Thanks to Row2K for publishing my rowing hack submission, and giving a shout out to Ever Green Boat Club! I use this hack a lot while traveling. I also find that wearing FiveFingers on the erg not only saves on space in my luggage, but also makes me pay more attention to my finish timing, as they are both more flexible and less forgiving when your technique deteriorates.
Another amazing (and scary) story on Row2K about a current Dartmouth lightweight rower who survived cancer in high school and bounced back to row for one of the top lightweight squads in the country. Best of luck to Ryan and the team for the 2013 season, and I hope to get to see you race.
I haven’t been doing a lot of CrossFit lately as I’ve been spending a lot of intensive time on the water doing race rehearsal in preparation for a 1K and a 2K race next Saturday on the Cooper River in New Jersey. I have maintained core strength via squats and core work however. While I have taken a mostly unscientific view of training up until now, I put on a new SpeedCoach impeller, tuned my rigging, and have been paying a lot of attention to the split times on my rehearsal pieces, especially because weather conditions have been ideal for benchmarking.
Because I have entered both the Masters and Open single races at the Catch the Cooper regatta, I’ve been thinking about strategies for both, although admittedly I have not been training for the 2K distance on the water. One thing I have been focused on however is technical efficiency that will let me get the most out of my base rating. Base rating represents the bulk of the strokes in the race between the start and the sprint, and is hugely important in the 2K as it comprises 75-80% of the race.
There are many small tweaks that can help you get the most out of each base rating stroke on the water that are not really applicable on the Concept2 and can only be rehearsed in a boat, such as:
- Transferring your body weight synergistically with the run of the boat.
- Balancing quick acceleration at the catch with the maximum acceleration possible given the speed of the boat and water conditions to swing with the boat instead of against it.
- Working the subtleties of the catch to pick up the speed of the boat and accelerate it.
- Focusing on finishing square out of the water and rolling the blade vs. feathering too quickly, which typically gives a cleaner finish and a 1-2 second improvement in 500m splits.
- Varying the stroke length slightly depending on wind conditions.
These are probably unfamiliar to most CrossFitters, but are quite challenging. I have gone to bed neurologically tired each night, similar to that deep tiredness that comes from a snatch WOD where you have to put together so many small movements into a single explosive lift.
In Masters rowing and in most CrossFit WODs, there is a lot of focus on going out strong and sprinting as quickly as possible to the finish. I am hoping that, much like in Fight Gone Bad or the Filthy Fifty where you have to have a strategy and ration your energy to make sure you don’t burn out too early, a focus on base rating will allow me to expend most of my energy during the body of the race by being efficient and strong, allowing for a shorter and more concentrated sprint. This will be a new strategy for me, as I am typically a very fast starter but sometimes get carried away and burn out.
At the risk of giving away too much info the competition, here are the baseline speeds that I have settled on this week in the single scull (90kg Hudson racing single):
- Start: 1:39-1:41 splits at 36-38 SPM.
- Base: 1:47-1:50 splits at 30-31 SPM.
- Sprint: 1:43-1:45 splits at 34-36 SPM.
I am hoping to row somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:45 for 1K and 7:30 for 2K assuming relatively calm conditions.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Last week I did an extensive post on the importance of precision in maintaining maximal intensity during short interval workouts on the Concept2. I was pleased to see that I am not, in fact, a total nutter, because Bob Kaehler posted on a similar topic this week in his Coach Kaehler column on row2k.
Although I am not in the same league as Bob as a rower, I did have the privilege of training with him at Undine Barge Club in the early 90’s. He was in the “God Quad” while I was still in the development camp boat, before he went on to compete in 3 Olympic Games.
He has a lot of great things to say in his column, and even CrossFitters who are not rowers may find it useful because a lot of his posts have to do with mobility, flexibility, and biomechanics, especially regarding the back and spine. I have faith in his advice because he helped my wife achieve a successful outcome for a herniated disc without surgery. As an example, in a recent post he compares the rowing stroke to a power clean, and is one of the few rowing coaches who seems to target the hamstrings vs. the quads as a key development area for rowers for both strength and flexibility. This obviously makes a lot of sense to anyone who deadlifts.
Thanks Coach for the great advice!
Thanks to row2k.com for a link to this article in the Sonoma County Press-Democrat about rowing in Petaluma, California. I rowed there for about 10 years, did the original website for North Bay Rowing Club, and can testify that it really is an ideal, and often overlooked, place to row. The first thing you need for a rowing club is good water, and Petaluma has the best and longest rowable water of anywhere I’ve ever rowed, on par with the Connecticut River at Dartmouth. I love that Greg Sabourin, who founded the North Bay Rowing Club, is now trying to develop an all-around small craft center for rowing, kayaking, and stand-up paddling. When I visited last month, I not only got to row, but also to SUP, on the Petaluma River. Great water, almost no boat traffic, and an ideal climate make it a great location for pretty much any kind of athletic training, especially for rowers who like to cross over into cycling. Plus, as mentioned in the article, it is one of the few places where you can do a 26.2 rowing marathon with only one stake turn, and flat enough water to do it in a racing single. I’ve done that race in the days before it became the “Petaluma River Marathon” on Labor Day weekend, when it used to just be an unofficial mass scrimmage for all kinds of human-powered watercraft, and it is a blast. Let me tell you, after a bad winter on the east coast, an earthquake last week, and now a hurricane which has shut down Passaic River rowing most likely for 2 weeks, I am missing being in “Eden!” At this point I’d settle for just the quake risk, because at least out west they are prepared for it! If you are ever visiting the Bay Area, take a run up to Petaluma, rent a kayak or SUP board from Clavey, or meet the friendly folks at North Bay Rowing Club for a spin on the river. If you need a contact there, ping me on the blog and I’ll hook you up!