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Ka-whumph [rowing]

On Friday night, M accidentally locked herself out of the lab, and was thus unable to complete a small project that required collecting hemolymph from crickets at midnight. The net result for me was that I didn't have to plan on running crickets yesterday evening, which also meant that I could go to sleep at a reasonable hour and get up to row this morning.

The more consistent rowing schedule is starting to pay off, which feels very rewarding. One of the elements of rowing that I have found very difficult if not impossible to replicate off the water is its effects on some of the deep postural muscles of the lower back and hips. In particular, when one reaches the release, one sits with straight or nearly-straight legs and a tall back with a slight bit of layback (leaning back towards the bow).

I believe this position requires good strength from the iliacus and psoas major, which then initiate the forward motion on the recovery as one comes up to take the next stroke. It takes a while to get these muscles firing correctly, to ensure that one's weight is rock-solid and centered in the bottom of the boat, and that one comes out of the bow well. It's important to maintain as low a center of gravity as possible to help stabilize the boat. There's an understandable common misconception among many novice rowers that it's the shoulders and oars that determine the boat's balance. Those things matter, too, and so does timing, but top priority should go to the low center of gravity. You can feel this difference quickly if you ever have a chance to sit in a boat with an experienced rower, where somehow the boat feels magically rock-solid. It isn't the boat - it's that rower's body and muscles holding the boat in the ideal position so that all the rest of one's energy can be channeled into moving the boat forward. The experienced rower will get fatigued if you are making the boat flop all over the place, so all rowers should work to help contribute to that aspect of balance.

I would love to see an x-ray of my spine at some point, because I'm certain it's weird (scoliosis at least), and made worse from those years in high school when I only rowed starboard. For whatever reason, rowing helps it tremendously, and that's one of the fundamental reasons I want to keep rowing for as long as possible.

On Sunday, at one point while I was heading towards the BRPC dock, I noticed that the bowman of the Old Man Double* was filming me. Two seconds of film and I know that I need to keep working on my catch speed. He said that they had rowed 180 km the previous week, in an effort to shed weight before Master's Nationals**, and that all the rowing had done wonders for their balance.

I was actually able to best The Brit this morning during longer intervals pieces (two sixteen-minute sets of 90 seconds on, 30 seconds off). He says he's a wimp in the wind. We shall see. He'll have an extra week to train on his own while I'm up in Seattle on a bicycle. Now I am tired. Ka-whumph.



*He should really get nicknamed The Captain. His partner will be Marathon Man.
**Argh, I just hope they are being careful about this.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1173332.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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