How successful was your rowing season?



Paralysis by Analysis

This is the phrase* that Peter Taylor of the New Zealand Mens Lightweight double used to describe the season’s build up to last year’s World Championships.  They’d come home from Poznan 2009 World Championships with a gold medal and a near world fastest time; happy with their performance, happy with their training and thinking that little needed to change for them to repeat their success at Karapiro 2010 World Championships.

And then, instead of making small changes they started concentrating on small things.

And became tight and controlled without their former aggression.

And came third.  Bronze medal position.

Not their race?

It’s tricky, isn’t it, isolating those factors that make your boat faster than the rest.  The two races Taylor and Uru chose to compare were quite different: Karapiro was significantly longer, the headwind adding over a minute to the race time; the competing crews changed, Great Britain’s 2008 crew had been absent in 2009 taking a year off racing; and Taylor had spent time out of the boat with injury.

Certainly, the shape of their race as described by the 500m splits altered: the middle 1000 meters had splits that were much slower than their first or last 500m– and that points to a lack of endurance training base. Evidence of boat speed was still there: their last 500m was the fastest one posted by the whole field over the whole race.

Still a bronze . . . not a gold.

Something had to change

So this year they’ve gone back to basics: lots of heavy endurance training, adding long, gruelling duels in single sculls side by side to reinforce their determination to stay in front.

A win at Hamburg world cup looks hopeful but only more racing will tell if Taylor and Uru have got it right this time.

Their dilemma will remain . . .

When they come home from Bled 2011 World Championships they’ll still have to face the same questions:

  • Should they carry out the same training programme for 2012 but this time better?
  • Or do they need a better training programme?

What do they keep? What do they toss?

And perhaps more importantly, how will they know?

Your season review

For you thinking about your change of programme, tell me what you think about these small changes with big effects:

  • What if I went to bed early every night when I’m training? Or came home from the party at 12 instead of 3? How much better could I be properly rested?
  • As a coach, what if I got to training 5 minutes earlier and had the crew lists ready? Or had time to brief the crews before they got on the water?  How much better would the training be if we all knew what we were meant to be doing?
  • What if I pushed hard for every stroke? Really hard? How much faster would the boat go? How much stronger would I become?
  • What if I demanded a change? Really insisted? How quickly would the crew and coach notice its effect? How much more willing to change would the rest of the crew be?

How much of a change do you really need?

*taken from an interview given to the NZ Herald


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