CategoryErg

“How a High Carbo Diet for 2k Rowing and Erg Races Can Help You Go FAST”

Carbs are king for high intensity rowing. The harder you row – the more you burn.

First – a few simple truths:

  • Your muscles consume mainly carbohydrates (stored as glycogen) during a hard 2k erg or rowing race.
  • During an all-out maximum 55 strokes per minute sprint – almost all of your energy comes from carbohydrates.
  • On the other hand – at 50% of VO2max (which is around 69% Max Heart Rate intensity rowing) around 33% of your energy comes from carbohydrate.

In the beginning…

A high carbo loading diet was (and still is in different guises) a very popular method of improving athletic performance in the 1970s. Especially among marathon runners and cross country skiers.

But times have changed and most athletes & rowers are well aware of a good diet and its importance to high performance sport. Most good rowers (including lightweights) consume an excellent diet that has a high proportion of carbohydrates during training and in preparation for 2k racing.

But some still don’t…

Why a High Carbo Diet is Important for Rowing Training and Racing.

Rowing training fatigue is cumulative. Let’s take an example:

Say you erg on Monday and pull 3 x 1000 meters all out with  3 minutes easy rowing between work intervals. You go home and decide that you are too tired to eat and decide instead to watch the rowing scenes in ‘The Social Network’ over and over – just for err… kicks?

Then on Tuesday you do an early morning, on-water rowing session – 90 minutes at low rating and low intensity. But this time you do eat – before the session you have a coffee and a slice of toast. After the session, because you are in a hurry to get to work you leave the boat house immediately and end up eating nothing until lunch time. At which point you have a great big chicken caesar salad.

That evening (right after work) you have another erg session. This time it’s 5 x 5 minutes at Threshold pace. With a 5 minute break between work phases.

How do you think you would perform in that erg session?

Do you think that you would be pulling close to your best? (assuming the training load of the past 2 days is a normal load for you)

The answer is you would probably suffer hard because you have no fuel to fire your muscles because you’ve  eaten very little carbohydrates in the previous 24 hours.

In other words you’re glycogen depleted. And doing hard erg or rowing sessions (or 2k races) when you are glycogen depleted is NOT a good place to be.

Even over a week, you can slowly get depleted if you don’t keep topping up the fuel you’ve burned. This is even more problematic when it’s racing season and you are doing a lot of high intensity rowing sessions.

So the bottom line is when it comes to training – keep topping up. And remember – it’s cumulative (even over 24 hours).

2 Steps to Boosting Recovery Time.

After a hard interval rowing session or a long steady endurance session, eating carbohydrates within a short time can improve your recovery time. Aim to eat a carbo rich food with a high Glycemic Index(GI) within 2 hours of the session. During this time, your glycogen reloading ability is sky high so it’s a great head start in boosting your recovery time.

And the sooner the better.

If you can have something within 20 minutes of the rowing session it’s even better. And when it comes to competitive team or group situations, this can mean the difference between doing well at the following day’s 2k erg – and doing only average.

Here are some high Glycemic Index(GI) Food and Drinks:

  • Sports Drinks
  • Bagels
  • Raisins
  • Bananas (well ripened)
  • Dates
  • White Bread
  • Corn Flakes
  • Waffles
  • Doughnuts
  • Biscuits
  • Jelly Beans

The first few on that list are obviously healthier options than the last few. But you get the idea. Try to be organised and bring a little snack with you to eat immediately after training.

The next thing you need to do in your 2-step recovery eating plan is to eat a meal high in mid – GI Carbohydrates within 2 hours of training. Here are some examples of mid GI foods.

  • Wholemeal Pasta
  • Porridge
  • Muffins
  • Whole Meal Bread
  • Muesli
  • Whole meal Brown Rice
  • Durum Wheat Spaghetti
  • Potato

You should also include some protein and fats in your meal. And remember to rehydrate. Carbohydrate needs water to help store itself in your muscles and liver

A Final Word for Lightweight Rowers

Ideally you should be just above race weight 4 – 5 days before your big 2k. You wouldn’t want to be more than 2kg above for a lightweight man and slightly less than that if you are a lightweight woman.

But with practice and learning your body’s response to eating carbs and retaining water (1 gram of carbohydrate needs around 3 grams of water for storage) you can also take advantage of high carbohydrate recovery eating.

I’ve had considerable results with some experimentation with lightweight rowers I’ve worked with. Many initially came from an old school that said carbs are bad for weight control. We learned to disprove that notion and more importantly we learned to improve the rowers’ performance, health and well-being (feeling of happiness) using a high carbo diet with heavy training and steady weight control near big 2k races.

Lightweight Rowers – After Weigh-In Strategies To Help You Prepare For A 2k Race

After you have weighed in for your 2k erg competition or 2k rowing race you need to do a few crucial things. Otherwise you could bomb when it comes to your actual race. If you have followed a good pre race lightweight rower sweat down strategy, this is a good play for immediately after weigh in.

1. Immediately Begin the Slow Process of Rehydration

When you go into the weigh in room you need to bring a drinks bottle with you. Have it beside you so that the instant you step off the scales and get the all clear that you can row or erg in the lightweight class – start to drink.

2. Drink a Sports Drink slowly and a little at a time

The worst mistake you can make is to drink too much too soon. Even if you have a good quality sports drink with lots of stuff in it to help you retain the fluids, it will still run through you if you. Remember your stomach can only process a certain amount of fluid per hour. Sip a little – slowly and frequently.

3. Aim to drink it all right up to 5 – 10 minutes before start time.

Spread out your drink from the time you weigh in till the time of your race. There’s no point in drinking everything in the first hour post weigh – in. Use as much of the 2 hour window to rehydrate as you can. This will help you to drink and slowly and get maximum rehydration.

4. How MUCH you drink depends on lots of factors like:

  • Dehydration (how dehydrated you are)
  • Temperature. You will need more in warmer conditions.
  • The speed you drink at
  • How much you eat. Eating will slow down absorption.
  • The drink you use. Sports drinks are best because they are designed to help you retain the fluids you intake. Water tends to just run through without contributing much by way of hydration.
  • The temperature of your drink. Cold drinks get absorbed but run through quicker. This is not necessairly a good thing. Aim for a drink that is not ice cold.

5. You should eat something if you haven’t eaten in a while

Say you haven’t eaten since the evening before the weigh- in. And you don’t really feel hungry because you’ve been psyched all morning making sure you make the weight. You should still aim to eat something after weigh in.

Actually, if you are in good time and are on weight (or slightly below) 10 minutes or so before the weigh in you could have something light (like a rice cake or something).

6. What should I eat – and how much?

You can eat anything from breakfast cereal, to bread rolls and nutella, to rice cakes, to bananas, to a honey sandwich to a powerbar. The stuff lightweight rowers eat after weigh-ins is as varied as there are lightweight rowing techniques. (Literally hundreds of different options and opinions) . It really is up to you what you eat (if you eat at all).

  • Maybe you’re not comfortable with eating so close to race time – that’s fine.
  • Or you have eaten already because making weight for the 2k race is not a problem for you.

For a newbe – I would suggest you try something out in training before your 2k erg or 2k rowing race. Aim to weigh in just like a lightweight rowing race (except at a different target weight) Pick a hard training day and arrive for training early. Do the ‘weigh – in’ and eat afterwards. Test different foods to find out what you like. And more importantly – to find something that agrees with your digestive system.

The last thing you need is to have some rice cake repeating on you, mid-race.

7. Finally

The aim is to hold on to almost everything you have ingested pre race. If you need to go pee too often before the race, chances are that you have drank too much or too fast. It you have ever tried to do a 2k erg or rowing race in a dehydrated you will know that it is a brutal experience. And it can also be  dangerous.

In The Heat Of The 2k Erg Battle – For you if you are racing at the CRASH B’s (or anyone else doing a 2k)

 

Remember:

While it’s all well and good using the thousands of motivational techniques that you do on a day to day basis in racing and training. Please think of one thing…

What WORKS for you.

Be it:

• Rock solid 2k Erg Rowing Technique.
• Staying super smooth and relaxed when you are tired
• A strong middle 1000 meters race pace – sticking with your strategy.
• A hard start and strong finish to the line – playing to your strengths.
• Whatever esle (there are 1000′s…)

Above anything else – stick with it.

Use all of your mind power and will to hold yourself to the thing that you know works for you. Even if it’s just by the bare strength of a cobweb. Hold on and rely on it. You WILL get there.
 

Get Angry.

When you begin to start to feel sorry for yourself and begin to make compromises it’s time to get angry. When you are in the middle of that 2k and you are just about to entertain the thought of compromise –get angry.

Quit the bull, quit making the excuses about the hotel room, being awake all night, the rough flight or drive to Boston, not going well in training lately, whatever. Of course they are considerations, but remember that the greatest athletes of all time (including rowers) throughout history have performed no matter what.

Some have broken world records having woken up earlier that morning feeling absolutely tired, weak and crap. Some have become Olympic medal winners having admitted afterwards of wanting to stop mid race (I will find the article on this and post it).

Anger is a great lactic acid killer. It will clear your decks, focus your mind and will bring a hard reality to your rowing. This can work in your favor. But you must control it. Don’t go from a 1:45 to a 1:43 (you will blow up). HOLD what you are doing (hold your split), and use the anger to stop thinking about

  • Yourself
  • The guy beside you
  • The hotel manager
  • Your coach
  • The world
  • …Whoever or Whatever.

Use it to motivate you and help you POWER YOUR WAY THROUGH the danger point in the 2k race.
Go for it – let out an erg shattering and attacking primeval scream. Believe me it will work wonders for you.
 

Stick with your strategy

Sticking to your 2k erg test and race strategy is paramount. You should aim to stay with it because this is what you have prepared for.
But if you need to change in the middle of the 2k erg race, remember you can salvage a lot by thinking about what you can do to minimise your losses.

• You first goal should be to stick to your original 2k race plan.
• If it’s not working – get angry (see above).
• Assess your position. (if you still need to change)
• Follow the 2k erg test problem solver article and follow it home.
 
Finally Good Luck – All of my positive energy and good will is powered and directed towards you prospering and scoring well in Boston this weekend.

Rowing Catch – 3 Things You Need To Know

You need to have a good rowing catch for lots of reasons. Most rowers get it right and are capable of working an excellent catch at the beginning of the rowing stroke.

But whether you row on a daily or weekly basis, on the erg or in the boat, you should always aim to have a great rowing catch to get the most out of your rowing training sessions. Here’s how you can do it.
 

# 1 Sit At The Right Angle

Make sure you sit up relatively straight at the catch position. Don’t be in a position where you are reaching forward too far from your hips or shoulders because this will cause a weakness in your set up and rowing timing.

And it could lead to other technical problems during the power phase.

The correct angle that you should aim to be at with your body at the rowing catch should be a pitch forward at about 1 or 2 o clock. Anything more than this will be over reaching and will cause you to work harder than you need to when you are opening up your body on the drive phase.

On the other hand if you are too upright (or even leaning back – which is a big NO NO) then you will not be able to fully utilise your body swing angle towards the finish of the drive phase.

If your shoulders are too far out of your sockets it will cause a rowing catch that is taken mainly by your shoulders. It could also cause problems in the rowing power phase just like the wrong body angle will.
 

#2 Catch The Flywheel

The perfect rowing stroke catch for you involves putting yourself in a position of maximum strength and bracing capability. If you are outside the zones of optimum position your catch will be either too weak or too hard.

A weak catch will force you to row harder late in the drive phase. It’s easy to spot a rower with a weak catch – they usually look a little slow in the first part of the drive (especially with the legs) and have a big whooosh rowing finish to compensate for the lack of power at the catch.

A hard rowing catch is not the best way to begin the rowing stroke either because you are risking loading your lower back and shoulders in a way that would risk injuring yourself. It’s not worth it.

The best rowing catch involves a little brain power.If you think about the word ‘catch’ for a second you will realise that it means to catch … i.e. you are not hitting, banging, lifting, pulling, connecting, reversing…

You are simply… catching.

Catch the flywheel on the fly, tip it along and keep it going, don’t slow it down or try to move the flywheel faster than the rest of the rowing stroke can take.

Just think ‘catch’, same as you you’d catch a ball in mid-air – with skill and definite poise.
 

# 3 You Need to Brace

The bracing of the load of the handle through your body and on to your legs is crucial. The seat on the rowing erg or in the boat is merely a balancing object – it has nothing to do with power.

It’s only useful to maintain your balance vertically on the drive phase and a good place to rest and relax your legs on the recovery phase.

All the power in rowing is anchored between the handle and your feet. You are pushing one off the other. And to do it correctly in the right rowing sequence, you need to begin correctly – at the catch.

If you don’t brace yourself correctly the transfer of power from your feet to your handle you will never be fully effective of efficient.

Think about engaging your big muscles in a good order and sequence (legs, back, arms). Once you catch, brace your arms and back while your legs do the job. Then and only then should you allow the brace position of your arms and legs to change (in the back swing) through the rowing sweet spot and towards the finish.

The 2k Erg Test Results, Findings and Recommendations

So we finally got the chance to do the 2k’s yesterday.

Here are the results including the January results and the PBs of the rowers:

Group A

Friday 2K January 2K PB
A1 21 YO Male 6:48.1 6:48 2k 6:44
A2 42 YO Male 6:54.2 6:54 2k 6:39
A3 18 YO Female 8:10.8 8:11 2k 8:06
A4 28 YO Female 7:22.4 7:24 2k 7:24

Group B

Friday 2k January 2K PB
B1 33 YO Female 8:52.1 2k 8:54 8:54
B2 28 YO Female 7:53.2 2k 7:57 7:45
B3 19 YO Male 6:27.8 2k 6:28 6:28
B4 56 YO Male 7:27.3 2k 7:25 7:23

 

Comments

Like all 2k erg tests, this was a hard test for all the rowers. Some suffered more than others. Some scored P.Bs. Some felt bulletproof, some felt empty.

But the glaring question is can we find anything from timing of the work sessions we did in the past couple of days?

Generally Group B (the group who did the 1000 meters at pace on Wednesday (2 days before the 2k test) and (3 days after the hard weekend) fared better. Here’s why…
Continue reading

Rowing Lightweight? Here’s a Race Day Weigh – In Strategy

Lightweight rowers often spend more time thinking and talking to each other about ‘making weight’ than rowing technique and training.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

It’s particularly difficult at the beginning when you are an inexperienced rower or erg rower and haven’t got a clue on how to do it right.

But even if you are an experienced rower you might pick up a tip or 2 from the following discussion.

Wake Up Weight

Wake up early and check your weight  immediately. But make sure your bladder etc is empty becacuse this can make a difference of 200 – 300 grams. You should wear your weigh – in uisuit to get an accurate picture of how much you need to lose. Ideally you should not have to lose more than 1kg because anything more than this will lead you into a struggle you do not need. Continue reading

3 Ways To Pull The Erg Harder – Without Breaking The Energy Bank

 

#1 Load up the Front End

The erg responds well to a front – loaded power phase. If you are working hard at the back end of the rowing stroke you are probably limiting your erg splits because:

A. Working the handle hard towards the finish is not very efficient
B. You are missing out on the natural erg response to loading the first 70 – 80% of the drive.

So if you can spend your power early in the drive and not rely on back loading towards the finish you can produce more efficient power. And it’s a power curve that the erg monitor responds to  – sometimes by up to 1 second/500. (depending on your rating and power) Continue reading

2k Erg Rowing Test – The January 2011 Experiment.

I was involved with a group of rowers and ergers doing a 2k erg test last weekend. I was standing there right behind the ergers, shouting, encouraging and supervising and – you know how it goes, just helping out.

But afterwards we got talking about the run- in to the test and how crucial the last week is in determining how well you score. We talked about the actual quality and timing of the rowing workouts in particular.

Because I had no input into the preparation for the 2k at the weekend I didn’t want to be too critical. But I offered my help for the next test.

Long story short – some of the group have agreed and are willing to participate in a non-scientific 2k erg test experiment. We will re-test in 10 days from now (Friday February 4 2011).

The goal of the experiment will be to discover if there is a difference in the rowers’ 2k erg test results with different 2k erg test preparation plans.

The rowers and ergers will be split into 2 groups – 4 in group A and 4 in group B.

Both groups will follow the same rowing program until 3 days before the test.

All are from the same rowing club and have been following the same general group program since October 2010.

Each group has a relatively broad cross section of age, gender, experience and erging fitness.

Here are the groups:

Group A

Male (21 y.o) 5 year erg and rowing training. P.B. 6.44.3 (April 2010)
Male (42 y.o) 26 year rowing and erging training history P.B 6.39.4 (Feb 2003)
Female (18 y.o) 5 years rowing and erg training. P.B 8:06.7 (Feb 2010)
Female (28 y.o) 13 years rowing and erging experience P.B 7:24.1 (Jan 2011)

Group B

Female 33 (y.o) no rowing history. Erging for 1 year. P.B 8:54 (January 2011)
Female (28 y.o) 10 year rowing and erging P.B 7:45.0 (Feb 2005)
Male (19 y.o) 6 year erg and rowing training history P.B 6:28.0 March 2010)
Male (56 y.o) 8 year erging history. P.B 7:32.3 (August 2010)

Both groups will follow the same daily erg training workouts for the first 7 days (until Monday January 31) .

After that, Group A will change the erg rowing workouts they did in the run-in to last weekend’s test. Group B will follow a different workout plan.

I will post the daily erg workout for each group including the scores for each rower.

Again it’s worth repeating that this is a non-scientific test and the goal is to discover if there is any difference in the 2k erg scores of the rowers and ergers with different training plans in the final days approaching the test.

Rowing Tips Crucial to Prolong your Career (and prevent an early exit)

Ergers are used to tolerating hardship on the erg and afterwards paying the price with tiredness and soreness. But when we get older this is not always a good thing because it can ultimately be the difference between a few more years erging and rowing or having to call it a day.

# 1. Listen to the messages your body is sending you.

Back off.
Sometimes you need to know when to back off and use your brain a little more in order to protect your longevity in erging. You should avoid the sessions and exercises that aggravate your body. For example if you know that sitting on the erg for 1 hour will cause your back to be in discomfort for 2 days then don’t do it.

It’s not worth it.

And don’t worry – it’ will not be a show of weakness. Nor will it harm your erging progress because there are other equally effective and safer methods of getting a good workout that is still specific to rowing.

#2 Adapt

With the 1 hour erg example you could do a shorter erg and supplement your workout with another exercise (like stationary bike). Or break your session up into 2 x 30 minutes, 3 x 20 minutes or 4 x 15 minutes. Get off for a short break between sets, stand up move around and do some mobility exercises before getting back on and resuming.

# 3 Other Training

If you workout to support  your erging program by lifting weights then there is a good chance that some exercises will become aggravating to your body as you get older. Avoid the particular exercise at all costs.

While it’s important to maintain a strength program (for lots of reasons) – especially as you get older, you should look to be innovative and adapt to your particular needs in avoiding the aggravating lifts.

Lots of athletes in other (more damaging and injurious) sports, at the latter stages of their careers adapt their strength workouts to suit their needs and avoid flaring up any injuries they may have.

Baseball players, American Football players Soccer and Rugby players all have specialist strength coaches who help them adapt and replace aggravating exercises.

Instead of racking a power clean they might do dead lifts and supplement the upper body with an upright row. Instead of squats they might do isolated leg and core exercises specially adapted to protect the injured area.

Try Something New

If erging continuously starts to cause you problems – maybe you are doing 3 -5 sessions (or more for some ergers I know) per week you should begin to think about replacing some of those sessions with other workouts. Like stationary bike, cross trainer, swimming, winching, treadmill, hill walking/running… the possibilities are endless.

There is a triple advantage to doing this.

1. You don’t keep aggravating the problem.
2. You find a new motivationally boosting exercise.
3. You get a new fitness stimulus which can improve your performance.

The third point is an important one.

One winter a few years back, I was erging 5 times and rowing 3 – 5 times a week. I was getting a little fried mentally and facing the erg day in day out was very challenging. Even dreaming up new innovative sessions wasn’t really cutting it for me. I needed to renew my erging. So I began to run a lot more.

Over an entire winter season I probably erged 2 times(maximum) in every 3 week cycle. In March I pulled a new PB.

I put it down to a few things

  • Mental Freshness
  • A new Physical stimulus that enhanced my core fitness
  • A new perspective on erging and technique.

But running might not be for you. It might be swimming or cycling or whatever exercise you discover that taxes you like the erg. Last year I was involved with a group of rowers who wanted a new stimulus and we spent 12 weeks mid winter hammering ski cross trainers. The benefits were predictable, profitable and brilliantly refreshing.

2K Erg Rowing Test Fan Setting?

Once upon a time, I was involved in a summer time 2k erg test session with a group of international rowers.

One of my buddyies was testing as part of the final crew selection.

As usual, he began well and was settling down into a great rhythm at with his target power and stroke rate.

It was a good opportunity for us to gather some hardcore data from a series summer 2k erg tests from the group with little or no erging once we began the racing season properly in April.

After about 400 meters something weird started to happen to him. He started to rate higher and higher. But his split stayed the same.

After 600 meters his power started to slowly fail.

And he kept rating higher and higher.

He was up at 38 strokes per minute when he usually would be at 32 – 34 for 2k erg.

At 500 to go, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man in such trouble.
He was just fighting, pulling and spinning.
And going nowhere.

This was truly unheard of for this guy.

He eventually finished 6 seconds slower than his PB – when all the other guys on the team were pulling in and around their fastest erg times ever.

He was in a bad way.

What the hell happened?

He didn’t know, he said it just felt really weird. What?
“The resistance – it felt really, really light…”

I checked out the erg he used and saw immediately that the damper setting was rock bottom at level 1. I got on and pulled a couple of strokes and discovered that the drag factor was reading 74.

That’s 60 points below where he normally tested at.

I found that the damper handle was actually loose because it hadn’t been maintained properly. And every stroke he pulled, it slipped down a fraction of an inch. Slipping lower and lower.

As it got lighter and lighter.
He pulled harder and harder. (the handle moved faster and faster)
And rated higher and higher.
Till eventually he couldn’t take it anymore.

At least he finished.

Erg Rating, Power and Drag.

It was a perfect example (at great expense) of the connection between drag factor, speed of the drive and stroke rate.

We learned a new trick that day. We wondered if it could go one way and punish, could it go the other way and reward?
So from then on we erged between 5 and 7 points below our normal 2k erg drag factor setting.
Only on hard training and racing days would we erg at the normal 130.
Did it make a difference?

Absolutely.

What You Can Learn.

It’s worth a try. Initially, it will feel light and you will probably have a little trouble in keeping your normal split for a particular rating. Perhaps you could try it in your warm up and move to normal drag factor before you begin the nuts and bolts of your workout. A word of warning – be careful of your back and do not increase the resistance by anything more than you can handle.

© 2014 Erg Rowing.com

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑