Get (Virtual) Race Ready

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

6 tips that can take your race performance to the next level

Although most live events are canceled or postponed this year, there are still opportunities to participate in races this season. For example, The Head of The Charles Regatta will be predominantly held as a virtual in 2020.

Obviously, a virtual race is not the same as an in-person regatta. However, the virtual nature of events will make them accessible to a broader audience, thus more athletes will be able to participate.

Are you determined to rock a (virtual) race this season? Here are six tips from Regatta Coach Sydney Dollmeyer that can take your race performance to the next level:

#1 Have a plan

Professional athletes use training plans to achieve maximal results – so why wouldn’t you? According to Regatta Coach Sydney, “Having a training plan makes it easier to structure your training, align your training schedule with your life schedule, and prepare you optimally for the event."

A well-designed training plan doesn’t only map out your rowing sessions, but also your recovery days, which will allow your body to rest, rebuild, and grow stronger over time.

#2 Race before the race

"You want to try to practice the complete race distance, at least two times, before the actual race. In those practice races, you will understand how to pace yourself and how to prepare for both physical and mental fatigue at different points in the race” says coach Sydney.

The frequency of the practice races depends on the length of the race and the number of weeks you have prior to racing, but as a rule of thumb for a 5k, try to schedule a mock race 2 weeks before the main event.

If you're interested in participating in the Head of The Charles River Regatta this year, you can join our Regatta Challenge. It allows you to do several practice classes before submitting your results. Click HERE to learn more.

#3 Taper to race day

Tapering is the practice of reducing the overall exercise load before the competition. “Tapering is essential for performing on race day. Ideally, you would reduce both training volume and intensity and on the flip side, make more time for mental preparation, with something like a visualization," explains Sydney, a member of Wellesley's 2016 NCAA National Championship team. Reducing the training load will allow your body to recover from and adapt to increasingly difficult training sessions.

#4 Cheat on your erg

Cross-training is critical to get better in sports. You can further improve your rowing performance by sprinkling in other cardio activities. This can also help to prevent overuse injuries and boredom.

For example, workouts on the spin bike or the elliptical are great joint-friendly alternatives to indoor rowing.

#5 Include mobility training.

Tight muscles can lead to imbalances in the body, decreased range of motion, thus increasing the risk of sports injuries. Muscles that are typically tight in rowers include the muscles surrounding the hips and spine. You can decrease muscle tension by including foam rolling, pressure point release, or stretching as part of your training program.

Another fun way of working on your mobility is to add in 1 – 3 Yoga sessions per week. According to Regatta Coach Sydney, Yoga not only helps you become more flexible and strong, but it can also aid in physical and mental recovery through awareness and relaxation. Now, who doesn’t want a little more of that in their life?

#6 Get social

According to multiple studies and the CDC, working out with others can help you be both more motivated and consistent.

Training for endurance events can be particularly monotone and lonely, so teaming up can help you stay connected, engaged, and excited. While the current pandemic does not allow for meetings of large groups, you can reach out to friends to hop on your training train or perhaps find online communities to prepare for your event, like ours here at Regatta! #neverergalone

Regatta Coach Sydney Dollmeyer currently coaches rowing at a top DIII institution in the Boston area. She was a member of the Wellesley College' 2016 NCAA National Championship team. She has also rowed with Community Rowing Inc. as part of the Women's U23 Summer squad. Sydney was an All American and two-time All-Seven Sisters honoree at Wellesley while helping the program to two New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) titles and two NCAA Championship podium appearances.


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