Rowing for Runners

If you throw an erg in the river, it will sink. –Somebody

A lot of running training plans suggest rowing is a great cross training activity.  And in that spirit, here’s a second installment in my rowing series.

Our Friend the Ergometer: Drag Factor

“I was in beast mode, I rowed the rowing machine at the gym on a 10,” said a friend of mine.  I was sufficiently offput by the use of the phrase “beast mode” that I just rolled my eyes and didn’t really respond but I’ll respond to you guys: did you check the drag factor or just the damper setting?  At commercial gyms I’ve noticed that the rowing machines don’t get “maintained,” if you will, so the reason they’re all set to damper setting of 10 is because there’s very little resistance.

Concept 2 says that 1-4 are like “rowing a sleek racing shell” and the higher numbers are like big, bulky boats.  But something important dictates damper setting: drag factor.

I go with a range between 110-130 on the erg, which is supposed to approximate the type of boat I actually row.  If you’re in a gym and feel like there’s no resistance when the damper is set to 10, check the drag factor and you’ll see if it means that the erg just needs some routine maintenance (like having the flywheel cleaned out).


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