We recently received a message on our Instagram page from a rower looking to improve their 2k erg time. The conversation went as follows (paraphrased) “Hi there, do you have any tips for mental preparation during a 2k erg? I am struggling a lot breaking through a mental barrier. I have the strength and endurance, but I can’t wrap my head around breaking through that barrier. Any response would be appreciated”.
I had always been a rower looking up to my coaches for advice and I took everything I could glean from them and ran with it. Even years later I can still hear my coaches advice running around my head. From rowing related advice to life advice, it’s all still there. I jumped at the opportunity to be able to coach someone for the first time over the internet as I had done in person so many times.
My response and the key to a 2k erg improvement
I replied “Hi there. Thanks for reaching out to us. One thing that I always found helpful when I was doing a 2k was listening to music. I found a song, or two songs that really got me pumped up and ready to push myself to the absolute limit and I just went for it. Another thing that really helped me was my own mental preparation which was to repeat to myself before a 2k sprint “it’s under 7 minutes and then it’s over.” and that really helped me to go for it. I’m not sure what your current PB is but it’s important to note one of the things my coaches used to say to me which was “leave it on the machine”. I didn’t understand until I was much older but what they meant was to leave all your energy on the machine. Give it everything you’ve got and I’m sure you can improve. Remember that the pain from a sprint is just temporary and then it’s over.”
They went on to tell me that their current PB was around 7:48 for a 2k erg sprint. This would equate to a split of 1:57/500m. They told me that they were sure that they could get their split down to 1:52/500m with the right mental preparation. My response?
“Split the sprint into 4 x 500m sprints. Try and work on 4 x 500m sprints at max effort with a 1-minute break in between for a week and then try a 1000m sprint each time you train for a week. Try and remember though to take it just 500m at a time”.
Why is this important?
“Try and remember though to take it just 500m at a time” That’s the key here. Just 500m at a time. When you break it down like that, 500m is nothing. What’s under 2 minutes of your life when self-improvement is at stake. At the end of the day, all a 2k erg sprint equates to is 4x500m sprints stitched together. You’ve got to be able to take those individual times and use the energy you have left from the previous 500m to fuel the next and so on until you’ve finished. One bit of takeaway that you can get from doing these training exercises is the importance of segmenting your training.
How to make the improvement
Let’s break down my message to this rower and discover why I said what I said and how it will help. “One thing that I always found helpful when I was doing a 2k was listening to music. I found a song, or two songs that really got me pumped up and ready to push myself to the absolute limit and I just went for it.”. Listening to music has been scientifically proven to help when training. It distracts you from what you’re doing, and some songs can even motivate you to work harder. You’ll likely find that you can row further when you’re listening to music because you don’t realise how far you’ve gone. Isn’t that interesting?
“Another thing that really helped me was my own mental preparation which was to repeat to myself before a 2k sprint “it’s under 7 minutes and then it’s over.”. Why is this important? Self-affirmation is very real and it helps a lot of people on a daily basis. If you can tell yourself something positive you’re more likely to believe it. I go over this in a little more detail in one of my other articles linked below.
“One of the things my coaches used to say to me which was “leave it on the machine”. I didn’t understand until I was much older but what they meant was to leave all your energy on the machine. Give it everything you’ve got and I’m sure you can improve. Remember that the pain from a sprint is just temporary and then it’s over.”. Let’s touch upon that phrase “leave it on the machine”. All this means, as I said, is to use as much energy as you can spare on the task at hand.
How can I train for a 2k erg?
Exactly as I said above to this rower. Split your 2k erg into 4 x 500m sprints and train them individually. If you train each 500m sprint to be as fast as possible with a 1 minute break in between, you’re giving your body time to recover in between each sprint. That little break in between is so important. It’s giving your body enough time to recover some energy whilst still retaining warmth and fatigue. Do this for a week and then stitch 2 500m sprints together to make a 1km sprint. The same process still applies. Do 2 x 1000m sprints with a 1 minute break in between, twice during each session for a week.
Once you’ve done that, add the whole thing together in a 2k and see the results for yourself.
I received the initial message from this rower on Friday May 6th 2022 with their last message to me saying “I won’t let you down”. 10 days later on Monday 23rd May 2022 I received another message from them “So I followed your advice, and lets say its under 1:50”. I was so proud! in just 10 days they had taken their split from 1:57/500m (overall 7:48) to 1:49.6/500m (overall 7:18.4). That’s an overall improvement of around 30 seconds! It just goes to show that with some small tweaks to your training it can make a huge difference. Their last message to me was “Next goal 1:45.Now it s a matter of strength which I can gain easily.”. I truly believe they can do it!
If you want to learn more about how making small changes can make an overall improvement take a look at our article on marginal gains.
Feel free to contact us if you want to learn how you too can improve. have a chat with us