Posts Tagged ‘ergo’

There are a lot of non-rowers out there amongst my readers – and some pretty impressively fit ones, I’ll be the first to admit. Now, I’m guessing some of you runners and triathletes and body builders have had a go on the rowing machine in the gym every now and then (forgive me while I pause for the rowers to have a quiet snigger; our favourite sport, apart from rowing, is watching non-rowers on the erg). I’m also guessing you’re up for a challenge.

Well, now’s your chance to find out how good you really are at the erg. World Champion rowers Katherine Grainger and Olympic gold medallists Mark Hunter and Greg Searle are giving you an insight into just how hard the selection for the GB Rowing Team is by inviting you – yes, that’s you – to take your own trial on a rowing machine.

For the month of February the team is running The Nation on Trial initiative: the chance to take your own 2km trial, whilst also raising money for the event’s charity partner, The Stroke Association. 2km is the distance of the Olympic rowing course and is the standard length of race at the World and British Rowing Championships.

The 2k erg test is also possibly the hardest thing a rower ever has to do; and most rowers have to do them at regular intervals. They can, in some clubs, make the difference between getting a place in a boat and watching from the bank.

So, back to the challenge. Here’s how it works. Anyone of any ability aged 16 and over can register on the event website www.nationontrial.org and access expert training advice on how to use a rowing machine as well as hearing messages of encouragement from World Champions such as Grainger, Richard Chambers and Searle. You train and build up to rowing 2km as fast as you can on a rowing machine at a local gym or rowing club. You record your time as many times as you like on the event website between 1 and 29 February; this will show how you compare with friends and workmates as well as with the entry standard for the GB selection process.

Who knows? You might find you get a taste for it. You might decide to try out rowing on the water. You might even find you’re one of that rare breed of people (count me out) who actually enjoy the erg. Just one thing, though. Ergs don’t float.


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It happened when I was having an extended moan about my latest erg score. About two minutes in, my long-suffering husband – clearly keen to talk about something (anything) else – dealt his trump card.

“Well”, he said, “You’re looking very good on it.”

This should have been a dead cert, guaranteed to stop me in my tracks. I’m ridiculously susceptible to flattery (take note, please; I will accept any compliment, however outlandish or untruthful) so he knew he was on to something.

“Yes,” he went on, driving home the point. “You’re looking very slim”.

Job done.

But listen carefully to what happened next. I shrugged. I actually shrugged.

You realise what this means, of course? Somewhere along the line, rowing – that maddening, frustrating, exciting and completely absorbing sport – has become the be all and end all.

There was a time when I saw exercise as a passport to health and a licence to eat – a rather tiresome but  necessary way to keep the blubber at bay. Now, it has become the means to an end. Every bit of fitness I do – walking the dog, boot camp, painful sessions on the erg – I do in order to progress in a sport that can make me elated, angry, frustrated and serene, all the space of one outing.

So if you want to flatter me – if you really want to rock my world – don’t tell me I’m looking great. Tell me how great my rowing is.

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Any excuse will do

If this morning’s weather is anything to go by, summer is drawing to a close. For rowers that means only one thing. As regattas give way to heads, we have to face… the Return of the Erg.

Of course the rowing machine is not confined to winter training; who can forget the pain of the minute-on, minute-off sprint sessions before Nat Masters? Yet there’s nothing quite like a long stint to strike fear into the heart of the most dedicated rower. Nothing – really nothing – on the water ever seems to hurt as much as the erg. Sure, we’re told to learn to love it, but does anyone really enjoy it?

This year I swore I’d give myself a head start and begin my winter training in the summer. So why is it that my erg (an ancient Model B with rust patches and a dodgy monitor) is gathering dust?

Here are some of the excuses I’ve come up with just this week for avoiding Erg-Torture:

1. The dog needs a walk.
2. I’ve only just washed my hair.
3. It’s too close to breakfast.
4. It’s too close to lunch.
5. I’m a bit hurty after boot camp.
6. I need to tidy my room.
7. It’s time I started writing a blog (hmmmm…).
8. I don’t have enough calories in my system.
9. I must just put a wash on.
10. Come Dine With Me is about to start.

What are your best and worst excuses for not exercising?

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