It’s no secret that rowing is an extremely demanding sport that requires great power, strength, endurance, and overall physical prowess. It’s a sport that demands its participants to have peak conditioning in both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. Not only that but, Boat races are extremely tough endeavours due to each race lasting 5.5 to 7 minutes for more or less 2000m and needing near-maximal effort for the entire duration of the race. Such a physical endeavour would be nearly impossible to accomplish without the right sources of nutrition and fuel to sustain you through such a grueling task. So, we’ve set up some guidelines for you rowers to follow that should really help improve your racing performance.

Lots of energy in = Power output spike

As with most super-intensive sports, a high energy and carbohydrate diet is required to support the training and competition demands of rowers (according to the Sports Dietician’s Association of Australia). Furthermore, meeting the physical requirements needed to achieve qualifying standards (let alone peak performance goals), such as body weight requirements, performance-related muscular development, and general strength goals are next to impossible if one doesn’t take the time to plan his or her dietary requirements and make sure all eating necessities are in-check.

For example, a male heavyweight rower (one who may be taller and more muscular than his peers) may struggle with the amount of food he is required to eat in order to meet his strength and training requirements. This can become especially tough when trying to juggle things like training, work, and studies, etc.

As a result, making use of easily transportable and high energy-dense snacks would be the most viable choice for such an athlete and would play a key role in ensuring that he is able to meet his daily requirements without adding foods that may be much higher in volume and lower in overall calories. Suggestions such as the following options would prove to be the most prudent:

  • Cereal and muesli bars
  • Flavoured yoghurts
  • Muffins (particularly fruit muffins)
  • High energy drinks e.g. sports drinks or protein shakes mixed with liquid carbs like (maltodextrin)

Now, these guidelines would obviously apply to individuals of other varying weights and similar daily schedules but it is important to note that your diet should be customized and tailored to your weight. Overconsumption of calories can have an adverse effect on providing adequate energy for your races and training. Remember to also keep in mind to keep low-volume calorie-dense foods close to and around training and race times.

Don’t forget about that H20

As with most highly intensive sports that involve long periods of energy expenditure and many hours of rigorous training sessions, rowers would naturally have high fluid requirements. Sweat loss can happen in great quantities during long bouts in the sun at regattas and training sessions, particularly when these training sessions extend to twice a day.

According to the SDA, it is recommended that “rowers should monitor their fluid losses by weighing before and after training sessions and competition. Rowers can assess how much fluid they lose during a training session by weighing themselves pre and post-training. For every 1 kilogram lost, 1.5 litres of fluid need to be replaced.”

We recommend that training sessions should always begin in a well-hydrated state. Moreover, keeping a good supply of sports drinks and water on hand during training is key to making sure optimal energy levels are sustained. Sports drinks are particularly well-tailored for these situations as they are able to provide and replenish the necessary electrolytes that you would lose from intense sweating during hard sessions as well as supply a steady stream of fast-acting carbohydrates to sustain energy levels.

What would be an ideal pre-event eating plan?

Obviously, a meal that would leave you feeling energetic and hydrated is far more suitable to one that would leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable. A good idea would be to eat foods that are low in fat and fibre while simultaneously being high in easily digestible carbohydrates.

Examples of these would include:

  • Breakfast cereal + low-fat milk
  • Fruit salad + low-fat yogurt
  • Muffin or crumpet with jam/honey
  • Sandwich + Salad + lean meat/cheese

If you have a tendency to feel nervous pre-event and your appetite poses a problem, high-energy sports drinks can be a suitable alternative. Furthermore, a small snack such as a muesli/cereal bar or dried fruit can be eaten about an hour before an event as a quick way to stock up on up energy levels.

Whether it be a race or a hard day of training, making sure that you have optimal energy levels for an extremely intense sport such as rowing is a key component of making sure you’re performing at your best and making improvements along the way. Following the guidelines set out in this article is sure to get you rowing at your best

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