In my last post, I discussed the significance of foot position on the Concept2 Indoor Rower. Another important consideration is shoe choice. For some, this is as simple as using whatever shoes are available. If you are incorporating rowing on the indoor rower with running or other forms of exercise, then you’ll probably just use whatever trainers (shoes) you have and that’s fine. Shoe choice is largely personal, but I’ll throw you a few thoughts on the matter so you can make an informed choice.
I’ve seen somebody pull a 5:40 2K barefoot. I’ve seen Olympians wearing black leather school shoes and many other variations thereof. Personally, I like a thin-soled athletic shoe without too much cushioning. For many years I wore traditional Converse All-Stars. At the moment, I wear Adidas trainers that are similar to Nike Frees. I wear these in case I want to incorporate other activities around my time on the indoor rower, like running. For me, the problem with traditional running shoes is that there is usually significant cushioning in the heel that can change the angle of the feet. This small change under the heel is less comfortable than a shoe with less thickness under the heel. I also find that most running shoes emphasize cushioning (which is fine if you’re trying to reduce impact in your running stride) but on the Concept2 Indoor Rower, I feel they reduce the amount of force applied through the leg drive. Now, this might be a very small reduction in power efficiency, but I figure why not give myself every chance of pulling good numbers?
As I alluded to earlier, the thickness of your heel affects your foot height in that if your heel is thick, then it will move your foot position up: from, say, setting 3 to setting 4. If you normally wear shoes, but are rowing barefoot, then you should move your foot position one setting higher than usual. Plenty of very good oarsmen have applied no thought to this and have pulled big scores, but if you’re trying to maximize your time on the machine or need a certain score for whatever reason, then hopefully just considering your choices have opened your mind a little bit. I think that any applied thought to your training and competing is a good thing, but then again, my coach, Noel Donaldson, says that I ask too many questions, so you draw your own conclusions.