Winter training camp: relief for the mind, hard on the hands?

Jan 20, 2011

I am in Deland, Florida, finishing an intense 12-day on the water training camp in pairs. The Canadian National Women’s rowing team, of which I am a member, has been adopting this training site for the past few winters when the ice takes over north of the 44th parallel. Throughout the Christmas break, I was anxiously waiting to get my hands on an oar and to be able to hear the water bubbles glide under my hull once more. As the days go by, the excitement of that relative novelty is waning and fatigue has set in.

The southern training camps, that so many North American Universities and our Women’s National Team choose to do, are a great break from the Concept2 Indoor Rower. It is a chance to use the fitness gained from the kilometers that we have clocked indoors and translate this into speed on the water. Instead of watching the grey numbers go up and down on the Performance Monitor, we get to take in some sun and see some scenery while continuing to push our limits. Is it the flight of the pelicans and the sight of manatees that make the kilometers seem to go by so much faster? Either way, being on the water in the pair again and battling out some pieces with other crews is an exhilarating feeling!

The symmetry and stability of the erg has been swapped for the sweeping rotation, the challenge of setting the boat and all the wind can throw at us. As we maximize the on-water rowing, I realize that my body is slowly rebelling against the increase in volume. For one, the palms of my hands have been blistering as they adapt to the friction on my oar handle. I have two rituals to break in the hands. First, I have to admit, I wear thin wool gloves during the first few days to prevent and limit the skin tears. Second, at night, I also rub in some Bag Balm to toughen the skin. But, as all rowers know, you have to endure the blisters before calluses form! In addition to blisters, my shoulders, back and core are also longing for some symmetrical movements, or maybe less wind. Ah, the joys of rowing—tough callused hands and sore bodies!

Without a doubt, the training camp in Florida has been a delightful, albeit brief, reprieve from the Canadian winter and I take home the sensation of my boat gliding across Lake Beresford! With the upcoming Canadian Indoor Championships, the challenge will be to maintain the technical advances that I have made in the past two weeks and translate this into faster splits on the erg.

The Deland training camp has set the tone for 2011! Next milestone: Canadian Indoor Championships, February 6, 2011.

Tags: Training

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