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Seven Things Not To Do Before The Head Race Season Starts
posted on September 12, 2005

Sometimes I love playing the contrarian. You know, that guy who just has to look at things from an alternate view. Or the person who really needs to go against conventional wisdom.

For instance, everywhere I turn I see people/businesses/coaches promoting "To Do" lists. Those David Lettermen-like lists that are supposed to grab your attention and help you do the right thing.

In my email in-box this week I've received the following:

  • Want to be successful at writing, use this 10-point TO DO List.
  • Before your kids start school here are 20 safety things TO DO.
  • Don't even think of refinancing your home without our financial TO DO list.


    Enough! I love the advice, but enough with the "TO DOs." They can drive a person To Drink.

    Instead, how about this. Let's try something from a different angle (said the contrarian). It seems occasion for a "TO DON'T" list. Therefore, I'm presenting to you seven "TO DON'Ts." Seven things I highly recommend that you DON'T do before the start of the Fall head race season.

    Buckle your seat belt, they're coming fast.

    1) DON'T Use The Same Rigging Numbers Used In The Sprint Season
    Why? Because the leverage used in sprint races should be different (heavier) than that used in head races. Longer races at significantly lower rating and rowed at a time when many rowers are not in strong physical condition dictate that things need to be lighter for rowers.

    2) DON'T Assume That Your Water Way Has Not Changed
    Why? Because somewhere out on your river/lake/creek someone has either (a) placed a net across your race course that is sure to catch everything alive (including a Mercury outboard), (b) sunk a 40 foot cabin cruiser that lurks just 4 inches below the water and is just looking for a few skegs to join it, and/or (c) put up a swim platform two hundred meters from the finish line of your course that is so low in the water the chances of a coxswain seeing it are about the same as Mr. Bush meeting Cindy Sheehan.

    3) DON'T Do The Same Workouts Training For Head Races As You Used Training For Sprint Races
    Why? Basic physiology and psychology dictate this. Along with the understanding that 2000 meter erg testing in the Fall is about as popular as Brussels sprout ice-cream. Different racing requires different training, especially with athletes who spent the summer (all summer) loving life to the fullest.

    4) DON'T Think For One Moment That All Of Your Safety Equipment Is Where You Left It And It Is In Good Order
    Why? Well for one reason, there is nothing that makes a better "fun box" for a three year old than a first aid kit. For another, it is amazing what a great nest a raccoon can build out of a bag of life jackets. And yet another, launch paddles have a way of sprouting legs, never to be seen again. Unless you put it under lock and key at the end of the Spring season, chances are slim it is where you left it.

    5) DON'T Believe That All Of Your Equipment Is In Good Working Order.
    Why? Because. Because we are rowers. Because we pull hard. Because we break things-a lot of things (and have habits of not telling people that, "Opps, I broke that . . . .").

    6) DON'T Use The Outboard Motor Without Testing It.
    Why? For the simple reason that getting two-hundred-meters-downriver-when-the-engine-cuts-out-and-the-second-day-novice-are-rowing-by-a-five-into-a-restored-(and very expensive)-cabin-cruiser-owned-by-the father-in-law-of-your-school's-president is much more of an Excedrin headache than you really need.

    7) DON'T assume that your rowers remember more than a smidgen of all that great technique you taught them last Spring.
    Why? Playstation, work, life, Harry Potter, beer, ESPN2, and a horde of other brain-cell grabbers that happen in a typical summer.

    And finally (an extra bonus TO DON'T)

    8) DON'T eat that donut that you just found under your launch seat from last year's final practice.
    Why? Just trust me. Don't. Regardless of how hungry you are. Don't.

    I base each of these Don'ts on personal experience. So, now go to the boathouse and don't do these things. Let me know how they don't go. And if you've got a favorite DON'T before the fall starts, let me know.



  • row2k author
    Mike Davenport
    Mike Davenport is the author of the Nuts and Bolts Guide to Rigging. He will be teaching at the Max Performance clinics in January. For more information click here.

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