Commitment

When I was in high school, my mom told me to be involved, but not to over-extend myself.  At the time, “over-extending” myself seemed pretty impossible.  In addition to school and homework, I juggled rowing, being President of a charity organization at my high school, and being Treasurer of NHS.  There were times when I was really busy, but never over-extended.

This year, I finally learned what my mom meant.  College is intense - it’s certainly a lot more than high school ever was.  Then, there’s rowing, which is a huge time commitment in itself.  Fortunately, my doubles partner and I have decided to practice only 2-3 days per week, as opposed to the usual 5 days per week, plus regattas.  And this year, I’m an RA (Resident Assistant) in one of the residence halls on campus.  I love the job, but it is a lot.  Aside from school, my RA position is my biggest commitment.  I cannot let other things take precedence over it.

I was also in the running for Head Coxswain.  To hold such a position meant the world to me.  I was qualified and prepared to handle any coxing/rowing situations brought my way.  I was finally going to have a voice on my team.

Then, I realized that it was too much.

I couldn’t be a dedicated student, RA, rower, and Head Coxswain all at once.  I wanted to, but something had to give.  On the morning of the election, I emailed our President and told him I couldn’t do it.  It was in the best interest of the team (and of myself) that I not commit to too many things to which I could not give my full care and attention.  Had I run and won the election, I would have either been a bad Head Cox, a bad RA, or a bad student, none of which I wanted.

I may never have the opportunity to be Head Coxswain again, but at least I am still able to be involved with the team as a rower.  Besides, devoting myself to my studies and my RA job will be many times more rewarding than holding an exec position on my team.

rowing commitment sacrifice decisions

Living Life in the Present Moment

I know this blog is supposed to be about rowing, but let me make an exception.  As of late, I’ve been trying to practice mindfulness.  What is mindfulness?  It’s basically the ability to be present and aware of the current moment, focused on what is, rather than what has been or what could be.  For me, mindfulness has been somewhat challenging.  I like to think ahead and anticipate things that might happen in the future.  I also like to look back and relive past moments in my life over and over again.  These habits can be harmful because reliving the past leads to feelings of remorse and regret, while thinking about the future can cause anxiety.

I’ve been making an effort to be here, now.  Currently, I’m in my room with the lights out, lying on my unmade bed.  The mini fridge is humming and the A/C is whirring away quietly.  Right here, right now, I am looking at the ceiling.  I am breathing. I am in this space and nowhere else.  I am doing only those things which I’m doing right now.  I am not the future, I am not the past.  I am now.  I am the present.  I am alive.  I exist here in this moment.

Those things are real.  They are the only reality.  Certainly, the fact that things of the past happened is a reality as well, but they are no longer reality.  They are past.  The fact that things are going to happen in the future is real as well, but those things are not real, they have yet to be realized.  We cannot predict the future, we cannot live in the past.  We are what we are now, at this moment in time.  What we were in the last moment is no longer.  What we will be in the next moment has yet to be. 

The present is the only thing that truly matters.  It is the only realm in which we exist.  We can only do things in the present moment.  We can only think, and hear, and act, and learn in the present moment.  The present moment is all that exists.  It is all that there is.

life philosophy mindfulness present living

How to Survive (and Succeed at) a 5k Erg Test

Tryouts for my university team are tomorrow (we re-tryout every year, regardless of number of years spent on the team) and I’m a tad nervous.  I don’t think I’m as well-prepared as I was for last year’s 5k, but it’s inevitable.  In hopes of easing some of my anxiety, I’ve decided to post my tried-and-true race plan and preparation!

Remember: self-care is essential.  Be sure to get a good night’s rest and begin eating healthy, balanced meals as far ahead of time as possible.  The sleep and nutrition you acquire in the days leading up to the erg test are all the fuel that your body as to run off of during the real thing.

Condition your body.  Never, ever, ever attempt an erg test if you haven’t erged, run, or conditioned recently.  In addition to your normal conditioning regimen, do a couple of practice 5k’s in the weeks leading up to the test.  Not only will the practice pieces contribute to your fitness, but they will also allow you to gauge what the actual test will feel like.  On the day before and the day of the test, be sure to rest your body.  Don’t erg or run and avoid any other activities that might be too taxing.

Prepare mentally.  Visualize, meditate, think happy thoughts, look at crew pictures, or medals from races past.  Remind yourself of your accomplishments.  Relax.  Think soothing thoughts.  Practice mindfulness.  Before the test, practice whatever rituals are normal to you - listening to your pre-race playlist, stretching, warming up, playing a game on your phone - whatever gets you “in the zone.”

Have a plan.  Look back at your 5k erg times from the past or at those of somebody comparable to you in speed.  Jot down the split times and know what you should pull at each interval during the test.  Let your teammates know if, when, and how you like to be coxed.  Listen to music, if you want (as long as your team allows).  Jot down your plan on a post-it or on your arm or thigh and reference it during your test.  It will help guide you to the results you so desire and will give your eyes and mind something to do, other than focusing on the erg screen and the searing pain in your muscles.

If it helps, think "preparation, planning, and positivity" (the 3 P’s…I totally made that up).  Good luck!!

rowing erging 5k tryouts erg test

Time

I start classes in half an hour…I can’t believe I’m already in my second year of college!  As an RA, it’s fun to watch all of the freshmen in the same place as I was last year - lost, confused, and eager to discover what lies around every corner and behind every door.  It’s amazing how quickly time flies.

That brings me back to rowing.  I still remember my first time on an erg, my first time on the water, my first regatta, and to think how much things have changed since then is incredible.  In high school, team members and the team dynamic changed dramatically from season to season, then suddenly, I was on the adult team in my hometown, then a collegiate team.

Whenever I look back, I am absolutely amazed by everything that has happened over the past few years and the way that my life has changed because of rowing.  I can’t begin to imagine how different my life would be without it - the people I never would have met, the places to which I never would have traveled, and the experiences I never would have had.

I began rowing as a sophomore in high school, and on that first day on an erg, never would have imagined myself where I am now - still with blisters on my hands - as a sophomore in college.

image

My third ever water practice (I’m second from the right).

rowing crew sentiment nastalgia time