The standard distance people compare rowing skills is 2,000 meters. Because of current and wind, you can’t compare times on the water, but you can with a rowing machine.
World records are around 5:40, something like a sub-four-minute mile. Most rowers will describe the experience of rowing a 2k for time some of the most grueling six-to-eight minutes of their lives.
Rowing works you to your soul
Benching a weight uses some muscles, but 90% of your body is resting. Rowing, you’re using nearly everything—to exhaustion and then some.
Every part of you is exhausted. You go beyond feeling it in your muscles to feeling it in your mind and soul.
You ask, “why am I doing this” and “this” goes from meaning this 2k
. . . to this sport
. . . to all your endeavors in life
. . . to your life.
It gets existential.
Meanwhile, you keep pushing to your limit, but not passing it because you have to finish strong, which requires gauging how much you’ve used, how much you have left, stroke rate, strength per push, breathing, and countless other degrees of freedom.
It means peak mental alertness and physical performance of every part of you while enduring mental and physical pain and exhaustion.
On a treadmill or most machines, the machine paces you. On a rowing machine, you can let up at any moment and all the pain and exhaustion will go away.
All you have to do is relax. Every part of your mind, body, and soul tells you to let up. Then it screams at you to, but instead you ramp up the effort at the end.
You know that no matter what your time, some part of you will say you could have shaved a second or two with a little more training or focus.
You don’t want to leave anything. You want to give everything. Giving everything is a lot.
A recent 2k
The experience was fresh on my mind from doing a 2k Sunday, my first after my first 100k Concept2 holiday challenge.
As a 48 year-old 6’2″ 155 pound male, my record is 7:43. I anticipated all that steady state rowing would bring down my 2k time.
Instead, I rowed a 7:46. Not bad, but I hoped to beat my record. I think despite the 100k practice, I hadn’t rowed a 2k in months so think I was out of practice.
Now I have to rebuild up to a new practice. I know I can beat my old best time, which means putting myself through that experience.
It begins again.
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