A week in the life of a Glasgow rower

Blood, sweat and mallard ducks


I’m not a sporty person, I’m not a participator and I’m about as antisocial and as unfit as they come.

Last year, the most exercise I achieved was the library hill every now and again and the only “session” I knew involved questionable decisions and drunk texting. However, at the start of this semester, I decided to change all that and become a novice rower. Contrary to what it stereotypically takes to be a good rower, I’m short, with even shorter legs and I’m not exactly posh either, but I’m giving it a go anyway, and this is how it’s been going so far.

Glasgow's the name, rowing's the game

Glasgow’s the name, rowing’s the game

When I first signed up for rowing, I expected a little leisurely paddle down the clyde once a week and maybe a session or two on the rowing machine. Little did I know what painful sweaty hell I had got myself into. I’m now into week three and up to seven sessions a week  – I feel a six pack coming on already.

Session 1 – Technical

Usually on a Monday or Tuesday evening, session one is a technical session on the rowing machines. This session gives you time to work on your technique. It breaks you in gently to the week ahead, lulling you into a false sense of security before the more intense sessions hit.

Session 2 – Intense

This is an early one. Usually at seven or eight AM on a Wednesday morning, the intense session is a killer. You row in intervals, as hard as you can, for thirty to forty minutes with various people shouting aggressively behind you. I know what you’re thinking – why am I spending my Wednesday mornings in my warm cosy bed when I could be doing this instead?! Don’t be too jealous. The walk home is painful and  if you’re not fighting a whitey the whole way, you’re doing it wrong. My delicate little lady hands now look as though I’ve worked on a farm for the last seven years of my life and my boyfriend will no longer hold my hand without grimacing severely.

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Post intense session feels

Session 3 – Circuits

As if the early session wasn’t enough on a Wednesday, I then like to further punish myself by attending the circuit session at night. It starts off reasonably manageable, but you’re lucky if I make it out of the session still able to hold myself up.  Usually, at the end, I enjoy curling up in a ball and pretending I’m a beetroot. Circuits are difficult, but if you give them a good go, they’re actually pretty fun, even if you’re unable to walk for two days afterwards.

The Social

There’s no training on a Friday for Seniors or Novices, so Thursday is the social. Last Thursday, I spent my evening cable tied to six other people for the whole night. Not nearly as kinky as it sounds and presumably, it ended up a bit messy.

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Black ‘n’ gold

Sessions 4 and 5 – Water

This is where the ducks come in. Saturday and Sunday are water sessions. This is by far the best bit about becoming a rower. We’ve not all got to grips with it quite yet but we’re getting there. You’re out on the water for around an hour, usually in a boat of eight, with a cox at the front instructing you. It’s not exactly the French Riviera, but if the sun is shining, it almost could be (with a lot of imagination and if you squint one eye slightly). Also, if you like ducks, there are a lot of them, so you’ll have a field day.

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Straight out a Thomas Cook brochure

But it can be rewarding

But it can be rewarding

Sessions 6 and 7 – Own time

On top of all your other sessions, in your own time you’re to do two cross-training sessions in the gym – extra healthy.

So there you have it – a week in the life of a Glasgow novice rower. I can’t say I’ve exactly sold it but trust me when I say, despite the blisters and sweat and early mornings, it’s all worth it in the end. Everyone is so welcoming and helpful and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a society to join next year.