A public service announcement:
There is exactly no difference between doing 5,000m on the rowing machine and 10,000m. No difference at all. I have conducted this experiment for you. You can trust me.
As I mentioned last week in my unpleasant imaginary reconstruction of some poor guy’s lonely life, I have been trying to get into rowing more. Rowing machines make up one of those parts of the gym that I have historically found terrifying, because what you’re supposed to do on them is so hard. The first week of taking up rowing is an irritatingly effective reminder that you’re just not in the kind of shape you’d like.
It used to be that doing a pathetic 500m would leave me completely winded and wanting to die by hanging myself from the pull-up bar. Eventually, about a year ago, I averaged out at about 2,000m before going back to good old reliable free weights, my comfort zone.
But lately I’ve gone back, and I’ve been trying to stay on the machines for longer, and longer, and longer, and so far, no death (but also no great moment of bliss). For someone whose main cardiovascular activity has always running — more precisely, sprinting, which gets me out of the aerobic zone — rowing has felt impossible to get better at.
But, my friends, my confidents, I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to improve. And not only is it possible, but it actually gets pretty easy at around the 5000m mark. Mainly because anything past 5,000m is just an extension of the death you died around 4,500 m. Just as, if you died in 1984, you will still be dead in 2000 or 2075, it doesn’t make a shred of difference if you go to 5,000 m, 7,000 m, or 10,000 m. You will be exactly as tired, pissed off, miserable, and proud of yourself at 10,000 m, as you would be if you stayed at 5,000. But you’ll have done more work.
Hell, I did this today in a fasted state, at 4 in the afternoon. It’s possible. You’ll hate it, but it’s possible.