With the World Master 1000 M Championships taking place last week in St. Catharines, Canada the summer race season is coming to an end and the longer head races are already being posted on the registration websites. It is now time to start the conversion to distance training in preparation for 3 milers this fall.
Here are some elements of head race performance to consider as you plan your fall campaign:
Including in your practice time opportunities to gain comfort in looking over your shoulder for steering along the course buoys, rowing under bridge arches and passing competitors is very important.
Being comfortable in rowing in competitor’s wakes and occasionally clashing oars without losing your cool is another good skill to develop.
Employing several gears for your racing which would include:
- starting and finding a base rhythm
- a passing stroke rate
- going around a long wide turn
- a final stretch gear for 40 strokes and less
In general, practices should be at least twice the distance you are going to race so if you launch from the finish line and must row the full length of the course to the start, you will not be fatigued before you’re racing. Several overdistance sessions of 3-4x race distance are important as well.
Learn how to use C.L.A.M.s on your sculls so either racing or heading to the start you can keep you load manageable.
For some scullers longer distances means slightly lower stroke rates. Lower rates frequently mean slower shells and increased loads. Consider modifying your 1000 m rigging for the longer distances.
Additionally, lower stroke ratings mean more time in each stroke to uncover balance, timing and hand skill issues so be prepared for a period of adjustment.
The most interesting aspect of head racing in the fall is the tough conditions you may face in terms of weather and water. As the weather cools, be prepared to race in more gear than you usually wear. Consider wearing some protective weather gear in practices so you can become familiar with its use if the need arises in your races. You don’t want to be experimenting on race day. Five items to consider as a starting point: pogies for the hands, tights for the legs, a towel for the neck, a sponge for the cockpit, and a baseball cap with a sock hat for the head.
- Pogies are a glove which fits over your hand and either the handle of a sweep or sculling oar.
- Tights refer to the close fitting leggings which can be worn over your rowing trow or uni-suit.
- The third item is a towel for around your neck and tucked into your splash vest or long sleeve shirt. The towel keeps the heat in and the conditions out.
- A sponge lets you remove any water that has splashed or rained into your shell reducing your weight and keeping your feet dryer and more warm.
- Finally there is the baseball cap with the sock hat pulled down over the ears. This headwear combination keeps the snow and rain off the face while the sock hat keeps the head and ears warm.
Each of the above items can be removed or relocated easily which is helpful for warm-ups and long waits at the starting line. Throw the pogies in the bottom of the shell and push the tights down to ankles if your racing conditions permit. Same applies to the neck and head gear. They are always available to put on again for the paddle back to the dock. Hint: have a small plastic bag to put the gear in so it doesn’t become wet while you race.
Fall racing is frequently about mixed line-ups of various ages and genders where molding a crew together and rowing well frequently trumps size and power. This type of racing can be the most fun of the season. So don’t hesitate to join the crew if asked.