Saturday, 26 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

Does everything that goes up have to come down?

It's been a little while since I've posted and a lot has happened in the past 10 days.  I'm currently in Sierra Nevada [Spain] on the first altitude camp of the season.  Before we flew out it was a busy final week at Caversham.

Last week saw the first batch of testing in the 2012 Olympic season.  These tests were more informal than some of the more serious ones still to come, but they are an initial marker on the board as we all look to secure our places as individuals on the team.  We were tested on the water and on the ergo.  The water performance went particularly well for me.  I was pairing with Alex Partridge and we showed that the good speed we had in training could be translated into the racing.  The second type of testing was on the ergo - 2km - this is normally more of a challenge for me.  Going into the test I knew I had made very good gains on the longer training ergos, but had not idea of my "race pace".  It meant it was more of a "jump on and see" exercise than knowing exactly what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it.  At the end I was 3 seconds away from my PB, which was ok but it was really a bare-minimum performance.  I knew midway through that I was struggling and looked to take it on from what turned out to be a bit too far out.  It meant I blew my doors off close to the finish, just a tad too early.

On Monday we flew very early from Gatwick to Malaga; it was then a 3-4 hour coach journey up into the mountains to reach the training centre at 2320m altitude.  Camp started hard, I reckon I was still feeling the effects of the testing at the end of the previous week and I particularly struggled Wednesday morning.  Thankfully I turned that round and moved my scores in the right direction, showing pace significantly stronger than I had been capable off when we were last here in January.  Then last night disaster struck.

As regular readers will know, rowers and their backs are like a naked flame and a polyester jumper.  Something that really don't mix too well.  My back has had its fair share of problems, but for the past year it has been getting stronger and more reliable as time passes.  Suddenly last night my back went, leading to a massive spasm and severe pain.  24 hours haven't even passed yet, and im still in a significant amount of discomfort, but I'm already showing signs of improvement - even if I can't sit down, walk naturally or even lie down without getting twinges.  It makes typing awkward and so I hope you will excuse me as I try to rest up.  It is now a waiting game, hopefully it will pass nearly as quickly as it came.

On a quick positive note, thank you to those that have donated to the Movember Campaign (thanks to Atos for chipping in too!).  If you've got a spare £1 to help raise awareness for men's health issues please visit - .

Below is a picture Tony Fleat from O2 and his tashtastic growth.  There is also a Freddy Mercury-esque picture of me.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Busy week ahead

Sophie "don't mess" Atkinson @ O2

A reasonably big week has gone by, definitely feeling it - but in a lot better shape than I expected. 

I woke up Wednesday morning with a hot/cold fever and thought it was going to be a double-tops check out (c.f. darts); I toughed it out and actually started to feel better.  Jurgen says "what comes with rowing, goes with rowing" - it didn't quite work like that when I had a chest infection, but this time it worked out just fine.

This week see's us taper down for our first internal trial of the year; it will be followed by a 2km ergo test on Saturday.  Both will be first markers for the season, I hope to convert strong training performances into good results.

The photo above was taken earlier in the week.  I'm with Sophie (my gaffer at O2).  My moustache makes me look like Cyrille Snear and she looks mean - but she's actually really nice.

Coming up - Next Monday I'll be flying to Sierra Nevada [Spain] for the first altitude camp of the season.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Movember, Four's Head and month of pain.

Training has gone into 6th gear, the problem is I thought I was only driving a five speed. In the next fortnight I've got an internal trial on the water and an ergo (rowing machine) test. I'll then be heading out to Sierra Nevada for one of our altitude camps. You can read about last years Sierra Nevada camp by checking out the blog posts from January in the archive.

I came second at the Four's Head (in our boat class) and came 8th overall. We were 2.3 secs behind the winning Molesey crew, which isn't very much over an 18min race! We should have won, but we ended up taking a detour towards Westfield and the King's Road - sadly didn't pick up any decent bargains to give that cloud a silver lining.

If you follow me on Twitter you will see that I've been supporting the Movember campaign. Fundamentally it's about raising awareness for male specific illnesses, specifically prostate and testicular cancer. I will talk about it again soon - in the interim you can do three things

1) Men, make sure you don't become that statistic, book your annual doctor's appointment and get that check-up. (Women you can encourage your nearest man)

2) You can donate to the campaign at

3) Pass the word on.

As always, thanks for reading. Questions or ideas welcome.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Fours Head

Tomorrow is the Fours Head.  It's an annual race held on the River Thames; running from Mortlake to Putney (the boat race course in "reverse").  Until a couple of weeks ago I didn't realise I could actually do the race this year (I thought we wouldn't be released from GB commitments), and it was only a few days ago that I found out I would be racing at all.

I'm filling into a Leander four as one of the other guys on the team hasn't recovered from an injury.  I row for the University of London, but lots of guys are enticed to go to Leander as they offer free breakfasts.  I won't be selling my soul anytime soon though, I'll sort my own breakfast out thanks.

If you're in West London, the best places you can watch the race are from Barnes Bridge, Hammersmith Bridge or one of the few pubs that line the route.