This comes just an hour or so after our first race practice since Luzern. I thought it would be interesting to capture a few thoughts on what our mind sets are for this type of work and what feelings, thoughts and emotions come up prior to, during and after the work.
Yesterday we went for a ride mid morning just to keep the system ticking over. In the afternoon we did a race prep session to prepare for a 2000m race practice session this morning.
The start time was 9am which we decided would assimilate as close to normal race time at the worlds. We used this first hit out as a blow out and to perform at say a heat row level. So for this reason it was important to get our heads around what the speed and intensity would be like early and to be sure to keep the foot on the gas until at least 1000m. This may sound a bit strange, but the idea of getting the start right and setting up the rhythm is very important to us, so by reducing the race down to that first 1000m we can focus on the quality of the work with out worrying about the second half.
Before heading out on the water I was feeling relaxed, but certainly had that sense of anticipation for the effort that would be required. As we were getting ready the various crews on the team were buzzing around doing all the prep stuff and even the sound on the Gavirate head coach, Giovanni Calebrese urging his crews on while they raced down the course added to the energy of the practice.
My focus was very much on doing all the little things that would enable me to feel ready to race. I guess today the level of prep was slightly less due to the mind set I have about saving some of the special things for big races. It was clear for me about how we needed to row so I went over that a few times in my mind and based on yesterday’s session I had a good sense of what the start needed to be like.
To me this is the key, we have done many things in training and it is about finding the positives and focusing on stringing it all together. So even today is just a part of the puzzle. Yesterday was another part and so from all the training and practice pieces, plus toady’s work we will make clear decisions about how we approach the second stage of our race practice tomorrow and how over the next two weeks we put together the ideal puzzle.
It is a building process and one that requires attention to detail and a good sense of understanding about what can be repeated, what’s realistic and what’s not. Finding and grooving the movement that will enable optimal output is always challenging. It’s this challenge that’s exciting though and at times you feel as though your crafting a master piece, a work of art and like all great works the final unveiling is a lot more about the journey then just the end result.
To dig into the race work itself I can say this. We have been intent on creating more drive and rhythm than we have had before. We have focused our attention on getting the turns to flow more easily, but we have try to stay true to the speed of the turns with out forcing them. We have worked on trusting in our levers, our athleticism and dynamic power. We have been aware of maintaining the stability and balance of the drive phase and how we move off the back. Our weakness is that we can get clumsy, but have found that by staying light and precise we manage to move with out loosing form. The other thing we have worked on is making sure that we both have confidence in what each of us has to do. Almost like defining clear roles and responsibilities. Duncan needs to stroke the boat and create the movement he feels is ideal. Chris needs to provide a cocoon and feedback that enables us to explore and I need to make sure I don’t try to get ahead of it all, to stay in the framework and match up perfectly.
Today we had a pretty good start, but the magic moment came after 500m when we locked into some great rhythm and drive. This carried us for some 600m and it felt alive and easy. It was a great sensation that set up the piece. We copped a few boat washes and in the main dealt with them well, but did become a little conservative. For today it was fine and we did practice something we had never really done before. This was to wind a little towards the line. The rate got to 37 which for us is quiet high and we were happy with how we created the movement at that intensity.
The time was reasonable and our own perceptions were that we did what we set out to do. It’s the first race piece since Luzern and a good blow out that we will use as a step toward the work tomorrow and then beyond. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together and we are being discrete about how we put them into place and why we focus on certain elements.