Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Such a big place, so little oxygen

I recently fulfilled a BUCKET LIST item rowing in the historic CRASH B SPRINTS in Boston Massachusetts. This was something I put on my list over a decade ago after discovering the CONCEPT2 RowErg and learning about the annual event.

I have stated before, and still maintain that the explosion of the Concept2 rower can be traced back to a micro gym in Santa Cruz California and the CrossFit movement.

While I have logged over 7 million meters on the combination of Concept2 training tools I still do not categorize myself as an expert. I know conditioning but not all the nuances of rowing. I mix my conditioning with a combination of their machines and frankly the rower became my least favorite and least used over the last three years.

The training process confirmed some thing I have long believed and taught me some new lessons.


For nearly two decades I talked about doing this event but never stepped up to the plate. This year I finally called bullshit on myself. Before I could cook up an excuse, I signed up and paid the fee. If you are serious there is magic in paying the fee to any event. It cements the date on your calendar and provides a carrot for improvement. Signing up and paying the fee is going to be step #1 for anything you really WANT to do and are serious about doing.


I developed a four times per week approach along with two dedicated strength training days. I rowed at paces ranging from 80% - 105% of my current 2000m time. My goal pace was attainable but not unreachable. I deployed blocks of time with various rest intervals based on energy system development. If you have a plan you are training and you are serious. If you don't have a plan with targets you are just exercising.


I reviewed articles on set up, positioning and become more powerful (efficient) with each stroke. If positioning is off there are energy leaks with the stroke and times slow on the erg. Set up and movement execution is critical with any athletic performance. The difference between average results and great results can be traced back to quality movement.


I learned over the years that more is not always better and most times leads to failure. If four days of training are delivering results it is counter productive to train more. Most athletes out of fear train more than what is necessary and actually overtrain. Training at the right level based on your recovery skill is known as dose appropriate training. Regardless of your athletic pursuit be honest with with your input and output. Could you do less?


I discussed working smarter but I also paid close attention to my heart rate variability (HRV) and recovery scores with MORPHEUS. Along with training pace, I match heart rate during the session with the daily plan. The MORPHEUS system auto regulates training zones based on recovery scores. This was a big advantage. I believe that MORPHEUS is state of the art when it comes to training and conditioning. If you aren't matching outputs with daily training zones your improvements will suffer. You can learn more about MORPHEUS at


The rowing stroke is roughly 60% of the drive. I squatted one day per week and deadlifted on another. In ten weeks I moved my drag from roughly 110 to 130 much of which I attribute to my effort lifting routine. Regardless of your pursuit building the power zone will make you better. It is time tested and a fact.


In the final weeks I was starting to loath the RowErg. I countered this by making new playlists and cranking the volume! My motto became WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH TURN UP THE VOLUME. Even if you aren't training for a specific event (which you should at least once per year) you will undoubtedly deal with periods of low motivation and question your commitment. Get your head right and find a way. Every time you forge ahead when you don't want to show up you mute your inner wimp.


On event day, I walked into the main arena for my 5 minutes pre race. I set my drag and discovered that the monitor had a screen which was unfamiliar. It did not display a projected finish time. Much different than what I was anticipating. Fortunately I had focused every session on pace which was on displayed. Once the event started I was able to block out everything expect my monitor and focused on my pace per 500 meters. For 7 minutes and 20 seconds I pulled consistent splits staying with a narrow focus. Mission accomplished and only part of a tremendous experience.

I have coached athletes in a number of different sports and events. It is amazing how many let their focus drift from a narrow focus to a broad and distracting array of useless information. Learn to narrow your focus on only the essential items. Pay heed to limiting your focus to a three foot view.

  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon

© 2017 by Coach Rut.