It is that time of the year again when the boats are packed away, the 4 oar-rule comes into play and the winter outerwear comes out from the closet. While you look for your pogies and wool socks, there are other ways you can prepare for the winter to make the best out of it. So when spring comes around, you’re more than ready to jump back on the boat feeling as great as ever, even better than your previous season. Here are some ways you can embrace the winter season and make it your best season yet!
1) Learn about your body
This is the time to take that much needed step back and work on the little things that we often overlook or ignore because we want to complete that session. Once in a while, do your body a favor and observe yourself in the mirror. How you are standing on two feet- Do you lean more on one leg? If you can’t watch yourself in the mirror while erging, have someone take a video of you. Are your shoulders even at the finish? Are you lifting one shoulder up when you take a catch? Has the sweeping sessions on the water make you constantly sore on one side? Do some balancing exercises in the gym, see a physical therapist or a chiropractor to address your muscle imbalances or body misalignment. You want to push your body to the limits but you also want to be treat it well, so that it is prepared to be pushed to the limits. Be critical yet be kind to your body. Remember, you only have one body.
2) Jump on the erg
Isn’t Winter season synonymous to erg season? You either love it or hate it. As much as it helps rowers improve on their physical and mental strengths, research has shown that an erg sessions lasting any more than 30 minutes increases your chances of developing lower back pain and rowers have a 30-50% chance of developing it as compared to the general population which is 3-18%. Sometimes that 90 minutes steady state on the erg can be broken down into 3x30 minutes pieces and that 1 minute break in between sets will do you more good than bad. If your coach insists that you sit on that erg for more than 30 minutes at a time, maybe sent him/her here.
3) Jump off the erg
As much as you love erging, sometimes cross-training can be beneficial as well. There are so many options out there other than sitting on the erg and if the session commands for a cardiovascular workout, why not choose other alternatives just to mix it up and give that lower back a break? Some possible alternatives are running, jogging, hiking, cross-country skiing, cycling and swimming.
4) Just be smart about training
YOU ARE EXCITED FOR WINTER TRAINING. But just be smart about it. Increase your training load gradually with not more than 10% increments per week. If you increase the intensity, keep the duration lower or the same. If you go longer for the workouts, keep the intensity moderate or even lower than normal. Don’t increase both intensity and duration in the same week as that will lead to higher chances of getting injured and even possibly burned out.
5) Work on the core
Winter season often correlates to erg season and on the erg, you don’t rotate your thoracic region (i.e. chest/upper back area) as much as when you’re sweeping on a boat. You don’t want to lose that mobility you have gained in summer and fall, so maintain or even improve on it by doing some dynamic core strength exercises such as woodchoppers. (I will be showing some dynamic core exercises on my IG stories on a weekly basis!)
6) Do yoga
Jump on the yoga bandwagon and work on that downward dog! So, so many benefits that rowers can get out of doing yoga. A pigeon pose for example stretches those hip flexors, opens up the glutes and relaxes the piriformis and psoas muscles (basically muscles that work hundreds and thousands of times for each session to move our bums up and down the slide in the boat and on the erg). And that’s only from one pose. Imagine all the benefits you can get from an hour long session of yoga! There is also some pretty cool Boathouse yoga gear you can wear while trying out these new poses.
7) Get enough sleep
Days are getting shorter, nights are getting longer. So embrace it my getting more sleep! Sleep is so important for your body’s recovery. When you sleep, your cells regenerate, your muscles get repaired, chemicals are released into your circulation to boost your immune system- so many good stuff happens! So stock on those hot chocolate and marshmallow (or chamomile tea, for some of you) and allow your body the sleep it truly deserves.
In the colder months, we don’t feel as though we are sweating as much as we did in Summer but it is only because sweat evaporates faster. You are still sweating when you work out and you are still losing water from your body, so drink up! Here are some suggested numbers: drink around 7ml/kg (1 oz/10lbs) of water 2 hours before you workout and you should be consuming around 150-350ml (6-12 oz) of water every 15-20 minutes during a workout. After your workout, you should be rehydrating your body with 16-24 oz of water for every 0.5kg of body weight lost. (Yes, start using that calculator to figure out your hydration needs now!)
9) Watch those calories
Yes, cold temperatures may boost your caloric burn but that doesn’t mean you start binging on that piece of pecan pie. With all the festivals around the corner, the amount of food you are possibly going to consume is going to be considerably more because of family dinners and gatherings with friends. You don’t have to restrain yourself from eating all the good stuff but just be aware of what you eat and eat moderately. If you are tempted to try everything on that dinner table, take small servings of each dish and eat slowly so that your stomach has sufficient time to send signals to your brain when it is full before you go for that unnecessary second serving.
10. Vitamin D
With the lack of sunshine, our bodies are not getting sufficient Vitamin D which are important for our bone health. Some medical issues that are linked to deficiency in Vitamin D are muscle pains, unexplained fatigue and overall weakness. It can even lead to bone fractures and heart diseases. To prevent a deficiency of Vitamin D in your body, it is time to stock up your pantry with Vitamin D rich food like salmon, tuna, milk and mushrooms. Some food are enriched with Vitamin D such as soy, yogurt, cereal and eggs. Better be safe than sorry!
Time to bundle up and stay warm!
Enjoy your Winter and make it your best one yet! Don't forget to check out the Boathouse crew shop of some off season training gear.
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