A different Kind of Talent

I don’t belong to a rowing crow at the university because I have to. It is not a requirement to follow a sport, nor is it for basic exercise. It falls into the category of a true passion. I can’t say enough about the enjoyment that comes with my time on the river. I am lucky to have this opportunity right nearby. It is all about upper body strength and stamina like any athletic endeavor with a pinch of coordination here and timing there. Thus, it is an all-around means of maintaining good health, a toned body, while having a lot of fun. Participating in tournaments is another plus.

Given that I am often found at the water’s edge, it is not surprising that things happen there. People watching as we pass by in our boats comment or ask questions. I say goodbye to my fellow rowers and plan future meetings and activities at the same time. Recently, I saw a man who was carrying his handmade wood canoe. He was such an anomaly among the college students. From where did he come? I had never seen the likes of him before.

I was aghast. This is truly a different kind of talent from mine. I wouldn’t mind learning more about woodworking, especially in regard to a vessel to practice rowing. You can make it to your specifications and finish it as you like. Sizes are pretty standard and there are waterproofing requirements. I will keep this idea in the back of my mind for future leisure time. (I might have to wait awhile, given our heavy competition schedule).

I never was a do it-yourselfer before, although my father was quite good with woodworking tools and was a member of this web site: It is an art to make cabinets, furniture, or decorative objects. It takes practice and motivation, qualities I devoted to rowing instead. I do admire anyone who can use his hands at a craft and execute something like a wood project. Others say the same thing about me—how did I select the sport and develop the skill to excel.

I saw the man with the canoe only one other time. I took the opportunity to look his work over and inspect the canoe construction. He started talking about the process, based on old Indian lore. How does one even access such information? Technology was primitive at best. Nonetheless, the boats worked fine and served their owners well for centuries. No fiberglass for this man. He was authentic through and through. How many other items can we make ourselves that reflect the past? Going retro or off the grid is popular all of a sudden. It is fun for a while, but I would never win a race in such a vessel.

Yet Another Cold Shower

My story today is about camaraderie and friendship in a new guise. I want to tell you about the time a group of us had to make summer plans. As background, I have a lot of buddies from the rowing teams at the university. The junior and senior teams are loaded with my fellow travelers who love the sport. We spend a lot of time watching tapes and talking about techniques as you can well imagine. We also do a lot of things together in our spare time. We go to the gym, for a meal, or attend an expo. Along different lines, a few of us decided to rent a place off campus for the summer to get off campus. It found a budget place suitable for students, but not much else. The plumbing left a lot to be desired. So did the décor and appliances.

One of my biggest pet peeves that summer was the lack of sufficient hot water for three burly guys who like to take long showers. We didn’t know, and it was too late by the time we found out. We had paid our deposit and moved our belongings. We were busy practicing our rowing to keep in shape for the fall competitions. I was the first to become bombarded unexpectedly by a blast of cold water after I had already situated myself under the spray head. No amount of fiddling with the knobs helped stop the freezing deluge.

Students are fairly tolerant as a species and live in all kinds of compromised conditions, but this was over the acceptable line. We could tough it out (all of us voted no) or bitch to the landlord. No matter how the stove or refrigerator worked, or if there was central air conditioning or a floor fan, we expected hot water at the very least. I volunteered to make the call. I wasn’t optimistic and readied myself for an argument. I don’t enjoy confrontation and was prepared for the worst.

Surprise! Without a peep, the landlord dutifully agreed to check out the faulty water heater and repair or replace it in due time with one of these tankless units: It only took a few days to get results. The moral of the story is to trust in your building manager because we got a new energy-efficient tankless model that worked like a charm. No one envisioned a top-grade unit with all the bells and whistles. You can have as much hot water you want at any time of day or night with easy-to-prepare settings. We are now a bunch of happy campers, or rowers, if you will.

The Quest for a New Coxswain

It’s my semester end I am already worked up with my assignments but one thing that is eating up my head, as well as my teammates’, is the need of a new coxswain. Our coxswain has left the state as he has gone into another team who is paying him well. Guess it’s time to get hold of a new one.

Who’s a coxswain?

They are short stature, confident, athletic-built person, who has good leadership personalities. They are not just short people who shout a lot and have a rude temperament but they make up for the most important part of the rowing team who actually leads the team.

Precisely, if you ask me, they are the coach at that very moment in the boat who coaxes you to finish up first. Their tasks make them unforgiving to the situation where they give his or her teammates the exact version of the other boats and how far they are from the finishing line. So, the coxswain is the best person to listen to when rowing who can actually make or break the race for you and your team!

Tips for search: While this search was going on I realized some deep understating for getting hold of a proper coxswain and what all one shouldn’t do while recruiting them.

– They are there to lead you, so be respectful:

I have often seen many rowing teams opting for harsher kind of advertisements in their flyers such as “Are your short?” or “Is being loud comes naturally to you?”. Or say, “do you suffer from Napoleon complexities?” for attracting coxswains but there are better ways to do so.

A proper way to advertise with interesting flyers for advertisements which precisely says about the role of a coxswain in the team helps in getting the right one. Experienced coxswains often get offended owing to such advertisements.

– Don’t treat them like an accompaniment but like an athlete:

Just how important you are for your team as a rower that’s the same importance that you need to attach to a coxswain you are attracting. Try to give them ideas about how exciting the journey would be for them if they join your team.

Things such as learning leadership skills, practice races and other launches are the best way to give them the idea that you and your team will value them just like you do to the other rowers.

– You need a coxswain who can help you win in the future:

While advertising for coxswains, I got some idea about how we should showcase that we have won great races this season and that is the best way to attract good coxswains. But in reality, if you don’t want to get rejected for the process avoid this strategy. Most experienced coxswains would want to join because they want to display their potential of being one and not just an accompaniment.

I and my team have had a tough time searching for Nigel (that’s our coxswain). Hope your search won’t be as frenzied as ours.

Nigel says, Happy Rowing!

A Weekend at Home

Athletes–from swimmers and ball players to runners and rowers–like to stay healthy and in peak shape. They believe in the basic principles of exercise and nutrition to maximize well-being. Inhaling cigarette smoke, first or secondhand, is not in the picture. Few top-tier sportspeople smoke any more. Did they ever? Statistics aren’t clear on the subject. I, for one, have never indulged, and I don’t even like to be in a room that reeks of smoke. If I have to for some reason, I run screaming for some fresh air. I wouldn’t dream of letting a smoker in my car.

You would think I could control my environment and where I chose to go, but visiting my family is an exception. I stay with my parents from time to time and they celebrate the occasion with a big group dinner. Aunt Sue can’t help herself. She lights up at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t matter when or where. My mother usually throws her out and points to a chair on the patio; but the night of the event was a rainy and cold one, forcing Sue to stay close at hand to all the relatives. Did I detect a few scowls?  A few brave ones moved away from her chair. When I tried, she cried, “Where are you going, Jack?” I had to suffer the entire night and the rest of the weekend due to lingering odors in the carpet and upholstery.

Not only this, but I had to eliminate the smell from my clothes. Even packing them in a bag and shoving it in the back seat made the car give the impression of an ashtray. I should have put my backpack in the trunk. I had forgotten the power of cigarette odors. They just don’t go away on their own. You have to wash your hair and spray the heck out of your clothes until you can wash or dry clean them based on what I read here: I wonder what spouses of inveterate smokers do. They have to live with it and suffer stale smells. I bet Aunt Sue’s husband, Uncle Sam, has a case of Febreeze in the garage.

You can light a match for a quick fix or spray an area with a scented essential oil like lemon or eucalyptus. This works well in cars and closed spaces and many prefer it to the generic smell of the popular air deodorizer. I sent my mother various tips and tricks I found online so she could take action next time Aunt Sue comes over. A fragrant candle could be an alternative gift. She didn’t complain with others around, but I know what she was thinking.

Rowing Machines: The New Way to Get Fit

Rowing machines are a great way to learn rowing – you get to practise everything from working your arms, legs and your body. More importantly, you could try it out for your exercises even if you aren’t looking to try out rowing as a career. They are great for cardio and strength training, and here are the different types of rowing machines you can try out.

  1. Magnetic Resistance Flywheels

It’s a flywheel here, with an electromagnet. The resistance on offer here is a bit smooth, and you can measure it easily too with the help of a digital display. It’s what you would find in most gyms there, and you could measure anything from the calories burnt to the distance you have covered. However, it does take up a bit of room, so you do need a large enough space.

  1. Air Resistance Flywheels

You have a flywheel here – kind of like a cylindrical fan blade. You need to pull on the handlebar – and you have increased resistance depending on how hard and fast you pull.

In some models, you could even adjust the airflow with the help of a lever, and this the resistance. It is kind of like the real experience, but the heavy noise can put off many. Also, the machine can take up a lot of space.

  1. Water Resistance Flywheels

You have paddles suspended inside here, and an enclosed water tank. Working with it does give you the real feels – you need to pull the handlebars, and you get the resistance as you would when wading through the water.

It offers a real-life experience, and you have more resistance as you row harder. Plus you could adjust the resistance too by adding or removing water.

The downside? Since it has water, it’s going to be heavy. However, you do have less noise here compared to the air resistance model.

  1. Piston Resistance Flywheels

These have hydraulic pistons that offer adjustable resistance. Each of the piston is connected to handlebars, and are perfect for an arm workout. With the handlebars fixed, you also have a less natural stroke though – which might mean that while it’s great for strength training, it won’t give you the real life experience you would want.

You would love the fact that it’s pretty compact and has a fixed seat position. With its relatively affordable pricing and you could even fold it up and store it under your bed, just make sure it doesn’t stay there!

Lost a Tough Race Today!

Hi, I am Jack and love rowing. I have everything to do with this sport and am here to share my daily experiences with rowing. To be humble I am not that bad in this sport (pretty good though) but not every day you win right? I lost a tough race today. But I am a sport and love to take positives even from the ones I lose. Like I did from this one!

To start with: It was a dull day with a sun nowhere to be found and my head bumpy from the early morning. Once in the club, I joined my enthusiastic teammates who are (just like me) all sorted to win this race today. Had some light breakfast (Tip: don’t overeat) and were off to the spot.

After reaching the spot we warmed up and hydrated ourselves (Tip: Stay hydrated because just after a couple of minutes into the race you will feel your mouth going dry) and practiced a couple of racing starts.

Attaching to the stake was a task: The start was not that smooth for us as the person who was holding our boat to the stake for the day was a proxy who was not that used to the whole affair. Moreover, the opposite team was much more experienced than us. But, after backing ourselves for some time we ended up staking our boat.

The race starts: The worst part of the whole affair was the choppy waters that were making us lose our balance from time and again. Our stroke rate was going great in the middle and then there was a time when we were literally closing up with our opponent.

The distance to the finish line from the start was about 1K and maybe that was the reason we got so close to our opponent. But then they went past us with a slight pull while we were still pushing our limits. Just as we got around 100mts from the finishing line they dashed past us with additional grunts and off to the finish.

We lost by just half a length: Yes, we came second but at the end of the day we lost the race that what matters. But it was just by half a length and that is where I am lamenting very bad. If we could have paced up a little by the end of the finishing line then it would have been our day. The remaining fellow contestants for the day ended up in close succession behind us. An NW.4+ and IM2.4+ boat were also there who was announced third and second, respectively.

Tip: You need to pull up when you are just so close to the finishing line so that you don’t repent. Relax the shoulders while rowing and let your hands do all the talking. Too much pressure on the shoulders will end up tiring your hands.

Above all, I enjoyed the whole session today and a cool cider was enough to bring down my gloom for the day until the next race. Happy Rowing!

The Top Tips to Trying a New Fitness Regime

Hi, Jack is back! With, more updates on my life of rowing!

I was thinking for quite some time now that a new regime is essential to develop my muscle’s agility when a race gets closer and tougher. I am planning for a long race by the end of the season and thus am hell bent in getting the proper nimbleness to my muscles.

I have divided the workouts into five varieties and that’s what my instructor Andrew has been coaxing me to do for a long time. Thanks to him I am actually trying out these ways to strengthen up myself.

Four workouts in total:

The best workout for the rowers is to go for regular rowing and that’s the best way to stay agile for covering long rowing distances. But workouts can help!

Workout 1:

250mts of Calorie row. Well, that’s simple. I usually practice on an alternate day or say four days a week. But guess what? No cheat days anymore. A strict 250mts of calorie rowing every day for about 20 minutes of four sets and that too with a minute of rest can be the perfect way of tackling the soreness and conditioning the cardiovascular action.

Workout 2:

Burpees. I have never liked burpees before as it gets me all fired up and I am usually drained. But Andrew prefers regular burpees for about 20 minutes with 30-second intervals of two sets as it conditions both the upper and lower portion of the body providing the much strength on the calf muscles and arms, respectively.

The amount of power and intensity that is required to row with continuous movements in the legs and hands ends up stinging these parts. So, conditioning these portions are very essential and that is what I need to work on even more.

Workout 3:

Russian Kettlebell swings and AB mat sit-ups. Well, this is a common fitness strategy I have been doing but not on a regular basis though. Sit-ups are a common regime for me but Russian Kettlebell swings are essential feels Andrew.

Both this regime have been providing elasticity and power to work-up my hands just after two and three weeks of working on them. I have had some posture issues with The Kettlebell swings that every time I swung low I used to hunch which needed some time to take control off. 4 rounds of both the workout and minute of rest settled this one.

Workout 4:

Pushups right after the calorie row. It was the toughest of the lot believe me, and I have been still struggling with it even after three weeks. No gaps after I am done with calorie rowing. So, just after I finish up with the intensifying workout of rowing I end up starting with the hand release push-up just immediately.

Four sets of hand release push-ups with 30 seconds of release.

The whole workout is definitely tough but this powerful fitness regime has improved and conditioned both my upper and lower body and I hope to get to my goal before the big race. Happy Rowing!

I am Failing a Course Already!

Hey all, I have not been in terms lately with myself as I am actually failing a course already. Ok, failing a course is a big deal why? It means you are lacking the physical fitness that is necessary to complete a proper rowing. I have always been in love with this sport that being said, have been juggling studies and rowing at the same time. And, it might be a reason for such a failure.

But yes, identifying the reasons behind such a failure has got me up and running.


I need to improve my fitness regime:

The other day while completing a short rowing distance of 1K I was all worked up about the fact that my shoulders were unable to take the pressure. Presently, I only go for calorie rowing and that too on alternate days and I guess that is affecting my whole style altogether. A regular fitness system is essential so that I don’t end up being a total stuck up in the team.


Planning ahead:

Planning the intensity is helpful. Preparing for the proper timing to increase or decrease of the intensity leads to failure and even a highly increased intensity could lead to injury, fatigue and even overtraining which is not at all advised. I have suffered from the same and find myself all sore in various places. So, it’s better to plan up beforehand to avoid this problem.


Recovery is very important:

If you are hurt while training, it’s a good idea to take some time out to rest and recover. It won’t hurt the whole training process if you plan both these properly. Overtraining and even injury could be dangerous for your next course. If you don’t want to experience a disaster in a race, just like me then try to work on the fatigue and injury. Under-training is not bad if you are a motivated rower. But never welcome intentional setbacks when you know you are not up to the mark physically.


Workouts should be of quality and not quantity:

Yes, even workouts have a proper quality. Random workouts and multiple rounds of the same are fun but not qualitative. Devise a proper workout style as per your needs. If needed then consult a fitness expert (just like I did) to get an idea about a workout that is as per your rowing need.


Develop your intensity:

I did consult with an expert who gave me a different take to this whole idea of intensified work. A high-intensity work has been proved from time and again to be helpful more than a low-intensity rowing. The muscles play a big role in pushing the limits while rowing. Higher intensity offers the perfect agility to the whole body and that in turn affects and propels your performance in the race.

My experiences have been simple and guess what I am already working on these and results are visible in my training. From the University by the Water Side, it’s Happy Rowing!