Kayla Imrie paddles her way to the top
Kayla Imrie shows the world how it's done
How she trains for greatness
If you think about your average week, most Kiwis manage about 3 to 5 hours of gym training.
The training load for Kayla is 16-plus workouts per week with each session lasting about an hour-and-a-half.
“Trying to make it to the top is never going to be an easy job”, says Kayla. “If it was easy, everybody would do it”.
While canoeing is a water sport, not all training occurs on the water. There are aspects of strength training that happen in the gym, and recovery time is spent doing activities that don’t exert her paddling muscles, such as running or stability practice.
To support this demanding schedule, Kayla focuses on managing her nutrition. She knows that eating well is an essential part of maintaining her performance.
“If you’re not getting the right fuel, like a car, you’re not going to go very fast the next day”, she said.
This year, Kayla seeks to improve her K1 performance and how she supports team boat performance. A lot has changed for her as she’s moved from second seat to serving as the new driver/stroker for the team.
“Changing to and from any seat in the boat is always quite dramatic. Just like a netball or rugby team, each seat has a different role to play during the race”, she said. “Moving to stroke seat means my key role is to set up a good stroke pattern and rating so that the girls behind me can easily follow and be able to maximise their power output in each stroke”.
Beyond many hours spent training, the journey to where Kayla is today has been challenging in other ways. Leaving her hometown, Wellington, behind was one of the first hurdles to overcome to make it as a professional athlete:
“Leaving home and being distant from the support network I had at home was hard. Not that the support network left, but I had to rebuild a closer network in my own surroundings in Auckland”.
Over the years, another challenge for Kayla has been:
“Not making teams when you think you’re doing really well in paddling and trying to keep positive for the following year -- to really push and try to make it next time around”.
What’s next for Kayla?
The 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics are in her sights.
The International Canoe Federation (ICF) has approved a race program for Tokyo to further gender equality in sports. These changes, if ratified by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will level the playing field with an equal number of women’s and men’s events as well as an equal number of spaces for female and male competitors.
For female athletes looking to pursue any sport, Kayla has the following message:
“Believe in yourself and remember you need to persevere. There will be massive lows”, she said. “But everybody is in that same boat if they want to make it to the top. Don’t think that you can’t do it”.
ASICS is a sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games and is known for sponsoring talented athletes like Kayla Imrie. To check out the performance clothing Kayla wears during training, browse the 2017 women’s collection now available in stores and online.