Row, row, row your boat! (Trying something new)

One of my goals in the “fittest at fifty” campaign is to try a brand new sport or physical activity. I’ve often admired rowers–it looks so beautiful and like cyclists, they get to play outside in the sunrise. I love watching people at rowing practice as I ride along river and lakeside bike paths. But it’s nothing I’ve ever done before.

An aside: I’ve been tempted in the past to try rowing but been put off by weight categories. Light weight rowers are tiny. I think the cut off might be 130 lbs for women. But the heavyweights tend to Amazon proportions. Often they’re 6 ft tall or more. When I was younger I would’ve been strongly encouraged to “make weight” to row as a light weight, I think. I’m only 5’7 and in theory that’s doable. Not without ditching some muscle these days. As I mentioned in an earlier post I’m currently 122 lbs of lean muscle and bone.

But I think that matters less as a Masters level rower and competing for fun. At the encouragement of a friend, I attended two sessions this week at the London Rowing Club and I’ve joined their Off-Water Masters Program as a beginner. Our first coached day covered basic erg technique (like this, 7 Steps To Seriously Effective Erg Technique). Since it’s Canada in the autumn/winter we’re inside for quite a few months though they also have a tank to practice in-water technique. Rowing turns out to be very technical. (You experienced rowers can insert knowing chuckle here.) Lots and lots to learn (I like that) and I think I’ll never be able to look at people using the rowing machines at the gym the same way again.

The second day was our first 2 km erg test. Here I discovered that rowers and cyclists have something in common, a love of suffering! So that’s one transferable skill from cycling.

Since I have no shame and part of the joy of a new sport is I have no idea how bad this is, I’m happy to share my results here. I’m a beginner again, I love that. In fact, I think it’s one of the best things about being in reasonably good shape is that you can try new sports and activities and focus on technique rather than the fitness barrier. We’re going to repeat these monthly and results are posted on the bulletin board at the club so we can track progress. I’m just a little bit competitive (even if just with myself) so I like that. 🙂

Here’s my November 2 km erg time and splits

110 drag factor
2 km time 8:45.4
avg split 2:11.4

400 m 2:00

800 m 212.6
1200 m 217.2
1600 213.8
2000 212.8

What I really like: There’s a keen coach. I need that. Like cyclists, rowers like to suffer and that matches my sports profile. A time trial is a time trial.  There’s also lots of women my age.

What I’m not so sure about: It’s more indoor exercising which isn’t really my thing. I worry the technique might be too tricky to acquire at my age. I’ll report back.

In the meantime, I’m watching videos like the one below on proper erg technique.