pun intended. sometimes, we project roles upon ourselves. they may be accurate. they may be inaccurate. feel like this is a much more common thing in larger team boats. so for me, it probably played a bigger part in my college career. who i thought i was and what i was supposed to do in relation to my teammates. either way though, whether accurate or not, productive or not, it’s important to always boil rowing down to just rowing.
i had/have a lot of notions in my head about what i should do this year and who i am in reference to what i did last year. for example, i was the US single sculler last year, therefore, things should be a certain way this year. not. i still have some strides to make this year in the single, but am sure i am not the same as i was last year. in some ways better, in other ways maybe not, and in even other ways it probably doesn’t matter at all.
i throw this out there for one reason. you saw based on my last post the lull or slump i was in coming out of our 4th week of training in clemson. well, now in the 5th week, i’ve had numerous days in various doubles and have had hugely productive rows. i’ve been moving the boat well and adapting to different partners and different circumstances. suddenly, the thoughts are washed away. has my role changed? am i a double sculler now? again? maybe i am. maybe i’m not. point is moot. i’m just picking up a boat’s speed at the catch and trying to send it away a little faster, ad infinitum.
- Me: How you doing, grandma?
- Grandma: Up and down like the weather.
people love to do those things where you say you can’t spell one thing without another thing that is within it. well, as i searched for a headline for this post, i thought of how quest is within question. however, i wish you could say you can’t spell quest without question. but alas, it’s the other way around. you can in fact spell quest without spelling question. nonetheless, i am certain that inquiry is a part of most quests.
while last week yeilded certainties, confidence, and waterfalls, i have found myself in quandary-ville this week with a population that feels to the ego as if it is merely 1. i know that this is nothing novel to the pursuit of rowing on all levels, nor is it novel in life either. you feel behind the ball. the ball seems huge and to be headed exclusively at you. there’s a reason for the myth of sisyphus.
here’s the concrete gist of this annoyingly lyrical launch. this week my rowing FELT as if it at devolved from what i had done the first three weeks. the first week splits were slow, but rowing felt surprisingly good. considering the somewhat naive nature of the early strokes, senses are heightened but also simplified as i’m forced to look at the big picture as my body readapts to the water. by the second week, i was seeing respectable steady state splits. through the third week, i was moving my single decently, but also spent more time in the double, where i was doing solid work in all sorts of pieces. then, did the rule of 3s apply? there are various rules of three that dan and others have mentioned:
- rest on the 3rd day of an intense trip or training week as that is often when things like hands and muscles can reach a peak of stress as they adjust to a new condition
- 3 weeks into a trip or training regime you can feel the subtler results of stress on the body (ie the results of the repetitive motion) and on the mind (ie things can go stale or awry)
following the third week and kerplunking (questing for waterfalls), it FELT as if a light switch had been flicked and my abilities stilted. in actuality, not many things happen with the flick of a switch. i got inside my head more and more as the conditions of the water grew more and more challenging on a consistent basis. a snowball evolved into a looming snow boulder that got the best of me despite trying to be proactive with my mental game. i lost a 2k piece today to my lightweight teammate josh. he may be one of the fastest lightweights in the country, but i, the 2013 single sculler, should not lose a piece to him. i had a rough warmup that was highlighted by a collision with a more novice sculler, who then proceeded to flip and go in the water. felt bad about that, though i don’t believe i was at fault. even so, that and any other variables should not shake me. i lead to the 1300 or so, but did not do so with efficient strokes and rhythm. while they were not entirely labored, they just weren’t sustainably connected. felt as if each stroke was piece meal. when josh worked through me, i had nothing in my legs. it was not a well-executed race to end a poorly executed week. you race how you practice.
so now, as i feel anxious and a rowing related ontological angst, i have to revolt and create the meaning i want (allusion to albert camus’ adaptation and analysis of sisyphus). i was the 2013 mens single for the United States. i did what i did last year and know what i believe i could have done. today, i had a sub-par performance by my standards. tomorrow, i will push the boulder cause that is why i am rowing.
i share this cause that’s how i operate and who i am. i’d be kidding you and myself if all i told you was “just do it” and “get’r done.” i’m confident that while my path may not be as linear as i would like at times, i will continue to push forward to where i need to be. that’s for both my supporters and my competition to read.
how to return to “flow”? this chart makes it seem rather simple, and it can be with energy and effort put in the right places:
this is out of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow. basically, if you fall out of the flow channel, you need to either adjust the challenges you face or the skills that you have. so if i find myself in an anxious state right now, i either have to somehow remove the challenges i face or improve my skillset so that i can more easily face the challenges in front of me. more often than not, you can’t control the challenges you face, especially if you’re pursuing a goal that’s on down the road. in this case, i will attempt to do both. i will try to mitigate or manage the amount of times i row in tough water until i have raised my skills and mindset to a place where i tackle it more effectively.
just a pearl iZOOMi kind of recovery day. went for a nice spin on the bike in the a.m. freshened up with some espresso to fuel up for two quick waterfall hikes in the p.m. with teammates phil h. (aka phenson) and sonny (aka sonshine). feels good simply being active for fun on recovery days.
today definitely exercised the right, man. not really. just frozen forearms all over the place. naturally, i get nervous at even the wrong type of tickle in my forearm considering what happened to my arms last year and that it happened here last year. the one comfort i have though is that both john and peter were fighting it as well. it was a classic clemson cross. this time coming from the east/southeast. this means that the first 750 of the course gets pretty wrecked. when it’s out of the west, then the middle 1k gets pretty wrecked. either way, we were doing hard pieces 5x5’, and that’s tough to stomach in a crosswind. it’s always doable to make it through a crosswind for a race, but to run repeats in them with short rest is when the body really gets challenged.
i’ll just be really proactive though and am encouraged by the fact that tonight’s row in a double with dan roock seemed ok on them. did i say dan roock? as in our coach dan roock? indeed i did. it actually was a fun row. he stuck pretty religiously to 14spm and had a very consistent stroke in the water. the combination of dan setting a pretty stable platform and the low rate allowed me to really hone in on my preparation and turnaround at the front end. i really wanted him to say what he felt, but for the most part, i think he was just elated to be in a double.