It was clear from day one I came into the sport too late and on the back-foot, but I’m still determined to give it a go! My last season at Leander was tough, but I learnt a lot and definitely improved both with my fitness and my technical prowess. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity which Leander provided to me, but with the extremely high standard of new applications I’m going it alone.
I say alone… I’ll have the lovely folks at Henley Rowing Club to keep me company!!
I’ll be following the Leander programme and aiming to spend this season really getting my times down, just in case a spot opens up over the year that I can nab. I am slightly gutted that I don’t get to spend another season in a big squad, as that was really the highlight of training at Leander – being surrounded by other like minded athletes created an excellent support network.
With regards to my blog. My iPad and WIX are not having a harmonious relationship, so a post intended for late July/early Aug only just got posted. I’ve shelved another post to be used at a later date so that my posts going forward are still relevant!
The next few days will probably consist of me feeling sorry for myself, but I’m determined to train myself out of this mental slump. Leander have kindly allowed me to join them for timed pieces and group cycles, so I’m certainly looking forward to those!
Henley T&V is an absolute corker of a regatta to end a season on. I raced Band 2 W.1x, wearing my trusty old Henley RC colours. It was a very lovely day (scorchio!) which always makes things 10x better, we were hit with some pretty naff wind which churned up the course so my first heat consisted of some of the worst sculling I’ve ever done - yet I still managed to claim a victory.
Im unsure if someone had scratched, but the race order for both my races was very different to the timetable I was working off! Instead of facing Cambridge LWT I was racing Falcon RC, which normally would be a stressful change but the marshalling team are so relaxed at this event that it wasn’t an issue.
The final was actually very exciting. The first 500m was quite tight between all three of us but with a squeeze I pulled away and took the final by several lengths - it was great fun!
The celebrations started pretty soon after the win and continued far into the night! Honestly I hadn’t lent loose in so long it was great - Everyone needs to let their hair down once in a while! I hadn’t even gone too wild over HRR!
I hugely recommend Henley Town & Visitors to anyone wanting to have a super fun, relaxing race (plus they have great pots!!)
Henley Womens Regatta - what a weekend of up's and downs!
Thank you so much for all the kind words of support and tips about beating nerves following my last blog post. I started the weekend in good spirits and with the wind playing ball I had a superb time trial, even before hearing the results I knew I had smash my race plan and delivered. Not getting updated draw results, TT results or anything like that via twitter or the website was incredibly frustrating. It sounds lazy for an athlete, but in that heat I did not want to do the trek from Leander to the HWR enclosure just to see if I had qualified. But, nevertheless, I had.
The most exciting race of the weekend was most certainly my heat on Friday against Wadham College, where I won by only 1ft. There was lots of opportunity I felt I could have gone through, but my opposition was one tough cookie! I must admit I am still not sure how to race 1500m, as I only did about 4 sprinting strokes at the end (which is where the victory was claimed), but I certainly could have done that earlier! Anyway, it was a great feeling and I gushed congratulations to my rival as gosh - it was so much fun.
The race on Saturday was...er... less fun. To say I had emptied the tank on Friday was an understatement! I knew I was not going to beat Cardiff Uni as she was a favourite to win going into the event, but I wanted to be within 2Ls. I felt strong until I was coming up to half way and I pulled a stroke which felt like the wind got kicked out my sails. I believe I was already 3L down by this point, but my reoccuring hip problem had decided to wiggle it's way into my stroke and those last strokes were pretty painful. I didn't learn much from that race, except that I have an awful start.
For my 4th ever side by side race in a single...I'd say I did quite well.
I must also congratulate the might Laura and Natasha from Leander for taking the win in championship pairs - those girls are frightfully strong and I can't wait to see them racing down the course at HRR (as I'm putting money on them qualifying - no pressure!!!)
In other news. I still think the competition structure and event criteria need looking at. In A1x we had the same situation which arose in S1x last year, where the fastest qualifier was almost 10s faster than the second fastest qualifier. From then onward it's a pretty close field. So how does this randomly fast sculler seem to make it past the entry criteria? Winner of BUCS 1x, training with Welsh Start and a GB triallist, I feel sometimes maybe entries should be looked at a little closer - not that it takes away from Siena's amazing performance, but I feel sorry that her only competition came in the form of Oxford Brookes - surely she would have liked some more interesting racing?
I have only looked at A1x in any serious detail. C1x had a seriously big spread of speeds, I hope that over the next few seasons this becomes a bit more clear cut as (hopefully) UK womens club rowing goes from strength to strength.
Would love to hear your thoughts on Henley Womens Regatta and their current competition frame work!
I have never been so nervous before in the run up to a regatta. This will be my third year competing at HWR, however my first without any squad members surrounding me. Racing a single has proved to be something I still struggle with and with the increased winds over this past week, every session be it paddle, or pieces has resulted in another blow to my confidence.
I am trying to keep my head held high and remain positive. I keep saying to people “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ll make it to Sunday” but…honestly? If I don’t end up qualifying I won’t be surprised (I will be upset, just not surprised). I’m going to give my all over the TT on Friday morning. Theoretically I should have gained some speed since MET, but the numbers aren’t showing this. Also, I’ve been on a ‘taper’ which has included exactly the same mileage as crew boats – to say I’m tired is an understatement!
What do you guys say to yourself to keep your mind in the right place? I really could use all the help you can offer!
I love Reddit. It actually took a long time for me to jump onto the Reddit train, but now I’m on it there’s no stopping me. My primary haunts are r/loseit (I’m still fat) and r/rowing (obviously), but I do also venture onto r/aaaawww (puppies!) and r/writingprompts. I enjoy the ‘shitposting’ and the memes of the rowing subreddit and also enjoy peering into the minds of predominantly American rowers – a breed which I think are quite different from their British counterparts.
I rarely post, as I enjoy just skulking my way through topics and reading the entertaining conversations (which revolve predominantly around Mike Teti and butter), but recently I’ve found myself replying on r/Loseit waaaaaay more than I usually do. That’s only because there’s been a bike spike in exercise related posts, but it has opened my eyes to the fitness community.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong on r/loseit. Although I have 5+KG I want to drop, I’m very different to the average poster. I’m not overweight. I’m not unfit (not that a huge percentage of the sub reddit are) and I’m not doing any interesting fad like keto or intermittent fasting (two popular topics). However, I do find it interesting to read their disgruntled views of the fitness community. Many redditors on loseit are trying to get fit along with losing weight, and it’s no surprise to me that generic fitness advice doesn’t suit everyone on the subreddit.
You'll notice I can't do complicated lifts and lift heavy at the same time...each to their own!
The huge craze of ‘LIFT HEAVY’ in the fitness commu nity has filtered into the weight loss community, and the frustrations that come with it are ever present. I have advised lots of my friends on fitness plans. They change depending on multiple factors: how fit they currently are, what their targets are, if they have an ideal body shape. You can’t just tell everyone to squat, bench press, dead lift and bench pull heavy 4 times a week and expect them to be happy. Aint gunna happen.
Then you sidle over to r/rowing and the answer to every question (I say everyone question…most questions on the subreddit revolve around a faster 2k) is MORE STEADY STATE. Which. Yeah. OK, I mean SS is really handy but if you can’t sprint you can’t do a 2k so…it ain’t the be all and end all.
This all in one is no longer pink and that upsets me...
There was not too much point to this post. But I just find Reddit a strangely amusing place. I still love stalking, but it has got to the point where I read a topic title and can guess what the top comment will be (humans beings are if nothing else, predictable!). Any of you enjoy the wonderful world of reddit? Or do you think it should be thrown in the bin alongside other online venting outlets.
Many people have different aspects of this illness that affect them most, and these aspects have ups and downs over the days/weeks/months. Personally, for me, I have two major problems which bother me most due to my depression.
1) My Memory.
My memory is absolutely awful, this is all linked to my depression. Why this is bad for me is primarily because taking medication every day is very difficult, little weekly pill boxes do absolutely nothing. It is not helped currently by my very bad financial situation meaning I cannot afford my prescriptions so I'm cutting my dosage just to eek it out.
What helps most is routine. If my pills are in a visible place next to something like my toothbrush or my coffee then I'll remember to take all of them, the more days in a row I manage this the better my memory gets and the less reliant on the routine I am. But it's a vicious cycle because I get comfortable and then suddenly it's been 3 days and I haven't taken any medication and I'm having baby scares and being generally unpleasant to my SO.
Although the daily medication aspect is perhaps the most dangerous part of a bad memory, it also comes along with other extremely frustrating moments. Being reminded 3 times to remember something and then not bringing it happens weekly. Forgetting the time I'm supposed to be meeting someone 5 mins after re-reading a message, again, weekly. Worse, though, is planning to do something and then completely forgetting. Not because I'm too busy. It just completely slips my mind as a task I needed to get done.
Just look at the regularity of this blog and you'll understand. When I was posting weekly, sometimes twice weekly, I had ample medication. I had my routine. I had my cat. Everything fed into my memory being in pretty good shape. It sounds stupid and like a bad excuse, but I honestly just forget to write. I can't believe my last post before the watch review was April 23rd, it feels like I write every week.
Not having any animals in my daily life anymore has had a big affect on my mood...
2) My Energy Levels
I'm pretty sure a lack of energy or motivation is a common trait amongst all sufferers of depression, but it sure does suck when you're an aspiring athlete. I am tired 90% of the time. A horrible type of tiredness which is hard to describe, because I sleep plenty. Although I am certain that being B12 deficient is also affecting this, the tiredness that depression brings is a difficult beast to tackle.
It's the kind of heavy eye tiredness which makes driving for me pretty dangerous. It's a tiredness which feels like your forehead has been attached to a heavy iron ball & chain and yet shoves your ears full of cotton wool at the same time. A tiredness which also seems to make you hungry, but you're not sure what for, as long as it gives you energy. My muscles ache due to training. But I'm sure they'd ache if I quit, because it's that kind of tiredness which depression causes, and it's an illness which afflicts so many athletes.
I did not want this blog to have so many posts about depression or anxiety, but as they are demons which cling onto my every day life it's something I find so easy to talk about.
If you're an athlete who, despite after 9 hours sleep, struggles to get up in the mornings. Or forgets what training sessions they have on that day. Or doesn't remember to pack socks. An athlete who has to grit their teeth and pull themselves through long sessions, even after a rest day, because their muscles ache as if they had the flu. Then please talk to someone, because although the answer may not be what you want to hear it may help you get stronger, fitter and faster.
So. It’s now been a few months since I’ve had the Garmin Vivoactive 3 and I now think I’ve taken it for enough of a spin to make my full and honest opinion. In short, I very much enjoy the watch and it’s a great training tool but still certainly has its downfalls.
The Garmin Vivoactive 3 is a multisport watch with built in wrist HRM, and as with all wrist based HRM that’s were it tends to fall flat. I use my watch primarily to track my rowing, however I’ve also tested it on runs, cycles, swims, ergs, indoor cycles and weights so I’ve tried it all (except golf…). I think the best way to break down my review is to split it into the sports, so I’ll start with the main one for me: rowing.
On the erg I split between either using the ErgIQ app which I downloaded, or just the ‘indoor rowing’ application already on the watch. Out of these I find the ErgIQ gives me the best data, though the concept2 PM5 set up at Leander seems to be slightly temperamental with whether they’ll pick the watch up or not. On days they don’t (which is more often then not) I switch to the indoor rowing app. I am not sure if I am missing something big here, but apart from telling me how long I’ve been going for and what my HR is…the indoor rowing app tells me absolutely nothing. I have never been able to pair my watch with an erg using this app, so although on Garmin Connect there’s a /500m pace section on the data field it always reads 0:00/500m for me so …pretty useless. Please tell me if I am doing this terribly wrong.
If using a chest strap with ANT+ monitor, then tracking your calories/HR with the watch during these work outs is very good. With the built-in wrist HRM it’s incredibly unreliable, especially when you’re doing harder pieces. I’ve apparently burnt an impressive ~60 calories during a 30min r20 test, when we all know that can easily clock in 400+.
On the water the same can be said again. With a chest strap the HR/calorie data is useful, without one it’s incredible hit or miss. It depends entirely on where/high tightly you’ve strapped your watch and what you happen to be doing. Except even during UT2 paddles it can think I don’t top 60bpm over 16Km which is entirely inaccurate. What is great however is the split tracking and also the SR – if you’re happy to keep peeping down at your wrist it’s very accurate.
I tested all this alongside a speed coach during 500m pieces and the two matched up excellently. On the fly the watch will only tell you splits in 5’s (2:40 or 2:45), but in the app it can break it down more than that and give accurate data which matches the speed coach. Annoyingly, strapping the watch to a blade doesn’t let you monitor stroke rate and nor does strapping it to a rigger, obviously. When I fix my stroke coach my plan is to strap it to my rigger for the pace and use the stroke coach for rate…but that’s only if I can resurrect it. Honestly for me I’m at the stage with my sculling where rates aren’t too much as I can barely break 30!
Using this watch for rowing has boosted my confidence, helped me see all my improvements and also highlighted to me how much conditions can affect your speed.
I took this watch on a few runs, and this is an activity where I have found the wrist based HRM to be perfectly OK. Being able to look at my splits without getting my phone out was also very handy and I could also change my music so all in all made for some nice running experiences (I usually hold my phone in my hand so was nice to not get the cramp 2 miles in). One thing I would like to see is the ability to view a map whilst running and pre-input routes. You can pre-select work outs to do and Garmin have several distance related training programmes which are really handy, but being able to not get lost on a new running route would be incredibly useful (for example my fathers Samsung Gear 3 has this feature).
For indoor cycling I’ve had the exact same issues as I did with the indoor rowing app. I have absolutely no idea how to set it up to enable the watch to pick up what the bike is doing, despite the bike having ANT+ capabilities. I should probably google this as I’m 95% sure it’s user error! However, I must say it’s very good at tracking HR using just the inbuilt wrist HRM and pairing it with some training programmes (again downloadable) actually makes indoor cycling that much more enjoyable than it is.
I have only taken it on one, very short, road cycle but I enjoyed the data I got from that. If I was fully decked out in Garmin gear as well it’s very cool that you can control all of them from your watch. Again, the wrist based HRM seemed to do a perfectly good job with the cycling. It blipped occasionally and read unrealistically low, but I believe that was whenever my wrist was at an odd angle due to my awful hill climbing abilities.
I had issues with this swimming app… The wrist based HRM just stops working in water, which is understandable as almost all HRM’s stop working unless they are specific for swimming. However, the lack of complete customisation was frustrating. Although the app has lots of ‘pool lengths’ you can choose from, I found no way to input my own pool length info.
There was no open water swimming app already on the phone, but I have since downloaded another app which is based off GPS. It hasn’t been tested yet, but I’m hopefully it’ll correct this big downer for me. I was swimming in a pool which was 12.5 meters, so all of my data is squiffed because I’ve actually done half the distance. Someone suggested just using the running app, but as that doesn’t turn off the HRM I was nervous to give it a go and risk exploding my wrist.
The strength stuff was fun when I first started using it. The watch tried to pick up what exercise you are doing and then all you do is input the weight but looking back it does make a lot of mistakes. Reps for exercises like bench pull (which doesn’t really exist in the Garmin list of exercises) are usually counted twice, purely due to the movement involved and weights can only be input in round numbers. This meant a lot of my weights were input as 37kg instead of 37.5kg for example which bugs my perfection brain.
Although I stuck to using the stretch stuff for a good 6 weeks, the novelty wore off. I track all my exercises/weights/reps in a strength diary anyway, so it was info I didn’t need and the number of times I forgot to ‘start a new set’ got tedious. I haven’t investigated this on Garmin Connect too much, but if there was a way to select a pre-written weights or circuit programme to use with the watch then that would be a lot cooler in my mind.
Overall, I’m extremely happy I’ve got this watch. There is most definitely 1000’s more awesome things it can do which I have not explored, but as I primarily got it to monitor my OTW rowing sessions then it ticked pretty much all the boxes. When paired with a chest HR strap it’s truly an excellent piece of kit, as it allows me to monitor how fatigued I am.
How many of you have a watch you use to track your rowing? I’d love to know what you thought!