Tagrowing mental toughness

How To Mentally Prepare For A 2k Erg Test

1. Begin early

To guarantee a good mental preparation for your 2k erg test or race make sure you begin early. You probably do it naturally anyway. But once you are notified by your rowing coach or you take a personal decision to race a 2k erg test you should immediately begin the process of internal preparation.

Because usually, the more time you have to prepare,  the better you can be mentally prepared for the 2k.

2. Plan every detail

You must plan everything. And be absolutely meticulous about everything. Attention to detail is key. Decide exactly how you are going to prepare. Decide exactly on what you will do on race day. Have a 2k erg strategy well planned in your mind and practice it if possible at lower intensities in training.

Knowing exactly what you you are going to do  will reassure you and give you a strong base to launch your race plan on race day. Don’t fulfill to prophesy of he who fails to plan, plans to fail.

3. Train hard

I am a big believer in preparing physically for a 2k erg. I believe that an excellent physical preparation will give you enormous confidence and mental strength in your approach to the race.

If you are well trained and have developed the necessary fitness and mental toughness for the 2k erg in your training, then the need to do other extra mental preparation should not be as strong.

4. Better to be under than over cooked.

Never, ever over train with erg rowing when you are preparing for a 2k erg test. When you are tired and over trained the chances are that you will be weak mentally. Or at best you will be in a vulnerable mental state for the 2k.

This balance between under and over training is up to you. And will come with experience. But when you’re are in doubt – more is less.

5. Attack.

When it comes to race day, within the confines of your 2k test plan you should aim to attack. Our primitive natural defence mechanisms instruct us to either fight of flight. Adrenalin can be a great strength for a rower. It can make our rowing perceived exertion seem easier.  So use it. Aim to attack the erg test (within your plan) and do not fear it.

6.Keep those promises.

Remember the last 2k erg test you did? What promises did you make yourself during or afterwards? Did you keep them? Maybe you promised yourself that you’d train harder, smarter, get more sleep or eat better. We’ve all done it. But the real difference comes in keeping those promises to yourself. It’s all about personal integrity. It’s just between you and me. Keep your promises – and when it comes to preparing for a 2k erg test, you will thank yourself.

7. Understand that It will be difficult

Aim high, under achieve and you’ll feel bad.

Aim low, over achieve and you’ll feel great.

Expect an ok erg test, it’ll be hard and you’ll suffer mentally.

Expect a very difficult erg test , it’ll be easy and you’ll score a PB.

(I’ve used this tactic successfully many times).

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3 Summer Erg Workouts for Rowers

If you are a rower, it would be a good idea to do some erging during the summer rowing season. Even if it’s just 1 erg session per week it can really benefit and help your rowing.

Erging in Summer will help you

  • Keep in touch with the erg for the following winter
  • Row some fitness boosting workouts without having to rely on a crew.
  • Extract a maximum rowing related workout from yourself – without worrying about rowing crew technique.
  • Get some extra rowing sessions in (good if you are looking to get an edge over your rivals and are involved in a seat-racing or selection scenario)

All of the following workouts are designed to be short and hard. In summer the priority should be with your on – water rowing sessions. But if you feel you need to erg for any of the reasons above, it would be better if you could just get a quick, effective session in without adversely affecting your crew rowing.

But the thing is – you need to be able to judge this for yourself. And it depends on lots of factors.

Here are some things that you should consider:

  • Your current training load (and how tired you are)
  • Your overall fitness base (and ability to recover from extra sessions)
  • Your time – and the priority you give to rowing or erging
  • Your rowing technique – some people believe that erg can affect your rowing boat technique in a negative way. This is an important consideration if you are a novice or are less experienced rower. Beginner rowers’  rowing technique can be more impressionable and open to influence.

The last point is very important. Say you have spent the past 5 weeks learning how to load your legs in co-ordination with your back and arms. Then you get on the erg and hammer out 5 x 500 meters (causing you to pull and jerk your shoulders at the catch) – you could set yourself back a long way in terms of technical development.

In summer, rowing coaches pay close attention to rowing technique.

But it’s not really a big problem for more experienced rowers – they can usually hold their technique regardless.

Here are the workouts.

Summer Rowing Session #1

  • 8 x 500 meters / 1 minute rest
  • Do 8 times 500 meters with a 1 minute rest.
  • Aim for a consistent average erg score.
  • You can vary the intensity using average power or rating.
  • Or, if you are feeling really good, extend the session to 10 x 500 meters.

 

Summer Rowing Session  #2

  • (16 strokes hard / 5 strokes light) x 15
  • Row hard for 16 strokes (this is 30 seconds if you are rating 32 strokes per minute)
  • Row light for 5 strokes (15 seconds of you rate 20 strokes per minute)
  • Repeat 15 times

Again you can vary the intensity using rate and power. A higher rate will obviously make the work phase shorter.

If you are feeling Olympic, you could take a 5 minute rest after the 15 repetitions and repeat the whole set again.

Summer Rowing Session  # 3

  • 3 x 1000 meters (rest time: same as your work time)
  • This session is great and one of the best (in my opinion) for summer rowing training.
  • The session is based on the erg workouts that boost your Vo2 Max article and you should read it for more details.

Important. For all the workouts, you should warm up well (as you would for any hard rowing workout). Also bear in mind the timing of the session. If you are using the erg to get ahead and do some extra sessions by yourself make sure you do them when they will least affect your actual crew rowing sessions.

The best time to do them is when there is no rowing seat racing imminent. And you know you will have plenty of time to recover for the next important crew rowing session. I stress important here, because you need to decide which crew rowing sessions are important.


Related Articles

1. Crash Your 2k Erg Score Test Strategy
2. How To Mentally Prepare For A 2k Erg Test
3. Boost Your Middle 1000 Meters with This Rowing Workout
4. 7 Steps To Seriously Effective Erg Technique
5. 2k Erg Test 7 Day Taper Plan

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Learn Good Erg Rowing Posture

Did you know that there are 1000’s of things that you can do to make yourself a better rower – starting right now. And almost all of them are non rowing tasks.

Changing habits are hard. And the bad news is that this tip requires you to change one of your habits.

But first:

 

I Have a (non Rowing) Question for You…

Where are you sitting right now? Are you at a desk – crouching down looking at these very words on your monitor? Or maybe you’re on the couch at home slouching down flicking through your ipad? Or are you on a bus or train, on your way to work reading this on your phone?

You could be anywhere reading this.

Wherever you are and whatever device you are reading this article on, I want you to  think about one thing – right now.

 

Just one simple thing.

 

And when you think of it, I want you to do something immediately afterwards.

 

Ready?

 

Your posture.

 

How is your posture?

 

Are you sitting correctly?

 

Or, are you slouching down with a curved back, tense shoulders and protruding chin?

 

If it’s the last one – change it right now. Make yourself sit correctly so that you are maintaining your back and spine in a good neutral position.

How to correct it:

Uncurl your back, rotate your pelvis and sit on the bones of your ass. That’s the same bones that stick down those 2 holes in your seat as you are rowing in the boat. And same bones that sit on the seat of the erg (and somehow always get really sore after a really long erg session).

 

But What Has All This Got to do With Rowing?

And more specifically, helping you to row faster?

Well let me show you by telling you a short story. I heard this once a couple of years back and was amazed by its simple brilliance. At the time Peter Haning was coaching some rowing crews.

Haning was 3 times World Champion in the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull from 1993 – 1995. In some ways he was ahead of his time because he rowed with a particular style and technique that is not unlike the current rowing styles and techniques. Most notably was his flat back and upright body position.

But though he rowed upright with a flat back he still got a great dynamic body action with lots of length generated from swinging his body both forward and back.

I don’t know if it was by accident or design that he rowed this way, but the fact is that it was great to watch.

And deadly effective.

Anyway – back to my story. When he was coaching, he once subtly corrected a rower who was on a public computer on a hotel lobby checking his email. Very courteously and helpfully he motioned to the guy to sit up a little. To correct his posture from the slouching position he was in.

Before you say anything – this wasn’t a case of Haning getting involved in something that was none of his business (even though the rower was not one of his athletes). This was a guy who had seen this rower actually row out on the water and saw his limiting problem.

And like all good coaches he took his opportunity to impart his knowledge freely and helpfully – in the right context.

The rowers problem was a pronounced curved back. This curved back was – with time – making him inefficient and have some of the following adverse problems:

  • Weak finishes of his rowing stroke
  • Tired a lot especially towards the end of races
  • A generally a poor performer into strong headwinds
  • Have thoracic back tightness (which lead to injury threats)
  • On more than one occasion in a rowing race had difficulty breathing (his chest was constricted with the curve)

You would think that this guy should have been able to solve this problem, long before Haining came along. Especially since he was getting intensive (and good) coaching from his university rowing coach. But no matter how hard he tried in the boat to correct his problem, he still reverted back to his old habit when he was under pressure.

 

That is until the day he got a subtle bomb dropped on him by a 3 time world champion. Who showed (and fixed) him his problem for him in 10 seconds.

 

You see, it was not about his posture in the boat that was the major cause – it was about his posture out of the boat.

So Remember This:

Sit up and be aware of your posture until you have created a new (good) habit. And you will go a long way towards avoiding some of the problems this guy had with his rowing technique.

Rowing Seat Racing – Why Rowers Need To Be Vigilant

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

Making sure you do as well as you can 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

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. 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 This point is crucial.

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…

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    Rowing Tips Crucial to Prolong your Career (and prevent an early exit)

    Ergers are used to tolerating hardship on the erg and afterwards paying the price with tiredness and soreness. But when we get older this is not always a good thing because it can ultimately be the difference between a few more years erging and rowing or having to call it a day.

    # 1. Listen to the messages your body is sending you.

    Back off.
    Sometimes you need to know when to back off and use your brain a little more in order to protect your longevity in erging. You should avoid the sessions and exercises that aggravate your body. For example if you know that sitting on the erg for 1 hour will cause your back to be in discomfort for 2 days then don’t do it.

    It’s not worth it.

    And don’t worry – it’ will not be a show of weakness. Nor will it harm your erging progress because there are other equally effective and safer methods of getting a good workout that is still specific to rowing.

    #2 Adapt

    With the 1 hour erg example you could do a shorter erg and supplement your workout with another exercise (like stationary bike). Or break your session up into 2 x 30 minutes, 3 x 20 minutes or 4 x 15 minutes. Get off for a short break between sets, stand up move around and do some mobility exercises before getting back on and resuming.

    # 3 Other Training

    If you workout to support  your erging program by lifting weights then there is a good chance that some exercises will become aggravating to your body as you get older. Avoid the particular exercise at all costs.

    While it’s important to maintain a strength program (for lots of reasons) – especially as you get older, you should look to be innovative and adapt to your particular needs in avoiding the aggravating lifts.

    Lots of athletes in other (more damaging and injurious) sports, at the latter stages of their careers adapt their strength workouts to suit their needs and avoid flaring up any injuries they may have.

    Baseball players, American Football players Soccer and Rugby players all have specialist strength coaches who help them adapt and replace aggravating exercises.

    Instead of racking a power clean they might do dead lifts and supplement the upper body with an upright row. Instead of squats they might do isolated leg and core exercises specially adapted to protect the injured area.

    Try Something New

    If erging continuously starts to cause you problems – maybe you are doing 3 -5 sessions (or more for some ergers I know) per week you should begin to think about replacing some of those sessions with other workouts. Like stationary bike, cross trainer, swimming, winching, treadmill, hill walking/running… the possibilities are endless.

    There is a triple advantage to doing this.

    1. You don’t keep aggravating the problem.
    2. You find a new motivationally boosting exercise.
    3. You get a new fitness stimulus which can improve your performance.

    The third point is an important one.

    One winter a few years back, I was erging 5 times and rowing 3 – 5 times a week. I was getting a little fried mentally and facing the erg day in day out was very challenging. Even dreaming up new innovative sessions wasn’t really cutting it for me. I needed to renew my erging. So I began to run a lot more.

    Over an entire winter season I probably erged 2 times(maximum) in every 3 week cycle. In March I pulled a new PB.

    I put it down to a few things

    • Mental Freshness
    • A new Physical stimulus that enhanced my core fitness
    • A new perspective on erging and technique.

    But running might not be for you. It might be swimming or cycling or whatever exercise you discover that taxes you like the erg. Last year I was involved with a group of rowers who wanted a new stimulus and we spent 12 weeks mid winter hammering ski cross trainers. The benefits were predictable, profitable and brilliantly refreshing.

    How To Make Every Session Count – Why You Should Sprint #2

    I got an interesting email the other day from  Mike, shortly after I wrote about the sprint in rowing and why it can give you a competitive edge. He asked why I thought sprinting wouldn’t affect the general purpose of a particular erg workout. And gave an example of a session where you might be rowing long and steady on a lighter day before a harder quality day of erging.

    Would sprinting on the lighter day tire you out so that the following day’s quality session would be affected?

    He got me thinking.

    Continue reading

    Empowering Your Workout – Switching Off The Monitor

    Have you ever tried to erg without the monitor? Maybe the batteries were dead or the connection was broken.
    Today I did.
    And discovered something revealing.

    I found an internal power that I had long forgotten was there.

    Forced into a gym with bad weather and new year (over)celebrations, I found a shabby, clapped out erg obviously unfamiliar with hardship.

    It also had no batteries – which was ok since I didn’t really have a plan in mind.

    So I just rowed and rowed.
    Staring at the blank monitor.
    And occasionally at a spot on the wall.

    I didn’t have a watch with me

    So I was just me and the machine.
    And I got sucked in…

    I found a new… Continue reading

    2k Erg Mental Toughness – 2 Essential Tips Guaranteed To Prevent Choke

    I’m worried.

    I keep thinking about that 2k next week.

    I keep thinking about the last 2k erg test when I just folded up.

    And choked.

    I like every other rower who chokes does so because of the pain. Or the expectancy of it  – even 4 minutes before it actually arrives.

    But this time it’s different. I have a new plan. I leaned something very important from someone who’s been there before. Someone who overcame mental collapse at 2k erg tests. Many times before he discovered what to do about it.

    Here’s what he told me
     

    Tip #1. Harden into it

    There are 2 main types of fitness. First is physical.

    The second is mental fitness. Rowing on the erg trains this also. But not that much.

    Ok I hear you say. But what about all those hard rowing sessions, hour long ergs, 10k ergs or the dreaded 3 x 20 minute erg? Yes I admit that those sessions do train you to be tough for that exact type of training.

    But 2k erging is different.

    You need to get acclimatised to taking pain. Dealing with it. Tolerating it.

    So how do you do it?

    In a word – Training. Both physically and mentally. Doing repeated hard short rowing physical intensity will train your body. Buy it will train your mind more and you will grow accustomed to hardship. And like all rowing training  you must time it perfectly. Only do it for 2 – 3 weeks max before the 2k test. Otherwise you will get tired and will break down.

    I like doing 5 minutes all out. Or 1000 meters flat out. Repeats. A few times a week (2 max). Have a look at my 2k erg race winning plans article, where I describe exactly how to prepare physically (and mentally) for the 2k.

    I guarantee you that a hardened mind will not give in easily on race day.
     

    Tip # 2. Start Slowly In The 2k

    Most mental rowing breakdowns happen because of a fear of what’s to come. Long before the really hard part arrives, you are thinking too far ahead and imagining how bad it’s going to feel. And it never really comes because you fold up.

    The mind it a complex machine but by pushing the right buttons it can be manipulated.

    If you can begin slower than usual (1 – 2 seconds per 500 split) for a few hundred meters (200 – 400) you will give your mind and body a chance to be fooled. Tricked into believing that it’s a good day at the office and that it will not hurt that much.

    Then slowly allow your confidence to grow. Steadily and surely release your shackles. Break free an allow yourself to flow. And ultimately unleash hell on that erg. To the line.

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    Erg Rowing Tests – 7 Tips For Domination

    Ok, preparing for an erg test involves  making sure you do things like some good 2k erg specific workouts. It should also involve having a solid 2k erg strategy as well as doing some mental preparation for the test itself.

    But there are a lot of other things that you can do to help you score a good 2k. Let’s take a look.

    #1 Nutrition

    For endurance athletes like us, we need lots and lots of carbohydrates. Because intense erging burns gets it’s fuel from carbs you need to make sure you eat diet high in carbohydrates. I’ve followed this rule for many years and the difference between a high-carb diet and a low-carb diet is like the difference between night and day.

    # 2 Hydration

    You can run car with gas, but if you don’t have oil in the engine you’re going to blow it. Your body needs water like a car engine needs oil. Water is lubricant. And because you wouldn’t want to put any old oil into your BMW, you wouldn’t want to put any old water into your body.

    You need a good hydration strategy that ensures you are topped up and ready to pull hard. Sports drinks like Gatorade are good because they have electrolytes that help you retain the fluid. Otherwise you’ll be just pouring water down the drain – literally!

    # 3 Lactate Threshold

    The best workout in the world for erg test preparation is 3 times 1000 meters faster than race pace. You need to do this session 1 or 2 times per week for maximum effect. Warm up well and set the C2 Erg monitor for 1000 meter intervals with 3 minutes rest. Go off hard and maintain a pace that you can hold for the entire piece.

    Hold on towards the finish and make sure you do not back off the power. Repeat 3 times. Each 1000 will get harder but this is ok – it’s where you earn your race day pain tolerance gold.

    # 4 Caffeine

    Taking on a good dose of coffee roughly an hour before a hard workout or test can work wonders for your perceived effort. Some studies have shown a 6% drop in perceived effort after the ingestion of caffeine.

    But the thing with caffeine is that tolerance can kill its potency. If you are a regular drinker of coffee, tea, caffeine drinks or even high percentage cocoa chocolate – the benefit you will gain on race day will be reduced significantly. For best results, stay off all caffeine for about 2 weeks before a big race. You might suffer a little from DTs but stick with it – it will be worth it.

    # 5 Mental Toughness

    This term is as elusive as it is important. Mental strength and Erging go hand in hand. Embrace the fact that you are a unique person able to withstand large amounts of suffering and discomfort. It’s what sets us apart. If you are having problems with your toughness examine your physical condition. Most mental strength issues have their source in over-training, poor hydration and nutrition or lack of fitness.

    # 6 Race Strategy

    I’ve mentioned at the beginning that you need a solid 2k erg strategy. But I want to mention again how important it is to have a race approach – particularly 2k race strategy. And while it’s something that you can learn and get better at with experience, you can avoid many mistakes by talking to other more experienced ergers. Ultimate erg domination will only come when you have nailed down an excellent world class 2k erg tactics.

    # 7 Relax on the Burn

    One major difference between the average and the dominant erg rowers is their ability to row the last 500 meters almost like it’s their first. All good race plans are almost symmetrical – the first and last 500’s are fast with the middle 1000 slower. Because the last 500 is cumulative it’s where the most pain is.

    The best way the top rowers deal with it is by being more relaxed the harder it gets. Tense muscles will only lead to a restriction of blood flow to the parts of the body that need it most. So row like the champions – and stay loose.


    Next Steps – Supporting Articles

    Strategy

    https://ergrowing.com/crash-your-2k-erg-score-test-strategy/
    https://ergrowing.com/advanced-2k-erg-test-indoor-rowing-strategy-part-1/
    https://ergrowing.com/advanced-2k-erg-test-indoor-rowing-strategy-part-2/

    Workouts

    https://ergrowing.com/rowing-rhythm-workout/
    https://ergrowing.com/indoor-rowing-workouts-boost-your-vo2-max/
    https://ergrowing.com/race-winning-rowing-workouts/

    Mental preparation

    https://ergrowing.com/mentally-prepare-for-a-2k-erg-test/

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