Time to cash in – race season awaits

Posted: 03/10/2016 in Uncategorized

It was 5 months ago in my last blog that I commented that we were settling in for 5 months hard graft before switching to race preparation work. Well here we are, 5 months on and it’s an exciting time, for me at least. I am currently sat at home recovering  having under gone surgery, the first of a few in an attempt to repair a worn and broken body – not rowing related I must stress, mainly years of impact and carrying large loads over long distances in former employment.

Over the summer I’ve constructed, re-constructed, juggled, moved and switched sessions constantly for the team and more relevant, for certain individuals who have given it their all to get to this point with quality work under their belt. commitment-quotes-for-sports-1As I’ve alluded to before, amongst the stresses strains and commitments each and every athlete on the team has had to juggle day in day out with the family, work and training life balance, they’ve done an incredible job and I couldn’t have asked for more commitment. It’s been a hard fought summer and I have to say, I have sat back and admired the work that has been relentlessly put in, with regimented routines that have seen the majority of the team row around 80-100km per week. All summer I have been repeating myself and reminding the team that soon it will be time to cash in. That time is now – that said there is still some serious work to be put in and nothing can be taken for granted.

Before moving on though, it’s worth mentioning that amongst the weekly mileage and daily grind we 2k tested back in August. As planned this was at the end of a regular off season 4 week mesocycle with zero preparation and we achieved 9 PB’s out of 11 tested athletes.


The Royal Navy represents at the 2016 Devon Championships

The team still sits at 15 strong, but there has been yet another change of around 25% of athletes, mainly leaving through lack of commitment, in other cases dropped. Some athletes who joined us mid training year won’t benefit as much as some of the others who have been training with me for almost 12 months now, indeed I would say all the athletes still have years of training to achieve full potential. It depends on how far they want to go.


Back to where we are now though, we recently attended the 2016 Devon Championships, organised and hosted by Fitness Matters  http://fitnessmatters.me.uk/devon-indoor-rowing-championships/  and once again raced with zero preparation.


I watch on as Jim Thomson and Tiny Nash focus on squeezing out every last second during a 5k

We did however run 5k TT’s 2 weeks prior to get an idea of pacing and to give the guys and girls a run out. Those TT’s once again resulted in 8 out of 9 PB’s and then a further 4 at the Championships and 1 SB. This also included 4 medals in Devon.


2016/2017 Team

We now have a diverse team assorted across 8 age/weight categories, mixed with seasoned racers and complete new comers. Some still yet to experience a race environment. This team will not grow anymore between now and Boston 2017 despite the regular enquiries, instead those keen will slip into the Royal Navy development side of things under the watchful eye of team manager Paul Winton. Post Boston 2017 we’ll regroup and assess how to move forward accordingly, with current members able to advise on what is expected when it comes to commitment.

The female contingent of the team consists of lightweight Ruth Guest who continues to impress and progress at a rapid rate.


Ruth Guest feeling the pinch as she rows to a 5k PB, watched by partner Craig

Heavyweight and new comer Alex Kelley, who brings a CrossFit back ground and a tough mind set, will be keen to race in the early part of the season.  Also Sally Thompson, despite racing for a number of seasons in a gig crew has a non erging background and placed well in Devon, she also continues to show potential. Aaby Aldridge continues to fight back from a season plagued with injury since Boston 2016.


Our resident male lightweight is Tim Cox who joined mid training year and continues to show promise in the 40’s category.


Lightweight Tim Cox focusing before his debut race

Other new comers and heavyweights are Matt Parkinson and Dan McMahon who bring a mixed bag of experience from complete novice to ex on the water rower, but both with potential for the future and the 2017/18 season.


The other male heavyweights who make up the remainder of the team are the longest serving and the experienced. Some of these often poise the biggest challenge to grab extra seconds and improvements, but so far we’re doing a sturdy job. Unfortunately though, longest serving Tim Hughes is unlikely to make an appearance this season due to work commitments, as is the same for Ed Williams who is also fighting injury. Rory West, Jim Thomson and Darran Hoare who have all had a solid off season will battle for honours in the upcoming Royal Navy Championships in the 40’s Category. They will shortly be joined by Jim Hyde who boasted the most progress in his 2k back in August and moves up a category in the winter.

Craig Guest continues to battle a tough work, family, training balance, but continues to win and remains focused. Like most, a tough fought summer should prove to be invaluable as we switch in to race mode. Finally the teams oldest member in the 50’s category is Paul Nash, who has made a massively leap this year since returning to the erg after nearly 20 years absence.


20 year come back leaves Tiny Nash just 10 seconds off the British record

Paul boasted the team’s fastest 5k so far this season beating his old PB by 15 seconds and coming in 10 seconds off the existing age group British record. He’ll be wanting to switch that 5k potential to 2k potential now just weeks away from racing.


Finally, I wrote a piece on the team page recently, highlighting the importance and correct execution in how to tackle speed work and maximum effort sessions. So far the team have produced just 1 maximal session a week and that has come in the way of middle distance pieces. The shorter interval type work that they have now started is a completely different beast.  I know from experience that they must be tackled with maturity, venom and commitment. Pushing yourself to a completely indescribable level is how I used train and how I want my athletes to follow suit. My coaching skills are always developing, but in this sport and when training alone, ultimately only 1 person will truly know just how hard they have pushed.dbdf8ac5641b55d4b00217c32fd9d0b7

We’re now into week 3 of the first of 3 tough cycles that will take us through 3 races and up until Christmas. Now is the time to cash in and where each athlete will find out just how hard they can push themselves.

Thanks for reading.



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