We all know that boat set is one of the constant elements that rowers are always searching for. We work on set, complain about set, search for set, argue about set, sometimes constantly. We work on handle heights and timing and core strength and pressure into the pin, in order to find or create better set in whatever boat we're in.
In rowing, set is universal. It crosses all boundaries, languages, skill levels, from the novice of the novice to the Olympic rower, set is the holy grail sought after by every rower on the planet.
Am I going to give you the secret to setting your boat?
No. Of course not. You know better than that.
What I am going to do is talk to you about your set.
How do you set yourself.
In my work I come across many masters women that struggle with balancing their rowing lives and their everything else lives. They want to develop themselves into better athletes, stronger rowers, and fierce competitors, but they are consistently reminded by society or partners or kids or aging parents or their inner voices (mostly their inner voices), that there are other things in life besides rowing.
What?! No there isn't.
I know, shocking right?.
I'll ask you to stop here for a moment and actually consider that.
Do you feel balanced between your rowing and the other elements of your life?
Do you ever have the experience of feeling completely consumed by the rowing and then realized that there are other bits that are getting delayed or set aside or maybe ignored?
Are you sacrificing time away from family, traveling near and far in order to participate in competitive opportunities?
I'm not going to tell you that you can balance everything because I don't believe in balance.
When it comes to personal lives and masters women it's not about balance, it's about harmony.
Music is a good example of what I'm talking about. Musicians know that sometimes when one is playing with others there will be times when you are not playing, or your playing loudly or softly in order to produce the best musical piece. It's the harmony of the instruments that produces the music. But not all of the instruments are always playing or are always heard.
For masters athletes there are times when the rowing is loud and stands out from the rest of life. Then there are times when it is softer and the volume on your other life focuses are turned up. This is the harmony of life as a committed athlete.
That's an easy concept to consider intellectually, and I think most of us can relate to things harmonizing in life rather than constantly and consistently being "balanced".
The piece of this though that I think can be challenging for masters women is to allow themselves to practice that harmony, and allow themselves those moments of completely focusing on their rowing. I think there can be a thought process for masters women that ends up resulting in guilt about the time spent on one's own development of being an athlete. It's a thought process that includes a certain amount of negotiation with oneself about time spent training or racing or volunteering at your club, etc.
But here's the thing. You deserve to be selfish about this. If you are not focused on you and your development process within this particular aspect of your life, how will the other aspects be served?
Your SELF effort, SELF time, SELF interest, and connection to other SELVES matters.
In other words, it is exactly because of your rowing and competing that you are able to harmonize all the other bits of your life. By giving this thing to yourself and focusing on you during practice or land training or your racing season, you in turn create the energy, focus, and intention needed to give to those other elements of your life.
You are creating a mentally stronger YOU.
A more resilient YOU.
A more fit and physically healthy YOU.
A more harmonized YOU.
Are you not?
Are these not some seriously valuable gifts that those around you are going to benefit from?
Of course these gifts are valuable, and of course those close to you will benefit.
Two. Why not?!
Why shouldn't you focus on you and creating yourself as a strong athlete and fierce competitor? Why shouldn't this be a priority?
In fact I would argue it's a responsibility that you have to yourself.
You owe it to YOU to get into the boat and row your guts out.
Well ok, you know, not literally, but I think you're picking up what I'm putting down.
You not only owe it to you, you owe it to every woman that's going to walk into this sport after you. She will need to see you making yourself a priority and being a committed athlete in order to see that in herself.
By blazing the trail you set a standard for the next 40 or 50 or 60 year old woman that decides she wants to pick up an oar and go into battle.
Dig into this in your own mind and examine your approach in terms of balance and harmony.
I submit to you that balance is elusive and ultimately unattainable. It is a self-defeating construct that only reminds you of where you are not, as opposed to where you are.
Harmony can be realized and IMHO is healthier mentally and empowering.
Here's to the harmonious rower and all the rowers that will follow her.
Row hard, Row well, Compete, Have fun!