I am doing an 8k sometime this week. I’ve done a 30′ piece before, and I’ve done a few 4k but nothing like this. My split for the 30 minute piece was 2:05.8 but that barely got me into the top 16. I’ve improved a small bit since then but not much. Recently I’ve been making top 3-5 on our erg pieces and I really want to make the first boat, however I know about 3k into it, I’m going to be telling myself I really don’t care and it’s not worth it. How can I approach this physically and mentally?
Have a plan. Break the piece down into whatever size chunks you want (8x1k, 4x2k, etc.) and plot out roughly what splits you want to shoot for during each chunk. Be reasonable and realistic with these. It’s better to say your goal is a 2:05 split and then actually be at 2:04.6 instead of shooting for 2:03 and then being above for the majority of the piece.
Mentally, think about this. You said you want to make the first boat but you also said that 3k in you’re going to be saying you don’t care and it’s not worth it. I think all rowers question whether or not it’s worth it while they’re in the pain cave but deep down they know it is otherwise they wouldn’t have started the piece in the first place. No one that’s truly serious about the sport or making the top boat would say to themselves that they just don’t care in the middle of the piece though, no matter how arduous it is. If making that top boat is your goal then putting yourself through 8000m of pain is worth it by default.
Pushing yourself for that long is going to test your endurance, it’s going to hurt, and at some point you are going to want to quit. What makes you a stronger, more resilient athlete isn’t pulling the fastest splits or coming in first, it’s pushing through the pain and finishing the piece regardless of what happens in the middle. As a coxswain (and a coach) I obviously want fast people in my boats but even more so than that, I want people who know what pain feels like and who know how to overcome it.