UPDATED June 2015!
Rowing has progressed very nicely with two rows of 30,000 metres plus achieved as per the schedule. Times for these pulls were 2:32 and 2:30, slightly faster than marathon pace so I am happy with this. I will continue to do the interval work as this does help with all aspects of this challenge, my particular favourite (not!) is 2 x 3,500 metres at threshold, not pleasant in the last 1,000 metres. I also do 3 x 10 minute rows and 3 x 1,000 metres, each have their own little sections of horror but very beneficial.
When all this nonsense is over, I quite like the idea of trying to improve my 2,000 metre time, apparently this is a bit of a rowing benchmark.
When I first began to plan this challenge, the row was the thing that held the most unknowns. Like most people, I had spent a bit of time wearing myself out on the rower but not really paying attention to correct technique or using the computer properly.
I have a schedule of regular, long rows building up to 30,000 metres by 2nd week in June. Once I hit the 30k mark, all subsequent long rows will be 30k ensuring that I have plenty of volume completed before the event.
To complement the long stuff, I have a mixture of medium and short intervals to build up fitness and power. This coupled with the general strength and conditioning work I do as part of the programme is paying dividends but there is a long way to go until August.
Wear and Tear
Interestingly, it wasn’t my back that suffered but my glutes. Initially, it felt like muscles and tendons were snapping over my sit bones as I moved backwards and forwards. I sorted this with a seat pad from eBay and a stretching schedule during the very long rows.
The plan upon arrival at the gym is to stretch my glutes and hamstrings for a minute and then start rowing. I have been practising with the computer counting down from 42,195m, this seems to work better for me compared to the computer counting up from zero metres. I’ll row to 35,000 metres left and then spend a minute stretching, I’ll repeat this every 5,000 metres. I know from experience that if my glutes start to become uncomfortable, a stretch virtually resets them and I’m good to go for another 5,000 metres.
My only other complaint is around slightly sore hip fexors. To mitigate this I have been stretching regularly and make use of a physio to make sure there isn’t anything more sinister happening. Although not ideal but it’s bearable at training pace, which is faster that marathon pace.
As with the bike leg, it will be crucial to maintain an even pace, this takes concentration. To date (April 2015), my plan is to try and achieve a pace of 2:25/500 metres, this should see the rowing leg done in 3:30 including the stretch breaks. I will certainly be pulling at this pace for the first 25,000 metres, if I can increase things slightly after that I will but I do not want to jeopardise anything by going too hard, too early.
I have some visual cues which will remind me of pace: a piece of A4 with the numbers printed on it and the pace boat on the computer. In addition to this, I will time the stretch breaks to the second to avoid losing too much time getting on and off the rower.
I recently pulled 20,000 without too much trouble as I have formed a reasonably robust set of callouses on my hands. They were sore the following day though and I lost the top off one after using a bar bell. To mitigate and manage blisters I make sure the callouses are kept supply by using moisturiser and I am trialling a pair of weight training gloves made of leather – so far, so good!
Fueling and Hydration
Drinking is simple; I will take on a mouthful every 1,000 metres, that’s about every 4 minutes and 50 seconds. I’ve been using water plus an electrolyte table to combat loss through sweating. It will be tricky to eat as I row so I intend to take on energy as I stretch.
At this point in time I am confused about how much to eat but know a man who can help me, which will probably cost me a pint or two! I have been using the SIS energy bars, my gut seems to tolerate them and they don’t taste too bad. I was thinking of half a bar every 5,000 metres which is roughly a whole bar every 50 minutes. This will be supplimented with real food: bananas, pork pies and anything else that isn’t nailed down!
The plan is to get other people to row alongside at the cost of a small donation hopefully raising a bit of interest in the challenge as a whole. It will be good to have some company for the final leg, I suspect that I might be ready for a sit down once the computer reaches zero metres….