Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Do we have to erg today?

For most rowers, erg-burnout happens after 2 days of indoors.  It's a wonder that a rower can make it through winter training without going insane.  Coaches have to mix things up, throw a few curve-balls to keep motivation alive.  Insert cross-training.  Our most popular cross-training exercises include the Deck of Cards and Penn Drill. 

Left to right:  Matt Weaver, Adam Forsythe, Andy Cozzens,
Steve Nizick, Eric Wilson, Simon Grout.
With the Deck of Cards, each suit is assigned an exercise, and the number on the card determines how many reps of that exercise will be performed.  So clubs could be jumpies, spades flutter kicks, etc....The coach or captain takes a card off the top one at a time and announces the exercise.  Also inserted in the deck is 1 joker.  The joker resets the deck, making the crew start over from the beginning.  Depending on how much nagging the coach gets on a particular day to do cross-training instead of erging, the joker may be strategically placed towards the end of the deck.

The Penn Drill was introduced to us by Coach Mike "Crazy" Cary.  24 exercises in all, the Penn Drill involves moutain climbers, jumpies, squat thrusts, pushups, and jumping jacks.  The most skilled Penn Drill'er can complete it in around 15 minutes.

Way back in the day, I remember indian runs on the ramps of Roy Stewart Stadium and on the hills of Cherokee Park.  Leave some comments!  I'd like to hear of old school cross-training.  Perhaps one will strike my fancy and we'll do it this Fall.


  1. This is how I would encourage all rowing teams--present and future--to begin all land and water practices:

  2. I’m weary of claims regarding erg-burnout happening after 2 days. In the first years, there were guys who definitely didn’t like erging and there were guys like me who loved it. Regardless of where you stood in your preference —the time a team spends practicing rowing (on the water or otherwise) is time well spent. Boats will go faster. To my little crew brothers and sisters: cultivate the part of your team that likes to erg.

    During year one we did a lot of Indian runs which I found to be a good exercise....despite the racist name.

    We also ran a lot of stadium stairs....which I can say with unwavering certainty was the cause of knee injuries that kept me out of rowing every other season while at Murray.

    Some of our more interesting workouts in the early days....During the Matt Griffin season (Fall 1998), Matt would have us push his car up the hill over by Stewart Stadium and time us on each attempt. During the Sarah Frudenberg season (Spring 1999), we would pick guys up (like a boat: up and over head, then down to shoulders) and march around town with them. I think I might have been the one to initially suggest this stupid exercise as part of an initiation rite to which we subjected the Generation III guys (e.g., Jason et al). Then came a day that, while running (surprise surprise) I felt pain in my knees. The guys thought it would be a good idea to carry me like a boat from the Murray Cemetery back to campus. Although I was a lot leaner in ’99, I’ve always been a big guy—and the fall I anticipated breaking my neck from as significantly shorter guys lifted me overhead was a fear that continues to haunt me.

    Complain some more, Michael—that’s really attractive!

    I'm deeply curious if the women's team was ever subjected to the kinds of unorthodox workouts the men's team adopted from time to time.

  3. That reminded me of my favorite run for for the women's team during my time as coach. "Where will we run this morning, Coach?", the ladies would eagerly inquire. "Well, this is a bit of a grave issue, young ones", I would puzzle. "Some would say this run will be monumental." Unamused, we dashed through the early morning fog, past the ghosts of Murray Cemetery who lifted our spirits with a haunting applause. "Run faster, ladies!"

    1. What was the deal where you wrote in tiny letters, "erg test" on the write board. When your team showed up and asked what they would be doing for practice, you said something like, "the writing is on the wall." You said this like fifty times before someone finally saw what you wrote. Classic...and a fantastic use of the team's time.

    2. Christina said:

      We had several erg tests within a week while Dan attempted to prove the difference with rock music and classical. I remember his subtle comments on workouts. Also, we did a scavenger hunt all around Murray, running as a team to collect napkins from different pizza places, road kill, and other odd ball items.

    3. I'm so glad someone paid attention to my foolishness. My daughters have no humor for such.

    4. Lavit--please tell me that you weren't the one to send rowers out on a road kill hunt. That's so counter to the ivy league image the rowing team was founded in order to cultivate.