Rowing is a great exercise, and as I’ve mentioned I’ve gotten reacquainted with it the last couple of weeks as I work to re-establish my morning exercise habit. When you row alone in a basement there are a few ways to pass the time on long rows; play music, listen to a podcast or some other audio program, or watch something on television. More often than not I opt out of all of these and just row in silence. Or more appropriately, I listen to myself.
During a million meter rowing campaign I did a few years ago as a fundraiser for a friend of mine, I injured myself somewhat early on in my attempt by overextending. In rowing that means coming up to the catch position and lunging forward for a bit more. The only way to do this is to drop your head, kick your seat back and extend your hands forward. When I was younger I thought this gave me an extra 2-3 inches of drive. But the cost isn’t worth the benefit. Over-extension on the erg enforces bad habits on the water where balance and swing are critical, and they expose you to potential injury.
So as I row since then, I remind myself to keep my chin up. Sometimes physically looking up at the ceiling to emphasize it. There’s an obvious metaphor about keeping one’s chin up in the sense of being positive. But in this case I think of “chin up” as reinforcing good habits; not reaching for things that aren’t worthwhile and focusing on things that will bring you benefit in the long run. I know my weaknesses at this point in my life, but I also know my strengths, and I work to emphasize those instead. Sometimes I just need to remind myself to make adjustments and stop lunging for things that don’t matter in the long run.