The Year of OCR… My Next Tough Challenge

Paid partnership with Black Tower Wine


This year has seen the return of OCR for me… I did my first Obstacle Course Race, Men’s Health Survival, back in 2011 and again the following year and I loved both, even though I’d done them solo. I also took on a local OCR called WAR with some friends and had the BEST time. But then I didn’t do another one until this year where so far I’ve completed 6 Spartan races! I also plan to hit up Nuclear Races sometime, but OCR season just couldn’t be complete without taking on a Tough Mudder, right?

To be honest, I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without having done a Tough Mudder – it’s the first race people think of when you mention OCR, with its infamous electric shock therapy obstacle. But so far Tough Mudder has escaped me… until now!

Joining the Tribe… Cheers To Me!

Black Tower wine, the official wine sponsor of Tough Mudder, invited me to be a part of their Black Tower Tough Mudder Tribe, conquering the Tough Mudder race and, of course, celebrating with some wine afterwards… #cheerstome! I’m a big believer in “no food (or drink) barred” and wine is absolutely in my diet and something I enjoy to wind down after a long day, or celebrate with when I achieve something, so I was absolutely on board.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Ian and I have both signed up for the London South Half course on Saturday 29th September. With Ian still recovering from his ankle injury in March, and me currently suffering a double whammy of plantar fasciitis and peroneal tendonitis, we will definitely be treading carefully while charging headfirst through the obstacles. I can’t wait!

The official Black Tower obstacle this year is the Kiss of Mud – this involves crawling under barbed wire, but actually we’ve found from previous OCRs that the quickest way to get through is to roll… a great excuse to roll around in mud with my boyfriend!

Tough Mudder Prep

OCRs may seem a little intimidating, but with our history of running and CrossFit, I’d like to think we’re pretty well prepared for whatever Tough Mudder can throw at us! CrossFit is such great training for OCR, with exercises like pull-ups and toes to bar transferring well to monkey bars (although will someone please tell my body that as I KEEP failing them!) and deadlifts/cleans transferring well to pulling tasks. I’ve definitely found I need less help at obstacles than I used to before starting CrossFit. Although OCR, and especially Tough Mudder, is also about teamwork so I’m looking forward to taking this on with Ian by my side and meeting other runners to tackle the obstacles together.

Not really knowing what to expect with Tough Mudder specifically, my main focus for getting prepared is to get my mud smile on and my teamwork helping hand ready. I’ve also heard I need to get ready for an ice bath dip… I wonder if I can bring a couple of bottles of Black Tower in there with me?! Tough Mudder – here we come!

My Thoughts on Re-doing CrossFit Open Workouts

The CrossFit Open means different things to different people. For the top 0.5-1%, it means the chance to progress to Regional competition. For even fewer, it’s the fun first brick in the road to the games. But for most, it’s a chance to put your training (no matter how far into CrossFit you are) to the test, help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and – perhaps most importantly – participate in a worldwide community event.

Depending on your reason for competing, the leader board can become an obsession. After all, the difference between 120 and 121 reps could mean a huge amount in placings, and quite often you’ll see a number of top level athletes re-do workouts to get a better score. But for those of us with zero chance of qualifying for Regionals, what real reason is there for re-doing a workout? Do a few extra reps matter that much that you would potentially take time away from your other training and true progression, or even push your body to the brink of injury?

The Ego Trip

One reason I don’t like re-dos is actually one of the most well-known of the CrossFit box rules of conduct: “leave your ego at the door”. In my opinion, 9/10 re-dos are borne almost entirely out of ego. “So and so got X more reps than me and I know I can beat him/her”, or “I didn’t do as well as I think I could have”. Focus on your own game, or why you didn’t perform to the standard you think you should have, and make actionable plans for progression instead of trying to perfect a workout that ultimately doesn’t matter.

Developing Bad Habits

Another reason I don’t like re-dos is that I genuinely believe it can lead to poor behavioural traits and a potential sense of entitlement. My nutrition coach and friend, Lee from Monday Muscle, once said “good intentions can lead to bad habits”. The action he was referring to? Devouring an entire tub of low calorie ice-cream. But I think the same can be applied to redoing workouts. How will you ever learn to give your 100% in the first attempt if you get in the habit of redoing? After all, if you go to live competitions there are no re-dos! Second chances are rare, so I’m all for learning to leave it all on the table the first time around.

 

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Cost Vs Benefit Analysis

The deadlifts in 18.4 were heavy, especially for the men. I know a number of people who struggled with back pain and started to sacrifice technique during their first attempt, so why bother risking back injury for potentially just a handful of extra reps? By the same token, if your hands are already calloused up, why have another stab at toes to bar or pull-ups just to risk tearing the fuck out of your hands for the next workout? Sometimes you need to about the risk versus potential benefit and decide is it really worth it?

Looking Forward Not Back

What matters more to me than a few extra reps and moving higher up the leader board just to satisfy my own ego, is learning from my potential disappointment and training to become better. It all boils down to something Ben Bergeron often talks about – sacrificing short term gains (“instant gratification”), in favour of longer term growth/satisfaction. Assessing my performance, identifying what needs to be worked on to improve, and learning to be happy with what I have is something I think will make me a stronger character and better person all round. Instead of dwelling on past performances, I’d rather address the issues that caused me to not do as well as I’d hoped.

 

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When To Re-do

Having said all of that, there may be some entirely valid and justifiable reasons to re-do; like making it to the next level of competition, or achieving a PB or skill that’s within reach. So think about it before you decide to redo:

  1. Are you so close to achieving a certain movement (e.g. muscle-ups) that re-doing could mean the difference between nailing it or not?
  2. Do you feel like there was a fundamental issue in your strategy or technique that you know you can address and will mean a much better score?
  3. Are you just points away from qualifying for Regional level competition, and a few reps could mean moving from outside to inside the threshold?
  4. Was there a substantial issue with your equipment, judging criteria, or strategy that would mean performing significantly better?
  5. Were you well/recovered enough to perform the workout the first time around, and are you honestly well/recovered enough to repeat it?

If the answer to all the above is no, then suck up your “failures” and focus on what you can do in training to improve for your next competition.

My Lessons Learned

Here are my actionable lessons learned from my CrossFit Open 2018 performance:

  • Work on skills… specifically double unders. 18.3 was my only scaled performance, and pretty much only because of my inability to string together enough double unders to give me a score I would have been happy with claiming as RX.
  • Practice better technique. 18.5 was my second lowest percentile ranking – not through a lack of strength for the deadlifts (I could have made a dent in the second weight) but because my HSPUs aren’t up to scratch according to the movement standards.
  • Develop my ability to cope with high intensity workouts. 18.2 was my third lowest performance, and I should be able to cope with the pain of faster burpees. I need to move more efficiently and push my lactate threshold with high intensity interval work.
  • Train gymnastics progressions. Generally speaking, most of the areas I performed worst in involved gymnastics movements – not being able to string together TTB, being inefficient with HSPUs, lacking strength and efficiency for C2B… notice the common theme? And even if I did have double unders for 18.3, I would have been stuck staring at the rings for my lack of muscle ups.

Did you re-do any of the CrossFit Open workouts? If so, why? And did you learn anything from re-doing them? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts!

 

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London Marathon Training Diary – Week 3

Week three of training kicked off with a day and a half sick leave from work meaning ZERO training until Wednesday and a fair amount of making up to do. But, the decision to ditch the National Running Show so I could go along to other social events meant I could make a last-minute entry to the Finsbury Park RunThrough event at the weekend meaning… another medal added to the collection! And we all know I love a medal! 

VLM Minus 14 Weeks

Monday

Rest day.

Tuesday

Rest day.

Wednesday

Finally feeling a bit more human I headed to Lee Valley Athletics Track after work to make up for the fact that I’d missed a track session earlier in the week. Kerry told me to smash out 7 x 400m at around 90 second pace, with 90 second recoveries in between. I managed to drag IanRunsLDN along with me and thank god I did as without his company the reps would have been unbearable. A strong headwind on the final 150m of each lap was disgusting and, despite being told to “keep moving” between reps by Kerry, I found myself collapsed on the floor for the last 4-5.

 

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Thursday

On Thursday I was lucky to have an invite to go along to the Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 launch at Whatever It Takes One New Change. Putting the trainers to the test was a workout programmed and announced by none other than CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro, and to demo the workout before we all gave it our shot were 2017 CrossFit Games Champion Tia Clair Toomey, Scott Panchik and Lukas Esslinger, also joined by Dan Bailey who was coaching from the sides.

The workout was 21-15-9 dumbbell snatches and burpees over the dumbbell and it was a sprint like no other!! I struggled with the burpees, like I knew I would, but was super happy to finish under 5 minutes.

The new Nanos are almost certainly my favourite yet – the right balance of supportive yet comfortable. I’m even considering simplifying my collection by cutting down some of the older styles and getting a couple of colour ways of the Nano 8 – something I’ve never considered until this shoe… which has to be saying something, right?! You can shop the Nano 8, and other Reebok CrossFit shoes, here.

 

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Friday

Rest day.

Saturday

Rest day.

Sunday

Running is SO much better with friends! Ian, Derrick and I headed out for a 7 mile loop to Finsbury Park before the RunThrough race. The route was awesome, taking in Alexandra Palace (and THAT hill), Highgate and the awesome Parkland Walk – a walkway that follows the old railway line that used to run that way. We arrived at Finsbury Park in time to collect our race bibs and choose whether we were going for the 5k or 10k race. Ian and I chose the 10k, four laps of the park, while Derrick went with the 5k route running with Martin. We managed to cross the line in just over 50 minutes – not bad going for the end of a 13 mile run!

When I got home I messaged Kerry to tell him about the morning and that I’d accidentally run 2 miles more than planned… little did I realise that the peanut butter cup penalty system would apply to mileage too – 10 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups added to the total!!

 

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After the run it was time to re-fuel because this afternoon I had to take on the second Battle of Britain qualifier… “Dropping Bombs”. This workout was well and truly up my street – split into two parts, part one was a 3 minute max row for metres and part two was a clean and jerk ladder with one clean and jerk performed every minute at increasing weights. The weight started at 45kg and increased by 5kg every minute until you reach 65kg, then increasing by 2.5kg.

I had set my sights on reaching a certain minimum weight for the clean and jerk and sadly I failed to get it overhead, despite cleaning it relatively comfortably. But, what more could I expect after having run a half marathon in the morning?!

I finished 96th in the row, with 782 metres, and 90th in the clean and jerk, maxing out at 67.5kg. This was SO much better than my placing of 117th in the previous workout so I was still pretty proud of myself.

Training by Numbers

Miles run: 16.5 miles

Medals earned: 3 (including two virtual medals!)

Times nearly pissed myself: 0

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Count: 15

Fundraising total so far: £405 – I managed to break the £400 barrier! Only £950 to go…

Follow me on Strava to see my training progress in more detail, and check out my Instagram for more training updates – including my stories where I document even more of my training, diet and general life!

London Marathon Training Diary – Week 2

So, the second week of training… I definitely didn’t run as much this week as I’d planned to… but with a mid-week accidental PB and a CrossFit competition at the end of the week it was probably good to have a bit of a quieter week of running.

I haven’t done anywhere near enough fundraising though and, with a place at the London Landmarks Half Marathon now also secured with the Royal British Legion, I have a grand total of £2,350 to raise. I have a loose plan of how I’ll get there, but the time to put it all into action is another story. In the meantime, I’m extremely grateful for any donations you can make to help me along the way. If you do want to donate, you can do so here: George Does VLM.

Anyway, here’s my training diary for week 2…

VLM Minus 15 Weeks

Monday

Rest day

Tuesday

Rest day – I was supposed to be doing 5 miles easy (RPE 6), but my ITB was still painful from Sunday’s 9 miles. Since having inflammation of the bone underneath where my ITB connects at the knee after Ragnar Relay I’ve been a bit paranoid about it flaring up again so decided to take the extra rest ahead of tomorrow’s 10k RunThrough race instead.

Wednesday

RunThrough Chase the Moon 10k. Kerry told me to try to take it easy for the race – he had about 52 minutes in mind for me based on my PB of 49:15, but around halfway through the race I realised I’d been consistently running at around 7:30-7:40 minute/mile and decided to try and keep it up for a new PB. I crossed the finish line at 46:25, a nearly 3 minute PB and was super happy! Celebratory Nando’s most definitely earned, but…

Kerry’s punishment to me for going too fast? He devised a penalty system:

I’ll now be tracking my penalty peanut butter cups at the bottom of my training diary!

 

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Thursday

I’d arranged to join Shellie, Louise, Amy, Sophie, Becca and Lizzie for a bit of bouldering fun at The Arch Climbing Wall in Bermondsey. It was such a lovely evening – climbing, laughing, supporting each other and pushing ourselves to our limits. Sadly, Lizzie picked up an injury towards the end of the evening and had to cut her climb short, but the way everyone pulled together to help her just showed what a community we’ve built through the simple act of documenting our training on Instagram! Hope you have a speedy recovery Lizzie.

 

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Friday

Rest day – with my CrossFit pairs competition with Nic up in Manchester tomorrow, I took a half day from work to make the long drive up north.

Saturday

Today was the M-Squared FeMale same sex pairs CrossFit competition. I’d signed up with Nic during a drunken night out back in October/November time and today was the day that we took on the workouts along with dream-team Lisa and Lucy. We had so much fun with three ace workouts:

WOD 1

12 minute time cap to complete:

40 calorie row

10 down ups

40 box jump overs

10 down ups

40 snatches (35kg)

10 down ups

40 toes to bar

WOD 2a

9 minutes to find a max clean complex of:

Clean, hang clean and front squat

1 minute rest, then

WOD 2b

3 minutes to do:

AMRAP hang clean and jerk, at a weight of your choice

As a pair you weren’t allowed to put the bar down at all in the 3 minutes, or your rep count would be reset to zero.

WOD 3

21-15-9

Thrusters (30kg)

Burpees over the bar

Despite me messing up a couple of times in the first workout, we were so happy to finish in the top 10 out of 24 athlete teams in the RX category. Nic and I are also signed up as a team for the Inferno pairs series at Lee Valley over the Easter Weekend and I can’t wait to team up again – I genuinely think we worked really well together!

 

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Sunday

After signing up to take part in the Battle of Britain qualifiers, I had to submit my first workout score. I was aching from yesterday’s competition, but I needed to get this done…

WOD 1 – Welcome to the Suck

4 rounds of:

12 wall balls (6kg)

10 deadlifts (70kg)

8 handstand pushups

6 hang snatches (35kg)

All within a 15 minute time-cap. Sadly I reached the time-cap with 5 handstand pushups and 6 hang snatches to go, but I was really proud of my performance – especially with having not done HSPUs from the floor for a VERY long time.

 

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In the evening I had to fit in my long run for the week – a 10 mile run at 8:45 min/mile pace, which I managed to stick to pretty bang on, avoiding any further penalty peanut butter cups! It was a late run, and along the river towpath too, which meant wearing my Silva headtorch – that thing is seriously awesome, lighting up the path so well in-front of my that I still felt pretty comfortable running at a relatively fast pace.

 

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Training by Numbers

Miles run: 16.2

Medals earned: 1

Times nearly pissed myself: 0

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Count: 5

Fundraising total so far: £395

Follow me on Strava to see my training progress in more detail, and check out my Instagram for more training updates – including my stories where I document even more of my training, diet and general life!

The CrossFit Games: Turning Spectator Sport On Its Head Since 2007

The 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games start tomorrow, Thursday 3rd August, and this year is set to be the biggest and most exciting year yet with a move from the Stub Hub Centre to the Alliant Energy Centre in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Eight weeks ago Regionals wrapped up and the final five men, women and teams from each region were crowned Games Athletes. I attended our local event, the Meridian Regional in Madrid, with Reebok and it was absolutely electric. I watched the Team competition for the first time and couldn’t believe I’d neglected to watch it previously, but despite the “JST… JST… JST” chants, by far the biggest crowd turned out to watch the individual women. Apparently a couple of years ago, people were actually leaving the stadium as the men took to the floor for the final heats. So why is the female race so much more exciting? And how is it that CrossFit has managed to turn the trends of spectator sport on its head?

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

Women in Sport

Look at any other sport – football, rugby, tennis, etc; the majority of excitement (and publicity) comes with the men. Perhaps the only exception is volleyball… for reasons that will remain unsaid! Generally speaking, women’s sport is barely even given the prime time slots or channels on TV. The men’s Wimbledon finals take precedence over the women’s, and journalists even fail to recognise female achievement in sports. And if you thought the gender pay gap was large in our ordinary day jobs, you just have to look at prize money for various sports to know there are bigger problems out there.

But in CrossFit, the prize money is the same, women and men compete in the same events with the same movement standards (only the weights are scaled according to the general rule of thumb that men have approximately 30% more muscle mass). In fact, the women’s competition is so much more exciting because it’s that much closer a battle. With a number of women all battling it out for the top spot, every second and every point counts.

More Than Just a Close Race

But is it just the closeness of the competition that makes the females that much more entertaining to watch? CrossFit often gets a bad rep, but one of the things that most people will agree on is that it is incredible to watch and the elite athletes are ridiculously strong, agile, fast, mobile… basically they are real-life T-800s. Seeing someone throw a weight over their head that the majority of people would struggle to even pick up off the floor, climb a rope using just their arms, run, swim, walk on their hands, push and pull extremely heavy and awkward objects – it’s fascinating. And then to see all of those things being done by a woman when women have been seen as weaker and less capable for so long? There’s something amazing in that.

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

Never Specialise

Another way that the Reebok CrossFit Games has challenged the norm is in the celebration of not specialising. You can’t win the games by having just one strong element – you need to be a jack of all trades. Looking at the previous winners, male and female, arguably the people who have won the most times have been the people you can’t pigeon-hole. The closest you see to that with your typical Olympic sports is the multi-event sports, like heptathlon, or perhaps where you get people switch sport (like Bradley Wiggins and Rebecca Romero switching from cycling to rowing and vice versa), but it’s just not on the same level as with CrossFit.

Why Watch This Year

So how is this year’s competition hotting up? Personally I think there are lots of reasons why this year’s Games are more exciting than any other, but here are my top 5 reasons to watch the Games this year:

1. First all-British team finalists. 

We have our first all-Brit team competing at the Games, Team CrossFit JST. Watching them compete at Regionals (and topping the leaderboard overall) was phenomenal and I can’t wait to see how they get on in Madison. If you want to feel like part of the team you can even buy a CrossFit JST team t-shirt from Reebok UK!

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

2. Motivation x 1000.

Being at Regionals in person and hearing the crowd made the whole experience that much more exciting – the atmosphere is incredible as everyone cheers their favourites, but the camaraderie is also clear – it motivated me so much to work on my weaknesses and progress my own training and I want to get that feeling back by tuning in to the coverage online.

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

3. Rory McKernon.

My CrossFit Media Team crush… his handsome face will be presenting pretty much the entire weekend. Need I say more?!

4. The women’s competition.

There’s going to be a battle at the top, and it’s going to get emotional. There’s a fire inside the Icelandic ladies’ bellies and they are going to fight it out like never before, but there’s an Australian on their tails, plus our favourite Brit – Sam Briggs – and it’s going to be amazing to see who comes out on top.

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

5. The exciting events.

If you haven’t seen them yet, you need to get looking – this year the events look ACE. I mean: 1RM snatch, an obstacle course, cyclocross, a muscle up and clean ladder and a strongman/handstand walk pairing? I can’t wait to see the action.

Will you be tuning in to the Reebok Crossfit Games? What (or who?!) are you looking forward to seeing?

Photo courtesy of Reebok.

Thanks to Reebok for the use of the photos (including featured image) and for the amazing trip to Madrid in June. Make sure you’re following the Reebok UK and Sport Stylist social channels to get all the behind the scenes from Lucy Denver who’s gone to watch!

From CrossFit to Rowing… What Now?

At the start of the year I was invited to join a press and celebrity team at Cancer Research’s The Great Row event, where we would row a marathon on a Concept2 erg as a team of six (read more about it on Sophie and Patricia’s fabulous blogs!). After a really fun evening of slogging it out on the erg – including my last 500m being commentated by a BBC sports presenter (!) – I’d already decided that I wanted to learn to row for real. I was even looking up Learn to Row courses in between my turns on the erg… but what I didn’t realise was quite how much I’d love it, and that 6 months later I would be rowing another team marathon, only this time down the Thames with my local rowing club!

Learning to Row

I’d always assumed rowing would be quite technical, but I didn’t appreciate just how much I’d gotten away with on the erg until we got to work with the coaches at the Broxbourne Rowing Club Learn to Row course. The course was run on Saturday and Sunday mornings over 8 weeks, and as we progressed from erg, to bank tub (a frame with a seat on a slide and a rigger so you can practice moving the blade in the water), to boat the coaches worked with us to improve our positioning, core strength and timing.

The first two days were a lot to take in with tonnes of rowing terminology to learn, as well as the physical movements. But I felt relatively confident that I was picking things up. Something I didn’t appreciate until recently was just how good CrossFit has been for my ability to learn new things. The variety of movements we have to perform as part of our CrossFit arsenal requires motor skills and proprioceptive feedback that I’m sure has helped me when learning new physical activities. It wasn’t until week three that I had a real dip in confidence with an outing where almost everything went wrong… and I’m still getting those on occasion four months later.


You see, despite the “general physical preparedness” that CrossFit gives me, I’ve still found rowing to be one of the hardest technical challenges I’ve taken on. When you learn a clean and jerk, you can stick with a light weight and drill the movement over and over again and the only person that’s affected if you mess it up is you. If you miss a lift you just dump the bar, take a breather and go for the next one. If you mess up a rowing stroke, on the other hand, the whole boat can rock and slow. You can’t just stop rowing and take your time to correct what you got wrong – you have to keep in time with the athletes in front of you and correct/adjust as you go.

Learning to Race

Being the competitive person I am, when the chance came up to join a squad specifically for learning to race, I was obviously going to go for it. But going from a group of all beginners to a crew who have been rowing for an average of around two years was a bit of a leap. I am by far the newest rower in the team and I’m certain it shows. We got to work on training as an eight – doing racing starts (which our coach, Bex, loves) and joining in with “tidal flow”, which is where all the boats make their way up to one end of the river and then set off one by one at a fast pace to simulate the pressure of a regatta (and help make sure you have a clear stretch of river to speed down!). It’s really hard sometimes to try and keep your strokes as tidy as you want them to be when you’re also trying to put the power on and maintain a fast rate, but I’m hoping it will come with practice.

After about 5-6 weeks of training together as a crew (when we could all make it!) we did our first race as an eight at St Neots Regatta. We had hoped to be in a novice category, but with a change in the way British Rowing members get points for racing, the novice categories seem to be being phased out across various races. We ended up racing against the eventual winners of our category for our first race draw… and obviously lost. An unlucky draw perhaps, but still a brilliant experience. Despite beautiful weather in the morning, by the time our race came the weather had taken a turn for the worst and we were soaked through, we had trouble getting lined up with the stake boat because the wind kept drifting us away, and we lost by four lengths… but we were still probably the happiest bunch there! It just goes to show what a little bit of adrenaline does for you!

What Comes Next

Now I’ve had my first taste of racing I’m excited for what’s to come. I want to do every race I can get myself signed up for (that’s if I make the cut, of course!) and I’m determined to work on my technique and timing so I can pull my weight more in the boat and make efficient use of my strength rather than just haul-assing the oar! I’m hoping to learn to single scull, as it’s supposed to be the best way to learn how to balance and move a boat effectively. I’m also going to work on getting a sub-8 minute 2k erg, which I know is within reach (I’m currently hovering around 8:14).

As well as racing, I hope to use rowing as a way to see new places. I’ve already been on a trip with the recreational rowers, where we rowed from Wallingford to Henley – a total of 26 miles over two days. I’ll cover that trip in a separate post! Touring is great fun and I’m looking forward to seeing where else it will take me.

The How?

It’s all very well writing a wish list of things I want to achieve, but without a plan it’s just that – a wish list. To turn them into goals I’m going to achieve I need an action plan…

Firstly, I’m going to hit the erg at the gym once or twice during the week to rack up the time I spend working on my body positions. British Rowing have a great indoor rowing section on their website called “Go Row Indoor” which has training plans and technique tips as well as advice on apps to record your ergs. I also plan to use Rowing WOD to give me challenging workouts for the erg to improve my rowing fitness.

Secondly, I’m going to get myself out in a single sculling boat whenever I can and get that practice in so I can learn important skills like maneuvering, balancing and getting an efficient stroke and recovery. I just have to be prepared to get wet because the risk of capsize is relatively high… especially for beginners!

And finally, I’m going to continue to train with our lovely learn to race crew as often as I can – working on individual timing is great, but rowing is mostly a team sport and it’s important to work together to get that boat as fast as it can be. Our coach is great and really enthusiastic about the squad and our races, and we’re lucky to have loads of great volunteers who give us coaching from the bank as we train. I need to be a bit of a sponge now and try to take it all in and act on it!

Have you ever thought about learning to row? Or if you’re already a rower, what would you recommend for learning to row better?