Preparing to row the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge takes a huge amount of discipline and sacrifice.
As we have quickly discovered prescribing a matching routine that works for all of us is not practical; we each have our different time restraints and commitments to work around, particularly given one of the Oarsmen is just under 5,000 miles away in Houston, Texas (and operating 6 hours behind).
To make it work, we have all signed up to make fundamental life changes to incorporate the rigorous training and preparations needed to be fit and ready come December 2017. Aside from the physical training, there is a long list of navigation, radio and safety courses required to be undertaken before we get to the start line, as well as our sponsorship drive, PR and social media commitments to attend to. This is before we can even think about fundraising for our great charities, let alone learning to row!
Being competitive creatures, we keep in regular contact sharing rowing times, progress and tips. Over the Christmas period this year, we are surrendering time with our families and friends to head to Northumberland for some intense team-time and a "no stones unturned" assessment of our fitness levels, the loser goes in the sea.
Coupled with the fitness training, practical experience will be critical to our success. With this in mind, we are planning a training row in the Summer of 2017 from Wick, Scotland to Bergen, Norway. At a little under 250 miles, we reckon this is a 4 day excursion (a stroll in the park compared to the race itself) but in terms of experience it will be second to none.
To give you a flavour of the changes we are each making and the commitment we're putting into this challenge, below is an idea of Stu's weekly regime which, in his own words, means he "eats like a prat and trains until his back and legs no longer function as they are supposed to":
MONDAY: Cross-fit Hammersmith – Hundreds of squats, or some fearsome, relentless equivalent (plus obligatory shouting and comradery).
TUESDAY: Auriol Kensington Rowing Club – Quick 10 min warm up before hopping on the ergo for the pre-arranged session. It will invariably be a target stroke rate for a set distance or time.
WEDNESDAY: Cross-fit Hammersmith – Full to the brim with lactic acid from Monday and Tuesday's exertions and stiff as a board – usually found praying for no more squats.
THURSDAY: Cross-fit Hammersmith - Even stiffer! Moving like a mechanical version of myself. Although invariably feel much better once the session is over.
FRIDAY: Cross-fit Hammersmith - Long and slow row at steady rate, say 30 minutes at rate 18. Try to avoid going to the pub on the way home because...
SATURDAY: Auriol Kensington Rowing Club - Alarm at 5:30am. Load myself full of fuel and head to Auriol Kensington Rowing Club for two outings on the rowing equivalent of the M25 in rush hour, the tideway. Heavy stretching needed afterwards, followed by the rest of the day spent eating like a ravenous teenager. Crawl into bed, utterly spent.
SUNDAY: Auriol Kensington Rowing Club - Alarm at 6:30am, crawl out of bed and head back to Auriol Kensington Rowing Club. Only one session to survive today followed ideally by lengthy stretching (optional) and more ravenous eating (imperative and inevitable!). Early to bed ready for Crossfit and Monday morning…