When you tell other people you are a rower, they instantly assume many things.
Exhibit A: “I’m a rower.” Response: “Oh, you must have super strong arms!” *cue your biceps being groped without permission*
Exhibit B: “I’m a rower.” Response: “Wow, you must be really fit!” *cue your internal shame because you ate McDonalds for dinner last night*
Exhibit C: “I’m a rower.” Response: “Oh my gosh, you must be so used to waking up early!” *cue eye roll*
While some of these may be true, not all rowers are the spitting image of that perfect, toned athlete. And, more so, being a rower doesn’t make you a morning person!
All those mornings where you beat the sun to rise, hands stiff and cold as you fumble for your lycra and blearily make your way to training, it definitely doesn’t mean you’re ‘used’ to waking up early!
Some people naturally bounce out of bed before sunrise, while others, despite how much sleep they’ve had, still struggle. Today, this article is for all those out there, still rubbing sleep from their eyes as haul their backsides onto the water.
1. Get enough sleep before an early row
This one is a no-brainer, but it’s number 1 because of how important it is. Getting enough sleep isn’t just to achieve a functioning state of mind during the day, but it can also help with recovery. The human body enters a state of rest, recuperation and repair when unconscious. When you think about how much effort and stress your body goes through when training for rowing, you’ll need all the recovery help you can get.
Sleeping enough hours should the minimal baseline. The amount of deep sleep is most important, and if you’re tossing and turning a lot at night, you may need more than the average recommended eight hours. There are a lot of free sleep apps for smartphones, or if you want more complex data, activity trackers and wearables, that can track your sleep habits. You’ll be able to calculate how many hours will provide enough deep sleep to aid your body in a faster recovery.
2. Eat properly and fuel your empty body
You know to not consume caffeine or alcohol before an early morning. A dinner that’s low in fat yet high in complex carbs can aid in a better night’s rest, but what about the next morning? Many rowers you know, perhaps even including yourself, may fly out the door with just enough time to grab your house keys, but your body won’t have the adequate sustenance to support a gruelling morning. Taking enough time in the morning to help your brain adjust and to consume some protein can go a long way in your training, and also your recovery.
You wouldn’t embark on a road trip with an empty fuel tank, so why would you do the same to a much more important vessel – your body? You’ll have processed the complex carbs from the night before, so restock and replenish before you head out. Protein can keep you fuller for longer, and there are even certain types that improve your memory (such as a specific protein called choline, found in eggs). A protein-rich snack in the morning can also aid in muscle recovery, so you’re able to get spring into shape quicker than usual.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of relief when you know where everything is and aren’t rushing around looking for lost equipment. This starts in the boathouse.
Keeping your boathouse organised and clean is extremely important for health and safety, but can also aid in saving you time in the morning. If your storage system is not orderly, you’d probably have to wake up earlier just to have enough time to access your boat and waste valuable time sorting it out. It is also a sign of respect when you keep things tidy – for your equipment, for your rowing club, and towards others that also use the equipment.
Staying organised can also expand to other areas of your life to help you get up on time. Sort everything the night before, because, especially if you are not a morning person, your body will thank you for it the next morning. You won’t have to rush, panic or chance being late – something your coach is probably glad about too!
So there you have it – tips that’ll help your early mornings go all the smoother. With enough dedication and effort, your body clock will adjust to these early mornings. And, once on the water with the rising sun glistening off the peaceful waves, it’ll be worth it.