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Ian’s 2k Erg Strategy

February 15th, 2013


Everyone seems to be weighing in with their 2k erg strategies, so here's mine.



Following a good warm-up (very important!) you're ready to go. Before the start, take a couple of deep belly breaths and use the exhales to steady your nerves. Your focus should now be on the first two strokes only. Sit ready in a strong position; you'll be moving your body weight from a complete standstill, so don't row your first stroke too long – you need to get that flywheel moving first before going after the next 5 or 6 strokes. I don't advise going any further at such a high level of intensity; we're tapping into the short-term energy system caused by hydrolysis of phosphocreatine and ATP re-synthesis in glycolysis, which reaches its maximum after about 5 seconds. After the 6th stroke you should get quickly onto your target average race pace; at this point in the race, this pace is going to feel too easy. You must resist the temptation to go faster than target; the goal is to even pace or even negative split as you get deeper into the race. So make sure that you stay calm, be really efficient with your movement and conserve energy – because you're going to need it later. It's important to achieve your race pace at race rate – don't drop the rate in order to get down to pace. You need to keep the machine “alive.”


500 meters into the race

So you've been clicking along rowing most strokes at your 2k target pace. However, due to that initial starting burst, your average split may be slightly ahead of target. After the 1st 500m you can allow your splits to get slightly worse, by perhaps 0:01/500m. This has the effect of giving you some “breathing room”; but you can do this only if you understand in advance that when you reach 1,000m you have to commit to going faster. It is important that every time you drop worse than your target split for this 2nd 500 meters, you must push back immediately on the very next stroke. Keep those legs driving, keep the handle moving off the catch.


1000 meters into the race

This is where I like to play the “averages game.” For most of the 3rd 500 you should make sure that every stroke you row is at, or under, the current average split for the piece. Whenever you fall off that split, you MUST get it back again on the very next stroke. This is where you have to keep the handle moving quickly from the catch and over the knees and squeeze out that little bit extra at the finish.


500 meters to go

From this point in, every stroke is important. You must make every stroke count. What I like to do here is “chase the decimals.” Focus on bringing your average split down, one decimal at a time. As soon as you get one decimal, immediately go after the next one, and the next, etc. When you get to 200 meters to go, you can shift focus slightly and challenge yourself to see how low you can get your splits.


As a basic rule of thumb, your rating should increase 1 or 2 beats each 500m, and significantly more in the final sprint when you've just got to get more strokes in.

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