I am relatively new to the erg. I have rowed for over 10 years in total, the last 5 predominantly in a single scull coached by someone who believed water is best.
My first experiences with the ErgStick were comical as incredibly I didn’t know just how much data was available on my monitor, so suddenly having a gadget recording yet more detail meant I had to learn quick.
My first discovery was the interim split counter. I would actually see how I was doing every few 100 metres. Great! This was the beginning of doing an erg and losing track of time. I became completely absorbed in ensuring I hit the right number at each 500m checkpoint. Sometimes I played and took it easy in the middle of the 500m and then pulled harder to get the average correct for the 500m.
Enter the ErgStick. Once I had worked out how to get my monitor to talk to my phone and my heart monitor, off I went. Suddenly I could have my interim splits every 50m, if I wanted. I could see my power curve (although at this point I had no idea what it was supposed to look like), I could even see the last one behind the current one. What a joy, I could focus on making them all the same.
The first time I saw the data reproduced, I was overwhelmed. All this data had to be useful if I could work out what it meant. We analysed what I was doing and discovered that as I tired, I was shortening my stroke and losing power.
Up until now I had only ever done one 2k ergo. I’m a vet and my sprints are predominantly 1k, so I had never focussed on 2k. I set about doing 4 x 2k at variable ratings to workout which stroke length would get me the best result. It became clear that as my stroke length grew my power curve suffered and to be honest I struggling to hit higher ratings.
Using the ErgStick I could watch my stroke length and see its impact. At a shorter stroke length, I felt like I was racing up and down the slide and just couldn’t a rhythm, until I got to higher rates. At the longer slide length I managed a bit of a swing at the lower rates but as I progressed up the rates my stroke length shortened. I found myself increasingly focussing on the front end of the stroke. I needed to get rid of that slack bit at the front to get some rhythm. The only way I found of doing this was to cut out the shoulder movement, use my lats to grip the stroke. I’d heard about this but to be honest hadn’t really worked out how to do it. Now I’m doing it out of desperation to get a better split on the shorter stroke length.
Throughout all this I hadn’t really been focussing on my split but when I did, I was really quite pleased. So it showed me that I had to row a slightly shorter stroke length at the lower rates, which meant that I could get a better rhythm at higher rates and still keep my length.
To cut a long story short, I managed 2 PBs at BRIC in both the 500m and the 2km races and medalled. The prep was even more fun than the races.