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24 Hour Rowing Debrief

Two months ago I completed the challenge of rowing on a rowing machine for 24 hours. Daves’ Gym were incredibly supportive and they were also kind enough to sponsor me. All money raised was split 50/50 between Cardiff Uni rowing club and Help for Heroes; overall we raised £3000 which was a great effort. In return for the sponsorship, Matt Strong has asked me to write a report of the event. So, for all those who are in to annihilating themselves in endurance exercise, or if you are just a nutter with training, read on.
Leading up to the event I thought that I hadn’t done near enough 24 hour ‘specific rowing’ training. This was because I had to follow the rowing training programme which meant there wasn’t much time left in the week to sit on an ergo for several hours. In fact, the longest ergo that I did was here in the gym, were I sat on the bugger for a measly 4 hours. This wasn’t that bad as I just had a dead arse and a few blisters, what was worse was seeing my ugly mug in the mirror for 4 hours. 
So, I would be fibbing if I woke up on the day of the 24-hr row brimming with confidence. Nevertheless I didn’t really see failure as an option and despite the nerves I was pretty focused on breaking the ergo. 
Plan for the row: do the first 3 hours straight and stick some metres on the clock, then take a break of 10 minutes every 50 minutes, for the remaining 21 hours. In the break I was going to eat as much as possible and get fluids (incl. electrolytes and dextrose) down me. Medics and coaches were to monitor HR and weight loss, if I lost more than 6kg I would have been advised to stop. 
http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/206371_215715908442490_100000122486559_987793_4671578_n.jpgStarted Friday at 8pm, Hours 1-3: Felt pretty good, arse was already dead though. Probably went out a tad too hard though. Didn’t chat too much as I wanted to settle in to the row.
Hours 4-8: HR was low, dropped 2kg, therefore needed to start drinking more. Got psyched watching the film ‘Never back down’. 
Hours 8-12: Body wanted to sleep between 8-10 hours as this was now 4-6am. Averaging 9000-m consistently every 50-mins. No more weight loss, fluid strategy (drink 150ml every 15-mins was going well). Watched 300 for probably the three hundredth time. HALF WAY.
Hours 12-16: Between 10 and 13 hours I was flying, coping pretty well, and keeping the splits down. Hours 14-16 were terrible; I seemed to fall into a black hole, I lost all fluidity with my stroke and couldn’t put any power down on the foot plate, the ergo was starting to chew me up. I basically hadn’t eaten enough when I was feeling good and it was coming back to bite me in the arse. I tried to eat as much as possible in the 10 min break but my body was rejecting it, eating a fig roll seemed like eating a cracker. I was pissed off with myself for going out too hard, this would have been ok if there were only a couple of hours left but I had around 9 hours to play with. Chin up son.
Hours 16-20: Amazing what a bit of food can do, 18 hours in and I was back on it, high on a couple of pro plus, and a cracking massage from the missus. By now I was walking like John Wayne, and I couldn’t lift my feet to strap them into the rower. Pulling my cacks up after a toilet stop was also a feat in itself.
Hours 20-22: My Dad and sisters turn up unexpectedly, this puts a massive smile on my face and I ease a couple more hours out.
Hours 22-23: I kept telling myself leave it until the last hour, do not ruin yourself now, have a little something in the tank for the end.
Hours 23-24: Smiled for about 20 minutes during the last hour which soon turned into a grimace. Pendulum was blasting away with a bit of Slipknot in between. Perfect! Last 15-mins I started to wind it up, dropping my splits every minute. I had a couple of people in my ear, almost devilish like, telling me to drop my splits and crank the power up. Last 5 mins, HERE WE GO, I cranked the intensity up, spinning the flywheel, I wanted to unleash hell on the ergo. Last 2 mins – sprint finish, all I remember was, ‘FU****G END IT NOW!!’
 
Finished Saturday at 8pm: After the row the adrenaline quickly dissipated and only then did I really feel in pain. I was quite fortunate my Dad was there to help me down the union steps and shove me into the car to take me home. My nutrition plan had also gone out the window as I simply couldn’t eat and I had a pretty rough sleep. Getting up to go the toilet in the middle of the night was most challenging-I had to roll out of bed and crawl to the loo.
I recovered a bit quicker than I originally anticipated, a few days of eating well and bed rest and I was back training on the ergo and on the water.
My plans now are to spend a large part of the summer training for Ironman Wales next year, this comprises of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26 mile run. The course is in Pembrokeshire so it will probably be a bit more fun than the ergo as I will be able to look at the countryside!
If anyone has any questions regarding the 24hr ergo, or endurance in general then make yourself known at reception and I can hopefully give you a bit more insight into training and nutrition etc.
Happy training
Tom
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