Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Test of What? Patience, Most Probably!

Indoor rowing at Manchester Velodrome

The weather is absolutely beautiful, unseasonably warm and almost making up for the dismally wet summer. You would think, then, that the rowing fraternity at our local club would be eager to take to the river as quickly as possible during the sun-balmed evenings. Apparently not!
I have noticed a distinct tendency, very akin to that which I noticed as a former air-sports instructor, to stand around and talk about the sport rather than actually get on and do it.
This is particularly true of some of the more experienced crews: they certainly look the part standing round in flip-flops and faded splash-jackets and gazing distantly downriver, but I could count the times I've actually seen them rowing on one hand. The Husband is distinctly aggravated. Not only does the 'training programme' (and I use the term loosely here) change literally week by week (actually, none of the proposed sessions have been fulfilled), but he can never tell if, when he turns up at the boathouse as instructed whether there'll be anyone to coach him, even if he's gone to the trouble of arranging a coaching session. What tends to happen is that he arrives (along with his new rowing buddies) and finds that, despite it being perfect weather, no-one is there, or that there's been a gym-session declared, or that by the time everyone's got their arse into gear it's getting too damn dark. But - hey - they've had a splendid time standing round talking about what they would have done.
Last night he turned up promptly from work hoping to get a good hour plus on the water only to find that everyone was expected to do a 2k erg test. Even the poor guy who'd just returned, unwarned, from holiday. Fortunately the Husband wasn't too bothered - he's competed in the British and English indoor rowing championships and is currently following a Concept2 training programme at our local gym in order to compete again in the spring - climbed on his erg and did an easy sub-seven. Didn't push it, had something left in reserve and  recovered quickly. This caused some consternation amongst the men. Husband is a total novice, so wasn't expected to perform well, yet he beat most of the squad with ease. There seems to be a mystique to the erg that 'real' rowers like to bang on about, as if it's some dreaded instrument of torture that they love/loathe simultaneously but that 'non-rowers won't understand; etc. etc., but in reality all it gives is a basic indication of stamina and cardio-vascular condition.
It's not rowing. There is no point to it until you've got the technique sorted out - you'll never use the fitness it imparts unless you can row well enough for it to make a difference, and the best training for rowing is rowing itself. And as for using it to determine who gets a place in the best boats....well, that had to be quickly rethought!

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