How I rowed 50m meters -

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How I rowed 50m meters -

Post by sunship » April 29th, 2024, 3:57 pm

How I rowed 50 million meters.

I recently hit the coveted “50 million meter” mark on my Concept2 rower, which at first blush doesn’t sound like a lot. But when you break it down, it becomes daunting. “50 million meters rowed” means 2,370 half-marathons, which done every single day would take 6.5 years. At roughly two hours per half marathon, that’s 4,740 hours of rowing, or almost 200 days of continuous rowing, totaling more than half of a year.

Why I did it?

In the mid-90s, I worked out at the local Y in a dreary Saginaw, Michigan. Getting tired of the treadmill, I gave the rower in the corner a try – a Concept2 Model B. Immediately, I was hooked. The following year, in law school, I used the “rower” in the school gym, but shortly thereafter adopted a dog, and together we turned to running outdoors.

After some years of running, I decided to sell my carbon fiber bike on eBay. Getting $1,000 for the bike I said, “I have to do something useful with this money” – so I bought my Model C. Getting the ergometer, I remember not knowing at all what to do – how do I row? How much should I row? This led the Model C to become a conversation piece in my living room, and not much more.

A few years later, the inevitable happened – my weight started to creep upwards. So, to accompany my watching of “Cops” on TV, I rowed in 30-minute intervals. Some more years went by and the C2 went neglected yet again, this time in the basement, while I continued to drink more beer than I deserved. As it happens, my weight didn’t sleep, and it continued to creep upwards yet again. Then, one day, when lifting my beloved dog, Elvis, into my truck, I pulled my back muscles quite badly. I knew at that point a change was needed – a big one. At 5’11”, I was around 200 lbs., much more than BMI tables suggested.

My first “serious” rowing started in 2010 in my basement, with Netflix. At first, with their DVDs, then via Roku. I remember watching 100 episodes of “Nip Tuck” at full volume – since subtitles were scarce then, all while rowing away. I finally found my groove in half marathons – around two hours of rowing daily, and my weight started to drop. This has been my regimen to this day, with it my daily goal.

Where I’ve taken my rower.

As my jobs and locations have changed, my Model C has accompanied me. With its ability to break-down easily, it was regularly shoe-horned into the passenger seat of my car. On business travel, I tried a water rower, which while looking quite elegant with its wood frame, had a disappointing monitor. So, the Model C continued to accompany me to my parents’ summer house, and to various new addresses. Vacationing in cabins in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Model C came with me and sat on the front porch of our cabin. When it was “too loud” according to my wife, I moved the rower to the “exercise tent” at the ranch, which literally was a wedding tent with no electricity, where I watched a saved “Altered States” on my iPad.

How I did it?

I have experimented with many methods of “how to consistently row half-marathons daily”. My regimen starts with earplugs, since the air wheel is quite loud. From there, I weekly spray the chain with “Chain Saver” from DuPont, which has Teflon in its lubricant. The chain feels magical after spraying it. I wipe the stainless-steel slide and seat wheels down weekly, as well as the iPad screen. I usually prefer a 6AM row – at that time my body is strongest, and when I’m interrupted least by family members trying to get me to break my row.

As for rowing outfits, I have found my old Adidas Stan Smiths the best shoes. With other shoes, my feet would fall asleep while rowing, causing me to kick out my foot and drag it along the strokes. That’s not fun. I still have the original straps on my Model C. For my seat, I use a carefully folded towel to cushion the row, washing it every half marathon. This brings the cushion back to the seat after every wash. For clothing, I wear cotton underwear and t-shirt – simple and effective.

My biggest issue with rowing is boredom, especially at 21K per day. For that, I use a Rowfree tablet holder to hold my iPad. In the past, I watched any and everything Netflix via subtitles, plowing through series like Band of Brothers, Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, etc. with ease. Finally, I got tired of “just watching anything” to get through the row, so I started reading my digital subscription of “The Economist” weekly to hasten my rows. Each issue takes 7 hours of rowing weekly to read on The Economist App, with me carefully finger-scrolling through its pages every other row stroke. It’s a surprisingly effective way to pass the time rather than watching endless Netflix, and I get through each weekly edition from Thursday till Sunday. This is a feat I couldn’t accomplish without rowing – for years, I never completed reading the weekly edition independent of rowing.

I have always entered my meters in the C2 logbook manually, having tried the automated avenues with little success. There is a reward in entering my meters manually, where I also daily enter my body weight, which I transpose over to Excel. I have thousands of weight datapoints since 2012 logged, which are thankfully decreasing!

For timekeeping, I use a Wi-Fi-controlled clock in the room, allowing me to squeeze the last minute out of my rows before work Teams and Zoom meetings. Again, a secret pleasure.

How rowing changed my body.

Daily half marathons change something deeply about your cardiovascular health. You know in the “first pull” of the row how your next two hours are going to go. If I’m out of conditioning, the 21K meters are painful – mostly around the 10K mark, and then again at the final 5K mark – those are the times I absolutely want to quit the exercise, but often forge onwards. It’s the pushing onwards that gets me in to shape to pull the half marathons daily.

As for changes in my body, I notice that consistent rowing defines my lower and upper arms, shoulders, thighs and calves quite remarkably – making the muscle sinews “pop” beneath my skin. My waist is my high-school size now, which I haven’t seen for over 30 years.

Concerning changes in my appetite, I crave water (lots of it!) as well as fruits and vegetables. Relating to my interest in alcohol, I have stopped drinking. This comes not from the viewpoint of any strong thoughts on alcohol, but simply because when I look at it, I don’t want it. I liken this response as a direct result to my rowing – the more I row, the less I want to drink alcohol – it’s literally an inverse relationship.

Regarding my health, my resting heartrate is in the 60s, my flexibility is fabulous and I have no muscles pulled since 2005! The magical result of rowing is that I don’t get winded when playing with my kids, I am at an ideal body-weight and that I can sustain the regimen. This is not a “quick fix” and is sustainable.

Finally, I had a health issue last year where I had to take a break from rowing (discussed below). During that “time off”, I noticed my sleeping was erratic, with me waking up at 1-2AM nightly, just to lay awake for 2 hours before falling asleep again. Since resuming my daily half marathons, I am now sleeping through the night again!

One more simple pleasure – after rowing a half marathon straight, there’s an elation that occurs physically while standing up after the row. I don’t know what it is, but it’s joyous, and I love it – and it makes me love the process more so.

What I’ve learned from it?

As with Fight Club, I’ve learned to not talk about my rowing hobby with most people. People generally aren’t familiar with such an endeavor, and I would hate to come off as bragging or tarnishing this gift of life which I really love. Instead, I covet the process, and that makes me genuinely happy – as well as the benefits which rowing delivers. How could such a simple, repetitive act result in such a great result? I don’t really know, but for that, I am thankful.

Hiccups along the way.

In December 2022, I went skiing with the “wrong person” at Alta, in Utah – i.e., he was a better skier than I was! On the double-black diamond while I fell, one ski fell off while the other one didn’t. This resulted in my lower leg and my body twisting in different directions, leading to my first experience with chronic pain – that of a torn meniscus in my knee. The pain was so bad that I had to use my non-injured leg to move my injured leg when rolling over in bed! After many months, I went to three physicians – the last of which was an orthopedic surgeon who told me I needed his surgery to fix my issue. He also said there was a 30% chance of a “less than ideal” outcome – i.e., failure – after he removed part of my meniscus. We concluded the visit with him giving me the card of his scheduler who I was to call for my surgery appointment. After this visit, I thought I’d never row again – such travesty! Lol.

Exercise over the next months proved difficult, yet I felt my knee was getting better on its own, without choosing the surgery route. Rowing a half marathon exploded my knee to the size of a football. I moved to my SkiErg instead, where standing and pulling the handles proved too much for my meniscus. Then, remembering an adaptive SkiErg photo I saw on the Concept2 site, I sat on a barstool and used the SkiErg for literally months until I was confident to tackle the rower again. I started rowing half marathons every other day till a month ago, where I am rowing 6-7 half marathons again per week, with no pain, and thankfully, no surgery!

My interactions with Concept2.

My early calls to Concept2 were about odd noises coming from my rower or my PM5 not quite booting up properly. Instead of upselling their products or avoiding my questions, I got people – real people – to answer my questions at Concept2. I learned about maintaining my rower through calls with their technicians, and even got a replacement PM5 for my faulty one – no questions asked. This was not the type of company I was used to. Instead, it was more of the “way things were” when products provided value, and when companies stood by what they made. I was in bliss. Since then, I have had many discussions with Concept2 personnel about my Dyno monitor, which they fixed, as well as about replacing my SkiErg shock cords, which have completely satisfied my needs.

In close.

My Model C has changed my life for the better. I look forward to the next 50 million meters, as well as to many happy years with my beloved ergometer. In my Model C I have found something which improves my quality of life from which I will never bore, and from which I will never waiver. Thank you, Concept2!

Pictured: my daughter and I on my Model C some years back.


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Re: How I rowed 50m meters -

Post by JaapvanE » April 29th, 2024, 4:07 pm

This preserverence is something to aspire to. Thank you for sharing.

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Re: How I rowed 50m meters -

Post by DavidA » May 3rd, 2024, 1:17 pm

What a great story.

63 y / 70 kg / 172 cm / 5 kids / 17 grandkids :)
Received my model C erg 18-Dec-1994
my log

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