I am not a coach and this blog post will not provide workout lists or a week by week training schedule for tour rowing. There are excellent professionals who can do that. Rather, this post will discuss the more nebulous topics of uncertainty, anticipation and disappointment.
Even without a global pandemic training for a regatta is different than training for a trip. I’ve delved into the why and what of training to tour in previous posts (here and here). For professional advice I would particularly recommend Marlene Royle, who develop a tour rowing training program at our request. Training for 1,000 metres or a head race is more about intensity and building plus resting so that you are at your peak the day of. For a tour, you row at a lower rate for a longer time, day after day. It is worth preparing for that – makes the trip more enjoyable.
Most regattas of 2020 have been cancelled or gone virtual. Since early March, all of our group trips have been rescheduled to 2021. We have created some travel options that are more individual and address travel and rowing restrictions. There are multiple unknowns with travel over the next 12+ months. We sincerely hope that our 2021 trips will be able to run within any travel restrictions and rowing health requirements. But we don’t know. No-one knows…..
Uncertainty, anticipation and disappointment have always been part of training and racing, and now they are part of travel. I know this. Three times this summer I cancelled plans to travel to Nova Scotia to visit my elderly mother. Inter-provincial travel restrictions remained in place despite rumours and optimism. Then covid-19 cases started climbing. I had actually beenpleasantly anticipating driving there – nothing like a great road trip. But it is 3,500 km one way which is not inconsequential. Then I heard that campgrounds were packed all the way, New Brunswick might not let me through, and once finally there I would still have to quarantine for 14 days. There is also a quarantine requirement when I returned to Manitoba. I kept hoping and anticipating through the uncertainty to ultimately be disappointed three times.
We have trips planned and more in the works for spring (or autumn in the southern hemisphere) 2021. Let’s pretend that they can run. How will guests prepare? In the northern hemisphere days are getting shorter and temperatures are dropping. Once off the water, we are facing erging alone (since restrictions likely will apply – we think, not certain). Of course, there are other means of retaining our fitness. But what if you work hard to be ready and then, the trip is not possible?
As I said, I am not a coach. Neither am I a psychologist nor a therapist. All of us are challenged by the coronavirus, to varying degrees. Our ability to cope with the uncertainty, disappointments and stress also varies. I googled “dealing with covid uncertainty” and found some good resources that you might find useful. Paying attention to our mental health is very important.
Given the above caveats, here are my recommendations for how to train for a trip that might not happen:
- Enjoy the training for the exercise – the fitness and health benefits that it brings. I am not a gym person. I don’t erg. I need to be outside. Once I can’t row, maybe I can still bike. I can always walk. And then there is the cross-country ski season to look forward to. And I mean look forward to. This summer I had my best rowing season in a long time – mostly because I was actually here. My doubles partner and I do not have a coach, but we love to row hard and enjoyworkouts that built our fitness, our skills and much more. Looks like I will be here for lots of skiing (assuming snow comes early and temperatures are not too brutal). I am planning to ski lots and ski hard, building my fitness and improving my technique. Can’t wait.
- Anticipation can be a motivation, the reason to push a little more. If it is fixed too squarely and firmly on something that may not happen, then it becomes potentially negative. Train for a tour that you hope, anticipate will happen in May or whenever. But fundamentally you are training for that tour whenever it might happen, May or maybe not May. Whenever it happens you will be ready. Luckily with tour row training you do not have to peak perfectly. Building fitness and avoiding overtraining and injury is the ticket.
- Look the beast of disappointment in the eye. And move on. Easier said than done but try it if you can.
- We are paying attention to travel advisories and what national rowing federations in different countries are saying. If you are scheduled on or planning to register for a trip with us, please contact us. We are also grappling with uncertainty, but if we know something, we will gladly share the information with you.
- Keep your travel dreams alive. Keep your rowing dreams alive. Especially keep your rowing travel dreams alive. Just know that one day, you don’t know yet when, where or how, you will travel to a fabulous place and row there.