Row, Row, Row and Row Better!

I wish I could take credit for the awesome information below but I can’t!  Our own CFC member Debbie rowed competitively through college.  I asked her for a few tips to help explain mechanics and rowing technique and this is the awesome info she put on paper.  At the end of this blog there is a video from Row WOD with a bit more detailed tips for a 2k specifically!  Check it out!  And thank you Debbie for these tips!

(1) The catch.  The catch refers to the moment on the water when the oar ‘catches the water’.  This is important because the rowing machine was designed initially to help college crews train indoors when it was too cold on the river in Boston.  The catch in a boat happens when the boat is starting to lose momentum.  The erg approximates that by forcing you to have a strong connection with the machine at the moment of the catch.  In truth, success on the ergometer/rowing machine is how well you are able to connect your power (mostly legs) to the machine.  This comes down to the catch (the beginning of every stroke).  You should hold your body as tense as you would for a deadlift: strong and ready to receive the load but not stiff. Think of your back and arms as conduits for the power of your legs.

(2) The Order of Operations. Pushing off the footboards with your legs is the first and most explosive part of the stroke.  This is called the drive.  Your mantra needs to be: legs pushing (drive), back swinging, arms to your body. The recovery portion of the stroke is: Arms away from the body, back set, controlled legs to the catch.  Do not try to find length in your stroke by laying back as that is a very weak body position.  

(3) Pace yourself.  In the top right corner of the ergometer, there is a number that indicates your strokes per minute.  While this might seem more like an interesting fact than of strategic use, if you think of it similarly to pace in a running race, it makes more sense.  You have a much different idea of the speed you want to go for a 200 m sprint than a marathon.  With the sprint, legs are churning and it’s basically balls to the wall.  The longer your race is, the more controlled your pace needs to be.  I’m not saying you can’t ever go full speed.  

When you control your tempo and don’t rep out, you have more control of when you ‘hit your wall’ aka the dreaded aerobic threshold.  With a slightly lower stroke rate, you can push this very painful eventuality off.  Make sure as you lower the stroke rate you keep the intensity up and slow your time up the slide (recovery) instead.  A great drill to work on controlling stroke rating is to start at a 16 stroke rating and move up 2 beats every minute. (Minute 1=16 spm, Minute 2=18 spm, Minute 3=20 spm, Minute 4=22 spm and so on until Minute 10=34).  You will see by the end of this drill exactly why it is in your best interest to control your stroke rating.

2K Tips

(1) Have a goal split.  If you don’t know what your average 500 meter pace was for your last 2k, divide your total time by 4.  This will give you an idea of your speed.  Try to keep your split around this during the 2k.  If you have a lot of nervous energy prerace, you will consciously need to remind yourself not to go too fast.  Aim to hang around that average for the body of the race and then empty the tank as you come into the last 400 meters or so.

(2) Think hard about your drag factor.  Can I be honest though?  The extreme ends of the drag factor are probably not for many people.  At a drag factor of 1, the flywheel inside the erg (rower) basically does not stop spinning.  Many people will find it challenging to engage at the catch.  At a drag factor of 10, the flywheel inside the erg is slowing down very quickly and your strokes will be very ‘heavy’.  Most people belong somewhere in the middle.  I typically do my race pieces around a 7 drag factor. For me that is a good balance of being able to be explosive off the catch but to be able to connect well with the load of the machine.

(3) Expect the 3rd 500 to suck.  It just does.  Try to think of a mantra to help you out of this headspace.  It is best to have a plan for the whole 2k and to write it down.  Give this plan to the partner you’re competing with and you can ask them to cue you at various times.  That can get you out of your own head.

The big takeaway is this: the 2k is tough, but you are tougher.  As a CrossFitter, you’re often asked to do things that are hard but eventually we get to do another thing that is a little easier.  But a 2k row forces you to work hard every single stroke.  But that’s ok because you’re up to the challenge!

If you’re willing to spend about 15 minutes, this is a really good walk through of how to prepare for a 2k race.

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Mike came to CrossFit Coronado after a 26-year career in the Marine Corps. Having made fitness a way of life during his time in the Marines, he was searching for a means to maintain an elite level of fitness after he retired from the Corps. Maintaining a regimen of elite fitness was an elusive goal for him until he stumbled upon the back alley garage that is home to CrossFit Coronado. As the 8th original member Mike was at CrossFit Coronado from its very start and adapted to the CrossFit protocol like a duck takes to water. Mike was a devoted and dedicated coach and friend.  Unfortunately he passed away in march, 2018 from pancreatic cancer.  His spirit will always be a part of CrossFit Coronado.  He helped to build and shape this gym into what it is today.  Strong Like Bull.  Semper Fi Sir.


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Shannon’s love of exercise started with high school sports and continued through college. Her background includes over five years of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, her own at-home personal training company, and group fitness classes.  Shannon started CrossFit at CFC in 2011. As a new mom, she could no longer spend the hours required for marathon and triathlon training. She consistently attended the 6am CFC class for two and a half years, including through the entire pregnancy of baby #2. In 2014, the Navy moved the Campoamor’s to Japan and then to Italy. In Europe, Shannon took advantage of the global CrossFit community-making friends with fellow athletes all over the world. In 2019, the Navy moved the Campoamor’s back to Coronado, where they happily rejoined the CFC family.


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Shannon has been coaching CrossFit since 2012 when she earned her Level I certificate. soon after she earned her Level II and has since renewed. She went on to obtain her CrossFit weightlifting Level I and Level II certifications as well as the Catapult Weightlifting from Don McCauley. Shannon has been coaching with Crossfit Coronado since 2017. Shannon ran the Olympic Lifting program at Crossfit Coronado when it was offered. She’s competed in crossfit at a handful of local events and aspires to come last place at regionals one day.

Favorite movement is the Olympic Lift -Snatch & least favorite will always be running. Loves coaching at CrossFit Coronado because it’s a gym where everyone is welcome regardless of fitness level. You won’t find any clicks here, just some great people great community and coaches that are always working to be better each day.

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Kyle started his addiction for CrossFit in May of 2017. Wanting to gain more knowledge and wisdom about the sport, he completed CrossFit Level 1 Certification in December of 2021.  Physical fitness has always been an important part of his life, from playing baseball and football to competing in half-marathons and Triathlons.  His love for CrossFit translates into coaching and inspiring others to strive for healthy and physical change in their life of fitness.


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Kimberly started doing CrossFit in 2010.  She quickly realized the awesome benefits of CrossFit and was eager to help Clint when they decided to take over as the owners.  She helps with our teen program and the behind the scenes work that needs to be done.  Kim works part time as an oncology nurse and is a full time to mom to their two little girls. Prior to that, she worked for the City of San Diego for over ten years teaching children of all ages and abilities how to swim and spent three years working as a substitute teacher for kids in grades K-12.  Kim took long-term sub positions teaching high school physical education and middle school science.  After seeing the lack of physical fitness with kids in the school systems, Kim wanted to help set up a teen program to give kids a positive physical outlet aside from school competitive sports.  After having kids and realizing how challenging it is to workout with little ones, she also created a program in the gym to offer childcare so that moms (and dads) can get their workouts in!  Email Kim


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Clint started as a customer with CrossFit Coronado in October 2008.  He became a trainer in August 2009, and the owner in August 2010.  He has been an athlete since he was young.  Starting with 7 years of gymnastics and martial arts, as well as high school football and track.  In college, he got into endurance running and swimming.  He was first introduced to CrossFit in the military.  A CrossFit athlete is one that is well rounded in all areas of fitness.   It was this, and the fact that there is absolutely no way to duplicate the results that CrossFit produces for the short amount of time the workouts require, that initially hooked Clint.  Clint has personally experienced improvement in every aspect of fitness, with much shorter workout times.  He competed in the SoCal Regionals in 2010 with a team and in 2011 and 2012 as an individual.  Clint thoroughly enjoys helping people reach their goals.  Clint recently completed a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the university of Saint Augustine and is excited to integrate PT into the gym. His goal is to help professionalize the fitness industry and bring educated and safe training to everyone.  Clint enjoys working with everyone, especially people who need more individualized attention or modifications.  If you’re interested in CrossFit Coronado or personal training, email Clint.


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