Category: Erg

Rowing Seat Racing – Why Rowers Need To Be Vigilant

Whatever the rights or wrongs of selecting a rowing crew with seat racing – if your coach is into it – you must learn how to handle it.

Making sure you do as well as you can in your seat race is all about looking out for yourself. Here are some things you need to watch out for (other than rowing and pulling hard).

#1 Never Hold Back in a Seat Race

Most seat racing in rowing is blind – you never know when you are going to be switched and tested. For that reason you need to make sure you give it everything in each race. Ok, that’s easier said than done, but you’ve prepared long and hard for this, so now is the time to put all of that training to use. And because  you are giving it everything you need to…

#2 Insist on Honesty and Fairness

If you smell a rat (that a rowing rival is trying to screw you)  then you need to speak up. Let your coach know. If it’s a crew fairness issue – tell the rowers that the seat racing is not fair. Let people know you are not happy.

Let them know you are angry.

This is a competitive situation and months (or maybe even years) of hard training and sacrifice are on the line.

For that reason everyone needs to play by the rules. Including:

  • Same rating (whether it’s capped or open)
  • Same start sequence (if its power 20 and settle to 38 – then it has to happen in every seat race)
  • Same finish sequence. Say you are doing 1000 meter seat races. You are switched into a boat and you break free with clear water up with 200 to go. Make sure your boat finishes off the finishing stroke sequence**

**If the crew you get switched into were cranking the rate up to 42 for the last 25 strokes – insist that it does the exact same in your seat race. Just because you are winning by a lot of water and rowing well, it should never be a reason to ‘save’ some energy for the next seat trial.

Because you must make as much time as possible in every race.

#3 Never Ever Power Down

The same applies to your crew if you are behind. Some crews give up towards the end of a race (especially towards the end of a set of seat races when everyone is tired). Insist that your crew finishes the race like all the other races.

Remember if your coach is using a seat racing matrix – every second counts towards your aggregate score. So even when you’re boat is losing you can still gain total time.

Police this yourself. Don’t expect your coach to spot these things. S/he will be busy taking times and watching how well everyone is rowing. So its up to you to ensure that your crew rows as hard (and sticks to the same rating) as all the other seat races you are involved in.

Even half a stroke less per minute for 10 strokes can make a big difference in a short seat race. So the bottom line is to be Vigilant. And if things are not being done fairly – Make it known. To EVERYBODY

#4 Watch out for Mental Weakness

You can mentally prepare for extremely hard rowing races using methods you might not have considered. And while seat racing is like real racing – from a mental point of view, you still need to watch out for mental weakness and tiredness.

Embrace The Fear

It’s ok to wake up with your heart pounding in your chest. Seat races and rowers make for a potent mix of adrenalin and fear.

You can use this to your advantage as long as it doesn’t consume you so much  that you can’t even pull the oar.

While it goes without saying that you should try to instantly gel with the crew you have been switched into – you need to mentally blend also.

Let the crew you join know you are psyched and ready for a fight – Ready to win.

If someone comes into your crew invite them into the fold. Let them know they are welcome and that you are on their side. This is very important for:

  • Fairness
  • You own needs (you want to win)

Even a few simple reassuring words can make a big difference. Get rowing immediately and tell them that it’s GOOD. Small reassuring gestures like telling them the boat is going well and that it feels like you are going to have a great race can be reassuring for both you the newcomer (not to mention the positive impact it can have on the entire crew).

Make sure you brief (and re-brief) the crew on what the plan is. If it’s a set race plan from your coach –  repeat it. Just so you and the rest of the crew know exactly what’s happening.

Also try to fix something the crew did not do well in the last seat race. Talk it through quickly and sharply. If it’s making the first 10 strokes better – make them better (but stay within your coaches instructions).

Good Luck…

Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book

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“How a High Carbo Diet for 2k Rowing and Erg Races Can Help You Go FAST”

Carbs are king for high intensity rowing. The harder you row – the more you burn.

First – a few simple truths:

  • Your muscles consume mainly carbohydrates (stored as glycogen) during a hard 2k erg or rowing race.
  • During an all-out maximum 55 strokes per minute sprint – almost all of your energy comes from carbohydrates.
  • On the other hand – at 50% of VO2max (which is around 69% Max Heart Rate intensity rowing) around 33% of your energy comes from carbohydrate.

In the beginning…

A high carbo loading diet was (and still is in different guises) a very popular method of improving athletic performance in the 1970s. Especially among marathon runners and cross country skiers.

But times have changed and most athletes & rowers are well aware of a good diet and its importance to high performance sport. Most good rowers (including lightweights) consume an excellent diet that has a high proportion of carbohydrates during training and in preparation for 2k racing.

But some still don’t…

Why a High Carbo Diet is Important for Rowing Training and Racing.

Rowing training fatigue is cumulative. Let’s take an example:

Say you erg on Monday and pull 3 x 1000 meters all out with  3 minutes easy rowing between work intervals. You go home and decide that you are too tired to eat and decide instead to watch the rowing scenes in ‘The Social Network’ over and over – just for err… kicks?

Then on Tuesday you do an early morning, on-water rowing session – 90 minutes at low rating and low intensity. But this time you do eat – before the session you have a coffee and a slice of toast. After the session, because you are in a hurry to get to work you leave the boat house immediately and end up eating nothing until lunch time. At which point you have a great big chicken caesar salad.

That evening (right after work) you have another erg session. This time it’s 5 x 5 minutes at Threshold pace. With a 5 minute break between work phases.

How do you think you would perform in that erg session?

Do you think that you would be pulling close to your best? (assuming the training load of the past 2 days is a normal load for you)

The answer is you would probably suffer hard because you have no fuel to fire your muscles because you’ve  eaten very little carbohydrates in the previous 24 hours.

In other words you’re glycogen depleted. And doing hard erg or rowing sessions (or 2k races) when you are glycogen depleted is NOT a good place to be.

Even over a week, you can slowly get depleted if you don’t keep topping up the fuel you’ve burned. This is even more problematic when it’s racing season and you are doing a lot of high intensity rowing sessions.

So the bottom line is when it comes to training – keep topping up. And remember – it’s cumulative (even over 24 hours).

2 Steps to Boosting Recovery Time.

After a hard interval rowing session or a long steady endurance session, eating carbohydrates within a short time can improve your recovery time. Aim to eat a carbo rich food with a high Glycemic Index(GI) within 2 hours of the session. During this time, your glycogen reloading ability is sky high so it’s a great head start in boosting your recovery time.

And the sooner the better.

If you can have something within 20 minutes of the rowing session it’s even better. And when it comes to competitive team or group situations, this can mean the difference between doing well at the following day’s 2k erg – and doing only average.

Here are some high Glycemic Index(GI) Food and Drinks:

  • Sports Drinks
  • Bagels
  • Raisins
  • Bananas (well ripened)
  • Dates
  • White Bread
  • Corn Flakes
  • Waffles
  • Doughnuts
  • Biscuits
  • Jelly Beans

The first few on that list are obviously healthier options than the last few. But you get the idea. Try to be organised and bring a little snack with you to eat immediately after training.

The next thing you need to do in your 2-step recovery eating plan is to eat a meal high in mid – GI Carbohydrates within 2 hours of training. Here are some examples of mid GI foods.

  • Wholemeal Pasta
  • Porridge
  • Muffins
  • Whole Meal Bread
  • Muesli
  • Whole meal Brown Rice
  • Durum Wheat Spaghetti
  • Potato

You should also include some protein and fats in your meal. And remember to rehydrate. Carbohydrate needs water to help store itself in your muscles and liver

A Final Word for Lightweight Rowers

Ideally you should be just above race weight 4 – 5 days before your big 2k. You wouldn’t want to be more than 2kg above for a lightweight man and slightly less than that if you are a lightweight woman.

But with practice and learning your body’s response to eating carbs and retaining water (1 gram of carbohydrate needs around 3 grams of water for storage) you can also take advantage of high carbohydrate recovery eating.

I’ve had considerable results with some experimentation with lightweight rowers I’ve worked with. Many initially came from an old school that said carbs are bad for weight control. We learned to disprove that notion and more importantly we learned to improve the rowers’ performance, health and well-being (feeling of happiness) using a high carbo diet with heavy training and steady weight control near big 2k races.

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Lightweight Rowers – After Weigh-In Strategies To Help You Prepare For A 2k Race

After you have weighed in for your 2k erg competition or 2k rowing race you need to do a few crucial things. Otherwise you could bomb when it comes to your actual race. If you have followed a good pre race lightweight rower sweat down strategy, this is a good play for immediately after weigh in.

1. Immediately Begin the Slow Process of Rehydration

When you go into the weigh in room you need to bring a drinks bottle with you. Have it beside you so that the instant you step off the scales and get the all clear that you can row or erg in the lightweight class – start to drink.

2. Drink a Sports Drink slowly and a little at a time

The worst mistake you can make is to drink too much too soon. Even if you have a good quality sports drink with lots of stuff in it to help you retain the fluids, it will still run through you if you. Remember your stomach can only process a certain amount of fluid per hour. Sip a little – slowly and frequently.

3. Aim to drink it all right up to 5 – 10 minutes before start time.

Spread out your drink from the time you weigh in till the time of your race. There’s no point in drinking everything in the first hour post weigh – in. Use as much of the 2 hour window to rehydrate as you can. This will help you to drink and slowly and get maximum rehydration.

4. How MUCH you drink depends on lots of factors like:

  • Dehydration (how dehydrated you are)
  • Temperature. You will need more in warmer conditions.
  • The speed you drink at
  • How much you eat. Eating will slow down absorption.
  • The drink you use. Sports drinks are best because they are designed to help you retain the fluids you intake. Water tends to just run through without contributing much by way of hydration.
  • The temperature of your drink. Cold drinks get absorbed but run through quicker. This is not necessairly a good thing. Aim for a drink that is not ice cold.

5. You should eat something if you haven’t eaten in a while

Say you haven’t eaten since the evening before the weigh- in. And you don’t really feel hungry because you’ve been psyched all morning making sure you make the weight. You should still aim to eat something after weigh in.

Actually, if you are in good time and are on weight (or slightly below) 10 minutes or so before the weigh in you could have something light (like a rice cake or something).

6. What should I eat – and how much?

You can eat anything from breakfast cereal, to bread rolls and nutella, to rice cakes, to bananas, to a honey sandwich to a powerbar. The stuff lightweight rowers eat after weigh-ins is as varied as there are lightweight rowing techniques. (Literally hundreds of different options and opinions) . It really is up to you what you eat (if you eat at all).

  • Maybe you’re not comfortable with eating so close to race time – that’s fine.
  • Or you have eaten already because making weight for the 2k race is not a problem for you.

For a newbe – I would suggest you try something out in training before your 2k erg or 2k rowing race. Aim to weigh in just like a lightweight rowing race (except at a different target weight) Pick a hard training day and arrive for training early. Do the ‘weigh – in’ and eat afterwards. Test different foods to find out what you like. And more importantly – to find something that agrees with your digestive system.

The last thing you need is to have some rice cake repeating on you, mid-race.

7. Finally

The aim is to hold on to almost everything you have ingested pre race. If you need to go pee too often before the race, chances are that you have drank too much or too fast. It you have ever tried to do a 2k erg or rowing race in a dehydrated you will know that it is a brutal experience. And it can also be dangerous.

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In The Heat Of The 2k Erg Battle – For you if you are racing at the CRASH B’s (or anyone else doing a 2k)

 

Remember:

While it’s all well and good using the thousands of motivational techniques that you do on a day to day basis in racing and training. Please think of one thing…

What WORKS for you.

Be it:

• Rock solid 2k Erg Rowing Technique.
• Staying super smooth and relaxed when you are tired
• A strong middle 1000 meters race pace – sticking with your strategy.
• A hard start and strong finish to the line – playing to your strengths.
• Whatever esle (there are 1000’s…)

Above anything else – stick with it.

Use all of your mind power and will to hold yourself to the thing that you know works for you. Even if it’s just by the bare strength of a cobweb. Hold on and rely on it. You WILL get there.
 

Get Angry.

When you begin to start to feel sorry for yourself and begin to make compromises it’s time to get angry. When you are in the middle of that 2k and you are just about to entertain the thought of compromise –get angry.

Quit the bull, quit making the excuses about the hotel room, being awake all night, the rough flight or drive to Boston, not going well in training lately, whatever. Of course they are considerations, but remember that the greatest athletes of all time (including rowers) throughout history have performed no matter what.

Some have broken world records having woken up earlier that morning feeling absolutely tired, weak and crap. Some have become Olympic medal winners having admitted afterwards of wanting to stop mid race (I will find the article on this and post it).

Anger is a great lactic acid killer. It will clear your decks, focus your mind and will bring a hard reality to your rowing. This can work in your favor. But you must control it. Don’t go from a 1:45 to a 1:43 (you will blow up). HOLD what you are doing (hold your split), and use the anger to stop thinking about

  • Yourself
  • The guy beside you
  • The hotel manager
  • Your coach
  • The world
  • …Whoever or Whatever.

Use it to motivate you and help you POWER YOUR WAY THROUGH the danger point in the 2k race.
Go for it – let out an erg shattering and attacking primeval scream. Believe me it will work wonders for you.
 

Stick with your strategy

Sticking to your 2k erg test and race strategy is paramount. You should aim to stay with it because this is what you have prepared for.
But if you need to change in the middle of the 2k erg race, remember you can salvage a lot by thinking about what you can do to minimise your losses.

• You first goal should be to stick to your original 2k race plan.
• If it’s not working – get angry (see above).
• Assess your position. (if you still need to change)
• Follow the 2k erg test problem solver article and follow it home.
 
Finally Good Luck – All of my positive energy and good will is powered and directed towards you prospering and scoring well in Boston this weekend.

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Rowing Catch – 3 Things You Need To Know

You need to have a good rowing catch for lots of reasons. Most rowers get it right and are capable of working an excellent catch at the beginning of the rowing stroke.

But whether you row on a daily or weekly basis, on the erg or in the boat, you should always aim to have a great rowing catch to get the most out of your rowing training sessions. Here’s how you can do it.
 

# 1 Sit At The Right Angle

Make sure you sit up relatively straight at the catch position. Don’t be in a position where you are reaching forward too far from your hips or shoulders because this will cause a weakness in your set up and rowing timing.

And it could lead to other technical problems during the power phase.

The correct angle that you should aim to be at with your body at the rowing catch should be a pitch forward at about 1 or 2 o clock. Anything more than this will be over reaching and will cause you to work harder than you need to when you are opening up your body on the drive phase.

On the other hand if you are too upright (or even leaning back – which is a big NO NO) then you will not be able to fully utilise your body swing angle towards the finish of the drive phase.

If your shoulders are too far out of your sockets it will cause a rowing catch that is taken mainly by your shoulders. It could also cause problems in the rowing power phase just like the wrong body angle will.
 

#2 Catch The Flywheel

The perfect rowing stroke catch for you involves putting yourself in a position of maximum strength and bracing capability. If you are outside the zones of optimum position your catch will be either too weak or too hard.

A weak catch will force you to row harder late in the drive phase. It’s easy to spot a rower with a weak catch – they usually look a little slow in the first part of the drive (especially with the legs) and have a big whooosh rowing finish to compensate for the lack of power at the catch.

A hard rowing catch is not the best way to begin the rowing stroke either because you are risking loading your lower back and shoulders in a way that would risk injuring yourself. It’s not worth it.

The best rowing catch involves a little brain power.If you think about the word ‘catch’ for a second you will realise that it means to catch … i.e. you are not hitting, banging, lifting, pulling, connecting, reversing…

You are simply… catching.

Catch the flywheel on the fly, tip it along and keep it going, don’t slow it down or try to move the flywheel faster than the rest of the rowing stroke can take.

Just think ‘catch’, same as you you’d catch a ball in mid-air – with skill and definite poise.
 

# 3 You Need to Brace

The bracing of the load of the handle through your body and on to your legs is crucial. The seat on the rowing erg or in the boat is merely a balancing object – it has nothing to do with power.

It’s only useful to maintain your balance vertically on the drive phase and a good place to rest and relax your legs on the recovery phase.

All the power in rowing is anchored between the handle and your feet. You are pushing one off the other. And to do it correctly in the right rowing sequence, you need to begin correctly – at the catch.

If you don’t brace yourself correctly the transfer of power from your feet to your handle you will never be fully effective of efficient.

Think about engaging your big muscles in a good order and sequence (legs, back, arms). Once you catch, brace your arms and back while your legs do the job. Then and only then should you allow the brace position of your arms and legs to change (in the back swing) through the rowing sweet spot and towards the finish.

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