Organic Runner Mom

Rowing for Runners

Rowing For Runners

Rowing For Runners

Did you know that rowing can benefit runners?

This morning I attended my first bootcamp session at a little gym near I live called Atlas Training Systems. On the board for bootcamp today were sets of rows 5×200 meters as a part of the rotation. Part of me was excited to get back on the rowing machine (ergometer) but the other part of me fully recalled the pain of rowing on the erg in short fast bursts with a high stroke rating. Long before I became obsessed with running I was obsessed with rowing. I began rowing my sophomore year in high school (the inaugural year for the team) at the Agnes Irwin School. We were fortunate to be able to row out of the Historic Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club on the Schuylkill River on Boathouse Row just outside Philadelphia. Once I started rowing I was hooked. Much of your time as a part of a crew time is spent doing rowing on beautiful lakes and rivers but behind the scenes during the off season, while weather is too crummy to row, or to test your strength and efficiency during erg tests we would spend mind-numbingly long hours rowing indoors. And then as a rowing coach I was able to torture train my rowers on the ergs too!

Rowing on the Water Rower this summer at Sweat Pink BlogFest and IDEA Fit

Rowing on the Water Rower this summer at Sweat Pink BlogFest and IDEA Fit

What I didn’t realize back then is that rowing would eventually give me a strong foundation for running and that rowing can be used as a means to get stronger to run too. Most people think that rowing requires only the strength of your back and arms. This is entirely untrue. Rowing requires the uses of all of your major muscle groups. Rowing will help you to build a stronger core as a foundation for running. Rowing works your whole body in one continuous motion. When you row you should be engaging all of the muscles in your legs as well as in your glutes!

While rowing does not mimic the motion of running you can get a great workout using a rowing machine such as a Concept II Ergometer or a Water Rower. Rowing is a great alternative to running when you are injured because it is low impact but you can still get an incredible aerobic or anaerobic workout. When you row it is important to learn proper form to ensure that you are using proper form so as to fully engage the muscles to maximize your power output. Be sure to ask someone for help!

Rowing at the Head of the Charles for Colby College. Look, that's me in stroke seat!

Rowing at the Head of the Charles for Colby College. Look, that’s me in stroke seat!

Rowing Workouts for the beginner:

For basic rowing form for the rowing machine check out these helpful videos posted by Concept2.

  • 10 minute easy warm-up at a 20-22 stroke rating, 5×200 meters with 30 seconds of rest in between each set, stroke rating 28-32. 10 minute cool down at a 20-22 stroke rating.
  • Easy state state row for 30 minutes at a 20-22 stroke rating.
  • 5 minute warm-up at a 20-22 stroke rating. Pyramid: 3×1000 meters. For each piece start at 22 spm and increase by 2 spm every 200 meters–22, 24, 26, 28, 30. Take 2 minutes of rest between each piece. 5 minute cool-down at a 20-22 stroke rating when workout is done.

*disclaimer: I am not currently a rowing coach but coached rowing at the collegiate level for two years and was a competitive rower for 10 years. Please consult a physician before trying any new forms of exercise.

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28 responses

28 responses

  1. I had forgotten until I read this how the rowing machine used to kick my ass in college. I went to a Division III school with a really crappy crappy gym 🙂 but we always had an abundance of broken down rowing machines. I need to try rowing again.

  2. We row a lot at CrossFit and it is so helpful…although I really dislike it! I’ve yet to learn how to be efficient so I get frustrated every time. Baby steps, I suppose!

  3. Great workout! I have a love hate relationship with rowing but as I’ve taken most of the year off from running I have been rowing and riding the bike much more frequently.

  4. Hey Sandra,

    A very good post! – A lot of people think that rowing is easy while in reality it is really difficult and involved a lot of techniques. I never though of improving my run till now.

    Keep doing the great work.



  5. Another benefit of rowing is that it doesn’t put the same strain on your knees and ankles that running does, while at the same time you’re exercising the same muscles you need for running.

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