Rowing for Runners

Last night I went to a great into to rowing workshop at Maine Running Company.

I was excited when I saw the sign-up on their Facebook page because I've hopped on a rower at the gym quite a few times but never really knew what I was doing. I never felt like I was getting a great workout and I usually ended up with a sore back, so I knew I was doing something wrong! Here are the top 5 things I learned. 

1. Rowing is more of a pushing motion than pulling. Most of the force for your stroke should come from your legs, not your arms. The pull comes at the very end of the stroke after your legs are fully extended. I had been using my upper-body way too early and too much, which probably contributed to my back soreness.

2. Your resistance should be set at 3-4 to simulate endurance running. I always cranked my resistance all the way up thinking that would provide the best workout. Higher resistance is good for short, strength building workouts, while lower resistance is better for longer, endurance focused workouts.

3. Rowing is a great core workout. In fact your core is critical to good rowing form. As you are pushing with your legs your shoulders should be forward of your hips (at about 11 o'clock if you think of your body as clock with your head as 12). Then as you finish your pull with your upperbody you lean back to about 1 o'clock. It is your core driving and supporting your body during this movement.

4. Your stroke rate does not correlate to effort. I always thought that to work harder I had to row faster. Instead, you can do short powerful pull and then a longer, slower recovery. You will be working harder but maintaining the same stroke rate as steady state rowing.

5. Rowing can be fun! I tend to get bored after about 5 minutes on the rower at the gym, but last night I went for 20 straight minutes and the time flew by. We did a group workout where we constantly alternated our effort, stroke rate, and competing against each other. I really want to try a group rowing class now.

Do you integrate rowing into your cross training?