First Time Race Advice

Here's a guide to entering indoor rowing competitions for anyone who's never done it before.

  1. Choose a race from our Indoor Race Calendar.
  2. Start training. If you have been rowing regularly this will simply mean adding a little more focus to your workouts. If you haven't been rowing regularly, it's time to get going again, gradually at first. See the Training for Competition page for some workout ideas, plus information on things like finding your optimal race pace.
  3. Know your drag factor. You can display drag factor by going to Main Menu, then selecting More Options and Display Drag Factor. If you are a competitor at an indoor rowing race where a computer is in control of the Performance Monitors on the race ergs, the drag factor will be shown during warmup—you do not need to press any buttons. At races, there is no prescribed damper setting so you are free to set the damper anywhere you want as long as you don't change it during the race. See Damper Setting 101 for more information.
  4. Be rested for the race. In training this is called tapering. Do your last really hard workout about a week before the race so your body has time to recover. From then on, get plenty of sleep and do just enough hard rowing to keep yourself feeling sharp. A good pre-race workout is to split the 2000 meters into four pieces: a 1000m piece, a 500m piece, and two 250m pieces. Do each one at your race pace and allow plenty of rest in between. Do this workout three to five days before the race. Besides that, do some relaxed 30–40 minute rows. You should be itching to pull hard by the time race day arrives.
  5. Race Day: get to the race location at least an hour before your race time. The time of your race will affect the timing and size of your pre-race meal. If you are racing as a lightweight, check the race rules to ensure you weigh in at the correct time.
  6. Warm up: There are usually a number of indoor rowers available for warming up before the races. Be sure to find these and row for 10-15 minutes (or your customary warm-up) before your event. Don't be afraid of using up all your energy: it is important to be properly warmed up.
  7. Set up your race machine the way you’re used to: adjust the damper setting and the foot straps and make sure the units displayed on the monitor are in the format you want. If you’re racing using the Venue Race system, make sure you’re familiar with how the PM Race Display works.
  8. Prepare your coxswain/coach: Many race venues allow you to have a coxswain, coach or “cheerleader” to provide encouragement during your race. Provide your supporter with examples of what they should say (or not say) to encourage you. Share your race plan with your coxswain so they can help with your strategy.
  9. The Race: Row your own race. There will be lots of noise and activity, but it is important for you to focus on your own race. Remember your pace and settle into it as soon as you are given the command to start. Resist the temptation to go out too fast in the first 500 meters. Better to finish strong than "fly and die." You may want to write out your planned pace or cumulative time for each 500 meters of the race, to remind you of where you want to be. The Training for Competition page has some advice on race strategy.
  10. Congratulations—you did it! Set some goals for next year, but don't start training right away: you've earned a little time off!