The other day I was chatting to a friend about his love of triathlons and thought to myself, “I wonder how different life would be if I had picked a different sport.” I’d have different friends, different skill sets, a different body, and a different definition of training. Rowing has shaped and continues to shape my world, and seldom do I realise the odd bag of tricks rowing has gifted me.
Here are a few quirky skills every rower will acquire over years of gliding over the water.
1. Comfortable with Silence
There were times I would long to be in a gym environment, having the music blasting and trying to stop myself from bursting into song when anything with a beat came on. Yet truth be told there is nothing more I love than sitting either in the boat in the middle of the lake by myself or on the erg in the training room and just methodically rowing the session without any sense of what’s going on around me. Strange how you like that piece this sport gifts you!!
2. Ridiculous Attire Tolerance
This is truly weird but I guess tradition and practicality don’t always go hand in hand! What am I talking about? Rowers truly unique fashion sense including some pretty outrageous blazers and the form fitting unisuits that leave little/nothing to the imagination. Are we bothered? Not in the slightest and every regatta wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t some “unique” display of clothing on display.
3. Self-Talk Masters
Every psychologist will preach on the power of self-talk. Unlike any land sport, we cannot hear constant critiques from our coaches, as desperately as they try to provide helpful hints from the shore. I think I do chat with myself a lot in life from the thousands of hours I spent with headphones in in the erg room and out by myself on the water. The best rowers are the most positive thinkers. Otherwise, they would not be able to tolerate hours of their brain’s constant chatter.
4. Clean Freaks
OK, I realize rowers sometimes compete to see who can get the most amount of sweat on the erg room floor (guilty!), or who can leave that blister the longest without getting it cleaned out and sorted, but there’s no doubt competitive rowers are clean specimens. You put enough time in with your kit both on the water and on an erg, the smallest of sweat marks on the monorail or unwashed unisuit then mentally it will throw you off your game. We all suffer a lifelong addiction to that clean feeling. Not a bad thing!
We spend so much time learning how to properly orchestrate our limbs in the real world, but then you go and throw an uneven pliable substance called water in the mix and as good as your coordination is, you’re going to have to learn quick how to move that frame or you’ll be going for a swim!
6. Lung Capacity
We don’t often think about how much of our sport is spent depriving our bodies of oxygen. Most people pant freely throughout their games, we just get used to finishing a 2km with little to no oxygen in your system and then dying on the floor for a period of time afterwards! We are cardiovascular animals, sacrificing air for speed. This skill may emerge later in life when some naive non-rower challenges you to a breath holding contest. Still got it!
7. Quick Arithmetic
Sometimes I felt fortunate to have that quiet time during rounds to add up my times or try to figure out when I needed for my next effort. When rowers hear “1:45 split, 26spm” they’re being asked to do some basic math to get those next rounds exactly on point. Our entire sport revolves around numbers, so whether you are a math person or not, you exit the sport with a little extra numeric knowledge.
Whether you like it or not, you have to admit that rowing does some strange thighs to you and you’ll never quite see the world through the same glasses as those who have never been in the same position as you. Want to be a part of this strange community? Come join us in The Crew and join others that have exactly the same same obsessions as you! http://babblecafe.com/workout#pricingtab
Yours in education, fitness and being a little weird.