It’s interesting to think that some 12 months ago I was just starting back into rowing. It had been after my little stint at cycling which I am still very much using as part of training now, the weight loss of 10kg and the good 12 weeks of nothing while I considered my future in sport..
I guess in those early weeks once I thought I would give rowing another crack I was very unsure of if it would be even possible. My back at the time had heal to a certain degree and yet strength and weird signs of over use and pain reminders still hang around. From the bike I was sure I was motivated and certainly had done some great base work. Also add to that I had been in a competitive environment with racing and TT’s so the urge to push and challenge was still there.
Currently we are in the thick of preparations. Deep into the training zone and I am surprised at how some days I feel great and am handling the work well. Others I do have a slide into old age creep and excuses. Fatigue does catch up but not as much as I expected. I have had the days when I have wondered why I am doing all this and then the days I would not or could not imagine doing anything else.
The days my body has ached as I have laid in bed trying to get just 30-40min of rest before the next hammering I have not thought about stopping but rather about how can I keep finding more. At times I have had no answers to the questions then other times I can see solutions and way forward easily.
With the fatigue comes also some mental overload. During rows last week we pushed the button and I certainly found I came to my end of concentrating and lost form then found new ways to stay focused. Sensory things like feeling my feet. Feeling the shoes around my feet and feeling the different pressures in my feet. Being this is just one area of connection to the boat and my crew mates I found this kept my attention and gave me great feedback. So while the overload and fatigue were high, I found ways to stay fully engaged and felt this enabled me to row better in time with the boat and crew.
While being in the thick of training here I start to sense the end of this phase of the journey is coming to an end. Bled is not all the far away. For many years I have prepared for races like this and yet this one seems strangely different. The learning about my new team mates and re-aquianting with the four has been some what unsettling at times. Only because I felt like my own physical shape and conditioning took so long to return after my rib injury. Even then the question marks about my back were still hanging in the air. Adding all that to being in a new team and the change from a familiar boat and you could say I was a little like a sailor lost a sea. Now though my sense of direction and co-ordinates have become much clearer. As a team we have been through more together now and although our understanding of each others is not at the highest level yet the certainty of how we row and respond is clearer.
Training is a critical part of what we do. So much time is spent crafting the movement and grooving our timing that it’s easy to forget that ultimately how we race is what we are measured by. Everything, well almost everything is measured these days. Racing is illusive and costly to use physically. I need to explain this as too much racing can undo all the great building work done on our physical and mental systems. To little racing or race work and the risk of being unprepared is high.
Being deep within the training zone is then about finding the balance between the ultimate speed, movement and cost of raving and racing work and the training which builds capacity, movement co-ordination and efficient speed. The balance is the challenge and timing the build up the secret to success. Any good team can go fast. Going fast at the right time though is key. To be able to peak for a performance is how big races are won and to be able to get to the big races in the best shape possible with the least cost is essential.
We are deep in the training zone now and working to ensure we layer our performance. Movement and flow are important and harmony is needed to fly. Our systems are being built and to keep concentration on what works now is improving. Finding that balance as we fine tune and thread the mix of perceptions, motivations, ideas, feelings and needs towards the button hole ahead to ensure we can pull it all together requires greater and great subtlety. Eventually it is about holding and pressing it all together in just a way as to create a dynamic tension, sprung loaded and read to rip.
For now we training and the time will come to race and between now and then we prepare to be the best we can be collectively, not individually.