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Nathan Twaddle tells us how he prepares for race day

Nathan Twaddle is in the New Zealand M2- and writes a fantastic summary of what it takes to prepare for a big race.

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Nathan Twaddle is in the New Zealand M2- and writes a fantastic summary of what it takes to prepare for a big race.

Race day insights

The night before

I try to not think about it too much. Getting to sleep is quite a tough thing. Sometimes I'll watch past races where we've done well or watch races of events that I think encapsulate what a good rowing race should be and possibly think about that when you go to sleep.

Surprisingly, I generally get to sleep reasonably well the night before a race, so it's a bit of a balancing act between relaxation and using that time to think about strategies you might want to employ the next day.
Because from the next morning, it really does just become an automatic routine, and there's not too much room to start thinking about what ifs, from that point.

On race day morning

We spend a lot of time down at the course. We have a pre-race row in the morning, prior to the event. If there is time, we'll go back to the hotel and have a light breakfast and then back down to the course, and we will go and hide in whatever possie we've managed to wheedle out for the NZ rowers and just lie down.

I used to travel around with a PSP last year and watch videos of some of the past races, but after smashing that in my bag on one trip, I now just visualise in my head, which is probably just as useful and slightly cheaper

On the start line

There is not too much that needs to be said. Just double-check things in the boat, make sure your oar is tight in the gate, that your grip on the oar is right and make sure your course down the track is right./

I remember in Athens in 2004 in the last final when we were sitting in the block, and we had to wait for a wee bit longer and could see he was getting a little bit tense, so I gave George a bit of a pat on the side, just to say 'Oh, come on, mate.

He didnt realise it was coming, and he was so geed up to go, he almost jumped out of his skin. And if you look at the footage, you can see him get a bit of a jolt, so after that, we've decided not to have too much interaction at that point!

Communication during the race

It is usually monosyllabic and consists of grunts. A series of grunts can convey quite a bit of information. The calls are pretty sharp and sweet and to the point.

You dont have a lot of breath for stringing out long phrases of words, and any calls that go between us are really about bringing the focus back together and responding to moves when they're required. Otherwise just a lot of huffing and puffing!

Halfway through the race

You always hear about people getting into the zone and sometimes that's meant that you're kind of aware of everything and you're so focussed on the movement that it feels easy, and you can hear and respond to everything really well.

Other times I've raced and I couldn't tell you what happened or what anyone said or whether there was any noise. It varies from race to race.

I remember last year (at the World Championships) the crowds were so huge, you could not help but realise you were coming into the last 250m as applause and cheers started coming down the track.

You use those things to help yourself lift for the finish, but hopefully we are that far in front that we can't hear anyone else calling.

On crossing the finish line

Assuming we've won, I would say there would be a fair amount of elation. There might be some back flips out of the boat.

Probably more than likely, I'll be flopped over the oar, trying to get my breath back. The nature of the sport is really all about dealing with pain.

You are basically waiting till you get across the finish line to allow your body to accept that theres a lot of pain going on and deal with it then, and that is quite a tough 30 to 40 seconds and sometimes longer.

So it is really a weird combination of elation and happiness and extreme lactate acid.

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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