Before you even sit down on the erg, you’re anxious. You know the work you’re about to do is going to be hard. Your legs are going burn. You’ll gasp for breath. Your mouth will go dry. You might even want to hurl when you’re done.
But there you are, about to participate in the age-old gold standard test of speed and strength – the dreaded, and respected – 2k.
Sometimes just getting the fan moving and going fast can be psychologically liberating – you won’t overthink things and won’t get bogged down in worrying about splits. But it’s likely you’ll go out too fast and burn out early.
Studies of elite rowers show that the majority of athletes approach the 2k with a fast start, settle for the body of the piece, and then bring their splits down into the finish, around 250m or 200m to go. Very rarely do rowers start fast and just keep getting faster. With that in mind, here’s a suggestion for planning and approaching your next 2k.*
WARM UP 10-20 minutes of light rowing with a handful of high intensity intervals that mimic your race start and race pace. • Pick drill • Steady state 20/22spm • 3 x start sequence • 3 x 10 at race pace
START 5: 1/2 SLIDE > 1/2 > 3/4 > LENGTHEN > FULL Think: no layback. Execute at 75% pressure to get the fan moving.
HIGH 5 Think: no layback. Execute at 75-90% pressure, still getting the fan moving.
SHIFT: LENGTHEN TO BASE PACE AND BUMP UP PRESSURE Stroke 11: powerful drive and finish shift to base pace. Make this shift happen in 2 strokes, or risk losing control and burning out very early.
Commit to the rating and splits you planned for. You’ll feel good here. Fresh legs and lungs. You’ll be fast but know that if you’re 5 seconds faster than your planned pace, you’ll likely only be able to hang on for so long before crashing. Work to be consistent through the first 500m.
@1500m TO GO: 10 FOR FAST LEGS Think: quick jumps off the foot stretcher and quick knees to the deck. Constant motion.
@1000m TO GO: MID-RACE FOCUS 10 This should not be a power 10. Pick a technique issue that you’ve been working on and focus for 10. Then count your 10s to the 750m to prolong that focus.
@750m TO GO: MENTAL CHECK Right around now you’re going to want to be done. Know that it’s going to be hard and, and it’ll be ok. Recommit to yourself and your goals. Focus on 25(ish) strokes to get to the 500.
@500m TO GO: SPLIT 1 SECOND FASTER Focus: Posture and power trough the core, back, shoulders, and arms.
@200m TO GO: 2x100m FOR SPEED Sit up and focus on exhaling at the finish. Shorten up your layback and get hands and body moving fast out of the finish. Commit to a final 2×10 strokes. Watch rate/split relationship. If your rate goes up but splits don’t come down, you’re spinning your wheels and losing efficiency.
Good luck and let me know how your next 2k goes!
*Note: Like any training or racing plan, if you row with a team/club or have a coach with oversight, make sure that your 2k strategy meets their expectations and standards.