Lisa Schenkler rows for the USA as theirlightweight single sculler.
Sean Wolf interviews her for his Speed5 series.
Wolf- You have an erg book out, now I am not a big fan of the erg much less a book about working out on the erg , so why the hell an erg book and what is in it? Who made these workouts up and do you actually follow them ?
Lisa-An erg book? Why not an erg book? It's the first of its kind, and its sweatproof. What's in it? 75 erg workouts for athletes – from beginner to advanced.
These workouts are from my coaches that I had throughout the years. I kept training journals during my rowing career. The beginner, intermediate and advanced sections of the book are variations of the workouts from the national team coaches I worked with. The last section is a series of 20 of the toughest workouts my coaches gave me. They were taken straight from my journals. I call them the "ruhige Kraft workouts". Oh, and Sean, if you – or anyone – can do all 20 of the rK workouts, I'll send out a free t-shirt. Yes, I am tossing down the gauntlet. You have to tell me your favorite rK workout, though. It's all up on my web site (http://www.urbanerg.com).
I do follow the workouts in ERG. I wrote the book so I wouldn't have to think of my workouts anymore, I can just flip to a page, set the book above my foot stretchers, and do the workout. Wait, let me change that: I wrote the book so I wouldn't negotiate with myself while I sat on the erg.
Wolf-Now I feel the lightweight women's field has tailed off since the 2008 Olympics and I hear you are in pretty good shape, so do you think you can mix it up with the young talent coming up in the ranks now , I am being real here as I can be, can you earn a seat in a boat if you wanted to ?
Lisa-I'm laughing. That's a loaded question. You can't ask a competitor that. The rowers coming up now are a talented group. Being the type of competitor I am, my brain always thinks that I can mix it up, but I'm not sure the body will follow.
About earning a seat – the amount of time and energy that it takes to get a seat – not just any seat but the seat that you want – is not an easy thing to do. If it was easy, everyone who wanted to, could be on the team. It takes an amazing amount of dedication and training to get a seat in a boat.
Wolf– Crash B's is around the corner and you are known for your "presence" on the ERG ( as well as the water ) , do you still hold the world record "on the machine " and what numbers are you dropping these days?
Lisa-Sean, at the time that you wrote these questions to me, I held "the" world record as the fastest lightweight woman, but as of Saturday, January 30th, Ursula Grobler James smashed that record by two seconds. Kudos to Ursula – an amazing performance. I still hold a couple world records though, just not "the" world record.
Ahh, what numbers am I dropping these days? Depends on the piece – come do a workout with me and we'll see.
Wolf– You were in the 04 Olympics and still went strong afterwards , what was that whole process like , did you prefer rowing in camps or were you more of a fan of running the gamut of trials ? The reason I ask this is that there are a lot of young ladies out there who dream of being in your shoes and I feel any insight you have would be helpful and welcome.
Lisa-In my career I had the opportunity to be on ten national teams, and had the chance to do both the camps and the trials gamut. Living in San Diego at the Olympic Training Center and in Princeton, there were huge benefits to training in the camp system, especially when the lightweights and open weights would all battle it out together. That type of daily competition certainly assisted with preparation – how to race, when to race – and being in the supportive team environment is powerful. The lightweight women's boats are all trials boats so even if you came from a camp system you had to go to trials. I actually enjoyed this process. When I was racing in the single, you have the heat, semi and final race, with the finals being the best two out of three, so you'd be racing four times. The trials process always made me feel that I had earned my seat by winning on the water. No matter what, it all came down to who was fastest on the water on that given day.
What I found is that if you could move a single, the coaches were going to look at you. They always look at who can move a single and who is fast on the erg. And not just against lightweights, but against everyone. That's where it worked for me. I was a smaller athlete, but I had a "big dog" attitude. I always wanted to mix it up.
Wolf- I know you have a loyal following , fill us in what are you up to now (and I don't mean weight HA!) ?
Lisa-Well, I'm at FISA weight right now, so that's good. My workouts are daily forest runs with my pup, and erg workouts from my book. I do a lot of private coaching and training and am an executive director of a rowing club. Like most rowers, I am waiting for nice weather to get back on the water. In the meantime, I get on an erg to remember what it feels like.
Wolf-Which races in your career were you favorite ones erg, breaking the 7 min barrier , and water , was it the Olympics ? What made them special ?
Lisa-Two of my favorite races were on the erg. The first was the piece where I broke the seven minute barrier. That was eleven years ago. The second race was about six months later – pulling a 6:56.7 at CRASH-Bs. That was back in the days when we had to walk uphill for three miles in waist-deep snow to get to the heats to qualify for the finals at CRASH-Bs. I pulled a 7:12 in the morning and then did the finals race in the afternoon. Those were fun races. That's what makes them my favorites. They were just pure fun.
The Olympics – I came about being in the 2004 Olympic lightweight double in a round-about way. The culmination of all the years put in, some luck and being in the right place at the right time… to sit at the start line at the Olympics – that event is particularly special.
I don't have any gold medals (I do have three silvers), but each time, each race – rising to the occasion, going as fast as I possibly could and having no regrets, that was special. That doesn't mean I always crossed the finish line first.
Re: Ursula's new world record:
Wolf-It looks like Ursula Grobler broke the world record by a few seconds , how does that sit with you as the competitor I know you are?
Lisa-Impressive! Congratulations goes to Ursula. She not only beat the old record, she smashed it by 2 seconds. How fitting to have the record broken with a commanding performance. I have waited for 10 years for a lightweight woman to take the record as her own. The culmination of Ursula's power, speed, fitness and will made that record hers. She is now the fastest lightweight in the world.
When I read your email, I simply smiled. A smile created through respect of a performance. She is the real deal.
Thank you for the opportunity for the interview with Rowing Illustrated.
Thank you Lisa