Rowing, My Other Sport

This selfie captures my disgusting euphoria felt after a rowing session

I don’t like to run outside in the cold. There was a time when you could see me clad in a sweatshirt, shorts, beanie, and gloves amid a downfall of flurries but much like my tolerance, that guy disappeared after graduating from college. Now at the first sign of a winter storm, I look to stay indoors and engage parts of my core that otherwise are completely ignored during those Saturday morning runs around Richmond.

A few years ago, my best friend recommended rowing, “crew” as he called it. After falling off his brother’s scull and into the waters of Smith Mountain Lake, I finally managed to find my rhythm and experienced a sweaty serenity that one can only feel when hitting the August waters just after daybreak. The next morning? My shoulders, back, quads, calves, and core were screaming in a foreign language that no amount of trail-running or treadmill miles could mimic. I was addicted. I had found my “other” sport.

More than eight years have passed since that fateful day. I now have my own WaterRower that sits in my apartment, used for early morning 5K sprints and lazy Sunday afternoon hour-long sessions. For those looking for a break from the land-based miles, give rowing a thought. The studies are conclusive (just look here and here). It is one of the most complete workouts available to mankind and has been that way for a very long time. You’ll develop muscle groups you didn’t realize you had, giving you even more capacity to store the lactic acid built during those longer summer runs. And trust me when I say that there is no better spot to watch a snowfall while avoiding winter’s frozen bliss.



I’ve got a WaterRower so I don’t alter the resistance very often. That being said, here are a couple of suggestions for those rowers like the C2 Concept (fan based). Keep in mind: resistance (the damper setting that runs from 1 to 10) is often overestimated. A resistance setting of 3–5 will give you a great workout. Olympians don’t row competitively at a 10.

“Intensity” refers to the percentage of your max heart rate.


🏋Pyramid (resistance: 3-5)

5 minutes at 24 strokes per minute (spm)

4 minutes at 26 spm

3 minutes at 28 spm

2 minutes at 30 spm

1 minute at 32 spm

2 minutes at 30 spm

3 minutes at 28 spm

4 minutes at 26 spm

5 minutes at 24 spm


🏋On/Off (resistance: 4-6)

300 meters at 60% intensity

200 meters at 85-90% intensity

Repeat for 5000m (or up it to 8000m, 500m at 60% and 300m at 85%)


🏋Interval Training (resistance: 3-5)

5-8x 1000m. Try to steadily improve your 1K pace with each interval (I usually aim to hit 3:50 or better on that last 1000m)


These are my go-to workouts. You can always just row while watching West World, Game of Thrones, or House of Cards. That’s my Sunday afternoon.


Richard is the Customer Relations Manager at MPS in Virginia. He has always enjoyed running (and rowing) but now laces those Brooks for the post-run celebratory beer and/or wine.