Tips for Rowing Your First 5K Indoor Race

Ok, so you have trained hard, heard about a 5K indoor rowing race, and gathered enough courage to actually do it. You did some carb loading and had a good night sleep, but you have no clue what to expect on race day.  This is how it will go down.    

1. After the start of the rowing race, your first few strokes will likely feel harder and shorter than normal.

This is because of the adrenaline coursing through your system and the freshness of your legs. Be sure to pace yourself.  After about the fifth or sixth stroke, the key is to reduce the rate and lengthen the stroke. Get a good start, but the race is not won in the first 1000 m.  The pace should be capped at 28-32, although it varies by person and skill level.

2. By the middle 2000, i.e., between 2000m and 4000m, you should have settled into a good rowing rhythm.  

Somewhere between 2000m and 4000m, however, you are more than likely to start getting extremely tired and start to feel a burning pain. This is a result of lactic acid. (here is a good description of what lactic acid feels like: Lactic acid).  This is no time to feel sorry for yourself or wonder why you ever signed up for the damned race in the first place.  It is time to keep a steady pace, try to maximize your efficiency, and know that you are going to push past the burn.  Personally, it is when I get mad, and let that emotion energize me.  Remember, its only lactic acid, you can do it.     

3. With about 1500m to go you, the finish line is not yet in sight, but you should start pushing the split times down every few hundred meters.

Remember,  unlike in short sprints, if you start too fast or plan a big sprint in the end to make up time, you will fail.  Focus on the middle of your race. Each stroke is a chance to bring your time to where you want it be.  This is not about saving anything in your reserve tanks for the end.   

4. Once you have only about 350m to go, its time to dig deep, drive up the stroke rate, and simply murder the splits.

Nothing should be held back, and you should be putting all of your energy into each stroke until you cross the line.  

Remember that in setting your pace, your 5K split should be higher than your regular 500m.  If you have a 1:29 s. average split for a 500m, your strategy should be to target somewhere between 1:45 and 1:55 s. for a 5k.

Don't forget, the race is won in the middle when you start feeling that burn.

You've got this!