just behind Connor Baxter and Marcus Hansen), reaching the top ten of the Technical Race category at the recent ISA World Championship in Denmark and landing in 5th place at the Scharbeutz Mercedes Benz World Cup 2017. Famously quick off the mark and hard-working, when Marconi is not competing, he is almost definitely training. And this he generally does with his partner Susak Molinero, herself an international SUP racer. For TotalSUP, he lets us in on the things you should – and the thing you definitely shouldn’t – do when practicing stand up paddle.

Paolo Marconi competes at a stand up paddle event in Venice, Italy

Paolo Marconi on his RRD SUP Race board

Paolo Marconi’s 5 Do’s

  1. IMPLEMENT A SUP RACE TRAINING SCHEDULE
    Establish and follow a strict training schedule. It may seem like a no-brainer, but for me, this is a crucial step from the very moment you’re beginning to get serious about wanting to improve your stand up paddle skills! Periodisation is very important, as it is the key to remaining consistent if you want to improve and ultimately get the best results in terms of augmenting your performance.
  2. PADDLE IN ALL CONDITIONS
    This is another important step. You have to learn to paddle in all kinds of conditions. Sometimes the swell will better than others. Sometimes the weather and wind conditions will be more conducive to paddling, and other times they won’t. Sometimes you’ll be on a sunny beach in Dana Point, California, at the PPG, and others you’ll be battling it out in colder conditions in Klitmøller, Denmark’s “Cold Hawaii”, like at the ISA World Championship this year. Adaptability is a really important thing in SUP, I think.
  3. EAT WELL
    Evidently, I come from a country where good food carries a certain amount of cultural value. For me, there is no need to follow special any diets or to over-regulate your consumption. I would simply recommend remaining mindful of your intake, paying attention to what you eat, and eating clean food, especially before and after SUP Race training sessions.
  4. TRY OUT DIFFERENT BOARDS
    I think it’s always a good idea to mix it up a bit and to try out different boards from time to time (… but especially those from my sponsor, RRD, of course!). So mix it up, I say! Wave riding and cruising around are useful ways to improve your racing skills. Again, this is about adaptability, which is an important skill for any good SUP rider.
  5. LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING
    This is a big one! Always have fun and enjoy your paddling sessions! That’s the most important thing of all.

Paolo Marconi insists on always having fun when training and competing, one of the keys to his success

Paolo Marconi’s 5 Don’ts

  1. OVERTRAIN
    One of the key things to avoid is to overtrain. As with any sport, your enthusiasm can quickly become a major, and potentially costly, flaw if you don’t reign yourself in. This can ultimately result in too much strain or even injury to your body. Be vigilant.
  2. DON’T STRESS IT
    As with anything competitive, it’s easy to get anxious and to put pressure on yourself. Try to just focus on the task at hand when you’re training and not put yourself under unnecessary strain. Try to remain calm in any kind of situation or sea conditions, as panicking won’t allow you to think clearly. This goes for when you’re competing too. Pre-race stress is unhelpful and stage fright ultimately won’t work i your favour, but rather, against you.
  3. WHY SO SERIOUS?
    Paddling may be important to you, but always remember, we are just paddling after all. It’s not (or at least it shouldn’t be!) a matter of life and death. So try not to take it too seriously. The best way to improve is to make an effort and go to great lengths while still having fun and channelling the passion you have for the discipline into your SUP practice!
  4. EXPERIMENT ON RACE DAYS
    If you have anything new to test out (be it a new quiver, a new technique, a new nutritional regime etc.), remember to put this into practice precisely when you’re training. That’s the time to experiment. Don’t make fundamental changes on the day of a race or competition itself. It’s too risky.
  5. TRAIN AND TRAIN ALONE
    It’s important to get out there and race. Training helps you improve and get to where you want to be, but racing is, at the end of the day, the best way to improve. So don’t be afraid to compete (no matter how daunting it can be!). And don’t be afraid to race against better paddlers in particular. Worst case scenario, you might just learn something!

Paolo Marconi poses for a photo during the 2017 Hossegor Paddle Games, in Aquitaine, France

Photos credits: Paolo Marconi / Euro Tour SUP

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