Many associate ultra-endurance rowing with pain and fatigue. Hell, I’ve done a marathon row once, and have yet to be enticed back to do another one!!
However, we know little on the subject, despite it’s growing popularity. Many rowers have performed ultra-endurance rowing during practice through the forms of tests sets (timed 30 minutes or timed half or full marathon rows). Most would likely agree these are arduous times. For one, there is no break. Another difficulty is the pure mental strength required for the task. Scientifically, little is known on ultra-endurance rowing. This week we look a little bit deeper at three misconceptions on ultra-endurance rowing.
You Don’t Reach Maximal Fatigue:
Fatigue is multifactorial, associated with a decrease in muscle performance. Rowing fatigue is most noted with an increase in energy cost and a change in biomechanical stroke parameters. Despite the frequent discussion of physiological factors influencing fatigue, psychological factors are also thought to impair rowing. For example, when rowing for an extended period of time rating of perceived exertion (RPE) increases. Conscious information is the memory of the RPE of a familiar task. When an athlete is performing a novel exercise or distance, a conservative pacing approach is performed. This is why many can raise their effort level at the end of a task. The decision to cease the task would be mainly due to two psychological factors: the potential motivation and the perceived exertion.
The reason for not reaching maximal RPE may be due to the novelty of the race for these rowers or the positive experience of finishing the task. Now, the results may be different with highly trained ultra-endurance rowers, but for most, you aren’t even reaching maximal effort during ultra-endurance rowing!
You Don’t Get Hungry!
Hunger, like fatigue, is a complicated subject. One would expect a rower to become hungry during an ultra-endurance race due to the number of calories burned. This high caloric expenditure creates a negative energy balance, yet during a half marathon row, many athletes don’t report hunger!. Despite the lack of hunger, consuming some calories is paramount for ultra-endurance training. For example, if an ultra-endurance rower is not consuming calories they may lack in energy for maximal performance. The rowers may also risk hyponatremia, low blood salt. Hyponatremia is a deadly condition, which kills a couple of ultra-endurance runners each year. Now, the rowers don’t need to eat something, but could simply drink a fluid containing calories.
Handle Path Doesn’t Change:
Many coaches avoid ultra-endurance sets as they are adopting the principle of specificity. However, working for a sustained period is a great way of engraining in the correct form and technique, ensuring you are not changing the handlebar path of the athlete during an ultra-endurance race. This doesn’t imply they are using “race” specific biomechanics, but that they are locking into a pattern which isn’t changing form. When the handle path isn’t changing one could argue this form of training isn’t as negative as previously thought.
There you have it!! Ready to take the leap and do some endurance rowing?? Come join us in The Crew and get yourself ready for a full marathon with our 12-week marathon rowing plan build from the ground up! http://babblecafe.com/workout
Yours in fitness, education and clearing up the misconceptions.