Do you have any advice on tackling a verrrrry long steady state erg piece without music?
Focus and concentration. Take each stroke one at a time and focus on making each one a little better than the last one. Try not to pay too much attention to the overall meters – when you’re tired and sore, the number of meters you have left just looks like a black hole. If you can, just put the screen up so you don’t have to look at it for awhile. Otherwise, break the piece down in chunks and give yourself a “technical focus” for each 500m or 1000m. For example, the first set’s focus is connection with the feet, second set’s is sitting up tall on the recovery and keeping your core tight, 3rd set’s is a quick turnaround with the hands, 4th set’s is visualizing the stokes your taking on the erg as stokes in the boat, 5th set’s is controlling your breathing, etc. This will give you something to direct your mind towards OTHER than the number of meters you have left.
If you know what you need to work on, spend some time doing that now. Have your coach or coxswain come watch you so that when you’re finished, not only will you have gotten a workout but you’ve also gotten some feedback out of it too. I talked a bit about negative splitting the other day, which is something you can also utilize in situations like this. Instead of bringing your split down every 500m, bring it down every 1500m or something similar. If your steady state is doubling as a test, negative splits are a good strategy to utilize. It gives you something else to focus on, especially as you get closer to the end of the piece. As you get more fatigued, the amount of power your body can produce will start to fall off, which you don’t want, so focusing on staying within a +/- 2-3 second range is another way to keep your mind occupied as you near the finish line.
The one thing you don’t want to do though, like I said, is just focus on the meters. The only thing longer than microwave minute is an erg minute, and when you’re doing steady state pieces, erg minutes last ten times longer than microwave minutes. If you spend your time watching the meters tick down, you’re going to eventually get frustrated because, even though you see them decreasing, it doesn’t feel like you’re going anywhere. Frustration leads to waning focus which leads to mental blocks which can lead to you getting off the erg before you’re ready. Take a couple closed-eyed deep breath before you start and remember: one stroke at a time.