I’m a novice rower and I’m racing in my 1st head race this weekend, any tips? I’m freaking out!
Don’t freak out … that’s tip #1.
Get some sleep
It is CRUCIAL that you get an adequate amount of sleep the night before your race. You can’t expect to be prepared to row your hardest if you only get 3-4 hours of sleep. Aim for at least eight.
Eat a good breakfast
If your race is in the morning, this can be tricky because you want to give your body enough fuel but you also don’t want to eat too much too soon before your race. If you eat a big meal too close to race time, all the blood that should be going to your muscles will instead be going to your stomach to help digest all that food. 2-3 hours before race time eat a small meal, such as a bowl of oatmeal, a slice of toast, a handful of strawberries, and some OJ. If you can’t eat that far ahead, try to eat something like a bagel and cream cheese an hour or two beforehand. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water too.
Save your energy. Don’t be walking around a lot before your race. An hour or so before you’re supposed to meet at your boat, find a quiet spot near your trailer/tent and just chill. Throw in some headphones and relax.
Check your seat
Are your shoes tied in? Are the nuts and bolts on your rigger tightened? What about the seat tracks? Are they clean? (If not, the seat won’t slide smoothly and you can jump the tracks). Your coach or coxswain will go through and do a once over before the boat launches, but if you’ve already looked at your seat and know something needs adjusted, it will get done that much faster.
Remember your technique
The more tired you get, the better your technique needs to be. The more tired you get, the more focused you need to become. That’s when injuries happen, when rowers start rowing with poor technique. When you feel like slouching, sit up a little taller. When you feel like hunching over, push your shoulders back. One of my favorite things to tell my 8+ is to not let your brain defeat your body. Your body is capable of SO much more than we think it is and you are hardly ever as tired as you think you are.
Let your coxswain do her thing
Head races are for coxswains. It’s basically like Mario Kart come to life. It’s going to be hectic, crowded, frantic, confusing, and at times a total clusterfuck. If she knows the cardinal rule of coxing (don’t let ‘em see you sweat), you won’t know when she’s freaking because the eight in front of her isn’t yielding or because she’s totally confused by the warm-up area and the horde of boats clogging the traffic lane. Don’t try and tell her what to do or how to do her job. When you’re done racing, make sure you tell her she did a good job too and you appreciate her getting you from point A to point B.