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.
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.
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 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.