Train for Iron by Rowing on Steel

Jul 25, 2011

An Ironman distance triathlon is a grueling 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile (marathon) run. What started in 1978 as a race of 15 competitors on the shores of Waikiki has now grown to a series of 23 Ironman races worldwide. Concept2 CTS attended Ironman Lake Placid this past weekend, sharing how rowing and skiing complement athletes’ endurance training.

Members of Green Mountain Multisport holding down the Concept2 CTS tent in the wind!

For triathletes, rowing offers a zero-impact full-body workout. This is a nice alternative to swimming when a pool is unavailable. Comparisons to swimming and rowing are convenient: they both use large bodies of water to reduce impact, involve all major muscle groups, and strive for a perfect stroke. But recent research also helps us compare rowing to cycling.

According to research published in Rowing News, cycling produces greater maximal power outputs than rowing, probably because of the more continuous power application to the pedal compared to the stroke cycle of rowing. Cyclists also have gravity working for them during the downward push of the pedals. In rowing, heart rates were significantly higher at all power increments. Rowing therefore provides triathletes with an efficient workout to reach target heart rate zones.

It was no surprise that during our time at Ironman Lake Placid, we were visited by triathletes with a rowing or Nordic skiing past. These athletes, familiar with the discomfort of anaerobic pain, found a new persuasion in endurance. Ironman athletes are known for their perseverance. Take Julie Moss: in 1982, ABC’s broadcast showed Moss crawl to the finish as her legs gave out under her in the last 20 yards of the marathon. This moment defined Ironman as a sport for the determined and courageous.  It is coincidence that the the C.R.A.S.H.-B. Sprints also started in 1982, but perhaps not a surprise that rowers, skiers, and triathletes alike test their bodies and minds beyond average fitness.

Tags: Training

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