In 2011, when I took some time off for my injury-that-wasn’t-an-injury (calf tightness that got better with a TON of stretching, but which I at first thought might be a stress fracture), I happened upon an article in Competitor magazine (the “free” rag that you pay for later by registering for the exorbitant Rock & Roll series that is advertised ad nauseum in the magazine) about the benefits of rowing for injured runners. It came at a perfect time.
The only thing I knew about rowing at that point is that the Mark Zuckerburg nemeses, the Winkelvoss twins, did it, and that the special effects to get two Armie Hammer’s in a rowing boat in The Social Network were pretty awesome.
Me, all I knew was that there were two lonely rowing machines in the corner of the gym and that I’d never, ever, have to wait to row if I wanted to. So I hopped on one of them. The article had espoused the benefits of this exercise as one that would help maintain your cardio strength while resting your legs. It had also detailed how to achieve proper form, and though I’m sure I’m not doing it like a Winkelvoss, I’ve not hurt myself yet.
It is, in fact, a great workout, and the more I do it, the more I enjoy it. I like to try and beat the clock’s estimate on when I will complete my distance. It’s also perfect for summer months when I’ve worn my body out from intense fall, winter and spring training. Plus it’s indoors and I don’t have to be outside in the muggy Atlanta summer months. Bonus. It does make my bum sore from sitting on the hard seat. And I’ll finish and my legs will be like “Uh, hey! Remember us?” It’s a completely different cardio experience, ’cause most everything in rowing is upper body. But that’s kind of the point, right? It keeps my cardio up and demands nothing of my thrashed lower body when it’s in a need-recovery phase.
I’ve actually come to be so fond of rowing that I’d love to get out on an actual body of water and row. I remember one time, years ago, my husband and I went to Lake Lanier, to the site of the 1996 Olympic rowing venue for a demo day. The only thing I really remember is that the folks there spent a lot of time ooh-ing and ahh-ing over our long legs. Apparently that is an asset in the sport. While rowing didn’t take then, I am far more interested in it now.
But let’s be honest. It is an interest that I’m sure will wane again the minute I can lace up and get back on the road. I’m just a User. A User of Rowing for the cardiovascular benefits it provides me in my off-seasons. Hey, if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. But Rowing, you’re a passing fling. Hey, don’t cry… We can still be friends, and I’ll hit ya up next summer, okay?