I have been lax of late with my training. After my self – elected break from full on rowing training over the winter, I pottered along keep keeping fit but just not pushing myself to the limit every session. It was a nice change and a break I emotionally needed.
But as we have moved in to the summer, I began to become a bit complacent about my training. We all know that complacency breeds laziness. What happened? Well, my fitness had no longer just ‘levelled off’, it was dropping. Gulp! So this week I made a pledge with myself: to train every night from Monday to Thursday. Friday would be a permitted rest day before my Saturday outing. The training didn’t need to be all intense but I had to do something every day.
Fuelled by my new enthusiasm I started the week with a 10k steady-state erg. 10k is quite a long distance on an erg I was cruelly reminded, but I finished in an acceptable time. This boosted me for Tuesday when I decided to run. Yes, run. I did a pretty amateur 2 mile circuit but, again, it was tougher than I remembered. It was hard getting upstairs last night.
Today I was tempted to wimp out but one thing a rower always retains is a stubborn pride in the face of failure. So I opted for a body pump workout on one of my Davina DVDs! The thinking behind that was it would focus more on arms than legs, which needed a break. Sadly this DVD was not the same as the other one – the session was VERY leg focused.
This evening my legs are very sore. My core is highly likely to reap revenge tomorrow with some delightful muscle cramps. I was also zonked by 8pm and am going straight to hit the hay after this blog! I am off course quite happy in a slightly sadistic way that any athlete will understand. But I also can’t help but feel it would have just been easier to not let my fitness drop in the first place. But where is the challenge in that..?!
I was going to train when I got home today (Lou was busy so I didn’t go to the club) but after baking in the sauna that was the train for 30 minutes (it was VERY unpleasant!) I just couldn’t summon the energy to train as soon as I got in. After a light dinner, I decided to train just before 8pm when it started to get a bit cooler. Despite that, after half an hour of kettle bells I was sweltering. It did made me think, I really dislike winter training but at least once I have started, I can get through a decent cardio session without almost collapsing from dehydration!
Of course, this is why summer training is typically sprints and endurance pieces and long weight sessions are reserved for those nippy winter evenings. Also, winter comes with it’s own challenges; It is astonishing the amount of tedious admin one can ‘discover’ when it is time to get changed for an erg session in a 0 degree conservatory. I’m not saying I want the winter back, oh no! But it does have a few benefits. Until then though, I’ll just make my peace with training in the heat. At least if I don’t train quite so much, in the summer I have fewer custard-smothered puddings to burn off!
It’s a difficult time of year for training. The weather is not at it’s best and there is nothing harder than forcing myself out in to the dark and cold conservatory to erg. Or out of the house and down to water training after work. Or out of bed early on a Saturday to de-ice the car for weekend outings. I enjoy my rowing and my exercise, but with just the rigmarole of getting to and from work in the cold, as well as doing normal house-hold tasks, I find my energy lagging at the start of the year.
I’ve mentioned before in a blog post that I wonder whether it is possible to commute and seriously compete in the world of Senior rowing. This isn’t one of those posts, but I suppose this is the time of year where I find myself asking ‘Why am I doing this?’. Not the rowing, as I said, I love the rowing, but the repetitive commitment I make to it as I try and stay at a certain level. The pressure to do that comes, for the most part, from within too.
For fear that some of my squad will read this and think I am not pulling my weight, I do train my way through these dips; I guess that is what the routine does – engrains the training habit in to you. Yesterday though I had my first “Nah, I don’t want to.” moment mid way through training. It wasn’t because I physically couldn’t (the reaction we all often get during a rather arduous erg piece), rather I just didn’t fancy it. Any ‘normal’ person would probably have let it go, but I felt a tinge of guilt at not seeing the session through. But then, this is my spare time and my hobby, should it matter?
I suppose this is why professional athletes tend to retire at the top of their game. To compete at a sport of any kind means you have a certain level of competitive drive. This is usually underpinned by a desire to be the best (or try your damn hardest to be as far up that ‘Erg Score’ list as possible!). To not have a clean break is difficult because you just have to slowly watch yourself slip down that ladder, all the time knowing what you used to be capable of. I guess there is one obvious word which sums this up: pride.
I’m not really sure what I am trying to achieve from thinking all of this through – perhaps reaffirming to myself that I do get some pleasure out of it. Having not raced in such a long time, it’s hard to know. It’s just not very motivating to realise that some of the races which may re-inspire me involve sitting out on the river in these sub-zero temperatures! Time to buy some more thermals maybe…
Yes, it is that time of year again, year end. That can only mean one thing, my annual review of the year! Let’s see if I can successfully save this one though after last year’s over-writing disaster! This year the format is slightly different – hopefully makes it easier to see the break-up of events over the year.
I should have been racing at Fours Head today. For the first time in, well, my entire time at Broxbourne, we got a crew line-up out 8 weeks in advance of the race. Not only that, but all four of us were almost equally matched in build, erg speed and strength. As mentioned in my previous post, our first race of the season was thwarted by illness. But Lou, bounced back and last Saturday and Monday we had two good sessions. We were ready.
Unfortunately, fate / life / luck (whatever you want to call it) had other ideas. On Thursday, Lou had a relapse; It was not wholly unexpected in some ways but after two successful outings, we had not activated our contingency plans. Sadly, despite a lot of trying, the viable subs were not available at such short notice. If it has been an eight, we’d have had more options. But you need to be cautious about who you sub in to a coxed four, especially in a boat known to be quite twitchy! Couple that with the fact that we were racing WIM1 (a fairly high status only superseded by Elite and Senior), we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves – that does nothing for morale.
We took the tough decision to scratch the crew. It brings the racing year of 2012 to a rather deflated close. But, it is a timely reminder that sport, and life, can be cruel. Putting all of your focus and energy in to a single event comes with great risk. Whilst I feel real disappointment, it was certainly not as deeply felt as in 2009 when the race was cancelled due to conditions, but where I had been channeling all of my work stress in to training for that single event. A more public example of the risk of working towards a single event was the Cambridge / Oxford Boat Race this year, where some numpty swam in to the path of two racing eights (I still cannot understand who would not see that as a terrible dangerous thing to do but…). Of course, you cannot always avoid it, but having other things in life to focus on are important. (Shameless plug here for my review of ‘The Secret Olympian’ which touches on some of this for Olympic Athletes.)
So, onwards and a focus on keeping fitness up / improving over Christmas, a period known to be tough for training. I am determined to take some positives from this. Yes, we didn’t race, but we have made real leaps and bounds in that 4. If we can continue to build on that, 2013 could be a much better year…as long as no-one trips over and squashes any of the eggs of course.
I have been back training (properly) following my bike accident for about 4 weeks now, with my ‘renewed’ motivation to train plus Olympic inspiration meaning that I have been really trying to focus on getting in to a solid routine (training every day 5 – 6 days / week) to carry me through the winter. Whilst my arm is fully functional again, I am still building-up my weights, so I decided to mix a bit of swimming in to my schedule to help focus on upper body strength and endurance; this has the added benefit of both ensuring I am cross-training and being something I can do near work so that on ‘later’ days I go home knowing I am done.
As a result of both injury and generally slackness on my part, my erg splits are really down on where I would want them to be, so I have also being doing some work on the blasted machine all rowers hate. For August, I was just really working on re-building my stamina. As we approach the start of the new season it will be all about endurance for head races so I need to get used to the distances. My last 30min r20 wasn’t amazing but it’s only about 180m off my PB (doesn’t sound like much to a non-rower but really is a bit gap to close). I need to do some more work there.
The final area of focus throughout August has been on my diet, from two angles really. For starters, I did a 2 – 3 week food diary (something I often do) because I feared I had become a bit devil-may-care about what I was eating. It was not as bad as I feared, but I was eating a too much of the wrong thing rather than too much full-stop. I have been trying to cut-back on the bad food since – it acted as a harsh reminder that you do have to control your diet carefully when you stop training! Again, it was not all as a result of my arm injury. but that didn’t help because I was eating more during my earlier stages of recovery. It was also clear I was not getting enough protein which is critical for energy and muscle recovery (which I will have to do more and more of over the coming months). The last fortnight has been a real focus on trying to lose some excess body fat and get a better protein intake so I am less reliant on carbs for energy.
Of course, plans were scuppered this week by a cold. It didn’t properly hit until Friday night / Saturday morning but I had been feeling the effects earlier in the week (although didn’t understand this until the weekend). Whether it has come on as a result of my recent changes or, more likely, I have just caught something from work, I’m not sure. Thankfully it is almost gone, having shown it’s full colours right in time for the Bank Holiday weekend – at least I am recovered for work :s
So, with only a few days until the end of the month, focus is starting to shift the September plan. I haven’t got it clearly mapped out yet because I am waiting for a squad meeting later in the week but without going in to detail it will be endurance and strength. This translates to long low-rate power ergs and weight sessions. I love it really, don’t I?!
Tonight was my first outing in the double with Lou since, ooh, errr, about October. So, much time has passed since I have been in a boat that small, let alone been responsible for steering it!
As I am fairly sure I mentioned in blog posts earlier in the year, 2012 is the year I am trying to make myself calmer. This basically means that when a situation is angsty or stressful, I just take a deep breath and get on with it. The effects have been noticed – a friend at work said I ‘seemed much calmer’ than at the same point on my previous project. I asked Mr. W whether he had noticed a change – apparently not. I chose to interpret this as he had just adapted to the change and re-baselined my know freak-out levels accordingly.
The first steering of 2012 went okay. It was quite dark and there are lots of trees growing out of the river, so this made me wary. There were not too many other boats which was a blessing but I still had moments of stress. The outing overall was quite good for a first return. I am determined to tackle the calm steering. With hindsight, I think I am actually much better than this time last year – there is just so much further I have to go!
I am re-decorating the hall. It is the first room in the house I decorated, purely to get some colour in the house after 5 months of living with magnolia rooms when we moved in. However, after 4 years, it is looking rather tired and the colour is a bit, well not quite gaudy, but it doesn’t match with the ‘pallet’ of the rest of the house. (I sound far more artistic that I actually am there!). However, the hallway has the biggest amount of wall space to paint, so I am using up two days of my annual leave from last year to get it done.
Day 1 has gone well – I got the ceiling done before lunch (albeit a late lunch!) and then I got about 50% of the upstairs walls done. Tomorrow I have the ‘big’ wall (stairs to ceiling) and the downstairs to do. But, I won’t lie, I am shattered! I had forgotten how tiring decorating was and I think this is more so because I have to keep going up-and-down the stairs and back-and-forth along the landing. According to some research I have done, you burn approx. 160 kcal per hour when decorating – I did 8 hours of painting today (excluding breaks), so I don’t feel too guilty about not training! It also explains why I even thinking about what to write here is hurting my brain!
So I shall end this rather dull blog and zone out to ‘Location Location Location’ – that shouldn’t require any brain power and I might get some decorating design tips to boot!
I did my final 5k erg test of the season (I think / hope) on Wednesday. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I find music crucial for erging. This is even more true for an erg test; it’s not just the songs, but the order that matters too! So, here is my most recent erg playlist and reasons why:
So there we have it – that is the thought I put in to my playlists and I genuinely think it pays off. Some may not find a benefit, but if music helps you push yourself, then take 10 mins and pick some tunes and imagine how you want to hear them through that darkest of times!
So, this Saturday I am racing at Peterborough Head. Without wishing to insult the wonderful people at Peterborough City Rowing Club (who organise and host the event), it is typically the most miserable race of the year! In true style, the weather has also been very accommodating of the race with the temperature dropping sub-zero at the start of the week and predictions have it staying there until next week at least. “I thought this was supposed to be the good things?!” I hear you cry. So, yes, here goes:
So next time you dread the impending head race, think of those things and happiness will be restored!