Spring has arrived and it’s time to be back in boats; rowing on a real, liquid body of water. Winter gets to be so long that I sometimes forget that we’re a rowing team and not an erging team.
Shifting seasons means shifting mindsets. Success is no longer a solid number to be pulled on the erg and put neatly into an excel spreadsheet. It comes in technique, power and ultimately boat speed. As an incredibly competitive person I could spend hours piling up evidence to try to deduce where I stand on the team and what boat I will likely be sitting in. During the winter it’s easy to gauge based on erg scores, but in the spring it gets fuzzy.
The biggest difference in water time verses wintertime is when and how Excel spreadsheets are analyzed.
I’ve probably spent hours (over two years of collegiate rowing) staring at spreadsheets, but if I wrote “proficient in Microsoft Excel” on my resume it would still be bullshit.
In the winter spreadsheets are published after practice and turn a workout into solid numbers that are neatly ranked and then easily obsessed over. “If she was faster than me during the second and third piece but then died on the last two and ended up with the same average split as me does that make me better than her?” Doing anything more than noting personal improvement from workout to workout will result in extreme anxiety.
In the spring excel spreadsheets are published the night before practice and contain the lineups and workout for the next morning. “Oh cool, I’m stroking a boat! But this person is in my boat and her 2k was really slow last week, but her technique is way better than the person sitting seven of the other boat. But we have the best coxswain…so what does that mean?” Trying to find patterns in order to place yourself on a ranked continuum will also drive you crazy.
Sometimes having line ups come out makes me very happy. I’ve attracted some weird looks whispering “yes” to myself mid-lecture because I was pleased with my boating. I’ve raised my eyebrows in pleasant surprise and flattery seeing that I’ve been placed in a boat of all seniors, only to be kept awake because the next morning I would have to hold my own in a boat of all seniors.
Other times line ups make me feel awful. I hate that I’ve been put in boats with people that I really love and respect and thought that I’m too good to be rowing with them. It’s a horrid attitude to have, and a self-fulfilling prophecy will occur when the row goes poorly.
A good rower will make any boat they are in go faster, a mediocre rower will piss and moan about their bad boating. A good rower will take the information in an excel spreadsheet, use it to improve and then move on with their life.
I spend most of my time in pursuit of “good” rowing, but for now I think I should spend a little less time looking at spreadsheets.