Crash and Burn: When the Erg Wins the Battle

Sunday was a rough day to say the least. Evidence of that is that it has taken me a snowstorm and 3 full days to get this post written. But finally I’ve been snowed in and forced to finish. It is easy to talk about training and success; not so easy to talk about training and failure. Painful. I haven’t felt defeat to the degree that I felt it around 11am that morning in quite some time. We had a 2K test as part of the training plan. Going into the test, I was amped. I knew that I had been kicking ass with my training over the past month; my time could only be a personal best, right? Not exactly. My goal is to break 7 minutes in the 2K (for those of you who haven’t felt this pain, the 2K row is basically sprinting a mile as fast as you can). For females, making it sub-7 in the 2K is a “big milestone” in erg testing and separates you into a competitive, elite group of rowers. I’m the ambitious type and like to think I’ll be pulling in the 6:40s at some point soon. I’m just getting started and while I’ve progressed quickly–I learned a bit of lesson in patience this past Sunday.

In The Battle of the 2K, the Erg won the battle. I did not break 7 minutes, I didn’t even reach a new Personal Best, which was the most disappointing. I was pissed, upset, and may have even pouted for a hot minute. As an elite athlete in other sports, I know defeat and I know how to recover from defeat so I didn’t allow myself to get too down, but I couldn’t help but beat myself up for the better half of the afternoon. The brilliant thing about rowing and the training that goes into it is that you truly are responsible for your own success. While that idea extends to all sports to some degree, there are variables that sometimes impact the outcome of a softball game or volleyball game that you have no control over. The umpires may suck, and the beast on the other team hit a grandslam with bases full of runners that your pitcher walked; you can’t control that…unless you’re the pitcher, then you should’ve threw that curveball with a little more zip.

This obviously is not me, but sums up just about how I feel after completing a 2K test.

Beating your time on the erg or water is up to you and the preparation you put into it.  Looking back on those 2,000 meters, if you fail you spend hours breaking down each set of 500 meters and analyzing every pull. At what point did I let it go? What could I have done differently? Did I over train? Did I not train hard enough? Was I too ambitious with the splits I planned? The list goes on and on if you let yourself dwell. All excuses and reasons aside, you didn’t hit your mark. So how will you approach the next test differently? If you win and reach the goal you set out for yourself, (once you catch your breath) you do a little dance and let the adrenaline of the punishing workout and success take you on a high the rest of the day.

Life would be too perfect if you were putting up personal bests every time you tested. You must have defeat to know true victory and be reminded that you are human. Rowing does that to you. Knocks you down after lifting you up, but you keep coming back for more. So when the erg wins the battle, make sure you come back to win the war. 6K test this weekend and I plan to annihilate it.

I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammed Ali

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