Muni as cross training

10 days ago I raced in the San Diego Crew Classic with some old college
teammates. We were doing this for old times sake, not to relive past glory.
Translation: we didn’t practice and didn’t expect to win, we just wanted to have
a good row and enjoy ourselves. I hadn’t been in an boat in about 4 years but I
wasn’t too concerned about my fitness since I have been Muniing about one hour a
day (5-6 miles), 5 days a week for the past year and a half. In addition to
challenging myself to learn to ride ever more difficult types of trails I like
to ride hard enough so that I am puffing throughout the ride. So I was
reasonably confident my cardiovascular base would be fine. Most of the power for
rowing is from the legs and I was sure they would be good, but I was a bit
concerned about my arms. Other than flailing about they don’t get much work.

Our finish was better than expected - 5th place but closer than we thought as we
were racing in Masters B (30-39 age group) while our actual average age was 50
and could have raced in Masters D. However, I was stunned by how good I felt
during the race. My wind was great, legs were very strong, and my arms although
just OK weren’t a problem. In stead of just hanging on, as was the case with
most of my teammates, I felt strong throughout the race and ready pick it up at
the finish. In fact it was the best I have felt racing since I stopped training
seriously 15 years ago. From time to time I have raced before and I would put in
a fair amount of training to get ready. I would row on an ergometer ( a rowing
machine), one of the most diabolical torture devices ever devised by man or
beast, run (an exercise that reminds me of how much wear and tear 20 years of
basketball and running has on the knees), and bicycle. I admit I didn’t enjoy
this survival training, and it showed in the races. I was surviving, not racing.

Before the race I explained my training program and It was met with skepticism
and thinly veiled smirks. Some of the skepticism disappeared after the race as I
was in much better shape than even those who get out to row regularly. I don’t
think I will be starting a trend toward Muniing as cross training for rowing,
but I am very impressed with it’s result’s. While riding on trails I am able to
push myself close to the anaerobic threshold without going through. Constantly
adjusting to every bump on the trail makes the time riding seem to fly by. I
ride anaerobically and work on strength by riding up hills. I am able to put
together a balanced training regimen by varying the route I take and easily
tailor my workout to my needs. I suppose I could do the same on a bike, but it
is much easier on a muni and a lot more mentally absorbing. Before I started
Muniing I had to force myself to go out for exercise. I look forward to my daily
Muni ride. Just can’t wait to go.

All the best,

John Hooten