Lessons Learned from Rowing a Half Marathon
A elementary tenant of Crossfit coaching is to “keep workouts short and intense.” Why, then, did I join a complete/part marathon row modeled off the hot Games match? Great query.
I regretted my choice virtually straight away after committing to 5 weeks of long-distance rowing; alternatively, reflecting at the coaching revel in and the part marathon itself, I realized necessary issues about myself as an athlete and trainer that I’m hoping will receive advantages different energy athletes.
Rowing Marathon Background
My Crossfit health club arrange a rowing seminar with a collegiate rower grew to become faculty rowing trainer to prep our small staff for 5 weeks of staying power coaching and the grand finale—21,098 meters for the part and 42,196 meters for the whole marathon. During the seminar, we went over rowing method, stroke charges, pacing, and different methods for our marathon effort.
Over the ones 5 weeks, we had two rowing workout routines, one executed in period genre and one higher-volume day. It used to be additionally recommended that the ones collaborating within the row attend the lengthy cardio exercise programmed for the remainder of the health club every week. In overall, we’d educate high-volume cardio paintings thrice a week for 4 weeks, with the 5th and ultimate coaching week together with just one lengthy conditioning piece as a taper ahead of the primary match.
Five Weeks of Conditioning
Part of my motivation for signing up for the marathon row used to be my deep disdain for all issues staying power; I knew that I might by no means do one thing like this except I had a trainer, a plan, and a staff to undergo along me.
Each Sunday, our trainer despatched out an e mail with the week’s upcoming conditioning items. The emails stuffed me with dread and foreboding. I spent the morning training my very own coaching shoppers thru their workout routines with the considered an hour spent at the rower striking over my head like a darkish and ominous hurricane cloud. When the time got here to hop at the rower and knock out that day’s exercise, I did so begrudgingly.
The unexpected factor about long-distance rowing is that it didn’t suck after a few minutes. As lengthy as I centered at the display screen whilst matching my stroke charge and tempo to the programming for that day, I fell into a secure rhythm of pull-catch, pull-catch, with out actually excited about it. It’s as even though I was a part of the erg.
I suppose that’s what runners are speaking about when they are trying to persuade me that operating is stress-free. While I didn’t in finding the rowing workout routines precisely stress-free, I did really feel completed after completing every piece. Something about dripping with sweat makes you’re feeling such as you did one thing along with your time.
Lessons from Training
In the kick-off seminar, we established that shape could be the whole lot. Think about it you might be at the erg for roughly 1.Five-2 hours to row a part marathon or Three-Four hours for the whole. That’s 90 mins at the low finally end up to 240 mins at the excessive finish. Even pulling a low stroke charge of 22 s/m approach you’re doing 1,980 reps (very best case) or Five,280 reps (worst case). That’s a lot of freaking repetitions and now not a lot of room for sloppy motion.
While coaching, I centered closely on making every pull as on the subject of “perfect” or as supreme as conceivable given the calls for of the piece. That supposed keeping up an upright posture (“chest up”) and pulling in the proper order: pressure along with your legs, lean again into hip extension, end with the fingers, and go back to the catch main along with your fingers. The toughest section used to be having the endurance to go back the take care of ahead of breaking on the hips and knees to go into the catch place.
The two other kinds of coaching items (periods and quantity paintings) supplied a terrific alternative to be told the adaptation between stroke and tempo and the way every affected my efficiency at the rower.
For the ones now not acquainted, your stroke charge is proven at the erg show as “__s/m” or strokes in step with minute. Generally, shorter other people have to drag extra strokes to hide the similar distance as a taller particular person pulling fewer strokes. A decrease stroke charge additionally approach you’ll be able to maintain extra power throughout lengthy distances since you’re now not pulling as continuously.
Pace, alternatively, not directly measures the facility of every person pull. A sooner tempo signifies that pull “moved” your boat additional, aka, you set extra energy into that stroke than any individual pulling at a slower tempo. (Yes, you’ll be able to set the rower to show your wattage, which immediately measures energy, however that’s lovely beside the point with out context.)
Long tale quick, a more potent leg pressure helped me pull a sooner tempo, whilst sooner fingers and no more leisure at the catch helped me pull a larger stroke charge. I got here to think about it as tempo:legs and stroke:fingers. If my tempo fell underneath my goal, I’d put extra energy into using with my legs. If my stroke charge didn’t fit the day’s programming, I might alter the velocity with which I returned the take care of after finishing my pull.
This would possibly sound bizarre, however I feel studying to have sooner fingers at the pull and catch carried over to my barbell blank as a result of I spotted in contemporary energy workout routines that my elbow pace beneath the bar has progressed. Totally anecdotal, in fact, but it surely’s a laugh to note lift over to different sides of Crossfit.
The ultimate lesson that distance coaching taught me is how great it feels not to get beat up in a exercise. None of our coaching items left me gasping at the ground. None had been designed for us to row at any place coming near our most effort (in truth, many of the items had been written as Five-15 seconds beneath your estimated 2,000-meter tempo).
During the 5 weeks of coaching, I persevered energy coaching however dropped metcons to just as soon as a week. Despite fewer Crossfit-style metcons, my staying power and cardio capability appeared to build up over the 5 weeks of conditioning, and my restoration progressed.
As a energy trainer, I respect the programming that will get effects with out destroying an athlete. As an athlete, I favored coaching that didn’t ruin me!
Preparing for Half Marathon Day
Okay, I already admitted to strongly disliking aerobic, so it must come as no marvel that I signed up for the part marathon as a substitute of the whole. On recreation day, I’d get started within the first warmth and be adopted through a spouse, who would row the second one part of the marathon. Our health club had 9 groups splitting the marathon in part and 5 – 6 athletes decide to the whole marathon. So a minimum of I wasn’t the craziest one within the room that day.
The day ahead of the race, I made positive I had the whole lot I may be able to want right through the development: the garments I used to be going to put on to the health club, the garments I’d put on at the rower, the squeeze peak water bottle I’d sip on right through the race, the BCAAs and snacks to gasoline my row, and my (totally charged) Bluetooth headphones. Everything used to be in a position to move the day ahead of.
I made positive to hydrate right through all of the day ahead of the race and get to sleep round 10 pm the evening ahead of in order that I may get a complete Eight-Nine hours of sleep.
Going into the race, I had a plan of what stroke charge and tempo I sought after to carry, after I would build up each, and when I used to be going to sip water. Some of the rowers deliberate to consume gummy bears, gels, or different fast sugars right through the development, however I used to be going to depend only on BCAAs and an electrolyte pill dissolved in my squeeze-top water bottle. I did pack a child’s applesauce pouch simply in case I wanted extra power right through the part marathon however didn’t plan to make use of it.
The morning of the whole/part marathon, I awoke most effective an hour previously, realizing I wouldn’t want time to consume or do a lot of the rest ahead of heading to the health club. I sought after to avoid wasting all of my power for the 21,098-meter effort. I additionally didn’t wish to really feel in poor health at the rower. I’d save consuming for later on.
My recreation plan for the race used to be to begin at round 20-22 s/m and ramp up my stroke charge each and every Three,000 meters till I settled into 26 s/m. I additionally sought after to carry between 2:20 and a couple of:30 tempo at some stage in the row till going all-out at the ultimate 500 meters.
To keep hydrated and energized, I might sip on electrolyte water each and every ten mins for the primary hour, then each and every 5 mins in the second one hour. To accomplish that, I practiced rowing with one arm in order that I may drink water with out preventing. My objective used to be to finish the part marathon with out a unmarried ruin, most commonly as a result of I didn’t wish to restart the erg’s fan and waste power within the procedure.
The one great factor about rowing a part marathon? You don’t need to heat up. You simply take a seat down and get started rowing—slowly in the beginning, then selecting up your tempo as your frame adjusts to the paintings you’re doing. My recreation plan used to be lovely conservative. I may have held a sooner tempo and completed quicker. (I received’t be trying out that idea any time quickly, even though!)
The worst factor about rowing a part marathon? Well, there have been two primary negatives, if I’m being fair. First, it used to be dull as all heck. And secondly, my butt went numb after a whilst and used to be sore for days later on. Bike shorts would were great. One of the athletes in my warmth sat on an ab mat, which I assumed used to be sensible.
One of the most unearthly portions of the entire revel in used to be that the passage of time appeared to transform meaningless. After the primary 9 mins, I used to be feeling nice. Around the thirty-minute mark, all I may take into consideration used to be how a lot farther I needed to move. I began enjoying video games in my head. “Two minutes until your next water break” or “1,000 meters until you pick up your pace.” To say my educate of idea was repetitive could be a sarcasm.
The very best factor right through the row used to be seeing the meter countdown drop from 5 digits (21,098m) to 4 digits—hi, Nine,999 meters to move! I used to be simply over midway in the course of the piece and sought after to begin hauling ass to complete sooner, however I had to keep in mind to keep on with my pacing as a result of I nonetheless had about fifty mins of rowing forward of me.
You understand how I mentioned I didn’t plan to consume the rest whilst I used to be at the rower? Just in case, I had positioned a squeeze pack of applesauce at the ground subsequent to my erg. Around 1.Five hours, I felt a headache come on, so I went for the applesauce. Total existence saver! The sugar cured my headache in an instant, and I felt like I had extra power for the general Five,000 meters.
My plan used to be to open up the throttle across the 1,500-meter mark, so I picked up my tempo to a 2:15 break up, which I held till 500m. From there, all bets had been off. All I may suppose used to be “whatever you pull on the screen, that’s how much time until you can get off this thing!” I ended the general 500 meters with a 2:08 tempo.
My quads felt like they had been stuffed with cement for all of the two mins and ten seconds of all-out rowing. But I did it!
Immediately following the part marathon, I felt surprisingly high-quality. I wasn’t particularly drained or sore. I used to be considering I must have driven myself more difficult. Considering this used to be my first strive at a distance match, I used to be pleased with my end time, even though.
About twenty mins after finishing the part marathon, my legs began to really feel like lead, and I spotted how sore my butt had gotten from sitting at the plastic seat for just about two hours. That used to be more than likely the worst section, and the soreness lasted a couple days.
About one hour after the development, I began feeling light-headed and most often exhausted. I knew I had to consume, however I wasn’t hungry. I had anticipated to really feel starving after the development. As it seems, adrenaline from staying power occasions can suppress your frame’s starvation indicators. When you’re placing such a lot power and energy into “just keep moving” for 2 hours, your frame shuts down much less crucial purposes, like your digestive device. Despite being in a critical calorie deficit from the two-hour exercise, I felt no starvation in anyway.
The remainder of the day, I used to be merely drained. Napping didn’t lend a hand. I nonetheless felt drained the following day however skilled virtually no soreness rather than my butt from the plastic seat. If I had run a part marathon my frame would’ve been destroyed.
Lessons from the Half Marathon Row
Upon mirrored image, I feel long-distance occasions can also be a precious revel in for Crossfitters as a result of we’re now not used to doing staying power coaching. Crossfit’s “keep workouts short and intense” philosophy is excellent for development sturdy, robust athletes, but when we’re to proceed claiming that the game of health produces the “fittest people on earth,” we must all adopt some kind of staying power coaching one day in our Crossfit careers.