Sign up for this – don’t miss it. You can register under a rowing club or a CrossFit box affiliation. This year they are raffling off a C2 rower each week. This is run a little like the CrossFit Open competition, but with some challenging rowing workouts. See you there!
Last weekend I participated in the Ironmen Erg Classic, hosted by Don Bosco Prep rowing. I don’t usually do indoor rowing races, but this one encouraged participation by CrossFit boxes so I figured I’d jump in and support it. It turned out to be a great race – well organized, 100% on-time (a rarity in rowing), and with enough participants to get it into the Top 10 indoor rowing events in the US this year. Well done Bosco!
They ran all of the mens masters categories together, which was fun. I didn’t have a great time as I was still tired from the Row’d Royalty competition, but I managed to come in first in the 40-49 age group and 2nd overall. It was a good checkpoint for my personal training, and a fun time seeing a lot of faces I know from the NJ/NY rowing and CrossFit communities. I especially like the timing at the end of January – far enough ahead of CRASH-Bs but far enough out of the holiday season. I’ll definitely be back next year and would encourage any CrossFitters in the NY/NJ area to give it a try.
I’d encourage everyone in the NY/NJ/CT area to consider participating in the Ironmen Erg Classic indoor rowing competition on January 31 at Don Bosco prep in Ramsey, NJ. This is a 2K race, with categories for all ages and skill levels, and is a good mid-winter checkpoint for anyone planning on going to CRASH-Bs at the end of February. I don’t usually do erg competitions, but this one is run by Don Bosco, whose facility I row out of, and they are encouraging CrossFit boxes to send teams, so CrossFit Ignite will be there!.
Join me in the Row’d Royalty challenge starting January 7. This is a CrossFit Open – style online rowing competition run by Diablo CrossFit, with prizes for the top finishers. Register at http://rowdroyalty.com
My box, CrossFit Ignite, did the Jackie benchmark WOD yesterday:
50 thrusters @ 45lbs
20 pull ups
Honestly, I was coming off of a race on Sunday and hadn’t been doing much CrossFit for the past month, focusing on on-water rowing due to the late start after the long winter. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I haven’t done a thruster or pull up in a long time, and I haven’t sat on a static C2 in a while either.
The first thing I noticed was that I felt really strong, smooth, and connected on the C2. Single sculling does wonders for indoor rowing, if not the other way around. I felt I could easily nail the 1000m row, so here’s my strategy:
- 1000m row: go at 90%, hold the rating at about a 28, try to finish in the 3:20s but well within control. No sprint, don’t build up lactate. Don’t think strong. Think long, smooth, connected, consistent. I rowed this mostly eyes-closed, counting 100 strokes, visualizing the feel of boat run on smooth water.
- Thrusters: low, consistent cadence, pause briefly at the rack position after each rep to regroup, don’t put the bar down, ever.
- Pull ups: Get 5 unbroken and then see what happens.
This worked to land me an 8:07. The row came in at 3:26 at about 28 spm, but my HR was far from max and I was controlled enough that I was able to go right into the thrusters and maintain a mostly unbroken pace. The pullups were 6 unbroken and then sets of 2-3 with a couple seconds in between to finish it out. I fell like this strategy could yield a sub-7:30 time if I were more in practice on thrusters and pullups. The only limiting factor really was lactate buildup in my shoulders from the thrusters, which caused me to pause in the hang position several times. I did notice that other CrossFitters did not pace themselves on the row, and that resulted in a lot of pauses during the thrusters. Read the Pace Makes Race article in the CrossFit Journal (I am not a fan of Emily Beers after her ridiculous Winter Olympics article, but the rowing advice from Harvard is sound)! Jackie is not a 1000m row, it is an 8+ minute race!
Here’s a coxswain’s-eye view of the Overpeck 2K race course for rowing. It is filmed from my single but speeded up to cover the course in about 3 minutes. I tried to steer in the middle of the three lanes. You can see that there are stake boats, buoys every 500m, and a new pair of white stakes on the western shore every 500m as well. The course markings are much improved this year (thanks to Columbia!). The headwind sucks me off course twice (rowing boats get pulled around into the wind due to rotation around their center of mass), and I have to avoid a seagull and some debris, but I try to stay aimed at the middle target. If you are in the westernmost lane (nearest to the buildings), there is a kind of optical illusion that makes you want to steer too close to shore and then have to curve around after the narrow point at the 500m mark, but in reality it is a straight shot to the finish, so don’t get fooled!
Note: If you go above the Route 46 bridge on your warmup, always go through the center arch, and you have to stay far to the eastern shore, well outside the white State of NJ buoys that protect a bald eagle’s nest.
I’ve gotten some questions on how to approach the rowing portion of CrossFit Games Open workout 14.4:
14 minute AMRAP:
- Row 60 calories
- 50 Toes to Bar
- 40 Wallballs
- 30 Cleans
- 20 Muscle Ups
Here’s some key points:
This is a long workout. You don’t want to absolutely kill yourself on the row as you will have another 100+ reps to go after that.
60 calories is a weird measurement – you should view it as about 90 strokes / 850 meters.
In order to finish in the 3:00-3:30 range, men should strive to keep a >1200 calorie-per-minute pace and women should strive for >1000. This is of course a generalization – the reality is the rowing piece could take anywhere between 2:15 and 4:00 depending on fitness and technique.
Keep the cadence high – shoot for 30+ strokes per minute. For a workout of this length you do not want to crank the damper up and row strong and slow, despite the temptation. The flywheel will slow down too much in between strokes, and this rowing piece is long enough where you will be firmly in the aerobic energy system. Muscling it will simply shred you for the rest of the workout. I recommend damper between 4 and 6 for most people, keeping consistent pace at a cadence of 30 strokes per minute. Close your eyes, count out 80 strokes, then open them and see what you have left to sprint. That will give you a decent time on the row and will leave you with energy for the rest of the WOD.
As a benchmark, as a masters male I completed the row in 2:16 and logged 180 Rx reps for the WOD (i.e. I made it through the cleans).