Hand blisters and kilometers. That pretty much sums it up.
The Concept 2 Holiday Challenge is proving to be quite demanding -- physically, mentally, and emotionally. The object is to row 200 kilometers between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve (30 total days). I'm currently sitting at exactly 80 kilometers, and taking today (day 12 of 30) off.
There are five us locally who are participating and maintaining a detailed email string. We all come from different backgrounds, but found CrossFit at some point within the last few years. The correspondence keeps me plugging along, and on-track. If you are doing this and want in on our email list, send me a message.
- Physically. Hands: I've got blisters healing on 3 of my 8 fingers. Calluses are ready to rip/blister on 3 more. It seems as though when I "favor" a finger during a row, that puts other fingers at risk for damage. At least my pinky fingers are doing OK!! Other body parts taking the brunt: quads, traps/upper back, rear deltoids, forearms. This is proving to be an EXCELLENT training campaign. I'm anxious to see how these adaptations carry over into the rest of my general physical preparation training!! As for the other aspects of my training, I have completely abandoned them during this month.
- Mentally. Sounds funny, but the math behind this is intriguing. I don't believe a steady rowing average is the best plan of attack for this. 30 days 200,000 meters / 30 days = 6,666 meters per day. I think a better strategy is to schedule in complete rest/recovery days, and also plan for light, medium, and heavy volume days. As of right now, I have logged a few 5k and 10k days, and one rest day. I also change up each day's attack for the meters. Some days I get on the rower and just plug along for 10k at a moderate pace. Other days, I rip out a few fast 2k's separated by 5 minutes of rest. This style of interval training allows me to get some serious intensity. Another aspect of the mental side of rowing is efficiency of form/movement. Tom G has helped me with boosting my efficiency through monitoring my "strokes per minute" statistic on the digital computer as well as some form corrections. Recording the damper settings is another hint that has allowed a decent 500m pace, yet still keep my exertion down.
- Emotionally. On some days, I just don't feel like rowing. However, the mind games I develop for myself do help considerably. I have set goals for myself for this campaign beyond merely completing 200 kilometers. I have some goals for 2k, 5k, and 10k. All are aggressive, but these goals keep me pushing hard during the 1k and 2k intervals. I dread the days when a longer and slower 10k is due. The sense of accomplishment is what keeps me seeking out these sorts of challenges and campaigns. That feeling alone matches any physical fitness gains I'm sure to realize along the way!
How to pass the time? Well I usually put on a television in front of me, but I find that I don't even watch it. Music doesn't really help either, except to drown out the whir of the rower or the panting of my breathing. On some days, I place a ballcap over the monitor to hide the meters readout - to keep myself from over-analyzing all the feedback statistics. During longer sessions, I've been able to use the time to clear and organize my mind.
And did I mention my pants are getting looser?