Here’s How I Would Handle the Rowing Event at the CrossFit Games

crashbThere were a bunch of announcements for the 2013 CrossFit Games on Monday night, including the surprise announcement of a half marathon row on the Concept2. The row is two scored events, with 100 points available for the top 2000 meter split and another 100 for the 21,097 finish. I think this is a great event, not because I’m a rower, but because it signals that endurance events are here to stay in CrossFit. Last year we had the Camp Pendleton triathlon and the year before was the long Beach Murph. If you’re not mixing in long distance stuff into your training, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Here’s how I would tackle the rowing event. If I was one of the Games athletes and I knew I could pull a kickass 2K time, say somewhere around 6:20 (for males), I’d go balls out and try to win or get top 5 on the 2K. For the rest of the distance, I’d spend some of the time doing recovery strokes (low and easy) and then slowly build back into a strong pace once I felt recovered. Ideally, I would finish in the upper 3rd or better on Row 2. Unless one of the Games athletes has a rowing background, I don’t think it’s possible to win both events…but you never know. The guys and gals who are taller and have good technique have a nice advantage on this event. The short, light guys are screwed.

A 2K row all-out is a lot like doing a double Fran. You’ll feel strong and fast for the first half, then it’s a soul destroyer for the second half. Fortunately, there’s plenty of time to recover on a half marathon.

One issue on long rows on the Concept2, especially anything over an hour, is your butt goes numb and you can experience shooting pains through your hips, back, and hamstrings. If they allow it, I highly recommend using a rowing butt pad, which you can find on Amazon or numerous other sites. If you can’t get one, get a piece of foam at the hardware store and cut it to fit the seat. It will save you a ton of grief in the second half of the row.

For stroke rate, I would go 35-36 for the 2K, then around 18-20 for my recovery stretch, then build to around 24-26 for the remainder of the half marathon, with a big push in the last 2-3K meters.

Here’s a basic race plan for a 2000 meter piece:
Start sequence, as fast as possible for 10-12 strokes, rate should be around 40 with low splits
Settle to base rate, s.r. 35-36
Power 20 at the 1K mark, as hard as possible
Sprint the last 250 meters, as fast as possible

I’ll definitely be watching this event online. The 2K race will be fascinating to see how everyone handles it. My call is the winning men’s time will be around 6:20 and the winning women’s time will be around 7:25. Oh yeah, I think Bridges is winning Pool event and the Naughty Nancy.