We'd like you to meet Darlene Brennan. You may recognize that name if you have done any Concept2 team challenges, because quite often, she is at the top of the challenge standings board, rowing for the ANCIENTS team. Since 2008, she has taken part in eighteen team challenges where she ranked #1 on the individual standings eight times. In four of the eighteen challenges, she easily completed more than one million meters and in eight, she completed more than two million meters. She also recently set 2 new world records recently for lightweight 70-79 women—one for rowing a million meters in thirteen days and the other for rowing 100,000 meters in just under 12 hours. How does she do it and what's her secret? Darlene visited Concept2 recently and shared a little of her story.
A retired office administrator, Darlene and her husband live in South Burlington, Vermont, about an hour from the Concept2 factory. She has two indoor rowers—one upstairs on Slides and one downstairs—and a SkiErg. She normally rows about 2½–3 hours every day, mostly to stay healthy and keep the pain of fibromyalgia at bay. She leads a healthy lifestyle, including a vegan diet influenced from Lee Fulkerson's Forks over Knives documentary which promotes a vegan diet with no processed foods in order to control or reverse chronic disease. Darlene is 71 years old, is not on any medication, uses the indoor rower and SkiErg every day and says she has never felt better. During a challenge, however, her rowing habits change.
She begins her day at 4:45 a.m. After a healthy breakfast, she begins rowing by 6 a.m. She says she is motivated most by "the person in front of me and the person behind me (in the standings)". She sets her daily goals according to what will put her in first place. Most days, that means rowing a whopping total of 7–12 hours every day. When she gets tired of rowing and needs a break from sitting, she turns to the Concept2 SkiErg. She listens to an extensive playlist while rowing and is easily able to get into a zone that lasts for hours. There have been days when she's completed 100,000 meters. She says she simply breaks it down into five 20,000 meter pieces and doesn’t think beyond the piece she’s rowing. She says, "If you finish your first 20k and start thinking you have 80k left, you’re done for. As with most sports, it’s more mental than physical." So if you think you have what it takes to get ahead of Darlene in the team challenges, go for it! But just know that she’s not going to make it easy for you. She’ll definitely make you work for it.