Marcus McElhenney

The Hard Winter Months: A Coxswain in the Winter

Now is the time to listen to those recordings that we took months back and never listened to because we hate to.
If you are at all like me, you absolutely hate the winter. I am not kidding or exaggerating at all. The days are shorter, the wind is colder, running outside hurts, treadmills are boring, and worst of all…no water time! It is enough to make a grown man cry. And I often do, like a hungry hungry baby.
But in all seriousness, the winter months can be hard for coxswains. Unlike rowers who get to at least workout on the ergs and in tanks, we do not get a chance to work on our calls and steering. So not only do we not get a chance to get better, but we can actually get worse. The time away can deaden our skills and we end up going backwards. If you are really good, then this is not a problem. You will pick it back up pretty quickly and there is no harm or foul. But unless your name is Kaitlin Snyder, Ned DelGuercio or Mary Whipple, you are not that good and will need some help.
Marcus McElhenney

First thing you want to do, is make it as easy on yourself as possible. Make a plan! The long nights and time off the water has given you some extra free time. Now is the time to listen to those recordings that we took months back and never listened to because we hate to. 

Well, no better time than the present. 

Set aside some time to listen to and critique your own recordings. The more you do, the more you will see the trends and repeated mistakes. The more aware you became of these mistakes, the less likely you will be to make them in the future.

Once you have your list of mistakes and things you want to improve, now you can make a plan on how you want to fix them. Grab a calendar and actually map out the spring season. Pick an item and add it to any particular week. When that week arrives, you can focus on working on that item. This will give you goals and a focus throughout the season.

At this time you should also step on a scale. Figure out your weight now and what you want to be at the end of the season. Then figure out a plan on how you are going to attack your weight (in a healthy manner) and add it to the calendar. With only those two items, you will have your hands full and plenty to work on.

'Most coxswains never master the basics and just try to do it all at once.' - Marcus McElhenney Click to Tweet

Most coxswains never master the basics and just try to do it all at once. They then never do anything right and are always just chasing the dragon. Don’t be that guy. Take the time over winter to make a plan and then implement it. You will see big improvements pretty quickly.

– Marcus McElhenney

Enjoy reading this? Read the full collection of coxswain tips.

Interested in taking an even deeper look at how national team athletes train and race? Check out The Longest Odds.

Marcus McElhenney

Marcus McElhenney
Marcus McElhenney began coxing in 1997 at Monsignor Bonner High School and started his international coxing career with a silver medal in the M8+ at the 2001 Nation’s Cup. His career highlights include a gold medal in the M8+ from the 2005 World Rowing Championships and a bronze medal in the M8+ from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Longest Odds Inside the Olympic Journey

The Longest Odds

Go behind the scenes of the Olympic Journey with The Longest Odds, a photo-documentary that goes inside the Beijing and London Olympic journey of the US Olympic rowing team. 

This book illustrates what you do not see on television – it’s a raw look at what athletes go through during their years-long journeys much before anything appears on television.

The Longest Odds allows us to see those highs and lows, the conflicts, joy, exhaustion, elation, fear – and most of all, the bonds of friendship being indelibly forged.

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