One training device is the ergometer. I never owned one, never trained on one, and practically never used one. The few national team tests I took on ergs were dismal failures, which worked wonders to further my dislike of these beastly creatures. Boring. Tedious. Noisy. Ergs have greatly cheapened rowing. Graceless. Greasy. Grim. The erg is to rowing what having sex by yourself is to having sex. Stop it!
Rowing is an absurdly simple sport. I can easily guide a beginner throught the right technical motions. The difficulty arises when the beginner attempts to repeat those motions on a bumpy race course, at 40 strokes a minute, with his heart rate zooming, and an opponent charging up his stern.
I led by three or four feet, with Biggy (John Biglow) surging closer on each stroke. I hated him in those last few seconds; he was the only reason my guts were being strewn over the water like an oil slick ... I pressed one last time, and looked at the finish-line flagman. In that instant the flag jumped down and then up. The up stroke, identifying the second place finisher, was for me. John Biglow was the victor. I stared into the green-brown water watching my bloody soul drop through the depths, slowly rocking back and forth, occasionally glinting... Read more »
I slapped my face two or three times with both hands, as hard as possible. The slapping hurt. It snapped me to attention. My adrenaline started flowing... the Yugoslavs, sitting in the next lane stared at me in disbelief. The harsh slapping made me angry-exactly what I wanted. I did my best work when I was angry.
Unlike boxers-or any professional athlete for that matter-rowers have little motivation to do it longer than necessary. With a modest amount of self-realization, you'll know when you have acquired the nebulous gifts that rowing has to offer, whether it's courage or a strengthened soul or a powerful body. Once you have it, drop back ten yards and punt. Someone new will pick up the ball and run with it.
Rigging is like Zen meditation. You must bend over the boat until your back is breaking, until your brain is filled with numbers and fractions of numbers, until you can accurately measure an oarlock's pitch without bothering to use the pitch meter. Only then will you see the way of eternal rigging happiness.
If anyone here is secretly dreaming of making the Olympics, I can tell you exactly how to do it, two words: Sustained Obsession. The obsession isn't so hard. But keeping it sustained is a tough nut to crack. A heart-felt enemy can go a long way to sustaining your obsession. Love your enemy.