Beginner's Guide to Coastal Worlds, tip #1

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While I haven't mastered the Coastal World Championships yet, now that I've survived a couple, I at least have a good idea of what's needed to train for these. For all those new rowers looking at Victoria 2018, here is tip #1 to get you going:

 

Tip #1: Pacing

The Coastal World Championship races are a very tough distance. 4K heats, 6K finals. Yes, you read that right – heats and A finals are different distances! So it's not one distance, but two that you need to master. And both of these distances are squarely within the mid-distance challenge, which means high speed for a long time – sort of a sprint, but sort of an endurance challenge. 

If you are like me, and coming into this from an expedition-type experience (it was no big deal for me to jump in the boat and row 30-40 miles on any given day), then you will really need to crank up the speed. Get strong, and get fast. The experienced racers fly around this course. It's almost a full sprint for 20-30 minutes! For long-distance rowers, you will need to learn how to build up the intensity for high-output rowing.

On the other hand, if you are a 2K rower, the 4-6K will be an epic distance. Think about how many miles our Olympic friends put in over the year for that 2K burst. On these more weatherly coastal courses, the time it takes to complete even the 4K is not double a 2K...its closer to three times. You better start logging the miles! 

The other, more unique challenge to your pacing is that you can’t just get into your zone and click away your splits. There are turns that will slow you down. There are crashes that will bring you to a full stop. Not everyone gets hung up in a crash or delayed in traffic around a turn, but if you do get entangled, you then need to sprint to regain the ground you just lost to the rowers who escaped the chaos. In addition, you’ll often have to throw in a desperate sprint to pass other rowers – since there are no lanes, you have to actually go around your opponents to get ahead. For a lot of rowers, this stop-and-go, faster/slower racing style is way more difficult than keeping a steady pace. That’s probably because we practice every day with steady pieces, or at least with planned variation. So add to your training this year the ability to cope with unplanned variation! A fun way to do that would be to have a friend yell at you to stop randomly during an erg or boat piece.  Then challenge yourself to get as close as possible to your projected undisturbed time even with the stops! Which means, of course, for every random or unplanned stop you need to thrown in a sprint in order to regain your projected finish. 

Pacing your race for Coastal Worlds requires speed, endurance, mid-distance pace mastery, and an ability to cope with unexpected variation. But just think, if you are a wily older rower with not only the perfect mid-distance pace, but the adaptability to change that pace according to varied circumstances, then you will get your chance to watch those rash young guns fall away in the last 1000 meters or gas out after a series of stops and starts!