For a rower time trials are a serious matter. Having an official time against your name can grant entry into national clubs or even enable competition with British Rowing. The trials are a record of progress and performance for all to see and, put a mark in the stand for athletes to work from. For Kingsley having the time trial brought forward by a few weeks was a positive as he was in a good place due to this new training regime. However, it turned out Sunday 27th September was a miserable day to be ‘messing about on the river’ with 35 mph winds and fast flowing water (both in the wrong direction) he knew he was going to have to work hard to get a good time.
“I’d been training on the stretch of the Thames where we do the time trials prior to the event, and I was feeling confident in my technique and strength” said Kingsley. “On the morning of the race I was up at 4.30am to be on the river for my allotted start time, it was freezing and the winds were brutal. As the umpire sounded my start it was hard just to pull away, I was fighting against all the elements.”
"As the umpire sounded my start it was hard just to pull away, I was fighting against all the elements.”
During the trial Kingsley can’t see anyone, he is on his own in the boat with just the words of his training team in his head. “When I saw a moored moat on the side of the river and it took me four strokes to get past it, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good time.” The race was 4 kilometers in total and with just 1 kilometer to go Kingsley was really struggling. “With a side wind coming in the boat, dead stopped at one point and I had to get going again, I was pushing through as hard as I could but my core was killing me and my biceps were blown. The muscles I use to row were exhausted so I took a second and asked my body what muscles still had some energy then I engaged them to pull through.”
“When I saw a moored moat on the side of the river and it took me four strokes to get past it, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good time."
Kingsley found himself using the smaller muscle groups he had recently been working on to get him through the last 1 kilometer of the race. Not truly realizing, at the time, what he had done to simply make it over the finish line his trainers were impressed and now Kingsley is focused on consciously engaging specific muscle groups. “I’m becoming more aware of how I work individual muscles and control them, since the race I’ve been working on replicating the technique I used to get me over the line during the trial.”
Kingsley completed his time trial in 25 minutes, a good time considering the conditions, although disappointing when he had been rowing the same distance on the same stretch of river in just 18 minutes during training. “I’m focused on the next trial on 4th December, hopefully the weather conditions will be more favourable, however, if they are not, I will be more prepared as I will have developed my technique further.”
When there are occasions it seems there is nothing left, it can often be the seemingly unimportant [muscles] that save the day. Something we can apply in may areas of personal and professional development, not to just focus or develop the big players [biceps] because on a calm day it may be these that deliver, yet when the odds are against you, all elements need to pull together.