I occasionally joke that I love rowing because it hits all of my lazy criteria: rowing works the majority of muscles simultaneously, counts as both cardio and strength, and you do it sitting down.
But I’m a largely self-taught (or self-guided) rower. I watch tutorials online. I look up guides and metrics. And I experiment, making small changes and seeing how they impact things.
Over the last few months, since I got comfortable going back to the gym, I’ve been pursuing a goal. 7:28 for a 2km row. According to this chart by I website whose reputation I didn’t investigate, that’s a goal time for people a little older than me at an intermediate rowing level.
I’d gotten close to that goal several times, with my personal record at 7:33 at a 22 SPM pace.
So, I decided to experiment with pacing. Training Tall, a Rowing YouTuber, highlighted that rowing for sport is about stroke efficiency. That is, you should seek to maximize the efficiency of each stroke before increasing the pace. And if your efficiency dips with a pace increase, reduce your pace until your ability to row efficiently increases.
His suggestion was 16 SPM.
I’d never rowed that slow and frankly it took work to get my body to move at a slower pace. But the results spoke for themselves. My efficiency soared. My 500m splits dropped from around 1:51 to the low 1:40s. And my new PR for the 2km row is 7:08, which according to that chart, puts me closer to the advanced rowing time for my age group.
The idea of going slower or changing pace isn’t just something I’m experimenting with to improve my rowing times, though. It’s also a theme I’ve been applying to my life, albeit with the same self-taught, self-guided manner.
I have been leaving my phone places around the house, and frequently go hours without touching it.
I am reading more.
Thanks to this video, I’ve got a book on the Slow Life movement arriving today.
Hell, I bought a farm.
Sometimes you go faster by going slower. Sometimes the key to happiness is just setting your own pace.
I’ve known this for years.
I’ve been told, and I’ve taught, that “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”
But I’m glad I’m applying that to things other than combat.