May 19, 2014
Harvard University Crew members and coaches advise CrossFit athletes to use pacing to become more efficient on the rowing machine.
For many CrossFit athletes, the rowing machine is like a first date: a blend of dread and discomfort. The problem often isn’t a lack of fitness but a lack of understanding of pace.
“I think I held around a 2:00 or a 2:20 pace on that 2-km row,” is a line many a CrossFit athlete has mumbled while stumbling away from the machine.
Holding a 2:00 pace at the start of a 2-km piece and tumbling to a 2:20 pace in the last 500 m is like a runner sprinting the first 400 m of a 1,600-m run and then walking the last 400. No runner in his or her right mind would consider doing that in a race—and no CrossFit athlete’s pace should fall off by 20 seconds during a 2-km row.
One of the difficulties in nailing down a pace is that rowing is generally more foreign than running to many, so athletes don’t realize they’re sprinting too hard because they aren’t sure what a rowing sprint feels like. Luckily, the monitor on an indoor rowing machine gives you instant feedback, so you never have to guess how fast you’re going.
The key is paying attention to the numbers on the monitor.