Saturday, 3 December 2011

The 2K

This is a post that I'm surprised I've not written waaaaaaaay before now. (I've also carried round the draft for it in my bag for three weeks, but that's just my incompetence).

2000m. On an ergo. As fast as you can.

Sounds simple. It is. It is also torture. It is sort of hard to describe to people who have never done one, so I won't try. (Most of my readers I assume are boaties though => will have done a 2K before).

Anyway, this is what goes through my head while in the throes of a 2K ergo. I have done enough of them now that I pretty much always shout the same shit at myself, so this is a really quite accurate representation.


So, your entire day has been ruined by the fact you have to do a 2K at the end of it but you've finally arrived at your place of 2K-age. The ergs are all lined up and mocking you. Bastards. I usually at this point decide to be an antisocial bastard and plug into my mp3 player and put it on LOUD. This was my song of choice. EPIC. (I challenge you to put this through some headphones really loud and not feel like a complete hero afterwards).

So I listened to this in a completely immersive can-hear-nothing-else sort of way for a good old while until I felt like Thor and in a mood to completely smash that ergo in the face. 

So yes, there I was in Goldie with trance leaking out from my headphones, essentially looking like a complete pillock. Bothered? Nope!

The whole 'feeling like a Norse God' thing was a little ruined by my glutes exploding with pain when I sat on the ergo. I can honestly say I have never been so ruined before starting a 2K. It was a little upsetting to be honest, when the act of simply sitting on an ergo made me whimper a bit.

But it was OK. I then made The Choice. I can summarise The Choice thus:

This has also been nicely put in another blog I read as "Choosing the Wrench". To the uninitiated it's rather acronym-y: blog writer is does CrossFit which to my knowledge is a US thing (I've certainly not heard of it over here, but them I not exactly moving in the right circles to hear about it) and WOD = workout of the day. However, I think the "because fuck you, that's why" approach is appropriate here.

What you do at 800m to go when the shit really hits the fan is a choice. You can stop or pull less hard and make the pain go away or you can fucking push harder and not let the erg get the better of you. You have to go to that place because you expect it of the crew around you and they expect it of you. If you have any self respect you expect if of yourself. 800m to go is like standing on the edge of an abyss which you must either throw yourself into, pain be damned, or turn and run away from. It is a primeval choice - fight or flight. And you must choose.

So then, everyone has warmed up and a deathly silence falls. You wait. You come to front stops and there is silence.

It seems like an eternity.

Then someone says 'go' and all hell breaks loose.

The first 15 strokes you feel like a god. It just feels so easy.

If you are not a badgering retard you will quickly settle away from r50 ridiculouso splits. I do this by swearing at myself. (You will see that this is a common theme).

The first K I usually fine passes without much thought. It certainly passes much faster than the second... It should in general feel "alright" (if it doesn't I tell myself that it does)  - not comfortable "alright", but not balls-to-the-line yet. You hold your split. You get the 1 min barrier thing when the aerobic system kicks in but you know that is nothing.

The K passes. Shit gets real.

The mental battle begins.

I truely believe that a 2K test is made or broken by what you do with 800-500m to go. If you fuck up this, there is no return and you'll fuck up the entire test.

My sprint begins at 650m to go. The hammer falls.


At this point I regret starting the sprint earlier. But 500m is nothing, right? Right?

The last 500m lasts FOREVER.

You are by now in a very strange place where nothing in the world matters but the split on the screen, the number of metres left to go and how fucking fast you can do it.

Kitchen sink is thrown at ergo. You have to do it stroke by bastarding stroke but you do it.

The is no pain, no surroundings, no anything but those decreasing numbers. You throw yourself into the abyss.


The metres fall to zero and there is nothing but pain.

I fucking hate the way it hurts the most just after you finish. Those 10 seconds after finishing a 2K are really quite something. Everything in your body is screaming at you but you feel so alive. The knowledge that you have truly ruined yourself while you lie immovable on the floor, or slumped in your footwell at the end of a race trying to breathe. It is living. It is why we row.

Till next time, ergo. Till next time.


  1. When you say there is nothing but pain - in my experience - there is sometimes also vomit ;-)

  2. I have never puked after an erg, but then I have a minimum 3.5 hour no-eating zone before a 2K/30min/5K out of fear of doing this....!

  3. Ahhh I LOVE THAT FEELING. The difference between 5 sec before finishing and 5 sec after finishing is physiologically awesome. Max power output -> couldn't get up if someone held a gun to your head, within one second. Bloody amazing, what your head can force your body to do. Makes me want to go and do one now.

  4. @Sarah - now with new and improved ending.

  5. off topic:
    maybe i'm the only one of my kind around here.
    i'm a crossfitter (not a rower - is that ok?) and from denmark.

    on topic: 2000 on the ergs are horrible - so are 1600m runs.

  6. OMFG - the horror, the horror .... I'm getting flashbacks ... nooooooo

    I'm also old enough to have erged when 2500m was the benchmark test. When you realised that last 500m tacked on the end was totally utterly F-ing pointless ...

  7. The guy who leads the Emma circuits (ex-captain, did trial eights) went through a bit of a crossfit phase before discovering still newer and more entertaining ways to break us (they currently involve 25kg sandbags).

  8. I've not done a 2k since June 2010, what have I been missing?!

  9. You never told us what your score was!

  10. @ Steve T - yep very glad they knocked 500m of it. And score is on a strictly need to know basis :p

    @Alex - it looks like the Clare guys have a similar thing with massive tyres and sledgehammers and things. Crossfit certainly does look pretty awesome.And horrendous. Look at this: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOo pain.

    @Anders - Ooooo a danish crossfitter? Cool! :D

  11. @Steve T, I'm with you on the extra 500m (Roger what were you thinking???)

    @Alex - you should see the London Rowing Club men who do bunny hops up staircases carrying 10kg weights - freaking hilarious.


    Awesome post... you missed out the bit where you mis-count the number of strokes needed to complete 160meters and have to do one more to drop the last 7 meters off the screen.
    I particularly empathise with the wierd place 'nothing matters except you and the numbers on the screen'. It's a reality.

    And I did a 2k in November last year and although not a freaking disgrace, I did beat some young and beautiful people in a way that was very satisfying.... then we did seat races and I beat them on the water too. Not showing off - just saying old farts shouldn't beat young people but sometimes we do without cheating.

    Rebecca Caroe
    Rowperfect UK

  12. the other thing is how time warps so much in that last 220m. It takes forever. The numbers move down soooo slowly, painful metre by painful metre. Owwwwwwwww.

  13. How did you get ruined legs before starting Anna? I find optimum 2k prep involves not running a marathon in the preceding 3 days. If 'optimum' means sacrificing a faster time in favour of much greater bitter, bile-flavoured, eyeball-melting, red-hot-pins-driven-through-quads, coughing-up-alveoli, BUT REALLY SATISFYING darkness.

  14. <33333333

    So damn right. Now onto the 5k or 30r20....

  15. Yes, time warping and miscounting strokes... the horror.

    It was funny Lindsay, I did think of you before doing it - something along the lines of "I bet Lindsay was more wrecked after doing a marathon the day before - MTFU" :-)

    Noooooooooooo not the 5K!!!!

  16. think I'd do the 30' at 20 over the 2k any day... ;-)

    The post "hits what a 2k day feels like on the head"!


    1. We used to do 30r30, if the coach really disliked us we would do 2k first. Gotta love the pain!!!


    Another interesting perspective...

  18. Wow! That post is amazing! How I would love to finish a 2K in less than 6 mins...

  19. Much as I like electronic music, not sure I get the "feeling like Thor" bit from it.

    However, how about this:


  20. Not being a Rower, but having done my share of 2k's due to CrossFit's love of the C2 erg I loved this. I almost spit coffee all over the macbook at with the flowchart arrival at "Commit Seppuku." Nicely done.

    Strangely, my fastest 2k ever (embarrassing by rowing standards) was the 1st one I ever did. I credit this to my subconscious now being acutely aware of what's to come, and trying to protect itself.


    A different take, but still valid!

  22. i fireman at work did a million metre row for the kids burn unit over ten days, f@@@king crazy but what a legend . he raised 50 grand for the kids burn unit and blew his can someone sit on an ergo and do 100 km a day 10 days straight. I struggle to do 10 k.

  23. Just to let you know, I used this post (and your Thor-music) to psyche myself up for the 2k test I did this evening. It was the most painful test I have ever done, and you're totally right, it was at 800m to go that the shit really hit the fan and I chose to throw the wrench. Nearly blacked out in the last 100 but it was (almost) worth it! Anyway, good job :)

  24. So i was listening to that Deadmau5 track while reading this, and i honestly felt like i was in the middle of a piece. everything about this is absolutely 100% spot on perfect

  25. Jenni, Big Dickstein (if that is your real name :D), why cheers muchly :-)


  26. Love it! so true... I've gotta do one next week, Pumped!

  27. Holy Mother of God... that's me - counting my strokes from the bottom. I actually start counting at 600m under my breath between yelling "COME ON!" at myself. People stare at me from their pansy "just row" settings.


  28. just Thor'ed my way to a pb! thank you!!!! brilliant post!

    1. I love that Thor is now a verb! (And congratulations on the PB-age)

  29. The fact that everyone on my crew (we're juniors) is scared of land days because coach might make us do a 2k... yeah. And then my coaches, (who are on the university team), are over here like, "We had to do a 10k with the damper on 10" and I wanted to cry for them.

    1. 10K on damper 10? I am confused by this...

  30. Proximo: "The silence before you strike, and the noise afterwards, it rises, rises up a storm, as if you were the Thunder God himself."
    Maximus: "You were a rower?"
    Proximo: "Yes I was"

    love, Eddie T xxx

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  34. Doesn't help :(


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