The manufacturer of my rowing machine, Concept2, created its annual holiday challenge. In honor of anyone rowing at least 100,000 meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, they would donate to a climate charity of your choice.
Something got into me to do it.
26 days meant five of my workout cycles (day 1: lifting, day 2: Turkish Get Up (TGU), day 3: rest, day 4: cardio, day 5: rest). I worked out to make my cardio days a 10k row and to add another 10k row on my TGU days.
My only concession was to use lighter weights on my lifting days. I still did my twice daily burpee-based calisthenics, cold showers, and everything else.
This morning I finished my tenth 10k. Here are my results (under 45 minutes per row, meaning under 2:15/500m, dropping a couple minutes over the 10 rows).
I wrote memento mori in the title because rowing 10k is like running 10k, about a lap of Central Park. I used to run laps like they were candy. More importantly, the day after running a lap, I could run another without a second thought. I might not notice the next day any difference if I ran three to five miles.
At 48.5 years, my body takes longer to recover. I can’t do anything about it. On the contrary, I woke up many times in the middle of the night from body aches.
I feel mixed about aging. I can’t deny the degradation, nor can I do anything about it. On the other hand, I’m impressed with two things.
First, the day after a 10k row plus TGU following a lifting day, I feel spent. It’s a fair amount of exercise, but nothing compared to years ago. Despite the exhaustion that day, the next day — that is, the second day — pleasantly surprises me that my body recovers. Well, I’m still beat, but it recovers enough that I can row as well as before.
Second, I like my discipline to start each time despite the fatigue. Since I grew up without much discipline — I watched a lot of TV — I attribute the skill I developed to practicing nearly a decade daily with burpees, calisthenics, etc. Whoever thinks discipline leads to exercise confuses it. I find it the other way around: exercise develops discipline.
So I feel exhausted but happy at my achievement. Some online forums showed people going for 200,000 meters, which Concept2 will pay double the rate to charity for. Maybe next year, but I didn’t want to aim that far beyond my experience.
In the meantime, I’m pleased to have practiced ten 10k rows, giving me a feel for longer rows, even if shorter than rowing a marathon. I brought my finishing time around a minute. I’ll try a 2k again soon and predict I’ll drop a few seconds from it.
EDIT: On the 23rd I rowed another 5k after seeing last year’s results, including 22 people rowing over 1 million meters. Many people rowed exactly 100k, which motivated me to dig a little deeper.
Here’s my certificate from Concept2:
Two Million Meters
As it happened, during the challenge, my erg crossed 2,000,000 meters, a round number.
I think noticing I crossed 1,900,000 meters in November prompted me to consider taking on this challenge more, to hit two million by the end of the year.
In the roughly ten years I took to reach two million meters, I only oiled the chain and dusted the machine for maintenance. If you’ve thought about buying an exercise machine, I recommend the Concept2 rower.
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