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Head Race rowing warm up by Marlene Royle

Head Race Warm Up A big event morning is filled with a lot of hustle, bustle and nerves. … read more

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Head Race Warm Up

A big event morning is filled with a lot of hustle, bustle and nerves. Whether it’s your first race or 100th when you are waiting to launch for the start you are probably going to experience some race-day anxiety. You might find yourself thinking, what if I don’t finish or I should have trained more, what am I doing here?

This is normal when your body is getting ready for a challenge and you are unsure of the outcome.

Simple strategies along with a simple head race warm up can get you dialed into your stroke rhythm quickly and efficiently.

Nerves are NORMAL

First, accept the nerves, expect it and take it as a sign you are ready to race. Extra adrenaline that causes butterflies in your stomach are also a positive sign that you are ready to go. Avoid comparing yourself to your competitors, step into your own shell and focus on what you have control over, every race is different and you must be mentally prepared to grasp opportunities as they appear on the course.

Stay in the moment.

This is one of the most important things you can do to alleviate your anxiety and one of the hardest.

Keep your mind in the present. Stop thoughts of past training or future training, stay in the conversation with your crew and your boat and you are more likely to be able to respond with your best efforts. Shift your mindset the moment you put your boat on the water and start your warm up. Do not cut your warm up short on a big race day, it is a critical part of your race preparation and ensures you can row over the line at your target race pace.

How should I warm up?

A sample head race warm up includes 15 minutes at stroke rate 20.

If there is a specific drill that “gets your head in the boat” include it early in your warm up.

Follow this with three sets of 30 strokes building to your head race pace with two to three minutes paddling easy between.

Progress to three times 30 seconds at your maximum tempo with a moving start then 90 seconds paddle easy between.

Make sure that you have rowed enough to hit your target stroke rate before you cross the start line. Then relax and stay warm until the start.


Marlene Royle is the author of Tip of the Blade – 9 chapters of detailed rowing advice

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About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe

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