A SEASON IN ROWING
The end of the ranking system on the Concept 2 website is upon us and I thought I would take a look back at my experiences, progression and achievements from this year. It has been a good first year and I am glad to have found the indoor rowing community, something I didn’t know existed, let alone as big as it is. Rowers are a friendly bunch and, although competitive, are always full of support and keen to help whenever they can.
I have always used the rower as part of my overall training as it has so many benefits we are all aware of. As a Pro rugby player it was frequently used as a conditioning tool, or a punishment (2000m) if you were late, wore incorrect kit or did anything wrong in fact!! A far more effective deterrant than a monetary fine it seems. Although rugby players are fit, the vast majority would do all they could to get out of any extra training!!
In the last 6-12 months rowing has become a far bigger focus for me. As I say I always trained hard on it, but I have certainly become more fit for purpose now. I have also kept up all the other aspects of my training: conditioning, weight training, running and cycling etc. There has definitely been a swing towards rowing, which has come at a slight cost to my overall strength, but certainly not my body composition, weight or physique.
It all started to get a little more serious as I decided to enter the British Indoor Rowing Championships (BIRC) in Cardiff last December. It was always something I had thought about, but a commitment that rugby had never allowed me to do. I trained specifically for it for a few months, won my age category and set a PB. The favourite had raced earlier in the day in the open to make the win feel little empty, but still a win is a win and it proved the springboard for me and the focus I needed to fill the competative void rugby had left in my life.
Throughout December I decided to try to set new personal bests for all my distances (including the 500m on Christmas Day!) This I did successfully in a 21 day period. The following month brought about the of birth of a yearly charity event I set up called ‘Janurow’ (www.janurow.org). My part in this was rowing well in excess of 1,000,000 metres (at a fair pace) towards the collective target throughout the month, raising over £8000 along the way. I am hoping Janurow grows year on year and we continue to help those who are less fortunate.
My interest in rowing had gathered momentum considerably following Janurow and I decided to enter the EIRC with the aim of going under 6m 10s for the 2000m. The turn around from the volume training the month before to speed and power had to be sharp! Silver was my reward (a fully fresh field this time), but I did row a decent race, gaining more event experience and hitting another PB.
All was good at this stage, until a failed bid to break the world record in aid Sport Relief in the tandem 1,000,000m. At the time of pulling out we were 4 hours ahead of target, and as disappointed as I was, I was not in the right place to take on such a feat. I think I knew that too. You learn far more in adversity than you ever do in success and it has turned out to be a pretty defining moment in my life, just not the way we had planned it. Perhaps that will be an event for another day!
I received huge support following that disappointment, so it was time to pick up the pieces and get back on track. I had 6 weeks to improve some of my other times before the rankings reset. I have worked hard to do exactly that and the biggest lesson I have learned is that if you have the balls to give it a go, far more often than not you will come out the other side surprised. And if you don’t succeed….. then you have something to work on. In exercise, and perhaps life as well, the finer the margins we are chasing, the greater the effort required. This in turn generally comes with greater reward.
As one season ends and another begins I looking forward to taking on new ideas and influences and pushing myself further from my mental and physical comfort zone. Just aiming to be the best I can be, time will tell what that is…