26. Sep, 2018



 Having been a track runner for most of my life, why now Indoor Rowing? The simple answer is due to arthritis in my right knee caused by

-Initially inappropriate training shoes,

-Repetitive stress injuries and not appreciating the benefits of crosstraining in preventing them

-running too soon after injury

-too much training on roads...i.e. running facing oncoming traffic, forgetting the camber and how many miles got covered off balance with more stress on one leg than the other.

-Not listening to my body.

 Sounds familiar? Now north of 76, my choices of not just sport but competitive sport are very limited. My wife’s disability means that I cannot leave her alone in the house for any length of time. This rules out running (even if I could), cycling and trips to even the nearest gym/pool. True, I have my own backgarden shed/gym (see previous blogs) and I have used it for weight and boxing training but even a treadmill, static bike and rowing machine are solitary activities that cannot provide competition.

But hold yew hard, old paartner! (Norfolkese for wait a minute).

 My old rowing machine was about to give up the ghost. In seeking an updated replacement on the internet I came across Concept 2...a make of rower (or Ergometer) found in gyms and homes across the world. Boxes began to get ticked.

 Each machine is fitted with a computer that shows and records every aspect of a training session. These details can then be recorded on a Flash Card, transferred to a home computer and then uploaded to an online log. I bought one.

 Now for the clever bit…

 Because Indoor Rowing is subject to neither tide, climate nor weather the performances of individuals can be compared across the world. This enables international crews to be formed and to compete in virtual regattas. At the moment the annual “Fall Challenge” is in full cry. Hundreds of clubs enter worldwide to row the greatest number of metres, September 15-October 15, 2018. I am proud to belong to “The Ancient Mariners,” rowing in the boat “Tasmania.” Bring in mind that most of our members are in their seventies and eighties, we are currently fifth. My contribution is to row 10,000 metres per day for the duration of the competition.

 Finally, what benefits has the sport conferred?

Self respect.

At this moment I feel sufficiently fit, healthy and strong to care for my wife in the manner she needs and deserves.


I have lost weight sensibly at the rate of 1lb per week. Because rowing is a pushing and not a pulling sport (60% legs; 30% core; 10% arms), I have been able to safely develop muscles around my knees to the point I can now walk without pain. It has allowed me to get very fit but far from the dialy tiredness of running 7/7.

 Honest and open amateur competition.

I like the ranking system and enjoy being able to tackle distances from 100m to full Marathon unlike my running where I was firmly in the 200/400m bracket at the sharp end of competition.

 Membership of a strong international cameraderie

It is strong enough to get me out of my bed at six in the morning for the first of my two daily sessions rather than let my mates down. “Mates?” you might well say, “people you will never meet face to face. How can they be mates?”

 The answer is simple. They, like me, all row with Ulyssees (see previous blog)…Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

 Alternatively, as Queen put it…

We are the champions, my friend,

We keep on fighting to the end.”

 Anybody who shares that outlook regardless of colour, gender, sexuality, status, nationality, creed or age, is a mate of mine.