Why Runners Should be Rowers

How to Supplement a Running or Multisport Program With Rowing

Will Kirousis is the co-director of Tri-Hard Endurance Sports Coaching and is a USA Triathlon-certified coach and strength specialist in Leominster, Massachusetts Kirousis explains why and how to adopt rowing into an overall training program.

What benefits does rowing offer runners and triathletes?

Rowing machines allow runners to do a non-impact form of endurance training. Don't get me wrong, if you want to be a better runner, your training should focus on running. However, cross-training during noncompetitive periods in the year and during recovery blocks throughout the season helps runners stay injury free and mentally fresh. Those are the key benefits of rowing for runners.

Any tips for runners and triathletes taking up rowing as cross-training?

Strongly resist the urge to become a rowing specialist. This is especially true for triathletes, who tend to want to mimic the training done in the specific sub sports of their discipline. For example, very often triathletes fall into the trap of training like Masters swimmers, road cyclists and runners rather than training like a triathlete. The same intensity and inquisitiveness that leads to those miss-steps can also lead a motivated runner or triathlete to use the erg as if he is a crew specialist. This is counterproductive because it can hurt recovery. If you're really trying to improve on the erg, it's likely your training load will increase on the erg and will cut into your recovery, leading to decreased volumes of sport-specific training. Both problems reduce sport-specific performance.

High-Intensity Workouts to Aid the Injured Runner

Beating back an injury but want to sustain your running fitness? Shane Farmer, a former member of the University of San Diego rowing team and now a CrossFit Invictus coach, has several basic rowing workout suggestions for injured runners who need to replace track workouts. Be sure to get the all-clear from your doctor before jumping in.

500-meter Repeats

4x500 meters, 2 minute rest between each. Similar in nature to the feel of running 800-meter intervals at a moderately high intensity. Use the memory function on the rowing computer to log your workout.

Long Sprints

8x45 seconds hard. 15-second easy recovery between each hard interval. "Good old fashioned, short, high intensity interval training," Farmer said.

The Time Ladder

Ten minutes nonstop: four minutes, three minutes, two minutes, one minute, building up intensity in each transition with no rest in between. The four minutes should be at a relative base tempo with the one-minute intervals at high intensity. Be sure to have enough in the tank to make moves at each time transition.

The Stroke Ladder

4x5 minutes. Each five-minute session is broken into five, one-minute segments with a focus on the number of strokes you take per minute (s/m), which the erg computer tallies in real time. First minute: 18 s/m, second minute: 22 s/m, third: 26 s/m, fourth: 22 s/m, fifth, 26 s/m.

"Again, there will be no rest," Farmer says. "The workout should last for 20 minutes total without stopping." Use the time spent at 18 s/m to recover. Each jump up in stroke rate will come with an increase in intensity and vice versa. "This is a really good tempo piece that teaches people how to control their output and rate of recovery, which are two very crucial aspects of rowing."

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