Now that almost everyone is in full on spring-season mode I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the best way to prepare for a 2k and how to do well on it. One of the more popular posts on the blog (#2 or #3 currently) is this post I wrote on 2k strategy (linked below) back in 2012. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out.
Below are three more tips on how to prep for a 2k in the days before your test. Coxswains, pay particular attention to the last one.
Seriously, get plenty of sleep. For at least the 2-3 days leading up to your test try to make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you have to wake up at 7am for school, commit to going to bed by 10:30pm or so. I always end up laying in bed scrolling through Instagram for about 30 minutes (or more) before I actually fall asleep so whenever I know I need to be in bed by a certain time I always factor in a 20-30min buffer, that way I’m actually falling asleep roughly around when I’d initially planned to go to bed. Your body needs time to recover and a lot of that recovery happens when you’re sleeping so if you’re not getting enough, especially before a 2k, then you’re kinda putting a ceiling on your performance.
Same as the sleep thing, for at least 2-3 days before your test make sure you’re drinking a lot of water. I’ve started carrying around a 32oz Nalgene and trying to drink one of those every day. Obviously while you’re training you’ll need a bit more than that (I think most of our guys probably try to drink at least two full Nalgenes each day if I had to guess) so I would carry a water bottle around with you and drink it throughout the day so you can ensure you’re properly hydrated.
More than anything, staying hydrated will help keep your heart rate from skyrocketing during your test, which is important. When you’re dehydrated your blood is thicker which means your heart has to work harder to pump it throughout your body to your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. When you’re working hard like you are during a 2k you don’t want your heart rate to be spiking like that because it just makes you feel heavy and fatigued and uncomfortable a lot sooner than you otherwise would.
Related: So this might sound funny but why am I always hungry?I I’m a high school girl and I began rowing about a year ago so while I have my general bearings, I’m still learning something new about the sport everyday and I was just curious. Ever since I’ve started rowing I’ve noticed that I have a much bigger appetite than when I participated in other sports. Is it just cause I’m a growing teenager or is this every rower?
In addition to drinking water, make sure you’re eating good foods. If you don’t typically have a healthy diet try to start making small changes and replacing the food that’s not doing anything for you nutritionally with healthier options. Definitely make sure you’re eating breakfast, even if it’s just some toast or a banana, and try to eat several small meals throughout the day instead only two or three big meals. This will help keep you fuller for longer and avoid any mindless snacking.
Eating healthy while you’re training is a good habit to get into in general but it’s also important leading up to a test or race. It’s like fueling your Maserati with regular gas vs. premium. It’ll still run on regular but it’s not going to run as efficiently as it would with premium and it might end up hurting the engine in the long run. Same thing applies with the food you eat.
Have a plan
I posted this picture on Instagram a couple weeks ago after our guys did their second 2k test of the season. Something we’ve started doing with them this year is having them write out on a note card how they’re envisioning their race plan and taping it either on the side of their screen or down near the handle rest. It’s honestly more for them than it is for us but it’s also been a great tool for the coxswains as well because they can see what your goals are in terms of splits and overall time and use that to cox them.
Some of the guys have also written down specific things they want the coxswains to say (including if they want a specific coxswain to cox them, which you can see on that picture) which is also really helpful for us and them. If you don’t want to be coxed this is also a great place to write that down (large enough that it’s visible) so the coxswains/coaches know not to bother you.
When it comes to having and writing out your plan, it doesn’t need to be super detailed. All these guys are engineers so they’re super methodical about pretty much everything but there are a few guys who keep things simple and just write down the splits they want to hold for each 500m. Others write down little reminders to themselves, like “breathe” or a technical focus that they’ve been working on recently. There’s really no right or wrong way to do this, just write down what works for you.
Ultimately what it does it break down the race into smaller, more manageable components and gives you targets/mini-goals to go after … that way once you’ve passed them it’s a kind of like a little mental victory which can be a huge motivating factor as you get closer to the end. We’ve gotten pretty positive feedback from the guys (and the coxswains) so it’s definitely something I’d recommend trying at least once.