Learn to row

I completed the rowing challenge back in September but I really enjoyed it so signed up to a ‘learn to row’ course at the Team Keane sculling centre in Chiswick.

So for the past 8 weeks I been rowing indoors and on the water with Harry, Graham and Illya under the stewardship of various coaches, including Claire pictured below.P1030506

With the exception of running, I think rowing has become my favourite sport during this challenge. I feel like I’ve developed a lot over the past couple of months and it’s a sport that I could really get into.

Today we finished our course with a fun regatta along the Thames. We were split into 10 different teams, mixed with those on the’ learn to row’ squad, youth squad, development squad and coaches. There was a bit of waiting around, but overall was good fun and my crew got to the final having won our heat and finishing 2nd in the semi-final. Unfortunately the final was a step too far and we were struggling from the start and this coupled with a seat malfunction meant that we finished the final in 4th and last place. I’m sure one of the British crews in the Olympics managed to get a race restarted due to the seat coming off – probably should have shouted louder.

The option for me now, is to either sign up for 3 months with the development squad or keep rowing on an ad hoc basis. I think I’m going to go with the latter for the start of 2015 and when I have a bit more time, commit to training with one of the teams.

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Challenge update

Having injured my hamstring 3 weeks ago, I’ve been managing my recovery whilst still trying to progress with the Olympic sports.

For the first couple of weeks, I focused on gentle running to encourage blood flow and ensure that my legs were mobilised. Complete rest would probably have been more logical but I’m always conscious of losing fitness and especially in this case as I’d had a couple of easier training weeks prior to getting injured.

Luckily it hasn’t really affected the rowing or the diving too much. My first rowing lesson after the injury was on the ergo machines, so I could take it easy and I was able to dive without putting too much strain on the legs.

For the past week my hamstring has been feeling really good, so I’ve upped the effort. We had a great ‘learn to row’ session at the weekend. The 4 of us got into a great rhythm and I really felt like we’d made some significant progress. My diving lesson on Monday was also good fun. I started off with a lack of confidence, which is the worst thing you can do whilst standing on the edge of a dive board and unfortunately this resulted in some rather painful entries. I got it going though, towards the end of the session and completed a few hurdle dives, back dives and also a couple of falling dives off the 3m – all ready to be filmed next week at the final session! Yesterday I also felt confident enough to play in the Middlesex Winter League for Will to Win. We played indoors at Heston David Lloyd which was great, as the weather has been awful recently. The result wasn’t so good.

In between all of this the intensity of my running has started to increase in preparation for my 16 week training plan (starts 29th Dec) for the Manchester Marathon on 19th April. Yep – I’ve gone and made the challenge harder again by signing up for another marathon. I had told everyone that I wouldn’t be running a marathon in 2015 but the lure of potentially running a sub-3.30 marathon was too much to resist. It’s going to be tough but I’m going to give it a go. I’ve also decided that I might as well run a marathon every year of the Olympiad so 4 marathons in 4 years.

In the middle of this training I will also be tackling the rugby challenge. Rugby 7s is the newest sport in the Olympics (along with golf) and despite being a huge rugby fan, I’ve never played. I would like to compete in all of the team sports but realistically rugby as a contact sport could be a bit dangerous without spending appropriate time learning how to tackle and how to protect myself in contact. As an alternative I’ve signed up to ‘tag rugby’. Tag rugby is growing rapidly in London and there is a league starting at the beginning of March so for the last 8 weeks of my training plan I will be playing rugby every Monday in addition to running 5 days a week.

2015 is looking like a very exciting year. Watch this space.

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25th challenge completed – Football

Having not being well this week, I was really looking forward to my busy weekend of sport.

The plan was as follows. Get up early on Saturday morning to volunteer at the Gunnersbury Parkrun, head over to Chiswick for my latest rowing lesson, speed down to Hampton for my first 11-aside football match since the start of the challenge, rest up for the evening before an early start on Sunday for the latest Sunday league cross country race.

Even by my standards this was going to be a challenge.

The weekend started well, I headed down to Gunnersbury Park for my first go at Parkrun volunteering. I always said that once I had run 10 Parkruns that it was only fair to give something back. I was assigned to the half-way point of the race, with the main responsibility to give runners an update on their time so they know whether they are ahead or behind schedule. It was really good fun, especially knowing so many people that were running and cheering them on to the finish. I was also able to get a very different perspective of the different types of experiences that people have during a Parkrun race, from the super quick runners upfront (winner finished under 16 minutes), those that run a similar pace to me, families running together, those running with buggies and pets and others that are just happy to run around socialising with each other.

Volunteering done, I headed to Team Keane rowing club for my latest ‘learn to row’ session. We were split into 2 groups and sent out in 4s. Claire who I had my initial private lesson with was our instructor for the day. We focused a lot on technique and timing and once we started to get this together we began to put more power in and up the stoke rate to see how fast we could move the boat. At times it worked really well, but it was easy for the whole thing to go wrong. My position in the boat meant that I was in charge of the stroke rate. Whilst this gave me licence to focus on my own technique and rhythm I had to try and make it as easy as possible for the guys behind me. As a group we showed real progress, so I’m looking forward to where we end up in a few weeks.

Rowing done, I drove down to Hampton School for a match with the Old Hamptonians 3rd XI. This would be my first 11-aside match for 2 years. One of the new rules for amateur football, which I hadn’t experience before was the introduction of rolling subs. We had 12 players so I started on the bench, with the promise that I would get on after 20 minutes and would play the rest of the game. The game didn’t start great for us and we conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes. Despite this set back we were dominating the match and had some good chances to equalise. I came on just after 20 minutes at left wing and soon got into the game. I knew I had the beating of the right back, which is always a good position for an attacking player to be in. As a team, we continued to dominate the match but couldn’t quite add the finishing touches to our attack. So half time we were 1-0 down, what could we do in the second half? It was more of the same; we continued to push but couldn’t find a way through. About 15 minutes into the second half, we had a blatant penalty shout turned down. One of their defenders put his hands out to block the ball on a corner. We couldn’t quite believe it and to make matters worse, they went up the other end and scored a second. Despite further chances for us, we couldn’t find a way through and the match finished 2-0. We were robbed!

Unfortunately, mid-way through the second half I tweaked my hamstring. I played on hoping that it would loosen up. It didn’t really get worse throughout the match, but since then it has stiffened up and as a result I was unable to race this morning, cutting my sporting weekend short. The consolation is that I can relax at home and watch the finale to the F1.

Hoping to play again and maybe try and complete a weekend of rowing, football and running.

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23rd challenge completed – Rowing

After a crazy weekend of sport (parkrun, beach volleyball, tennis, mixed netball and marshaling at the Ealing Eagles 20 mile self-timed run) it was time for the rowing challenge.

I really wanted to join a ‘learn to row’ course, but it was proving too difficult to find a course that I could attend in its entirety so I decided that the best solution would be a 1-2-1 private lesson. My lesson was with the Team Keane Rowing Club in Chiswick. (http://www.teamkeane.com/)

Before the session I was quietly confident that I would be ok at rowing and that it could potentially be one of the sports that I continue following the completion of the challenge. I knew that rowing was a technical sport as well as a power sport but I don’t think I appreciated how important the technique part is. We started on the indoor rower to get a feel for some of the basics, before quickly heading down to the water in a double skull with my instructor, Claire. She talked through the components of the oar and the blades and explained the key element of the technique. At first I really struggled to put everything together but bit by bit we worked on individual aspects of the technique and I soon got the hang of it.

We spent around an hour on the water in total and I progressed more than I thought I would after just one session. I was looking to book another session, but luck has it that they are starting another ‘learn to row’ course in November, which I should be able to attend. The idea of these courses, is that by the end of it you should be able to start training with one of the men’s squads and therefore there is a chance that I could end up in a regatta before the challenge is up in 2016.

I really enjoyed this session so watch this space for more rowing updates in the future.

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