How to Off-Season Train w/o Hating Yourself



  1. Used to describe uncool group of high school kids in the movie Mean Girls
  2. The feeling of indifference rowers get when they have pushed themselves too hard for too long and can’t make themselves care about rowing anymore.

Synonyms: Mental Overuse, “Tapped Out”

“How did your erg pieces go today??”

“It went fine. I’m happy I finished. I’m just trying to make it to the end of the winter, I’m totally burned out.”

We are constantly expected to perform on the water, be positive teammates, rip fat ergos and be happy about it. It’s hard to perform at 110%, 100% of the time for all four seasons. Rowing without a break is physically tiring, but rowing is just as mentally challenging as it is physically. If you’re not sharp in your head it’s going to be impossible to push away the demons who tell you its not worth it to go harder when it matters most.

Burnout can fade in and out, but once the fire’s out it’s almost impossible to get back. When rowing stops being a challenge and starts being a chore you’re teetering on the edge.

During this offseason training time it’s really important to have a mental break from rowing. We have three weeks where no one is going to rank us based on ergs, we won’t have to worry about what boat we’re sitting in and we don’t have to show up at the boathouse everyday.

We need to use this time to protect ourselves from burning out in the spring or even in the middle of winter. It’s a time to rekindle the flame. It’s time to let our brains shift to studying for finals and eventually spending time with family instead of worrying about rowing. It’s time to take a deep breath, step back and look at rowing from a less stressful vantage point. This lull in the action is a time to do some soul searching on long runs or lonely ergos in your garage. A mental break doesn’t mean a break in training, it just means taking “me time” to take care of yourself.

Condensed into a nugget, my ripspiration guarding against burn out is “stay lit.” Let your rowing brain burn like a candle in the next few weeks, but don’t blow it out.  We’re going to need it to burn like a torch all winter so it can be a bonfire in the spring.

It all sounds a little fruity, but take a mental break on break. Stay strong, stay hungry, stay lit.


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