I was very lucky to have been introduced to Brad Alan Lewis by Melissa Polka – he was her University coach. We started a correspondence and yesterday, I opened the letter box to find his latest book – a training diary for the season leading up to his Olympic gold medal win in 1984 in the double sculls.
What a book – not for the faint-hearted either. If you don’t know your steady state from your 22-24 spm or what ‘legs only’ or 3,2,1 might involve – this book is hard work.
Lewis explains some of his ‘peculiar’ workouts like ‘Dock Machine’ and ‘Shadow Race’ both great innovations for visualisation and racing practice; and phrases like ‘forearm max out’ and ‘Double Lido’ now have resonance for me. I loved some of his workouts: seven 2000m pieces flat out – the first 2k using arms and back only followed by 2k using legs only followed by 2k half slide then 4x 2k ‘regular’. Hard? I’ll say!
His particular skill in working out his self-written training programme was figuring out exactly what he needed to know: What it feels like to move a single scull at 1:45 splits; practicing a race plan, being pushed to train harder by setting out against faster scullers and later world-class doubles and pairs. He expected to be similar speeds.
Throughout the book there are anecdotes and asides and, frankly, motivational observations which help to explain the shorthand used in the training diary. These are the reason you should buy this book.
Big Picture: the ability to row in any conditions, raging crosswind, two-foot tall jet ski wakes, torrential downpour, is absolutely essential in order to be a champion sculler. It all comes under the heading of boatmanship. some races are won on nothing more than superior boatmanship.
And try this one
Death to Ergs: one training device never seen in these pages is the ergometer. I never owned one, never trained on one, and practically never used one. The few national team tests I took on ers were dismal failures, which worked wonders to further my dislike of these beastly creatures. Boring. Tedious. Noisy, Ergs have greatly cheapened rowing. Graceless. Greasy. Grim. The erg is to rowing what having sex by yourself is to having sex. Stop it!
P.S. If you buy a copy of the book and email Brad [address on the last page], he’ll mail you DVD videos of him training and the heat, semi-final and final of the Olympics – so you can judge for yourself about his skill moving a boat.
P.P.S. If you buy a copy of the book and email Brad [address on the last page], he’ll mail you DVD videos of him training and the heat, semi-final and final of the Olympics – so you can judge for yourself about his skill moving a boat.S. The actual Assault on Lake Casitas was held on Sunday 15th January 1984. Just so you know.