Speed Coach

22/08/03 Julian I'm pretty sure I've seen rowing coaches doing just this - it's their "Cox Box" system, I'm pretty sure. But at the end of the day its all information that is confirmatory of what you can see from the coaches perspective, and feel from the paddlers/ rower's perspective. That is that if you are covering wore distance on the same or lower rating you are making improvements in speed and efficiency. Admittedly this does become more difficult in the case of the kayak due to higher and more changeable rating pattern. Themovement/ position of the boat is a good indicator here.

I think it gets interesting when you couple this info with a force meter that give the coach or paddler real time feed back on stokes. I've seen these used on rowing and paddle craft, and they are now available on cranksets for bikes. I think this could really aid the development of technique/ feel because it allows the paddler to experiment and get feed back on what they're doing with the water, something that might otherwise take years of experimentation.
21/08/2003 Allan Has anyone linked one to a transmitter so the coach can get some feedback, or devised a method of saving and downloading the data for post-session analysis?

Anyone done experiments to correlate speed with HR, blade area, shaft length or stroke rate??? (Or crew combinations, to pursue Danny's question?)
21/08/2003 Julian Yup! Totally agree with Steve here.

I have one and have noticed that it really does affectboth your body position and where your attention is directed. I paddle C1 and used to paddle K boats, and used one at times on both. I think it actually can be worse for C paddlers because of the higher body position ie. therefore looking lower into the boat for the speedcoach. In a c-boat, because of the long glide phase, having your head down is extremily detrimental to speed because of bodyweight to be shifted to the front foot pushing the bow of the boat down. There are probably other reasons for keeping your head up in thekayak, but in the end the effect is the same - it limits your speed. The trick is to use it as an occaisional reference, or as a recording instrument for post session evaluation - which pretty much entails that it's best for endurance work. Thats the way I try to use it, but I often find myself getting sucked into the numbers attentionally. I also use it to measure out distances where there are no formal markers on a tidal piece of water. That way I'm doing water distance not land distance, if you see my meaning.

I too train largely by myself and find that it is great for monitoring the improvement in aerobic speed over time - but of course you can use a watch for this over a set course. Also I find the rating information very useful - but this is not so easy to get in the kayak. I try to maintain target average speed on the lowest rating within the heart rate range.

For speedwork - I'll measure out a set distance and do repeated efforts over this distance attempting to go under a set time. I get better times when I ignore the speedcoach.
21/08/2003 Daniel I have a Speed Coach (www.nkelectronics.com) - I don't use it as often as I could. There are lots of bits and pieces, the impeller certain is a pain - small, breakable, easily lost and expensive to replace. Having it contained in one unit, would make me more willing to us it.

Has any one got any experience of using the device on crew boats?
21/08/2003 John It looks like one is in order, thanks for all of your invaluable input
20/08/2003 Steve John for someone like yourself, a Speed Coach could be invaluable. When you have to perform a lot of your training on your own, especially in the endurance phase that you have been working on this year.

When training in a large group, it is often not so necessary, as you get carried along by the group. If you cannot hack it, then there is often a wash (even if it is out the back), or you lead it until someone storms passed.

In these situations, if you are unsure on pacing yourself, then the use of a Heart Rate Monitor is enough to keep you on track.

If you can look at the speed coach without moving your whole head, then there is no problem. If you watch the Speed Coach all the time, you will most likely go slower anyway, because you will not be concentrating on your technique, running the boat, where you are going, who you are hitting etc.

There has to be a compromise. This is often, you paddle 1500m, 2000m, 6000m whatever it might be, and where you would not normally notice a slow down without one, all of a sudden, you see that instead of paddling along at say 2 minute per 500m, you are down at 2:15. Why? loss of concentration perhaps, movement of the rudder slowing the boat, couple of bad strokes. It could just be the reminder of how much you have slowed that kicks you into picking it up.

Still, many of the top endurance paddlers never use these devices, and manage to set a perfect rhythm. To name a couple of people who paddle(d) with great rhythm in the UK, are Duncan Blythe and Steve Harris.

If you've ever seen them train, it is good to see! Whilst a group of paddlers might be hanging on washes on the inside of the bends, trying to hold it together, taking it in turns etc., I have seen these guys paddle on their own, around the outside of the bend (or at least totally off of the group), and not change speed once!

So, are you going to buy one or not?
20/08/2003 Heikki Have you considered GPS? I was looking for a speed meter a few months ago, chose GPS (garmin geko 201) and haven't regreted it.

I think GPS is more accurete, reliable and easier to use. You don't have to worry about impeller, and you can change it very easily from boat to boat.

It doesn't show you the time/500m or stroke rate, but there a other usefull functions as maximum speed since last reset. I have found it an excellent aid for speed training.

Other small drawback is that the speed is updated once in a second. This makes the last decimal (0.1km/h) change frequently and a bit difficult to observe.

A GPS might even be a little cheaper than speedcoach. You can probably get a good one for about 200euros.
20/08/2003 John I am looking at buying one of these and was wondering if the expensive price tag is justified? Are they worth it? and how can they be implimented in training, I have heard they have a bad habit of causin youer head to look down.