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My 2013 Worlds Training Plan

Posted: 29.12.2012

Written by: Bryan Kirk

As we roll into the coldest time of the year for the northern hemisphere, I am keeping myself fired up by setting my sights on the 2013 Freestyle World Championship. I am especially excited and motivated this time around since the site of the Worlds is in North Carolina - only 5 hours from my home base of Fayetteville, WV. If there is any single advantage to preparing for a kayaking event, it is being able to spend many hours at the actual competition site. This does wonders to prepare mentally, boost confidence, and obviously dial in the playspot better than anyone else in the world.

Here is the 2009 Worlds in Thun, Switzerland. It was one of the coolest places I've ever been to, but I only got a handful of rides on this wave before the competition, which was stressful. Never again.....

My first big competition that I consider to be the event that 'put my name on the map' was the 2001 IR Triple Crown, which also happened to be the US Freestyle Team Trials. I had just graduated from Virginia Tech, and made it my goal to practically live in Rock Island, TN to dial in the feature, hone my skills, and create an unbeatable routine. I also read and studied the book, 'Thinking Body, Dancing Mind.' This put my mind in a relaxed, confident state by the time the big comp rolled around.  It paid off immensely, as I walked away with the 2nd spot on the US Freestyle Team and $2200 richer. I was elated, and even more ecstatic when I went to Spain that summer to represent the USA and brought home the bronze medal.

Rock Island, TN this past summer at the World Cup:

Photo: James Bebbington

Sort, Spain 2001 podium with EJ, Eric Southwick, and yours truly:

Photo: Andre Spino Smith

There are a couple of things I plan on doing differently this time to supplement my training in the playspot. In my opinion, the competition is so fierce in freestyle these days, that in order to win I must become fitter than I have ever been before. I cannot simply count on surfing the Worlds spot the most before the event. I plan on arriving at Team Trials in mid-April in better physical conditioning than any other athlete. I have already been working on my cardio by running regularly. I plan on focusing more on 45-second sprints, both running and flatwater, to work on my anaerobic ability for the 45-second long rides at Worlds.

Here's me at a rare running race this past summer at Bogus Basin, ID. I got 2nd in the 5 miler cold turkey! I've kept up my running ever since with World in my sights!

I remember Peter Csonka telling me about his training regiment with the Slovakian slalom team at their training facility. They have been one of the top slalom teams in the Olympics for years, and also train the hardest off the river. Peter has been able to train with those athletes, learning from their workout routines, and that has majorly paid off for him lately. He is by far the most powerful freestyle boater on the planet, and just swept all 3 events in the 2012 Freestyle World Cup. It was obvious that his skills have been carefully honed, and his fitness level made him untouchable in those events.

Kayaking is one of those sports where a high strength-to-weight ratio is a major advantage. That is why I'm training this winter to increase my strength without adding any size to my body. I want to be stronger without giving up the air I get on loops and my ability to be retentive in flushy playspots. Here is an excellent article on some of the techniques I've been using to get stronger but not bigger:

A good strength-to-weight ratio is key! 

Here's to a Happy New Year of hard training, kayaking in amazing locations, strong showings at Team Trials & Worlds, and most of all, meeting and boating with amazing people from all over the globe!