Paddle weight makes a huge difference over distance, you are swinging the weight of a paddle thousands of times in a mile. Paddle cadence can also be effected by blade size and stroke duration.
The analogy has been made that different paddles can be used like bicycle gears, lighter weight and smaller blade for a higher cadence count.
If I am going out for a workout I like to paddle down stream as a warm up, then return up stream as current corrections keep me paddling. It also teaches me different strokes and breaks up any monotony.
Touring Kayak Paddles
The Kayak Wing
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