Search ocean rowing and you will instantly find pictures documenting the effect of the sea water and the oar handles, a horror-show of blisters that are by no means restricted only to the hands.
Billy Blunden rowed the Atlantic while well into his 60`s and he compared the intensity of such a lengthy time spent rowing to ´stirring a cup of tea´. It´s an image that has been incredibly useful in training, but try doing anything for 12 hours a day and it´s going to be tough, including stirring tea.
Experienced ocean rowers have continuously stressed the battle of mind to overcome body. To think simply and
retain the enthusiasm to drag yourself from the damp, confined cabin to the wetter deck, to row for two hours, at times of the day usually spent asleep or on a very good night out.
So for myself and crew we haven´t been rowing 6 hours a day to build up to the impending experience of the Atlantic crossing, instead we´ve attempted to prepare enough to feel confident in our own capabilities to answer that call of ´Sam get your arse out of the cabin, your shift!´
For me that´s involved picking up weights for the first time since a visit to B&Q, to become acquainted with a gladatorial practice called the ´Haskell-Pitcher´(a mixure of rowing and weight lifting intervals, named after England Rugby´s James Haskell and our boat designer, Charlie Pitcher).
Coupled with the challenge to put on a considerable amount of weight to compensate for the calorie deficit while at sea. Sympathy for the excuse of revisiting the buffet tables over Christmas and New Year was in short supply, but with an expected weight loss of 2-3 stone while at sea a solid weight gain is one of the most important aspects of preparation.
When I was last in Lagos I tipped the scales at 11 stone, 8 weeks later I´ve hopped up to 12 3/4 stone through a combination of poached eggs in the morning, pints of chocolate milk after workouts and an eat on sight approach, not so much carb-loading as anythingIcangetmyhandson-loading.
Gradually calories have converted from fat to muscle and the post-workout effect is now more of a quiet satisfaction and not a grunting agony. But as Charlie himself put it ´the boat, when fully laden, is like a brick in the water´, in simple terms our ocean row is fundamentally about pointing that brick to the west and keeping it forward moving.