Tagrowing psychology

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).

Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book...

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…

    Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book...

    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.

    Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book...

    Successful Rowers – 8 Personality Traits You Must Have

    But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep – Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

    1. Stubborn

    “I will NOT give in! – No way…” Even in the face of an earth shattering storm, or a length down with 250 meters to go, or being told to go home – you’re not good enough. This is truly a magnificent  personality trait of all great rowers.

    Think of times when you did something extraordinary, a time when you continued on into the storm when those all around you fell away.

    You kept going, you persevered through night and day despite people firing negative shots at you from the shadows. You kept going despite them and despite… yourself.

    And you got there. You stood on that podium, or on that erg room floor, victorious after a life altering, mentally ravaging battle. And you did not even flinch.
     

    2. Optimist

    Everyone loves an optimist – especially a realistic optimist. Great rowers have this personality trait in spades.

    How many times have you been in a dark situation in your rowing or erging life when you stepped forward and offered yourself a glimmer of hope?

    A small, instantly realisable task that you can set to work on and learn to row your way out of darkness. And then you cherish that optimism and nurture it and grow it into something tangible. And you row out into the light.
     

    3. Obsessive

    Do you think about rowing more than 7 times a day? Do you surf the web endlessly searching for new answers to age old rowing problems. Maybe you talk a lot about rowing and your friends do too? That’s ok. You’re probably a rowing obsessive – and that’s exactly what you need to be.

    Most of your best ideas and discoveries will come when you occupy at the back of your mind, thoughts of rowing .

    Opportunities will arise and new ways of looking at your rowing life will present themselves to you when you are alert and open.
     

    4. Dreamer

    Sports psychologists and self help gurus talk about visualisation. Which is just a fancy way of describing day dreaming.

    I bet that you dream from time to time in broad daylight.

    From winning the big race next summer to smashing your P.B. at the CRASH B’s to sitting in the stroke seat of the 2016 Olympic winning 8.

    We all do it. Or maybe it’s more immediate dreams like pulling a big score on the erg at your next team workout and impressing your coach.

    To be successful at rowing you must dream. And you must dream big – with emotion.

    Think about how it will feel when you hit your goal, think of the details – little things like the sounds, smells, environment, the water conditions, air temperature…whatever. If you can dream well then chances are that one day, when your time comes, you’ll take it with both hands.
     

    5. Honest

    Most rowers have a degree of honesty about them that’s often difficult to come across in ordinary everyday life. Rowers live in the real world – the world of cold, hard early mornings and heavy training late in the evening.

    Rowers live in a world where the old cliché (even though we don’t like it) ‘no pain, no gain’ rings cold, hard and true.

    Always has, always will.

    Be honest with yourself, in your training, in your racing, in your commitment and in who you are. And you will be rewarded with a great honesty back from rowing.
     

    6. Realistic

    Everyone knows a rowing nut that just keeps talking that they are going to do this and do that. You know the type – the guys who say they are going to be in the top 8 by next summer. It’s hard not to be sceptical of this kinda talk.

    And you know what, every rowing group needs one.

    But the best rowers are realistic. They know where they’re at and they know where they want to go. And most of the time they have a good plan on how they’re going to get there.

    How do you square being realistic with dreaming? Well, most realistic dreamers have realistic dreams – goals that they someday can reach if they believe in hard work.
     

    7. Judgemental

    Have you rarely, if ever come across a rower who is not a good judge? Every day rowers must make big calls in the boat, on the erg, and in the gym about themselves and about others.

    And when a rower is making those big calls they grow into wise, insightful, wonderful people.

    Using intuition, experience, intelligence and reason they become like the Oracle at Delphi – a great symbol of ancient and revered knowledge.
     

    8. Trustworthy

    Imagine you had to go into a life and death battle. And you knew that your life depended on the work ethic, intelligence, bravery and trustworthiness of  the people you choose to go with you.

    Who would you choose?

    If you had to pick 3  – 5 people that you could honestly trust to fight-the-good-fight with, who would those people be?

    You would choose the best rowers you know because they are the kind of people who will fight for you and with you right up to the end and beyond.

    Learn More Insights in the 2K Erg Book...

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