Surf and Turf: Coxing your run

IMG_4205A lot of online articles about cross training for runners say rowing is a great way to cross train.  Get on an erg, row for 15 minutes, and you’ll feel exhausted and get a good workout in.  Strangely enough, though, the one thing that has actually really helped me and bridged the separation between running and rowing hasn’t been actually rowing, it’s been coxing.

Coxing on the run started out as me mentally trying to work on communicating clear, effective calls and working on my repertoire or as I like to call it, my schtick.  When I run along the Potomac, too, I can hear people coxing boats and learn from them.  It’s bittersweet because while I love coxing, I’m too fat to ever get to do it in a race unless I lose about 40-50 pounds.  Here’s some ways I translate what I use in the boat and what’s part of a rowing workout into something to use on a regular run.

10s: In the boat, it’s usually a power 10 or a power 20 and the idea is to add more power with the legs and get the boat to move faster, but I haven’t been using it that way in the boat much or on the road. Instead, on the road I do tenths of a mile and pick something to focus on–in the boat, I make it 10 strokes having them focus on something.
Boat example: “Alright, 10 for swing in 2! That’s 1, that’s 2! SWING together, back, and forward! That’s it!”
Run example: “For the next 10th of a mile, focusing on standing up tall! Shoulders down, relaxed, no hunch!”

IMG_6126Positive Encouragement: Rowers seem to hate it when you yell “YOU GUYS F–KING SUCK!” at them.  Coincidentally, they will also blame the cox for anything that goes wrong. This is perhaps where the biggest change has been for me.
Boat example: “Let’s carry our blades close to the water, nothing dramatic, Lady Gaga isn’t in the boat, that’s it, nice correction 3 seat.”
Run example: “Alright, we’ve got the pace down under 9 let’s keep it there for a quarter mile… hold it another quarter mile…”

And, like I tell my runners, “The coach’s plan is like the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Let’s see how it sells and then either apply a discount or a mark up as necessary.”


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