#BRIC17 training blog: New to rowing and taking on a 2,000m challenge

Sue Anstiss is competing for the first time at the British Rowing Indoor Championships, presented by Visit Sarasota County, as a way to regain her fitness. Follow her progress in her blog


Sue Anstiss and Nicky Frobisher get an indoor rowing technique lesson.

I came late to the sport of triathlon at the age of 47, and with lots of training and support from my family, qualified to represent GB as an age group athlete at World and European Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

I then stepped back from all the training and competing in 2016 and 2017, and with a more relaxed lifestyle (along with plenty of good food and wine), managed to put on almost three stone, and lose much of that wonderful fitness I had gained.

This autumn I decided that I’d like to qualify for the triathlon World Championships in 2018, which will mean getting in shape again and re-building my strength and endurance.

Running has always been my weakest discipline in triathlon and I am keen to ensure I have a reasonable level of cardio fitness and strength (and to be carrying less weight) before I start regular runs again.

It was as I was contemplating getting in shape again this summer that I saw that the British Rowing Indoor Championships were taking place on December 9, 2017. It felt like a reasonable target to train for, and as my PR agency are working with British Rowing to increase the profile of the Go Row Indoor campaign, it was the perfect opportunity to experience the sport for myself at first hand.

About 20 years ago I had set a 2,000m PB of 8 minutes 36 seconds. In July this year, I managed 9.56 for the same distance. Quite a lot of work to do then if I wanted to break 8 minutes in December.

Entries for the British Rowing Indoor Championships, presented by Visit Sarasota County, are open until 29 November 2017.

Why not set yourself a challenge and sign up to the 2,000m or support Sue and other competitors, including GB rowers, as a spectator. Book your place here.

Starting training

I’m following the intermediate plan provided by the team at British Rowing which includes three rowing sessions a week over nine weeks. I’m supplementing this with two or three strength and conditioning training sessions a week.

I managed to rope in two lovely friends, Nicky and Brenda, who were my regular gym partners when I trained for a triathlon. Both have agreed to train for and compete at the British Rowing Indoor Championships too, at both 2,000m and 500m.

Our gym sessions have been put together by our PT (my husband Matt) and include a fairly simple (but increasingly hard) six exercise circuit which can be done three times in about 45 minutes including warm up and stretching at the end.

1.           Deadlift

We started doing this with a large dumbbell, progressed to a barbell and are now using a trap bar.

We’re in the fourth week and have progressed to 6-10 reps at 55 kg

2.           Pull Ups

10 x pulls on the TRX

3.           Chest press

10 x chest press on the TRX

4.           Seated row

Fast powerful pulls on elasticated bands

5.           Squats

Again we started with a dumbbell and now have a barbell at the back of our necks and take these deep squats down to the level of a bench. Now doing 6-10 reps at 35kg

6.           Jump squats

Something to make your legs really wobble and your lungs hurt.

10 x fast squat jumps – initially just jumping and now holding a weight. Trying to reach the ceiling on the up jump

Goal setting

To reach my goal of under 8 minutes for 2,000m (and my secret goal to reach 7.45) I’d need to row the whole thing with an average pace for each 500m of around 1min 56 seconds.

Starting out for my 10-minute rows, my pace times for 500m have been between 2.18 – 2.25. My 500-metre rows sets have been at a pace of 2.07 – 2.18.

That said I can already really see some improvements in my fitness and the pace at which I can row.

This week I did 4 x 500m (low to high intensity with 2 minutes recovery) and it’s suggested that if you add the four times together it will give you a good target for the 2000m time trial next week. By massive coincidence, this time was 8:36 – the same as my PB from 20+ years ago.

Great to have that goal for next week’s big row… but still, a long way to go if I want to get under 8 minutes. Fortunately, I still have 7 weeks training left.

6 weeks to go

It’s been a tough weekend as I seem to have trapped a nerve in my leg or back which is making my groin very uncomfortable to walk. I rested completely on Saturday (after a tough weights session on Friday) but decided to get back on the Concept2 indoor rowing machine this evening.

Really pleased with the times and pace I achieved for 4 x 2 minutes with 1-minute rest.

Average 500m pace was 2.04.6

1 – 2.10.1

2 – 2.05.5

3 – 2.02.9

4 – 2.00.2

There is still time to get race ready, sign up to enter the British Rowing Indoor Championships, presented by Visit Sarasota County, here. If you are already signed up why not share your training progress with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.