This section of the blog is focused of erg venue racing, rather than internet racing using rowpro. Although some of the tips here are applicable to rowpro racing, that will be covered on the “pimp my erg” section at a later date.
Erg racing tips – arriving at the venue:
Whether you’re heading to your first ever venue race, or you’ve been racing for years, you will always feel nervous in the build up to the race and you don’t want to add to that stress by arriving late, or not knowing how things work when you arrive. Upon arrival you will have to register for your race whether it is a small local race, or the British Championships, so allow time for this. I recommend arriving at the venue at least an hour before your race time, and preferably longer. Register as soon as you arrive, and then try to find out whether the racing is running on time, you don’t want to finish your warm up only to realise your race is delayed by an hour (I’ve been there, done that!).
Never try a new warm up on race day, use a tried and tested method. Remember that when racing at a venue you have to comply with a particular race time, and at the larger races you may need to complete your main warm up some 10 to 15 minutes before race time in order to wait in a holding area. Know what the process is, and time your warm up accordingly.
At many of the venue races the ergs can be brand new, and as such may be very different in feel, and drag at a particular resistance level, to your dusty old gym erg. Whenever you use a new erg it is vital to set up the foot plate height and the drag, and it is especially vital in a race where any little thing can put you off your race plan. During a venue race the monitor display tends to be slightly different than you’re used to in the gym, with the drag permanently displayed on the warm up screen. The first thing you should do on getting to your race erg is set up the footplates and drag. If you think there is something wrong with your erg, tell a race marshall as soon as you can.
In a venue race the computer system both starts and times the race. Usually with the visual (on the monitor) commands “Ready, Attention, ROW”, the timing begins immediately you see ROW. If you don’t start straight away you will lose time, and this will be evident straight away in your average split time. Expect some reaction time, and stick to your race plan rather than chasing the average split at the beginning of the race.
The one contentious part of racing starts is whether to do a few hard and fast strokes before settling to race pace, or to simply get down to race pace and maintain it. Either way, it is essential you don’t go hard for more than 10seconds or you will pay for it later in the race. I am an advocate of the fast start, and I recommend doing 5 hard strokes to begin a 2k, using a fairly high (but not maximal) power, and a high stroke rate. Then for the next 5 strokes I back off the power and let the split fall back to race pace.
Have a plan. Row your plan. The chances are some of the people in your race will abandon their race plans with the adrenelin of the occasion. They will row far too fast for the first few hundred metres, and drop back drastically later on. Don’t let this put you off, don’t try to chase them, and certainly don’t let this be you!
You will have additional information on the monitor during the race that you don’t see in the gym, for example race positions including the distance between you and the competitors either side of you. Again, try not to let this affect your race plan, but towards the end of the race in can give you that extra incentive to push harder and do a good sprint finish. Try to always muster a sprint finish for the last 150m, no matter what has happened before this, and always keep rowing until the monitor reads 0 metres to go. Don’t be one of those people who misses out on the pb or medal by stopping 1 stroke short of the line.
My past 2k racing performances:
World Indoor Rowing Championships (Crash B’s)
2004: 6:15.2, splits [1:31.7, 1:34.0, 1:35.0, 1:34.6] 52nd place, Open HWT
British Indoor Rowing Championships (BIRC)
2008: 6:17.4, splits [1:33.2, 1:34.2, 1:35.0, 1:34.9] 5th place, 30-34 HWT
2007: 6:19.6, splits [1:33.7, 1:34.9, 1:35.9, 1:35.2] 6th place, 30-34 HWT
2003: 6:17.1, splits [ ] 36th place, Open HWT
2002: 6:22.0, splits [ ] 51st place, Open HWT
2001: 6:35.9, splits [ ] 105th place, Open HWT
European Indoor Rowing Championships
2004: 6:27.1, splits [1:34.6, 1:36.5, 1:38.9, 1:37.2]
Oct 2001: 6:30.7, Newark, 3rd
Jan 2002: 6:36.8, Nottingham
Mar 2002: 6:31.7, Cardiff
Apr 2002: 6:28.0, Doncaster, 1st
May 2002: 6:27.9, Cambridge, 4th
Oct 2002: 6:26.3, Newark, 2nd
Oct 2002: 6:23.4, Portsmouth, 6th
Dec 2002: 6:21.9, Cardiff, 5th
Feb 2003: 6:22.9, Manchester, 7th
Feb 2003: 6:21.0, Sheffield, 2nd
Mar 2003: 6:19.7, Nottingham, 4th
Mar 2003: 6:17.9, Doncaster, 2nd
Mar 2003: 6:19.7, OIRC, 3rd
Apr 2003: 6:20.0, Scottish, 2nd
Jun 2003: 6:27.0, Enfield
Oct 2003: 6:19.6, Portsmouth, 3rd
Dec 2003: 6:13.7, Cardiff, 2nd
Jan 2004: 6:11.8, Cambridge, 3rd
Feb 2004: 6:15.6, Manchester, 5th
Mar 2004: 6:14.6, OIRC, 2nd
Mar 2004: 6:13.0, Sheffield, 1st
Apr 2004: 6:15.8, Scottish, 1st
Sep 2004: 6:14.7, Enfield, 2nd
Oct 2004: 6:18.9, Cambridge, 2nd
Oct 2004: 6:17.8, Southampton, 1st
Feb 2005: 6:25.4, Manchester, 5th
Still more to be added….