Feeling the 2k on the erg – before and after with Sarah Gibbs
With her previous article, age group BRIC winner and world record holder, Sarah Gibbs took us through the build-up to the ‘dreaded’ 2k. In this instalment, she discusses how you might feel during the 2k and also what to do with the result after.
The big day arrives and all the training you have done for the last 6-9 months will fall into place – hopefully! You will get the medal you deserve, the PB you are chasing or hit that marker which shows your fitness is improving after an injury.
You set the monitor up to count down the 2k. Some people cover the countdown display on the on the monitor mainly for mental reasons, as by 750-800m into it you’ll be hurting and this is when the words Handle Down (HD) starts to pop into your head. Many a time I have put that handle down around that distance, I was flying most of the time but my inner voice started whispering, telling me ‘no way you can keep this speed up for the next 1250m, you better stop now as you’ll really start hurting soon”. That inner voice is helpful on occasions but with the 2k I try my hardest to ignore it, as most of the time it will start to eat away at my confidence.
The easiest way for me to block out the annoying voice is too put on my music and focus on this. The playlist to a 2k was never really important to me until last year when my times were improving, then when I competed at BRIC in December 2017 it really helped steady my pre-race nerves immensely. I turned up the volume, warmed up and just got into my own little world so when “ROW” popped up on the monitor to race I was already in ‘the zone’ and ready to go for it with The Prodigy thumping inside my head!
So the monitor is set up, you have your tunes on, your race plan is either in your head or stuck on a post-it note by your monitor. You pick up the handle and you either wait for the instruction to ROW on the monitor if you’re competing or you just go for it. The first 500m is the part of the 2k when you have to have some sort of discipline. You have the pace in your head that you need to stay at, but that adrenaline is pumping through your veins and you’re feeling unbeatable already! WARNING!
This feeling can make your race die in the last 1000m dramatically. The first race I competed in was BRIC 2015 and I ‘flied and died’. Granted I was a novice at racing, my plan wasn’t that well thought out and then added to that I was absolutely petrified – it wasn’t a recipe for success! I went out far too fast in the 1st 500m and suffered for the rest of the 2k slowly dying on every split. That experience was horrible and I vowed to myself to never make that mistake again. If anything I have become too cautious in the first 500m not wanting to push it too much just in case there is nothing in the tank for the last 500m in which I like to sprint home.
After the first 300m-500m you should have now settled into your planned pace for the next 1000m this should be a bit more comfortable and you should be able to get into your groove or rhythm. In this section of the 2k I have found that concentrating on your breathing really helps your focus as well as the tunes that are coming through on your headphones both of these aide to shut that inner voice up and by 1250m you are thinking ‘I might just do this’! The 1250m mark is another one of those obstacles you have to jump over as you are nearly there just not quite, your legs are burning with the lactic acid, your lungs are on fire and, well, you just feel that you might not be able to keep this up for another 750m. If you’re mentally strong you will be able to push on even with all these feelings and to be honest when the countdown switches to 3 numbers, (so after 1000m its 999m and so on) I find it seems to make the time/distance quicker! I realise that’s not the case but if it helps me carry on I will take it!
After the not so comfortable middle 1000m comes the last 500m, and this is when the race really begins! If you have anything left in the tank this is when to let rip, I have planned my last four 2ks like this as well as my BRIC race and it makes for an exciting finish! You forget about the pain that you are in, you forget that your heart rate is already maxed, your breathing feels like your lungs are on fire, and you just put your foot on the gas and go! go! go!
The feeling when that monitor is screaming that you’re going to win or set a new PB is one of the best feelings in the world, and when it becomes fact well, that feeling beats most things hands down. I think the reason for this is that you have done it all on your own, like I said in my earlier article it’s you against the machine. Yes, you can see your other competitors on the monitor whilst racing but for me, my focus was on my plan and I kept to it not really noticing where they were or their times. I was focussed on me being in the no1. spot and keeping to my paces, especially after the experience I had in my previous 2k race. It’s ecstatic knowing that all the hard work you put in over the past 6-9 months has been worth it! Training for the 2k takes guts, the race is just the last part of the training process and some of the sessions leading up to it hurt even more than the 2k itself!
So you’ve finished your 2k and your time means that all your training was a success, you’ve got the medal, PB or the SB. All these things should make you proud and also give your mental strength and confidence a huge boost. There may be things you will do differently next time but you know that there will be a next time and that there is nothing to be scared of because you have done it all before!
The next thing is to use this time as your marker for your next 2k, use the splits to help you with your training physically and use the experience to help you mentally as well. If the 2k didn’t happen as you wanted it to, also learn from this as I did with my first competitive race. Remember to rein in the enthusiasm at the start, control yourself and ultimately stick to the plan and I promise you will go far in your 2k whether its a race or a time trial.
Sarah Gibbs is an indoor rowing age-group champions and record holder. She runs her own indoor rowing and fitness business training people both in-person and remotely. https://www.sgfitnessandindoorrowing.co.uk/