Well, Well, Well! Look what time of the year it is already! That time of the year when we.....oh, I don’t know....GET BACK ON THE WATER! Man, didn’t it seem like a long winter?! I thought this time would never come, but here we are! Transitioning back to the water can be both an exciting and frustrating time at first. So I am here to give you a couple tips to make the transition as smooth as possible! LET’S GET TO ROWING!
If you get back in a boat and say to yourself, “Wait, it’s been a while. I think I forgot how to row.” Don’t be alarmed! Obviously you don’t mean it, but erging and rowing are obviously two different things. There are many more factors that go into rowing well, such as weather, technical ability, and water conditions. If you get out on the water for the first day of spring, and your boat is not perfectly set, STAY PATIENT! It is going to take some time to get the feeling of the water back, and get used to your teammates dynamics again. It is going to take a team effort to get everyone on the same page again, athletes and coaches included. Trust the process, and have fun.
“Coach, it’s spring! This is sprint season! Why are we doing long steady state workouts on the water?! We need to be doing sprint work!”
This is always a question that makes a coach laugh. Why yes, it is sprint season. And yes, it is just as important to get drilling and steady state in as it was in the fall when we were training for longer pieces. Fun fact, a 2k is 20% Anaerobic, an 80% Aerobic. the beginning and end of a race is very anaerobically demanding, relying heavily on powerful, concise and decisive strokes. However the middle of the race is very much aerobically demanding, which requires a solid aerobic base. How do we train for this? You guessed it! By executing long, steady state workouts and workouts that challenge and train the aerobic base.
“Okay, okay. That makes sense I guess. But coach, why do we have to do so much drilling? Can’t we just get out on the water and row? Drilling is so boring and tedious!”
Ah yes, another age old question from a rower to a coach. Well, the answer is simple. Technique allows the boat to move efficiently. A proper understanding of the recovery and drive, catch and finish, and everything in-between are going to set crews apart come spring. During a 2,000 meter race, the margin for error is very slim. During the race, your catches need to be quick and crisp, with all rowers locking on and leveraging their blades through as much water as possible. The recoveries need to be controlled, allowing the boat to move to maximum efficiency, and the drives need to be powerful and consistent, which is key to moving past that crew you’re neck and neck with in the third 500. Every drill your coach gives you has a purpose! It isn’t time to take a break, or “relax” during a long row. It’s time used to regroup, gather everyone on the same page, and to gain a better understanding of different technical aspects.
Now more than ever, attending practice consistently and arriving on time are going to be imperative to improvement and success. A crew has nine members, which means everyone needs to be on the same page. When everyone gets to the boathouse on time and attends practice everyday, it allows the team to grow and the crew to develop together. Everyday a rower shows up late or doesn’t attend practice, it hinders the crew's ability to improve and get faster. Manage your time, and get to practice!
It is going to be important that when you get on the water at first, you stay patient and trust the process. You are most likely not going to be doing sprint workouts in the first couple of weeks you are on the water. And, as fun as sprint workouts can be, it is super important to focus on drilling to improve technique, and execute longer workouts in order to build your aerobic base! It is going to pay off come racing season when you are able to hold you own in the third 500, and sprint your way past a crew with solid catches! Let’s get back on the water, and let’s get back to rowing!
Head Masters Coach & Varsity Youth Assistant Coach
Hello again everyone! So this week's topic is something that is very important for all athletes to know and be educated about, especially for long-term participation and success in any sport! Nutrition and Injury Prevention are two things that are important to familiarize yourself with early, because getting into good habits early is going to be an essential step in staying healthy, and being able to perform your absolute best on any given day.
I want to preface this blog post by saying, I am in no way, shape, or form a certified Nutritionist/Physical Therapist. These tips I give you are snippets of information I have held close over the course of my nine years as a competitive athlete. If you have any questions on the topics I choose to discuss, please feel free to contact me, and I can go into some of these topics a little further!
First things first....NUTRITION IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! Let’s all be honest, when we are hungry, it is really easy to eat whatever is lying around the house. Chips, cookies, doughnuts - yes they are all delicious, but are they going to give your body the essential components it needs to perform to its potential on a day to day basis? The answer, sadly, is no. In moderation, these foods are okay to incorporate into a healthy diet because, let’s be honest, everyone loves a good doughnut, or some cookies and milk as a midnight snack here and there. But it is insanely important that you get a well balanced diet, filled with protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits etc. Also, HYDRATE YOURSELF! I can’t tell you how many times I would go to school in high school and just *forget* to drink water. I would get to practice and want to collapse during a workout, and of course I would always wonder why I wasn’t performing well.
Here are some tips I have for eating well, and staying hydrated:
Obviously, I could go on and on about key components to keeping your body properly fueled for performance, but these are just a couple of key points that have stuck with me throughout my athletic career. I was terrible at staying hydrated when I first started rowing and I paid the price. And when I first got to college, my diet suffered. Thank your parents for cooking amazing meals for you every night! You rarely have to think about eating well, because most of the time, you are doing so without even thinking about it.
Now, here is something that is very important to me. Injury Prevention. As an athlete who is practicing five or six days a week year-round, it is insanely important that you recognize when you are starting to get hurt, and that you take the necessary steps to get treatment and stay healthy.
Here is my first tip (And I can’t even begin to stress this enough): You are not a hero for working out through the pain of an injury. I will repeat this. YOU ARE NOT A HERO FOR WORKING OUT THROUGH THE PAIN OF AN INJURY. There is a common belief that you are tough or strong if you fight through pain, or you get hurt, but continue to compete anyway. I personally believe that you are stronger when you can realize you need to stop, and you get the treatment you need.
When I was in high school, there was this one rower I remember. Everyone looked up to him. He was the best rower on our team by far. He had the best erg score, rowed beautifully, and was always willing to go above and beyond expectations to get himself and our team to reach new heights. One day, we were doing an erg workout, and he complained about pain in his lower back. However, he didn’t stop. He just continued to erg through the pain. Through the next couple of weeks, he continued to row, even though he regularly complained about pain in his back. When told to take a couple days off, he preached that he would be “weak” and a “coward” if he stopped working out. We were in the middle of a workout one day on the water, and all of a sudden I hear a loud yell from six seat, and I see his blade stop moving. He was left immobilized in pain and couldn’t move. We rowed all the way back into the boathouse by 6’s. The next day, we found out he slipped a disk in his lower back, and he unfortunately couldn’t row again. He was being recruited by many D1 athletic programs but missed out on his chance to continue his rowing career because he chose to listen to his pride and not his common sense. I am a strong believer that if he chose to seek treatment, he would still be rowing today.
I had VERY bad knee issues my junior and senior years of college. I had to go through extensive PT everyday before practice in order to just get through 90 minutes of rowing. I knew my limitations, and I stuck to what I was told.
Here are some tips I have followed throughout my rowing career:
Long story short, keep yourself as healthy as possible! Your body is your tool for performing well when you practice and compete. You need to treat it well, and you will thank yourself in the long term for it. If you have any questions, ask a coach about nutrition or injury prevention. As a high school athlete, it is important that you keep yourself healthy now so you can continue to compete and participate in sports long term.
Rowing is an amazing sport, because people of all ages can be successful at it, if they treat themselves properly!
Rowing is something special. Let’s face it. Most of us didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into when we started this sport. It was something different and a way for us to meet new people (I know that’s why I joined). I played basketball, baseball and tennis most of my childhood. My parents drove me to all the practices, paid for all the private lessons, and sat in the bleachers in a humid gym, cheering me on as I put up two points and 15 turnovers on the basketball court. I wasn’t the most coordinated person, but I still loved sports.
I walked into my high school gym the week before school started for our clubs and activities fair. I was a skinny, 130 pound freshman with hopes of being a “varsity” athlete! I found the rowing table, got convinced to do a 250 meter piece, and was hooked from that point on.
There’s nothing like being on a rowing team. You’re surrounded by your friends everyday, and yah, even though you can get sick of each other by the end of the season, that’s your family. You wouldn’t want to spend three hours a day, six days a week with anyone else. A lot of people get attached very quickly and then it happens. Senior year of high school rolls around, and you think you have hit a dead end. "Well, my rowing career is over because I am graduating. EXCEPT FOR ONE THING....ROWING IN COLLEGE IS ALWAYS AN OPTION!"
Now, this third installment of blog posts is going to detail some tips on how to choose the program for you, highlight some myths about rowing in college and outline how much fun it is to be a part of a college rowing team! Because let me tell you, rowing at Ithaca made my college experience that much better!
Let me start off by saying this. YOU DO NOT NEED TO ROW FOR AN “ELITE” COLLEGE PROGRAM TO BE A SUCCESSFUL COLLEGIATE ROWER. I think one of the most frustrating things to hear, both as a teammate of other rowers and as a coach, is that if you don’t go and row for a D1 or Ivy League school, or for Washington and Cal, that you might as well not row at all. What’s the point if you’re not rowing for “the best” schools out there?! Listen, I can’t tell people enough times that the fraction of people that row for programs that rank amongst the elite programs in the country is so small in the vast majority of things. You can still be a successful collegiate athlete attending any school you want to!
Here are some awesome tips for looking for, and finding the right college program for you:
Boy did I love rowing in high school. I was always that kid that knew way too much about the sport, who was ranked in the top 10 for high school and collegiate rowing, who won the dual in California the week before, and where all the best race courses in the world were. Before I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to row in college. It was a sure thing for me. I chose Ithaca because it was my dream school. Accredited Sport Management Program, beautiful location, perfect campus size, study abroad programs....and of course, a rowing team. Now, Ithaca built its team off of walk on rowers. What I mean by this, is that many of the people that were on our collegiate team, had never touched an oar before getting on campus. I decided this was not an issue for me. Yes, I had four years of rowing experience at a decent high school program, but I enjoy this sport so much, that it was just as enjoyable for me, even if I was pretty much starting from scratch with a whole new group of people. In the beginning, I rowed with the varsity, because even though I was a freshman, the coaching staff thought I might be “bored” rowing with the freshman boats and rowing by pairs and fours and doing drills. Well, I have to tell you, I was pretty sad. I wanted to be with the freshman guys. I was a freshman, so I should be with them! I wanted to go through the process with them. Even if it meant starting from rowing by just pairs in an eight. I was a part of Ithaca’s Freshman team, and I took pride in that. That year, we grew together. We fought on the ergs together in the winter, and we gave everything we had on the water every single practice. We wanted to get better as a team, as a unit, as a family. We ended up coming in 4th at our state championships in the freshman 8 category (by .2 seconds behind Army) and we pulled a 6:20 at our national championships. A 6:20 as a freshman boat with a boat full of many guys who had never rowed before. It was one of my biggest highlights. I won three medals in college. Just three. But I loved every second of my time at Ithaca because it meant so much more to me to go through a process that was much bigger than myself. It was about watching my teammates start from the very beginning, to transforming into guys who would do anything for each other on that race course. I cherished being a part of that process with them. For me, that meant more to me than being a part of a team that, from the beginning was made up of people who had already rowed before. Because we built something, and we believed in something. We set goals for ourselves and for each other, and pushed each other to be the absolute best we could be. And for that, I am still grateful for Ithaca Rowing.
From the very beginning you should outline your expectations of where you want to row and settle for nothing less. If you want to row at a high level and compete for national titles, by all means, GO CHASE THAT! But if you want to row in college, don’t let a school's “winning reputation” or medal count effect that decision. It’s about being a part of something much bigger than a medal count. It’s about furthering yourself as an athlete and as a person. Rowing in college taught me so much about being a confident and strong person, and for that I am thankful.
If anyone has any questions about rowing in college, please feel free to contact me! I am the biggest advocate for the sport of rowing and what it can do for a person and their life. I have stories to share and memories that I cherish forever, and I will be glad to talk about this further with whoever is interested!
“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”
“A goal should scare you a little and excite you A LOT.”
Hey there, it's me, Matt Dorio again! So remember way back in my first post when I talked about that crazy thing we do called winter training? Well, we are a little under halfway through, and it’s time to bring everything back into perspective once more.
I tell you, you really get to know people halfway through winter training. People start to act...different. I mean, can you blame them? You’re repeating the same thing over and over again, with minor variations in length and intensity. The feeling of the water flowing under your boat is a distant thought now, and you stare at the water you used to row on daily longingly. Everyday, you ask yourself, “why in the world do I do this?” Why do I choose to come here everyday, and put myself through immense amounts of pain and agony?
You have to be doing this for a reason, right? You are motivated by something. And what really makes it all worth it, is setting a goal for yourself. Now, this goal can be as big or as small as you want it to be. Ultimately, it is something you are going to be working and striving for. Instead of thinking about winter training as one big picture, goal setting allows you to break everything down, and think about things one at a time. It’s all about connecting the dots to create one larger image, rather than jumping from point A to point B with no steps in-between.
It is important that, when setting a goal, it is realistic. I am not here to say you can’t do something. You should never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. However it is important to keep things in perspective, and to allow yourself to formulate a plan in order to achieve this goal.
Here are some tips to help you achieve your goals:
It took me four years to break seven minutes on a 2k. I thought it was “never going to be possible.” I never had the right mindset, and I always made excuses. When I got to college, I was on a very successful team, surrounded by highly motivated individuals that pushed each other to reach new heights. My PR in high school was a 7:12, which in the grand scheme of things, was not very grand. I had been rowing for four years, and I knew I was very capable of breaking seven minutes. I got to college, and this new environment pushed me further than I ever thought possible. My first 2k in college, was a 7:08, and although it wasn’t what I was looking for, it was a step in the right direction. In my PLAN to break 7:00, the first step was to break 7:10. From that point I went to spring break training. The volume was high. We were rowing close to 30-35k a day. I knew if I pushed myself every row to the point of no return, it would pay off on the erg come test day. I left spring break confident and ready to go, and once my coach announced a 2k when we got back to campus, I was not afraid, but instead, EXCITED! The day came, and I got on the erg confident. I knew that if I mentally told myself I could do this, there was no stopping me. I started, and it was unreal. I felt unstoppable. I told myself I was going to take it 500 meters at a time. I wouldn’t think about the piece as a whole, how much I had left, or how much pain I was in. I would break it down, piece by piece and execute it the way I knew I could. Boy did I feel the burn 1,000 in. I thought I was going to let myself down again. But I put my head down and told myself YES! Once 500 meters left came around I was at a 1:45.6 average split. I knew I needed to dig deeper than I ever had before to get that 1:45.0. Everyone around me knew what I was going for, and they were cheering me on! My legs were on fire, but I went for a 1:43.0 for the last 500 meters, good enough to get me a 6:59.4. I remember that erg piece like it was yesterday. Everyone gathered around me hugging me, and me looking at the screen in utter shock. I told myself for so long I would never see a "6" in front of my 2k time, but I finally did it, and there was no going back from there!
Everyone, it is cliche, but please, don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something. If you ever surround yourself with people who are negative, they will only bring you down. It is important, especially now, that you look towards your goals and embrace the process to achieving the more than ever. Take everything in stride, and believe in yourself, because at the end of the day, you are your biggest fan!
“Earn your medals in the winter, collect them in the spring.”
“If you want to be your best, spend a lot of time exploring what is more than enough. Push yourself until the erg handle is lying immobile across your legs and you’re slumped over. Push yourself right off the edge of capacity.”
Hey there, Matt Dorio here! I’m going to talk a little bit about this crazy thing called winter training that we participate in. You know, that dark period of time where you’re forced off the water and indoors to slave away erging, running and lifting weights for 12 weeks? WHAT A CONCEPT!
Growing up on the East Coast, it was cold come winter. And I don’t mean the kind of cold you see in Christmas commercials with the families rolling around in the snow and laughing. NO, I mean COLD! Walk outside and risk losing your finger to frostbite cold. So obviously, like all of our high school chemistry classes taught us, the water we once enjoyed rowing on, would freeze. The day we all dreaded was the day we headed indoors.
Now, if you have ever rowed, or have known someone that has rowed, you can just whisper the word “erg,” and a loud gasp will ensue. “Who dares speak that word?!” It is a torture device, used to send rowers into a state of despair and madness. There is nothing worse than the thought of having to look at a screen of numbers for hours on end. Of course, you can push yourself to the point of no return on the water. To a point where you can’t see. To a point where it feels like it would feel better if someone took a sledgehammer to your legs than to keep on rowing. But something about the feeling of the boat running under you, putting the competition in the dust, and crossing the finish line with your teammates makes the pain all worth it.
The erg is all you. It gives you instant feedback on your performance. The erg senses fear, and it takes advantage of your insecurities. There is no hiding from that number that is staring you down. Personally, I found that the hardest part of winter training was to not think of myself as the numbers I was pulling on the erg. In the depths of winter, I would only think of myself as a number, or as a rank amongst the team.
Well, I am here to spit some beginning of winter training knowledge on you all! You have to abandon those thoughts as soon as you possibly can! We need each other more than ever during winter training. There are no superstars in the boats. I takes all 9 people in that boat being in perfect synchronization to be successful. You are not a number, you are a part of a family, a special bond.....a team.
When I was in college, and I was halfway through an erg piece, and I felt like I couldn’t go any longer, I was always thinking of pulling for my teammates, and how proud I was to be a part of my team. I WAS NEVER the top erg score on my high school, or college teams. But I never let that discourage me. Instead, it pushed me. Seeing others improve made me want to push with them, because I knew once we got back on the water, that motivation would push us across the line faster than our competition. I soon welcomed that burning feeling in my legs. I could feel myself improving stroke after stroke on the erg, every rep in the weight room and every stride during a run!
It was all worth it. I was doing it for THEM. For THE TEAM. And there was a moment for me. When I rejoiced all the pain I put myself through, when all the hard work ended in joint celebration with the people I worked so hard with for four months.
My senior year of college, I was in a very competitive 2v boat at Ithaca. It was the best boat I had been apart of in my four years of rowing at Ithaca. Like many schools, we had a rival. A team that always beat us. We always came so close. but never could seem to cross the finish line before them. They were Trinity, and Trinity was a rowing powerhouse on the East Coast. I knew this boat, this year was different. We lined up against them, and five other boats on a brisk morning in April. The tension was high, and my boat could tell, this was going to be a race to remember. The flag went up, and before we knew it, the flag went down and we were off. We had a great start, but they were faster, taking a boat length in the first 600 meters of the race. My legs were burning, and my lungs were on fire, but I knew my crew had the strength to fight our way right back into the race. My coxswain pushed us. We were way ahead of the rest of the pack, but it wasn’t good enough, we wanted to take Trinity down. 1,000 meters in, she yells, “Races are won in the winter boys, this is nothing compared to what we’ve been through together!” In that moment, my crew began to claw our way back into the race. Power 10 call after Focus 10 call, we drew even with 300 meters left. I remembered all the hour long erg sessions, all the early morning lifts, and I pushed my legs down harder than I thought I could. The boat was jumping, and my crew was flying! We crossed the finish line, two seats ahead of Trinity. I remembered my crew's reaction like it was yesterday. Hands in the air, collapsing over our oars, we took down the giants.
Now, I have obviously had many moments that stood out to me in my rowing career. But if it weren’t for my team believing in each other, and pushing past every limit we thought was keeping us back from beating the “un-beatable” we wouldn’t have that memory to share together.
Winter gives you the Grit, Strength and Passion for your team that it takes to out-work everyone else out there. A month into winter, remember what we do it for! We do it for that feeling of hugging your teammates after an amazing race, for feeling that medal around our necks and for that ability to dig deep and push harder and past what we thought was possible.
WINTER IS HERE LOCR, LET'S STAY RELENTLESS AND GET AFTER OUR GOALS! RACES ARE WON IN THE WINTER!