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7 Things Not To Do Before The Head Race Season Starts

Several years ago I wrote this article for row2k.com (one of my favorite rowing sites). It has become dated so I’ve added some text and links, since the time of season is right to think about this.

I love playing the contrarian. You know, that guy who just has to look at things from an alternate view. Or the person who really needs to go against conventional wisdom.

For instance, everywhere I turn I see people/businesses/coaches promoting “To Do” lists. ThoseDavid Letterman-like lists that are supposed to grab your attention and help you do the right thing.

In my email in-box this week I’ve received the following:

  • Save money at the gas pump, use this 10-point TO DO List.
  • Before your kids start school here are 20 safety things TO DO.
  • Hurricane season is coming, use our TO DO list to prepare for emergencies.

Enough! I love the advice, but enough with the “TO DOs.” They can drive a person crazy.

Instead, how about this. Let’s try something from a different angle (said the contrarian). It seems occasion for a “TO DON’T” list. Therefore, I’m presenting to you seven “TO DON’Ts.” Seven things I highly recommend that you DON’T do before the start of the Fall head race season (and resources to help you not do them).

Buckle your seat belt, they’re coming fast.

DON’T Use The Same Rigging Numbers Used In The Sprint Season

Why? As I written about before the leverage used in sprint races should be different (heavier) than that used in head races. Longer races at significantly lower rating and rowed at a time when many rowers are not in strong physical condition dictate that things need to be lighter for rowers.

DON’T Assume That Your Water-Way Has Not Changed

Why? Because somewhere out on your river/lake/creek someone has either

  • placed a net across your race course that is sure to catch everything alive (including a Mercury outboard)
  • sunk a 40 foot cabin cruiser that lurks just 4 inches below the water and is just looking for a few skegs to join it
  • put up a swim platform two hundred meters from the finish line of your course that is so low in the water the chances of a coxswain seeing it are about zero

DON’T Do The Same Workouts Training For Head Races As You Used Training For Sprint Races

Why? Basic physiology and psychology dictate this. Along with the understanding that 2000 meter erg testing in the Fall is about as popular as Brussels sprout ice-cream. Different racing requires different training, especially with athletes who spent the summer (all summer) loving life to the fullest.

Friend Tom Bohrer has posted an article on suggested training for head races that I recommend.

DON’T Think For One Moment That All Of Your Safety Equipment Is Where You Left It And It Is In Good Order

Why? Well for one reason, there is nothing that makes a better “fun box” for a three year old than a first aid kit. For another, it is amazing what a great nest a raccoon can build out of a bag of life jackets. And yet another, launch paddles have a way of sprouting legs, never to be seen again. Unless you put it under lock and key at the end of the Spring season, chances are slim it is where you left it.

DON’T Believe That All Of Your Equipment Is In Good Working Order.

Why? Because:

  • Because we are rowers.
  • Because we pull hard.
  • Because we break things-a lot of things (and have habits of not telling people that, “Opps, I broke that . . . .”).
  • Because non-rowers find rowing stuff and like to use it for non-rowing things (“Hey, Butch, this long paddle-thingy will be just great for cleaning your gutters.”)

DON’T Use The Outboard Motor Without Testing It.

Why? For the simple reason that getting two-hundred-meters-downriver-when-the-engine-cuts-out-and-the-second-day-novice-are-rowing-by-a-five-into-a-restored-(and very expensive)-cabin-cruiser-owned-by-the father-in-law-of-your-school’s-president is much more of an Excedrin headache than you really need.

DON’T assume that your rowers remember more than a smidgen of all that great technique you taught them last Spring.

Why?

  • Playstation, DDR, Wii,
  • Work
  • Life
  • Batman
  • Beer
  • ESPN2
  • School

and a horde of other brain-cell grabbers that happen in a typical summer.

And finally (an extra bonus TO DON’T)

DON’T eat that donut that you just found under your launch seat from last year’s final practice.

Why? Just trust me. Don’t. Regardless of how hungry you are. Don’t.

I base each of these Don’ts on personal experience. So, now go to the boathouse and don’t do these things. Let me know how they don’t go. And if you’ve got a favorite DON’T before the fall starts, let me know.