Rowing Strategy with Donna F.


Today we have a guest post, one of many we hope.  Donna Fergeson, our resident rowing master has provided us with an in depth look at how she approached a race or WOD.  Enjoy and thanks Donna!

“Whether rowing an ergometer (erg machine) in the gym or a boat on the water, you have to have a plan to succeed. Rowing requires a unique mix of technique, power and endurance. It’s both aerobic and anaerobic. In many respects, rowing is like Crossfit.

Some rowers prefer to feel out the competition. For me, not so much. I know if I follow my game plan I will do my best. In addition to physical fitness, there is also a mental aspect to rowing. So I really compete against myself. When done correctly, rowing – like Crossfit – is an example of “no pain-no gain.”

The goal of any race plan is to maximize speed and efficiency. I break up a race into smaller chunks: the start, the body, and the sprint. The racing start must be precision-with-power. To move the boat from a stand-still, the stroke sequence is: 3/4, 1/2, 3/4, 3/4, and full. The first stroke is a squeeze taken at 3/4 slide with no body swing and a light catch. Power is increased throughout the first stroke up to three-quarter pressure. It is important to row the first stroke correctly and not rush on to the second stroke. The second stroke is rowed from half slide, also with no body swing. Then the slide is built up over the subsequent strokes, and body-swing is gradually introduced after stroke five.

The key in the body phase is “stroke rate” which is the number of strokes per minute. After the first several strokes of the start sequence, I execute a “high” where I row up to 20 strokes at a fast stroke rate. After the start and high, I lengthen to a base rate. This transition should happen in one stroke, and speed should be maintained. This is where I find my rhythm and have a better chance of being effective in the body of the race.

The sprint is just as it sounds, a quickening of pace and speed to finish the race. I will bring up the rating in the last 500 meters to bring up the speed to either pass another boat, or to fend off a challenger. By this time muscles have already been through a small slice of purgatory. Heart rate and breathing rates have been maxed for a while; the muscles are furiously trying to get rid of lactate; and the moderate discomfort of the second 500 meters has developed into an all-encompassing burn. Now we need to go faster…seriously?

A race plan is designed to elicit that type of performance, but it is only an outline. It cannot force the best performance onto an athlete; it can only provide the framework within which athletes are able to bring out their best.

What I learned with Crossfit is not only do I have to follow my game plan, but I have to dig deep to find the right combination to continue on to the next event.”

If you have any questions about rowing feel free to ask Donna, she loves to help and talk about her passion!

TODAY: 080213

5 Rounds/90 Sec Per Round/90 Sec Rest Between Rounds

8 HSPU Buy In
Max Reps Power Cleans in Time Remaining

*Score is lowest rep in 1 round

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2 Responses to Rowing Strategy with Donna F.

  1. Dan says:

    Awesome post Donna. You’ve helped me in so many ways.

  2. MrsBull says:

    Great post, Donna! Thanks for walking us through this and explaining the stroke sequence from a stand still. Hope to see more guest posts!

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