Reminder:  The Lurong Living clean eating challenge starts Monday, 9/12.  You can sign up until midnight on 9/11 if you would like to participate.  For those already signed up, contact Amanda to reserve your time to have your measurements taken this week.

The Concept 2 Fall Challenge starts this Thursday, 9/15.  This event is free to join and guest writer Elinor wrote a great article below about her rowing experiences and what you can expect if you join Team CrossFit Frederick for this challenge.  Log into your previously created profile and join our team, or create a new profile.

by Elinor Markey

It’s September already, can you believe it? That means the Concept 2 Fall Team Challenge is just around the corner! Have you signed up yet?

The Fall Team Challenge runs from September 15-October 15, and the goal is to row 100,000 (or if you’re really ambitious, 200,000) meters in that time. Everyone who completes the 100k or 200k gets a special prize, and if the CFF team has more than 10 members who complete 100k meters each, we get entered to win a new rower for the gym. (We won that rower last year, by the way, and Amanda would really like for us to do it again!)

You can split the rowing up however you like over the month, but to meet 100k you would need to row 5,000 meters per day, 5 days each week during the challenge. Depending on how fast you row, 5,000 meters should take on average about 30 minutes, give or take a few. That’s not so bad, right? One episode of The Simpsons, BOOM. Done.

At CFF, our coaches have ways of motivating you to row harder...

At CFF, our coaches have ways of motivating you to row harder...

Need more motivation to sign up? Look at it as a chance to make a focused effort toward improving your rowing, and see where you stand against other people in your age group. During the Fall Challenge of 2015 I got in the habit of logging all my meters on the Concept 2 site in their online logbook, and once I figured out how to row pieces eligible for ranking, started ranking some of my fastest times to see how I measured up. Ranking is simply a way to monitor your progress and compete with yourself (OK, and others too), and we all love a little competition every now and then, am I right? PR’s aren’t just for weightlifting!

Earlier this year I participated in the World Erg Challenge (March 15-April 15) and during that time I competed with myself to improve on my previous times, as recorded in the Concept 2 Online Logbook.

Here are my best ranked times as of March 18, 2016, as my benchmark:

Distance               Time       Pace    Est. Standing    Percentile            Date                      Age

500m                     1:54.7     1:54.7   81 of 199             59th                      03/03/16              45

1000m                   4:09.5     2:04.7   136 of 311          56th                      12/22/15              45

2000m                   8:56.4     2:14.1   247 of 403          39th                       02/29/16              45

5000m                  24:00.7    2:24.0   213 of 345          38th                       03/17/16              45

10000m               47:35.1    2:22.7   102 of 177          42nd                       03/15/16              45

And again as of April 27, 2016, after I’d had a chance to make additional attempts at the longer pieces:

Distance               Time       Pace    Est. Standing      Percentile            Date                     Age

100m                     0:18.8     1:34.0   20 of 92                 78th                      03/26/16              45

500m                     1:54.7     1:54.7   89 of 217               59th                      03/26/16              45

1000m                   3:58.0     1:59.0   93 of 327               72nd                     04/27/16              45

2000m                   8:34.8     2:08.7   195 of 435            55th                       03/23/16              45

5000m                   22:28.6   2:14.8   142 of 374            62nd                      03/21/16              45

10000m                 46:40.8   2:20.0   95 of 197              52nd                      04/22/16              45

As you can see, I was able to improve on everything except the 500 meter piece (That came later, in June). I didn’t win anything, but the psychological prize of being able to see my improvement was worth it, and I had a lot of fun doing it.

What I learned in that month was invaluable. I think simply having set the goal to beat my previous times was the biggest driver of the outcome, but I also became more aware of the mechanics of my stroke, as well as a number of bad habits I catch myself repeating when I row. I’m mostly guilty of over-reaching at the “catch” portion of the stroke. I’m getting better, but habits are hard to break, as we all know. That will be my focus for this challenge (along with pacing myself better for longer pieces), and I can’t wait to see what effect fixing it has on my times.

There are some great tutorial videos on the Concept 2 website that I highly recommend watching if you want to improve your rowing, including one on common rowing errors, which I have watched repeatedly. Spending a little time on their website to check out the training materials is time well spent if you are looking to improve. You can learn everything from programming the monitor for your workouts to stretching and breathing techniques to what the damper setting really means. It’s great information, and they’ve made it easy to understand.

For a rowing piece to be eligible for ranking, you must select a single distance or time to row, so you actually have to set up the monitor with your selection before you begin rowing. “Just Row” won’t work for ranking. Setting a single distance is easy to do on the monitor; from the home screen choose Select Workout/New Workout/Single Distance and use the +/- and arrow buttons to change the distance, and then the check mark to save. The coaches can show you how if you need help.

You can find more details about ranking on the personal logbook section of the Concept 2 site, once you set up your login. If you do start ranking your pieces, you may want to learn how to make your entries “verified” by using the verification code available in the memory of the monitor upon completion of your row. Instructions are available on the Support section of the Concept 2 website here.

Once you have a better understanding of how the rower works, it becomes really clear what a powerful training partner it can be. I find rowing to be a great gauge of my overall state of fitness at any given time. Because I know what my “comfortable” pace is (I judge this by 500 meter split time), I can tell if I’m having an off day (my normal pace feels labored and exhausting) or if I’m slacking in my workout (my pace feels too easy) and I can adjust accordingly.

In spite of the fact that the first 300-500 meters of every long row I attempt feels a little like buyer’s remorse (“Why am I doing this?”), I absolutely love rowing. Once my muscles warm up and I settle into a rhythm, my breathing is in sync with my stroke, I can achieve a meditative state of flow, and before I know it, the row is complete.  

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the Fall Challenge, row a few different distance pieces to set your baseline times, and have a friendly competition with yourself to see what you can accomplish by the end of the Challenge. (Side note: If you’re also participating in the Lurong Living Challenge—starts September 12—adding the extra rowing to your training could take your results to the next level!) I’ll be trying to up my game, so if anyone wants to add me as their rowing training partner (you can do this through the Concept 2 website as well), feel free to do so. Let’s have some fun (and win Amanda & Dave a new rower)!