I am a strong woman with a strong work ethic but for the past two years have been seemingly unable to improve my 2K time. I know several Masters rowers working with Carlos Dinares, and in 2010, watched him coaching Ursula Grobler both at Ergomania and at CRASH-B in Boston. I needed to have some guidance and wanted to work with Carlos.
The last week of November 2011, we met at Seattle Rowing Club for a ninety- minute session. The session included discussing my short-term and long-term goals, my previous training and experience in rowing, my work at CRASH-B (2010 and 2011), and my general frustration with being “strong” but unable to become stronger. We then worked on the RowPerfect and the Concept 2. I had experienced the RP3 but without guidance. Under Carlosʼ supervision, I soon understood that my previous “hard work” was minimal compared to the work load attainable on the RP3. This was “real work.” Watching me and having heard my 2K history, Carlos could see that I was strong but needed to build my endurance. He suggested working at a higher drag for a longer period of time at a slower rate. He was spot-on in noting my weakness and in helping me methodically work toward my goal. Methodically is a key word. Chipping away at the split with every deliberately slow stroke.
Following our first session and a subsequent eight-minute SKYPE conversation, my work began with a new focus and an attainable goal in mind. Five weeks later, my club requested everyone to do a 2K. I did not feel quite ready as I had only worked up to 1400m at my new split but did the 2K and took almost three seconds off my previous PR of 2009. It was a nice way to start 2012!
I had struggled for two and a half-years to better my PR in the 2K – which I set the very first time I tried a 2K. It was unbridled energy then – before I learned about what to do and what not to do. So where did that power go? Why could I not improve?
On the RP3 I could feel my strength limitations. Coaches talk about “the burn,” “working through the pain,” etc.. I had no burn, no pain – was I not working? My 2K times were very good, but I could sense something was missing. I was working hard on the water and on the erg. The mechanism of the RP3 provides much more resistance than the Concept 2 and does so with a fluidity that is absent on the rigid Concept 2. One needs to work at a higher resistance in order to build muscle strength and develop endurance. I believe the fluidity of the RP3 allows one to work much harder with a smaller chance of injury. Looking back on all my work on the Concept 2, I feel that perhaps it was “maintenance work.” Maintaining my fitness, maintaining my split, but “spinning my wheels” as far as improvement or strengthening is concerned. I did not know I needed to push myself harder.
I have now had two sessions with Carlos. So far, my 2K score has improved from the “unbridled” first-time-ever time of 7:42.9 (2009) to 7:40.1 (December 2011) to 7:36.5 (February 2012). I hope to go to CRASH-B again this year. The looming question for me is not “Who will be there?” for competition but rather “Who will have trained on the RP3?”