There’s more to life than rowing

7am doesn’t have to be a lie in


I have a confession: I used to be a rower. I used to be a massive rower, like a twice a day, every day kind of rower. Like a can’t talk about anything else, eat a tonne, go out for a night in lycra for ‘banter’ kind of rower.

No one's having fun here

No one’s having fun here

And then, one day, in the midsts of a killer training cold, and in-between the 7am 90 minute ergo, and evening gym session I bumped into a friend from school who had quit rowing, and she just looked so happy. Something I hadn’t seen in my own face for such a long time.

It was there I made my decision. I quit rowing, and I got my life back. I started doing new things, I boxed, I went out and met new people, I lay in bed.

The smiles was face, but muscles were real

On my CV rowing taught me perseverance and the value of hard work, but in reality it taught me that 6am is a horrific time to be alive, and that things can get worse.

Since quitting rowing I have become more interesting because I’m actually doing something else apart from sitting in a boat with the same eight people, who also do nothing else but sit in a boat. My breadth of conversation has improved massively – I can talk about something more interesting than rowing, which is pretty much anything.

You become a social recluse, one of the lycra themed social crowd who everyone thinks will be really cool but actually can’t talk to anyone for longer than five minutes unless it’s about your time in a boat.

You might take up rowing to get fit and healthy, but look at your hands. Look at those blisters. Blow your nose for the 20th time today. Clean the dirt off your face again and again. You’re not happy and you don’t feel it either.

You say it’s all for the regatta season, but is it? I don’t miss throwing up on the start line from nerves, or spending all day lying down doing nothing to preserve energy. Regattas were just another way to stress you out far too close to exams.

Just moisturise, right?

Just moisturise, right?

Rowing is important but it sucks you in. But once you’ve quit, once you’ve got used to eating normal amounts, talking about other things, and not putting yourself through unnecessary amounts of pain, you realise there is so much more worth doing than messing about on a river.