“LOST” – THE C.R.A.S.H.-B. CONUNDRUM

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“THE C.R.A.S.H.-B. CONUNDRUM”

It happens every year.

Thousands of athletes travel to Boston, MA to rowing’s equivalent of the Super Bowl. Or maybe the Philadelphia “Wing Bowl”, because it truly is a spectacle.

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Photo Credit: greglesher.blogspot.com

Four of my athletes competed last week at the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S, and only one came out successful. I finally realized that this event has always mystified me. In the seven years that I actually competed at the event, I only really did well twice. In my first year, I didn’t know any better, and pulled a personal best time as a lightweight. In 2005, my final year, I just stuck to my race plan, and somehow “won” my heat in exciting fashion.

That’s it.

What is it about the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S?!?

I want to preface this blog by saying I absolutely love  the C.R.A.S.H.-B’s. It is a  great race and event.

However, when writers cover the event, their articles are about the athletes with inspirational stories, the rowing “celebrities” that happen to attend, and the world records that are broken. Meanwhile nothing is ever written about the thousands of other athletes that go there only to have their souls crushed by failure.

C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is a conundrum. It is the Bermuda Triangle of indoor rowing competitions. You never know how it is going to play out.

LOST

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“And it started out with such promise…”

When you first arrive, you literally forget how you arrived and why you are there.

Like the passengers of Oceanic 6 in the television series LOST  we  convince ourselves that we were brought to the Agganis Arena for a reason. In the end, we realize that even the writers had no idea how the story was going to end.

I have written about “2k Anxiety“, and the fact is that C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is too overwhelming.  Too stimulating. Too confusing.

High school athletes and parents always ask me for advice on whether it is worth going up to Boston. I look at them and simply say, “You should only go if you know you are going to pull a personal best, or you are going to win.”

Otherwise, just plan on being disappointed.

Even if you could go to Boston with the right mindset, there might be too many distractions there to overwhelm you.

“THE OTHERS”

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“Who ARE these people?”

Maybe it is just because the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S is in a hockey arena.  The atmosphere is much different than a rowing venue. When you are sitting in the stands, it becomes very easy to be engrossed by everything.

Too many tastes, smells, sounds, and other peopleYou can spend your whole afternoon just people watching. The air is thick with drama, and very soon it is time for your event. Even if you are able to tune out everything, you still have to interact with other people.

“Hey bro, are you done using that erg. I need to warm up…”

Not enough ergs. And constantly bumping into other people as you wait in line at the restroom or concession stands. And all the other people want to talk to you…

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“Pay no attention to that carnage behind the curtain…”

“What a feeling,” as you wait in line in agony for your event behind a heavy curtain. Much like the final audition in “Flashdance”.

“The Dharma Initiative”

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“I’ll see you in another life, brother!”

Even if you arrive with a good plan, the plan may unravel. You can map out your whole routine right up until your event, however a single misstep will throw you off. C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S contains too many uncontrollable variables.

It is impossible to predict every scenario, and athletes that are creatures of habit will find themselves uncomfortable. Boston traffic, parking issues, and event delays are all out of the athletes’ control. Therefore the “organized” athlete will be out of their element.

“Your heat has been delayed for another 20 minutes…”

Desmond had to push the button every 108 minutes. Then he was distracted, and then plane came crashing down.

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Photo Credit: Row2k

Are you ready to adapt your plan? Are you able to anticipate the things you do not know know about yet?

Like no toilet paper? (That’s only a joke… 🙂 )

“THE MAN IN BLACK VS. JACOB”

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“I wanted them to know…the difference between right and wrong without me telling them. It’s all useless if I have to make them do anything.”

At the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S, athletes are taken out of their element. They are in a unfamiliar place watching athletes and coaches do things differently. Athletes from other programs and countries will prepare for the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S in a different way.

Observing these “bizarre” methods will challenge your core beliefs. Especially when the athlete next to you pulls a personal best time with a rowing style or warm-up method you are not familiar with.

“Why is he pulling the handle over his head?”

Whether you frown upon their rowing technique or wish your own rowing technique was better, you end up questioning yourself, your coach, and why you are even there…

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“I thought headphones weren’t allowed…”

The focus on your original mission has ended; you begin focusing everything that is wrong in the world.

Thank goodness the GOP Debate was a week later…

“THE SMOKE MONSTER”

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“Okay, that thing in the woods, maybe it’s a monster, maybe it’s a p***ed off giraffe, I don’t know. “

You would think that those that thrive on competition, would always do their best at the C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S. In many cases they are the only ones that pull a personal best time.

With so much competition around, you begin picking out your targets. It is impossible to hold back your adrenaline because the arena oozes adrenaline.

“I am going to beat my time… I am definitely going to beat that CrossFit dude with no shirt on…”

“Oh WAIT, there’s GRAHAM BENTON!”

BOOM! You go out too fast.

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Photo Credit: Row2k and US Rowing

I would love the opportunity to pick the brain of Graham Benton or even the inspiring 95 year-old, Steve Richardson, who broke the World Record. How do they handle that pressure? Perhaps Mr. Richardson was just there to beat his previous time, and to beat all the other 95 year-olds.

And maybe he was just really p***ed that there wasn’t anyone else to race in his age group.

“MORAL OF THE STORY”

I don’t know…

In the 35 years of existence,  the  C.R.A.S.H.-B.’S has produced some amazing performances. Perhaps that is what makes the event the true World Indoor Rowing Championships, because athletes must rise above all the psychological hurdles – the overwhelming masses, the tempting distractions, the conflicting philosophies, and the unbelievable competition.

The tradition will continue to go on, even with the new threat of virtual regattas like the 2016 World Rowing Indoor Sprints and ROW’D Royalty.

Athletes will continue to compete at this rowing mecca to find their “heart” on this island…

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“What the hell was this?!?”

Or maybe  C.R.A.S.H.-B’S is just a purgatory where we all go to meet before we die…

 

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Oh shut up Jacob…

 

 

For more information on Strength and Conditioning for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells, AthleteDISC, and the Process Communication Model® follow my blog or like me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.

 

WHICH ERG SCREEN ARE YOU?

 

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THE ERG SCREEN

The Concept II Rowing Machine or “Erg” has come a long way since I was in college. Since the Model “D” was introduced, owners have had the luxury of using the PM3, PM4, and now PM5 monitors. If you are new to indoor rowing, here are some of the screens we used to have to stare at:

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PM1 – For the Model “B”

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PM2 – For the Model “C”

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Bicycle Speedometer – For the Model “A”

 

 

 

 

 

The newer PM4 gives you access to a ton of training data, record results with a log card, as well the option to play the Fish Game (which I hate, but that is another story).

"The Fish Game...ugh"

“The Fish Game…ugh”

Usually, your coach will determine which screen you will use during a workout. It is important to them because they want to monitor and record your training data as you complete the workout.

It is your choice as well, because you want to get the most out your workout. The data will always be there in the end, therefore maybe it is time for you to explore which screen you might choose to get the best result.

PROCESS COMMUNICATION MODEL®

"Yes, you do..."

“Yes, you do…”

I have many athletes that use the indoor rowing machine that hate it.

One of the main reasons they hate it is because they have to stare at the screen every single stroke. This past month, I explored “2k Anxiety” and how to overcome it. Using the AthleteDISC profile allows you to become aware of your behavior and have the ability to change it to yield a positive result.

The Process Communication Model® digs a little deeper. It gives you further insight on your personality and why you make the choices you make.

In November, I wrote about my daughter and the Process Communication Model® . As a PCM Certified Trainer, I find Athletic Profiling has been very useful to my athletes and I because we are able to understand and control all the variables.

We can also eliminate the variables that don’t matter.

CHOOSE YOUR SCREEN

Which erg screen are you? There are 5 options on the current PM3, PM4, and PM5 models. Let’s review the six personality types and which screen the pure personality type may choose.

THE STANDARD SCREEN – Persister

"Straight shooter here..."

“Straight shooter here…”

The Persister personality type will choose the standard screen for two reasons:

#1 This is the screen that most coaches will choose. It is also the screen you will see at most indoor rowing competitions.

#2 It gives them just enough data.

Persisters insist on doing what is right. Assisting their coach and helping the team is the #1 priority. Even if they do not enjoy using this screen, they want to follow the program. Having too much data is okay, however the Persister would just rather focus on one or two pieces of information – the average split, meters, or stroke rate. Persisters would like the entire team to use the same screen.

THE DATA SCREEN – Thinker

"Where is my HR monitor strap?"

“Where is my HR monitor strap?”

The Thinker personality type needs more information. The fact that the data screen allows them to see it all in one place is even better. As a strong thinker AND persister, I could go either way. It all depends on how important the workout is to me. Allow your Thinkers to absorb all the data they need because the sixth 500 meter split is just as important as the last 500 meter split.

They will also be able to predict and provide you the mean average deviation of the team’s average 500 meters compared to the 5k you did 2 years ago on that rainy day in April…just because!

THE FORCE CURVE SCREEN – Imaginer

"Too much legs at the front end, let's try..."

“Hmm..Too much legs at the front end…”

The Imaginer personality type is okay with data. However, rowing is about how the boat and the athletes move together. Imaginers would rather focus on the rhythm and pace of their piece.

"New Age Philosophy Major"

“New Age Philosophy Major”

The force curve screen is perfect for them because they will be able to focus on what their stroke looks and feels like so they can optimize it. Meanwhile the coach STILL can see the data that is important. Imaginers understand they need to go fast, however too much information and distraction may overwhelm them. Provide your Imaginers with the “ideal” curve and give them time and space to figure out how to create it.  I have been exploring my Imaginer side for the last 3 to 4 years. I enjoy training alone now, and I enjoy dissecting every stroke. The split is not so important.

THE PACE BOAT SCREEN – Promoter

"I TOTALLY got this..."

“I TOTALLY got this…”

Why don’t more athletes or coaches use the pace boat screen? The Promoter personality type says, “I race better on the water because I’m racing another boat.”

Give them what they want. Just because you want them to focus on pacing themselves or fixing their technique will not change the fact that you want them to race and pull a personal best on their next test. Set the pace boat. Maybe not at their goal pace, but a little bit slower, so they know they can win. Promoters want to win and be the best. Get out of their way and let them do their thing.

I use the pace boat screen a lot now with my athletes. It makes it easy to set attainable goals within the session. As a current Promoter, I want results out of every training session.

Race plans should be loose, because athletes can adapt on the fly. Even if they are behind with 300 meters to go, you may witness the most epic sprint because THAT’S WHAT THEY DO!

THE WATTS SCREEN  – Rebel

"Just Because..."

“Just Because…”

Data, Racing, Force Curves…um, it all sounds good, but your Rebel personality type will just choose the Watts screen that is left because they want to be different.

Rebels will get the job done, but if you force them to do things your way or the team’s way then you might run into trouble. Offer them the Watts screen first and they may just laugh.

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“Coach, how am I going to know how fast I am pulling?” And they will choose another screen.

Having playful contact with my Rebels allows me to step outside the seriousness of training because I need to remember training is fun!

They may just surprise you. Rebels are creative you know. If you have a set race plan, give them the space to be creative. They may come up with the next new pacing strategy strictly off of Watts.

THE MAJORITY – Harmonizer

The Harmonizer personality type will choose the majority. It is important to do what the team wants and be supportive. Harmonizers will not rock the boat, and will make sure everyone is on the same page. If a Harmonizer is sitting next to a Rebel then you may have two athletes using the Watts screen because the Harmonizer doesn’t want anyone to feel left out.

"YOLO..."

“YOLO…”

I will always support that, even if it means the Harmonizer doesn’t do as well on their test.  Creating team culture is sometimes more important than the training sessions.  Harmonizers also want to be healthy and strong so doing “calorie” workouts are a great way to shake things up for them.

DOES THIS APPLY TO OTHER CARDIO MACHINES?

"What do you gravitate towards?"

“What do you gravitate towards?”

Absolutely! A treadmill or elliptical machine has all the same data, so what information to you prefer to stare at for the duration of your workout?

MORAL OF THE STORY

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Which erg screen are you?

As an athlete, you should go with your gut. Which screen do you WANT to use? Have you ever considered using it?

As a coach, are you okay with allowing athletes to choose their screen? In the end you are still getting the data you need.

Every athlete understands that on the water they do not have control of what they see and hear. However, if you want to build confidence and get the best performance out of each of your athletes then maybe it is time for you to shift the way you think?

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Are you ready Leo Young?

What do you say coach?

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“Aki Kurose Middle School 10-min indoor relay World Record, Dec 2011”

For more information on training programs for rowing, rowing technique, Kettlebells, Clubbells, DISC, and Process Communication like me on Facebook at RUFO OPTIMAL WORKOUTS.

Last chance to check out the DISC2K – Philadelphia Seminar on January 9th, 2016!

Online consulting and Skype sessions also available.