5 Keys to Nailing the Half-Marathon Row

Updated June 21, 2018

Is a half-marathon row on your agenda? Try these tips to help you survive and thrive. We include a half-marathon strategy as well. #halfmarathon #halfmarathonrow #ucanrow2

 

 

So you want to do a half-marathon row on the rowing machine… “They’ve done it at The CrossFit Games,” you say to yourself.  Or maybe Concept2’s Global Marathon Challenge or the Solstice rows have hit your radar screen.

 

It’s definitely a doable goal, but you’ll need to train for it and have a strategy in place for when the big day comes.  You’re looking at spending a couple of hours on the rowing machine (or SkiErg) so preparation is key.

 

If you’ve never done one before, the aim is plain and simple: Your goal is to finish. Period. If it helps you to have a race plan (see #4 below), then go for it, but the idea on the first time out is simply to get a baseline for how long it takes you to do this distance and how you feel throughout.

 

The Concept2 Rankings for your age group can give you a sense for what your time might be but if it’s your first half it’s a personal best no matter what, so don’t worry about breaking world records right now.

 

additional tips to help you make the most of the half-marathon row:

1. Work Up to It – In a perfect world you would work up over weeks or months to those long rows (You wouldn’t jump out and run 13.1 miles with no training, would you?).   Rowed or run, 21,097 meters is a long way and it’s nothing to mess around with.  Build up to the half-marathon row distance, and don’t try it until you can row at least 10k comfortably at a challenging pace.

 

2. Be Merciless About Your Technique – Bad rowing technique is never good but done poorly, a row of this distance could have serious repercussions.  Not to mention affecting your final time.  Review our video on the basics of the rowing stroke,  watch an expert row, and heed the mantra Legs, Body, Arms; Arms, Body, Legs.

 

3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – In more than an hour of rowing you will almost certainly need water, and maybe even some food.  Do it, as early and often as needed!  It’s also perfectly fine to put the handle down and even get off the machine and stretch if you need to.  You will have at least a minute before the monitor goes off.

 

4. Pace Yourself – Don’t Fly and Die – Resist the temptation to go out hard and fast and use up all your energy at the beginning of the piece.  A row of this distance will take you more than an hour, it’s critical to take that into consideration when you put together your race plan (See #5).

 

5. Have a Plan, Stick to the Plan – On-water rowers always have a plan for how they’re going to row the race.  The same is true for indoor rowing, be it a 500-meter row, a 2k, or a half-marathon.  If you can, test your approach in advance of the real race.  What works for one rower doesn’t always work for another.

 

here’s a half-marathon row race strategy:

Divide the row into five segments, four of about 5k each and a final sprint to the finish.  Plan to row almost the whole distance at 24-26 strokes per minute.  Use power-10 or -20 strokes every 1k or so to beat boredom and help you stay on pace.

 

First 5k: Warm into the row and find a challenging pace that you can also sustain.  Use this time to settle into the row and decide what you think you can do for splits today (Then see if you can surprise yourself!).
Middle 10k: Keep chipping away at the distance, aiming to drop 5 seconds off your split.
Fourth 5k: Try to drop another few seconds off your split if you can, and decide your goal split for the final sprint.
Last 500-1000 meters: HAMMER DOWN!  Here’s where you let it loose and empty the tank.  The finish line is in sight, give it all you’ve got!

 

When you’re done be sure to paddle down, drink water, and let your heart rate return to normal, then get off the machine, drink water, and do some good stretching.  Lastly, drink water and record your time in your Concept2 logbook.  It will rank your time automatically and give you a link to a printable certificate of completion and souvenir goodies available from the C2 online store.

 

Not bad for a couple of hours of work!

 

5 tips to help you nail your next half-marathon row #halfmarathon #indoorrowing #rowingmachine #ucanrow2

 

Need more workouts to help build your cardio base?  Check out #MeterMonster and #FlywheelFrenzy,  two done-for-you workout programs that will help you get fit and shed fat.

 


Got questions?  Ask them here, we’ll answer!  Half-marathon row veterans, share your race strategies, we’d love to know what’s working for y’all!

Rowing Technique: Dial in Your Damper Setting

Updated July 22, 2018

 

 

 

 

How many times have you walked over to the rowing machine at the gym and found the damper set at 10, or put it there yourself?  If rowing seems like a whole lot of pain and very little gain, that may just be why.

 

Experienced rowers, and certified indoor rowing instructors know that setting the damper at 10 is the way to create a rowing workout that’s a slog, and one that most likely will be the absolute opposite of fun or energizing.

 

Who needs that, especially when it’s not the least bit necessary??

 

Take a walk around the rows of ergs at the C.R.A.S.H-B rowing championships and you’ll find many machines set much lower, anywhere between 2 and 5.  You see, generating power on the rowing machine is all about connecting the parts of the stroke.  It’s NOT about creating more resistance just because you can.

 

Damper setting video

UCanRow2 Master Instructor Cassi Niemann explains it beautifully in this video:

 

 

 

 

 

when a high damper setting makes sense

There are a couple of exceptions to the low-damper rule:

 

1) Larger or heavier athletes (weight-loss clients or muscle-bound rowers with big thighs, for example) may need a higher damper setting in order to feel some resistance from the machine.  This is because at a lower setting their own bodyweight does most of the work so they don’t have to put in any extra effort to move the flywheel.  In these cases, a higher setting that adds more load can be the ticket to a great sweat.

 

2) To teach power application: Rowing at a higher damper setting – for short periods and ONLY at a low stroke rating (below 20 strokes per minute) – is also a useful way to teach any rower to develop power through correct engagement and to help them dial in their rowing technique.

 

When you row at a high damper setting, you’re essentially picking up a dead flywheel every stroke.  Doing this without risking injury requires you to have impeccable technique: You need to make sure that you’re using your legs and not your back to initiate the drive.

 

Want a rowing workout that will help you play with damper setting and connect these dots?  Try this:

Chad Row

Warm up then do 2-3 rounds of the following:

Damper   Time     SPM
10             6 mins     18
8.5            5 mins     20
7                4 mins     22
5                3 mins     24
3               2 mins     26
1                1 min       28

3-minute paddle rest between rounds.  Remember to focus intently on your technique and posture – let the drive come from your legs and core engagement.

For more reading: Concept2 damper setting page
Find a certified indoor rowing instructor
Get certified to teach indoor rowing

What questions do you have about damper setting?  Post them to the comments and we’ll answer!

Your Rowing Technique Mantra: Legs, Body, Arms – Arms, Body, Legs

Are you ready to improve your rowing technique? Use this six-word mantra and start rowing like a boss. #rowing #rowingtechnique #indoorrowing #rowingmachine #concept2 #rowinghumor #row

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated Aug. 13, 2018

 

The rowing machine is finally getting its due.  Hallelujah! Where once it was the Rodney Dangerfield of the fitness world, sitting sad and lonely in a corner of the gym, the machine that on-water rowers have used for decades has become the IT home and gym fitness machine.

 

Today, with the arrival of indoor rowing in studios, gyms, CrossFit boxes and homes around the world, people are starting to pay a whole lot more attention to this wonder of a total-body fitness machine.  That growth is a great thing, but it also means that there’s a lot of bad rowing technique out there.

 

At UCanRow2 we’re on a mission to stop bad rowing, in part by helping to demistify it.  Yes, you can absolutely become a complete rowing nerd and analyze every little bit of your stroke.  Rowers and coaches alike at facilities like the Craftsbury Outdoor Center love to do that. Indeed, it’s a great part of the sport: the relentless pursuit of the perfect stroke.

 

how to simplify the rowing stroke

 

Too often, people make indoor rowing sound much harder than it has to be, both in terms of the effort required to get good results and the technique needed to get there.  Sure, there are plenty of finer points to rowing technique that can make it challenging.  Golf is the same way.  But both are fun, even if you don’t have everything mastered.

 

 

Yes, you can use the erg as your personal torture device (ask anyone who’s ever rowed 2000 meters for time) but the rowing machine is good for so much more than that.  Whether you want to row hard or just take it easy, the rowing machine is there for you.  It will meet you where you are, and then take you as far as you want to go.

 

Your 6-word rowing technique mantra: Legs-Body-Arms, Arms-Body-Legs

 

The basic rowing motion is pretty simple, especially when you learn it from someone who’s been trained to teach it to you.

 

Our Certified Indoor Rowing Instructors preach a mantra of “legs, body, arms – arms, body, legs” as a quick way to remember the flow of the rowing stroke and which body parts move when.

 

More specifically, from the catch you drive back with the legs, then begin to swing your back towards the rear of the machine, until your torso is roughly at an 11:00 position on a clock.  Then and only then (once you feel resistance on the chain) do you start to pull back with the arms.

 

On the recovery, you first release your arms out, then swing forward to 1:00 with your back, and begin to move your legs, only after the handle is past your knees.  We call that “boxing out,” or creating a frame for your knees to pop up into.

 

the relentless pursuit of perfect rowing technique

 

Nail your indoor rowing technique with this 6-word mantra. We give you a rowing machine video to walk you through it as well. https://ucanrow2.com #rowingtechnique #rowingmachine #indoorrowing #ucanrow2

You may be concerned that your rowing technique isn’t “perfect.”  Congratulations, you’re a rower!  The pursuit of the perfect rowing stroke is as elusive and constant as that of the perfect golf swing.

 

Remember how we said that you will hear rowers all the way from novices up to Olympians discussing the stroke’s finer points and what they’re working on? That’s your cue to stop worrying about having perfect technique. Work on one technique element at a time and have oodles and oodles of patience.

 

INSTRUCTORS: The same applies to your indoor rowing students.  Give them just one technique thing to work on at a time. Otherwise you risk overwhelming them, and then they won’t come back. First and foremost, rowing class has to be FUN.

 

 

Most of us grew up walking, running and biking but NOT rowing.  So it makes all the sense in the world that getting the technique down would take practice.  No worries! We’re working on ours right along with you.

 

For a visual breakdown of the stroke and the technique mantra, watch UCanRow2 Master Instructor Cassie Niemann, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel:

 

 

Legs, body, arms — arms, body, legs.  Stick with that and you will be well on your way to erging like the pros — and having the physique to prove it.

 

NEED A rowing workout Plan?

It’s one thing to sit down on the machine and start pulling on the handle.  It’s another to have a plan that’s been put together by the experts. The Meter Monster and Flywheel Frenzy workout programs are designed to help you stay consistent with your workouts and give you a plan to follow, whether you row solo at home or the gym, or you teach rowing class.

 

Got questions about your rowing technique? We have a bunch of training tips you can check out, or post your question below and we’ll get a master instructor to answer it.  Want to find a certified rowing instructor in your area, check our list.  Want to become one yourself? Hop on over to our instructors page and find out how.

 

further reading AND VIEWING on rowing technique:

 

Rowing Technique: Perfecting the Stroke

Trainer Tips

VIDEO: Row Along With This Indoor Rowing Warmup

VIDEO: Indoor Rowing Basics

 

Finish, please!

Today’s post comes courtesy of Certified Rowing Instructor Leeny Hoffman.  You can find her at CrossFit St. Louis, teaching rowing class M, W, F at 8:30 a.m., and blogging regularly about nutrition and rowing on the CrossFit St. Louis blog.  For more technique tips be sure to follow the UCanRow2 video channel and our Trainer Tips page. 

 

 

I was checking out different Crossfit blogs the other day and came across this picture of a rower (not from our gym) getting after it.  I have no doubt that this chick was giving it her all and I’m sure she was killing this row.  But her finish was killing me so I thought I would address it here.  One of my goals as a rowing instructor is to teach proper technique so people are safe and efficient on the erg.  Unfortunately, no one told this gal that she didn’t need to pull the covers up so high.  Her excessive layback at the finish did not increase her stroke power and only added extra, unnecessary movement.  And we all know that rowing is tiring enough without adding more work that doesn’t pay off in meters.

At the finish of the stroke, position your back angle at about 20 degrees, or in the 11:00 position on a clock.  Handle comes to your sternum in a straight line from where it came out of the flywheel.  For you ladies, that is about the bottom of your sports bra.  Guys, we’re talking just at or below your pecs.  Arms are comfortably down at your sides and slightly out, but not chicken winged.  Toes should be pressed firmly into the footplate at the finish, not straining against the footstraps.

To fix excessive layback at the finish, practice rowing unstrapped.  Check out this article from
ergrowing.com:   http://www.ergrowing.com/strapless-erging-will-fix-excessive-layback/.

Below are some proper finish positions from people in the CrossFit St. Louis rowing class.

 

 

"rowing technique"

Jim finishes strong

 

"good rowing technique" "good rowing finish" "Leeny Hoffman"

Leeny Hoffman showing how it's done

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your biggest technique pet peeve?  Post it to the comments!

Chain Drive the UCanRow2 Newsletter is Here!

 

Can’t get enough UCanRow2?  Never fear, Chain Drive, the UCanRow2 newsletter is here!  All things indoor rowing, delivered right to your email inbox.  Workouts, playlists, technique tips, upcoming trainings, marketing advice, basically the best of the best of what we can find to help you get the most out of your erg or ergs, and be the best rower or rowing instructor you can be.

We’ll start off on a quarterly schedule, and will move to a more frequent schedule if or when that seems like a good idea (We hate clogged inboxes as much as you do.).  Got ideas of what we should include in Chain Drive, or a particular workout or playlist you love? We want that too! Leave a comment here or email info@ucanrow2.com.

Of course, you can’t get the newsletter if you don’t sign up, so please subscribe to our newsletter.

TRAINER TIP: Close Your Eyes for the Cooldown

Here’s a tip to help your rowing students get better flow in their rowing stroke: The cooldown of a workout is a great time to focus in on the zen of rowing. Use that time to close your eyes and feel the motion.

Remind your students to FEEL the connection of the stroke, from the drive to the finish to the recovery.  Hands away, body over, slowing the slide.  Allow your body to feel the fatigue but also the discipline of good technique, even when you’re tired.

Generating Power on the Rowing Machine

Updated Feb 3, 2018

Rowing Technique – Generating Power from UCanRow2 on Vimeo.

How’s your rowing workout been lately?  Would you like to get more of the benefits of rowing machine workouts?

 

The difference between a good workout and a great one is in how you apply power on every stroke.  That’s true whether your goals are getting a PR on your next 2K, losing 20 lbs or simply making the most of the time you have on the machine.

 

In the video above, UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe shows you how to use your performance monitor to gauge your power output and a drill that will help you get faster and stronger on the machine.

 

Key Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts

  • One-stop shopping workout: Rowing is a total-body workout
  • Non-impact: It works virtually every muscle on every stroke, with no impact
  • It meets you where you are – if you can hold a handle and pull, the rowing machine can probably be modified to fit your needs
  • It takes you as far as you want to go – From easy, relaxing rows to some of the toughest competition in sport, the rowing machine is there for you.
  • You’re never too old to row: No matter your age, there’s a rowing record in your category, and since the machine is gentle on the joints, there really is no limit to when you can start rowing
  • Cross training: Rowing is great cross-training, and a great break, for athletes who do other sports.  Running, triathlon, skiing, cycling and more.
  • Weight loss: Because the rowing machine is non-impact, and offers such a great variety of workout options, it’s perfect for people who want to lose weight, a little or a lot.

 

What questions do you have about building more power in your stroke and workouts?  Post them in the comments below and we’ll answer!

 

Want workouts that put this all together for you, in a downloadable package that’s ready to take to the gym or your home rowing machine?  Check out our Meter Monster and Flywheel Frenzy rowing workout programs.

 

How to generate power on the rowing machine - a drill to help you row faster from https://ucanrow2.com

 

 

Introducing Personalized Indoor Rowing Technique Reviews

UCanRow2/Concept2 master instructor Terry Smythe gives personal rowing technique reviewDo you have a Concept2 indoor rower at home, or use one at your gym?  Are you a competitive indoor rower who’s interested in improving your performance on the machine?  Maybe you’ve been rowing for a while and would like to brush up on your indoor rowing technique or get new rowing workout ideas.

A new offering from UCanRow2 may be just the ticket: Personalized rowing technique reviews from anywhere in the world with a UCanRow2/Concept2 master instructor via Skype, video or in person.

“Often just a few simple tweaks to a person’s rowing machine technique can make a major difference in the results they get – whether their goals are weight loss, fitness or a personal best in a 2k race,” said UCanRow2’s Terry Smythe, a UCanRow2/Concept2 master instructor.  “Not everyone is able to attend one of our full-day Concept2 Indoor Rowing Basic Course trainings,” she added, “and not everyone wants to learn to teach indoor rowing.  We’re excited to be able to offer this affordable, convenient alternative to people who want to row better and are not looking to teach classes.”

Technique reviews will be led by a UCanRow2/Concept2 master instructor.  In addition to teaching the Indoor Rowing Basic Course trainings, the master instructors all have years of experience teaching people at all skill levels to row on the water and on the rowing machine.  Reviews can be done either via live video (Skype, OoVoo, etc.), by submitting a video clip of your rowing technique or at an in-person session where the master instructors are located (Currently Washington, D.C. area, Chicago, Seattle, Oakland, CA, and Houghton, MI, and coming soon to several other major US cities).

One-hour technique reviews are available for $65 and can be arranged by emailing info@ucanrow2.com.

The Ultimate Erging Playlist

Indoor rowing classMusic for rowing classes or a great rowing playlist is always a big topic of discussion around the UCanRow2 office and Concept2 instructor trainings.  We usually tell people to aim for workout music with little to no lyrics and relatively slow beats per minute, usually in the 120 bpm range or slower.  Indoor cycling music is often ideal for workout playlists, as long as it allows you or your students time to really focus on their rowing technique and not get so lost in the tunes that proper rowing form goes out the window.

All of that being said, sometimes you have a really long steady state workout in front of you, or you need a musical pick-me-up to shake off the day, or you just want to get your groove on.  For all of that, enter Rowing Journal, which has published a list of 90 minutes of erging tunes they love.  Beyond just giving you the list of songs, their Ultimate Erging Playlist goes into some detail explaining which songs you might put at which point in a workout, be it a 2k test or a steady state 10k.

Rowing workout playlists are, of course, a very personal thing but we love the thinking behind this piece … plus it made us laugh!  For example:

“First and Foremost: If it reminds anyone of the dance routines young Spice Girl wannabes made up at primary school then it is not
acceptable erg music. Ever.

“High ratings must always be accompanied by up tempo, heavy rhythm music, ideally Classic/ Hard Rock or Wagnerian Opera. There is
a feeling of invincibility as you complete your 2K PB to the inspiring sounds of Ride of the Valkyries!

“Rap has all the musicality of a ringing telephone and is easily dismissed from this discussion. In fact, the only R&B allowed is R Kelly’s
World’s Greatest.”

Check out the whole article, it’s great reading! For those of you who can’t wait to reorganize your iPods though, here’s the Rowing Journal list (Personally, we’d rather stick hot needles in our eyes than row to Livin’ on a Prayer yet again, but there’s something here for pretty much everybody):

Thunderstruck – AC/DC
Come Follow Me – The Answer
Party Hard – Andrew WK
Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
Layla – Derek and the Dominoes (Good Rhythm setter)
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Fans – Kings of Leon
Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
Smooth – Santana
Under Pressure – Queen
Baba O’Riley – The Who
Where The Street Have No Name – U2
Sunshine On Your Love – Cream
Peaceful, Easy Feeling – The Eagles
All Right Now – Free
Man’s World – James Brown
Grace – Jeff Buckley
Mars – Holst Planet Suite
Jupiter – Holst Planet Suite
Ride of the Valkyries – Wagner

What’s on your playlist for this weekend?  Tell us in the comments and we’ll try it in class next week!

Shape Magazine Joins the Indoor Rowing Revolution

We love, love, LOVE that Shape Magazine is so taken with the rowing machine (and a Concept2, even better!).  Their latest tweet on the subject: “OBSESSED with the rowing machine! Works your whole body & cardio? Why weren’t we doing this sooner?”

Better late than never we say, and glad to have you!!

Shape included in their January issue a kick-butt rowing workout from none other than Olympic medalist Anna Cummins, who’s now a master instructor for Concept2 CrossFit Rowing.  The 20-minute workout gives you target splits, stroke ratings and times that will put you through your paces for sure (check out the rowing playlist that Shape put together, too).

One thing to bear in mind about that workout though: If your 20s are in the rearview mirror or you’re not super fit or experienced at rowing you may have a hard time hitting the targets in Anna’s workout.

So don’t worry if you don’t hit  numbers right off the bat (or ever).  Try to stick to her recommended stroke ratings (note: you may find that rowing slower is a lot harder than rowing faster) but don’t be afraid to back off on the split targets and stroke rating if you need to.  If your heart is pumping and your rowing technique is good you’re still getting an awesome total-body low impact workout that will tone your body, torch calories and improve your fitness, regardless of your current fitness level.

As we like to say around here, Rowing is for Every Body!

Want help to row better?  Attend a Concept2 Indoor Rowing Foundations indoor rowing certification or find an Approved Concept2 Indoor Rowing Instructor in your area.

What’s your favorite rowing workout?