Topics related to racing

Advanced Race strategy for 2K

Advanced Race strategy – How to row a 2K race


In this article, we will describe a more advanced race strategy, how to row a race or trial when the aim is not only to improve the PR but win or get ahead.

When racing against others you need to be ready to respond if needed. It is good to have a plan of your own, what you intend to do if all goes well, and on top of that, a strategy on how to respond if needed.

Rowers attempting a more advanced race strategy should have some experience of their capacity on the distance. Becoming good at racing and tactics requires a good load of mental strength and believing that the picked strategy will work.

Your strategy can also be to choose to be so confident, just stick to the plan that works and trust it gets you the placing you want. Be mentally prepared.

The diagram below shows a suggestion for a more advanced race strategy when aiming for a time 7:00.


Advanced 2K race strategy

The Get ahead strategy

The start

– Just like for the start for the Simple race strategy – take 7 start strokes where you build up the length of the stroke followed by 10-13 full-length power strokes. For this phase, one is using the anaerobic energy system and the body starts to build up lactate fast. The key is to make the transition to using the aerobic energy system for your race pace phase without having acquired too much lactate. So take max 20 start strokes where you give it all you have and then settle down to race pace.

The race pace

– Let’s use the example for 7:00 minute goal to demonstrate.

Start by dividing the 2K into four segments where you set the target pace as follows. For the 1st 500m, aim for a split 1:42, The 20 start strokes give some extra so you can dare to take this piece a bit harder and add up to the average 500m split on the 1st 500m. The 2nd 500m in 1:46, the 3rd 500m in 1:47, and the 4th 500m in 1:45. When adding up the times for each 500m interval, they need to add up to the time you are aiming for. The green line indicates roughly what the SPM (strokes per minute) should look like during a race.

One of our preferred race strategies is to get ahead and hold the others behind you. It is something Bo used when he rowed the LM8+ and it worked for them. It was a mentally easier place to race from. If needed, they would make a bold push already at 400m after the start where the team could secure the leading position. It was a bold decision to take but they felt it was easier to push boundaries from a leading position than from when you are trying to catch up. The team could see how the other crews reacted and control the race, ‘just’ focusing on keeping a good rhythm and holding the others behind us. This meant that there was not necessarily energy left for a wild sprint at the end, but in most cases, it was not necessary. To practice this strategy, you might just pick a close competitor, someone who you have wanted to beat for a long time, not a whole race.

Making pushes along the way is energy off the final sprint and the risk of building dangerous lactate too early. From the lead position, you can feel, that it is mentally easier to push your boundaries, than when having someone trying to catch up with you.


Advanced 2K race strategy with pushes

In the second graph, the green line indicates the stroke rate. The first spike after 400m is a push to get ahead. Strategic pushes can also be used to overtake someone who might be getting tired or get some distance from someone threatening to get too close. Again it is about getting the mental energy from being in the lead. The second push on the graph is shown after 1000m.

The risk with pushes is that there is less fuel and power for the final sprint. A sprint might not be needed if the competition gave up the chase.

And finally, don’t be afraid of trying different strategies and making a wrong move. On the way, you might learn new skills about yourself. Study your competition, and how they react, and use this information in your race planning.

Keep challenging yourself.

Simple race strategy for 2K

Simple Race strategy – How to row a 2K race


Is a 2K test on your to-do list? Wondering how to execute it without completely dying out after the first 1000 meters?

Will you compete against yourself and the clock or take part in a race or trial against others where anything can happen and need to change strategy on the way to try to get ahead?

In this article, we will explain a Simple race strategy for competing against yourself and the clock. You can use it both on the water and on the erg. However knowing that following split times on water can be challenged wind and weather and by other forms of nature.

If new to racing, this is how we advise rowers when they set out to complete a 2000 meter test/race for one of the first times. Rowing a 2K is also a discipline where you get better, the more you do them. What is important is to learn what works for you.

First, start by setting a realistic goal. What time to aim for (on the erg, you can be more specific regarding the time than on the water)? Use the Actual Max from Rojabo Meters as shown below if no previous experience.


Rojabo Meters give you an indication of your current fitness level and what you can achieve

Next, calculate the split time for 500m to know what to aim for. If the Rojabo Actual Max is 7.00 minutes then the race pace at around 1:45. Rojabo also suggests a Stroke Rate to aim for.


Simple 2K rowing race strategy

A Simple race strategy:

have a good start to get the machine/your boat going, settle down to a race pace phase where in control and feeling efficient, a sprint at the end to empty energy tanks so that when done, one feels that there was nothing left to give.

The start

– the first max 20 strokes, for about 20 seconds can be used to fire off a good load of watts to get the machine/your boat going. It is a good idea to practice starts. The first 7 strokes are shorter building up the stroke length on each stroke until reaching full stroke length on the 7th stroke. To get the machine/boat going, add 10 – 13 power strokes. After the start, which is about 20 strokes, it is vital to settle down to the race pace. In this example, if aiming for 7:00 it is 1:45 -1:47. If one continues beyond the 20 strokes, using the anaerobic energy system without making the transition to using the aerobic energy system, one risks simply having gathered too much lactate to get through to the 2nd half.

Race pace phase

– Have a mental plan on what to focus on from start to finish. How to complete the race pace phase after the start. If aiming for 7:00 then we suggest not row faster than 1:45, which is the target. Rather keep it a bit slower at 1:47 to feel strong until the sprint. A rower who enjoys long pieces in a steady rhythm, should find that flow and keep it going. A rower who prefers short intervals should prepare with some mental checkmarks to help get through the race pace phase. Mentally prepare for the 1st 500m, 2nd 500m, 3rd 500m, and 4th 500m. It can be a certain split to aim for, a technique tip that helps keep a good flow. Some rowers count strokes, per 100 meters to get through. Take 10 power stokes to spike up the pressure if feeling challenged, but it can be risky and drain energy reserves too early.

The final sprint

– from the last 300 – 250 meters, the last +/- 40 strokes. Now when hopefully reached this far with good control, it is time to empty the energy tanks. One strategy is to raise the stroke rate every 10 strokes and use this to help take 1 sec off split every 10 strokes. Shortening the stroke length can help get the rate up.

On the ergometer, if allowed to have someone sitting behind you, discuss the plan with them to agree on what to do. Many times this person can help get over a mental hurdle when hitting that point.

After the race

– Well done. You did it!

Each completed race/test piece is an opportunity to learn. Have an honest face-to-face talk with yourself and the person who sat behind you. How did it go? How was the start? How about the race pace and final sprint phase? Did the power 10’s work? What went well and what not so well? And most important, what to do next time so it goes better. Note down your thoughts and learn from them for next time. Do this as soon as possible after the race, often the immediate reactions give the true picture of what just happened instead of a feedback session hours after. Ideally, the goal is not only to improve the 2K time but get better at completing a 2K test/race.

You are always welcome to email us with your thoughts.

Rowing watts

Rowing watts – the more accurate power of rowing


Rowing machine and watts, there can be mixed feelings using watts as units to measure your rowing capacity or power on the ergometer. In rowing, the average pace per 500 meters is the most commonly used unit to measure how fast you row. It makes sense, especially for rowers who race the regular distances and can relate to the units. How long will it take for them to row 500 meters?

On rowing machines today, there are three ways to measure capacity, power, or what you “burn” on the ergometer. The average pace for 500 meters, calories burnt, and last what we use are for our rowing training programs are watts. We will not discuss the calories option because it is not relevant for measuring speed or power in our case. At Rojabo we choose to measure rowing power in watts as it gives a more precise measurement of what you can pull on an ergometer and it is a more accurate basis for our calculations.

When a +/- 1-second fluctuation gives a difference of 11,2 seconds – is that precise enough?

What do we mean as more precise? We use an example to help clarify what we mean. When rowing on the ergometer with settings showing the average pace per 500 meters, the monitor shows the rower the actual speed only down to seconds, not tenths of seconds. So if the rower is aiming to keep a pace of 1.51 allowing a fluctuation of +/-1 sec, this means keeping the speed anywhere between 1.50 and 1.52. If the monitor could show the tenths of seconds, the actual speed can be anywhere from 1.50,1 to 1.52,9. In rowing watts that translates to 262.2 – 243.2. Now a fluctuation of 2 seconds does not sound like much but in watts, it translates to 19 watts on a rowing machine.

To demonstrate what 19 rowing watts can mean in a 2K race, here are some numbers. Rowing 2K at a pace of 1.52,9 gives a time of 7.31,6. Rowing it at a pace of 1.50.1 gives a time of 7.20,4.

This gives a difference of 11,2 seconds, a good three boat length on water.

Learn to feel what you are doing

One aim for our rowing training programs is to teach rowers at all levels to be better at optimizing their pressure at different stroke rates, by following what is given in the Power Guide. When you are able to keep a steady and constant pressure, you row more economically.

Many generic workout providers leave out requirements for the power, how much you need to push. It make sense as it is very personal for every person. But knowing what you need to push is actually one of the most important factors if you want to complete the workout as it is intended. Let’s say that our Power Guide advises a rower a steady-state rowing workout in SPM 22 at a pace of 1.59 or watts 203, it can be just a bit tempting to put just a bit more pressure into each stroke, but this can change the nature of the workout from being a steady-state endurance workout to be a workout training aerobic capacity. Now if this is consequently done for all workouts, then the rower will lack the endurance workouts needed to build a base for a stronger physical capacity.

This is irrelevant for most who train to get their heart pumping and get some exercise, but this is important for a rower training with a purpose to get selected on a team or win a race, this can be the key to making it or breaking it in on the final meters of the race. So using watts on a rowing machine gives a more accurate picture of actual pressure fluctuation. In the start, it can be annoying to look at the watts fluctuating on the monitor, but in the long run, it will help learn to be more stable with the pressure and be better at getting a feeling of what you are doing.

Rowing on the water with good technique, when varying your pressure, you should feel it in the flow of the boat. In a team boat, especially a double, if the pressure of one rower varies a lot, the partner will be able to feel this and it can disturb the flow of the boat.

If we use the light bulb example, you must have seen what happens when a light bulb is not getting enough constant electricity to power it up, it starts flickering. Well, the same happens with the speed of your boat if you can’t keep it constant. And every small, slight change in speed requires more energy to get the pace up and less energy if you can maintain it steady.

Good watts for rowing

So using watts is good. Using watts for rowing can help rowers become very accurate in controlling their pressure, how much they push on each stroke for a given workout. One of our key findings, when we were developing the method behind our Rojabo rowing training programs, was to crack the code in how to get athletes to feel what they are doing. This is not really something you can tell them, they need to understand the purpose of the workout, feel the difference between what the different types of workouts have on them, and how the different types of workouts when completed is intended to make them feel. The easy part is to do the work, 20min in SPM 24, but when we introduced the Power Guide with the intended pressures in rowing watts, we had a totally different precision tool to discuss the intended intensity of the workout with our athletes. 20min in SPM 24 with a pressure of 225 watts and no getting tempted by the stronger guy sitting next to you.

What Watts should you aim for?

Rojabo generates a detailed Power guide for each rower expressed in rowing watts (target watts) as well as average pace (target split). The Power Guide is your guide for how to complete the workouts, at what pressure to row at different SPM.


The Rojabo Power Guide tells you what you need to push at different stroke rates

We make every stroke count, do them properly.

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.