How I got to indoor rowing racing

I took part at the BritishRowing Indoor Championships 2016, competition on rowing machines, and many people asked me how I got to such an unusual sport. So now I want to share that with you.

Slovak version:

From my first machine to racing

It all started when my brother-in-law recommended me that rowing machine helps to prevent back pain and it worked for him. Four years ago, in 2012, I decided to buy my first rowing machine. It was around 150 euros, nothing too professional. I was at uni and I had the machine in my small dorm room. My roommate was surprised I was actually using the machine, unlike many people who buy a sport equipment. I was rowing once or twice a week. It was still far from racing. I never thought about racing and I used it just to strengthen my back and remove the back pain.

Years passed, I did many sports and one of them I really enjoyed was running. I’ve been running on and off for a few years now and I think it is the best sport for resetting your mind. Last year, in 2015, I set a goal and I was training for a half-marathon. It was something I wanted to do at least once in my life. After not a long training, I was easily running 15km even uphill and downhill.

However, after weeks of training, I started to feel pain in my knees on the day when I registered for the race. I said to myself let’s try to strengthen my knees by rowing or cycling, so I started to do that in a gym. But the pain went away only until I tried to run again and, as the race day was approaching, I had to skip the race.

That was a bit disappointing, but it showed me that my body is probably not capable of long distance running. As I love sport and it’s an essential part of my life, I just kept on going to the gym, did weightlifting, HIIT classes, Circuits, swimming and other stuff from time to time.

One day, sometime in the beginning of 2016, I was just thinking about running and what I like about it. And I realized that except of it being an awesome mind reset, I love that I can join competitions. There are so many races around. Running is the easiest sport for competing.

Me and my friend at Rajec High Tatras Night Run 2015

As I knew I was not able to train running too hard, I started thinking if there is any other sport I like that I can compete. I like many sports, but for some reason I started thinking about rowing on the machine. I got a crazy idea to check if there are any races on the machines. Surprisingly enough, I found that there are races on the machines! There is a race calendar on the official Concept2 website.

At the time I was checking the races they were all finished as they took place in the winter period. So, I was just waiting for a couple of months and sometime in summer I saw that the biggest indoor rowing event in the UK — BRIC2016 — was announced to be on December 10th. I signed up.

Training for the race

I treated it as a challenge. I had never trained that hard in my life.

Concept2 official website contains training guide which covers various types of trainings — weight loss, other sport, or racing. Based on that I created my own training plan.

I was rowing 5 times a week plus 3 times a week I had other training, usually weights, circuits or swimming. I created a spreadsheet and kept track of my times. Every day, I had different type of rowing — short intervals, long intervals, long steady rowing, variable intervals.

Me (number 30) racing at BRIC2016

I could see huge improvements, especially in the first weeks. Around 8th week progress slowed down, but there were still slight improvements. However, I think I did one mistake in my training. I trained very hard on the long steady trainings — 30 mins rowing and 5000m. My results greatly improved, but I spent a lot of energy there. And I’m not sure if it helped as the race was 2000m. I still believe long steady workouts are useful as a part of the training, but it is better to do them easy and focus energy on shorter or interval trainings.

I highly recommend indoor rowing for everybody. It’s a full body exercise awesome for achieving general fitness, gaining strength or losing weight. Concept2 website has all the information. But I can tell you, I had to eat carefully in order not to lose weight. Rowing machines are available in any gym, so next time you go there, spend at least couple of minutes rowing.

The race

The race was amazing. I had never took part in any event of it sort before and I enjoyed the day. That feeling when you wait under ground to go to the track, like footballers — loved it.

It was a huge event, which took part in the LeeValley VeloPark — part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park built for 2012 London Olympics. There were over 1500 participants in all the categories. In my category — 2000m men open — there were 63 people. I finished 34th with a time of 6:43.5. I’ve beaten my personal best and I think it is an awesome result for my first race. I am very satisfied.

I also had awesome fan club — my Slovak friends came to support me. Big thanks to them, they made me push my limit further. And I lost my words when I saw a wonderful transparent they had.

With my awesome fans! Great thanks!

I just wrote about my first race, but there are others coming up. I would like to continue. And in fact, one is this Sunday, just a week after the first one— Slovak Indoor Rowing Championships. We’ll see if I can beat my personal best again.

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