Rackin’ Up The Mileage
January 16, 2011 by jamieredman
Looks like we're training indoors today....
The cold NJ winter has left Lake Carnegie frozen and covered with snow, so Team USA is tackling our fitness indoors on the rowing machines!
Like most sports, rowing’s yearly schedule is divided up into many different training cycles, each with a specific focus. We just finished a short post-Worlds recovery cycle, where we had a few weeks to rest and cross-train after our international racing. Likewise, there are cycles where the focus is to increase our sprinting power, or to build strength, or to improve technique, etc etc.
Cross-training with Dad over Christmas (yay for recovery cycles!)
Although our coach never outright told us, it hasn’t been too hard to guess the goal of our current training cycle: endurance. 3 x 30 minutes, 2 x 50 minutes, 4 x 5 km… yep, an endurance cycle calls for lots of looooong, slow rows on the rowing machines.
The difficulty isn’t the intensity; in fact, we all wear heart-rate monitors to make sure we aren’t working *too* hard. Rather, these distance workouts tax our mental muscles. How do you keep your mind occupied for eighty, ninety, a hundred minutes of repetitive activity? Well, over the past few weeks, I’ve figured out a few tricks to keep the boredom at bay:
- 1. Rock The Tunes– A good playlist is essential; engaging lyrics and a fun beat can make the time pass in a jiffy! For example, 30 minutes can be counted as 600 strokes (an intimidating number), or as just eight songs (an easy, tick-em-off-your-fingers sort of number)
- 2. Practice My SAT Math– A 90-minute erg provides a great chance to keep up my mental dexterity. Ex: “I’ve gone for 21 minutes, which is 7/30 of the way done, which is … carry the three… subtract the ten… 23.33% of this entire workout.” Sure, it’s nerdy, but if I’m going to be stuck on the erg for 25km, I might as well boost my IQ by a few points!
- 3. Play With Heartrate– I fiddle with my breathing, my rhythm, or my own inner voice to see how low (or high!) I can get my heartrate while rowing at the same pace. For example, if I take a huge, deep breath at the end of every stroke, I can drop my heartrate by eight beats in just thirty seconds! Likewise, if I start thinking about my to-do list while listening to a high-tempo techno song, my heartrate will increase. Of course, my heartrate eventually goes back to its natural rhythm, but it’s still fascinating to see how my heartrate can be affected by non-exercise factors!
So with fun music, a working heart-rate monitor, and a rudimentary grasp of arithmetic, I can keep myself mentally energized as we rack up the mileage on the ergs. One benefit of all this indoor training: it will make us that much more grateful for the warm water and sunshine in San Diego!