I have to start this blog with a photo of my exact location, right now, where I’m writing this from. It definitely beats my Oxford bedroom, which is where these are usually coming from…
Despite ending the week on a rock in Cornwall, it started with me moving in to my college for a five day rowing training camp. And what a week it has been.
Monday saw the start of our next phase of lockdown restrictions lifted, which meant beer gardens, non-essential shops and haircuts are back on. However, I haven’t experienced any of these yet as on Monday I packed up a suitcase and walked precisely one mile over to St Catz college and to my new bedroom for the week.
St Catz (like many of the Oxford colleges) takes rowing very seriously. So the men’s and women’s teams had a week of pre Trinity term training camp. This, in essence, was five days of “eat, sleep, row, repeat” and I absolutely loved it.
I moved in on Monday afternoon and after a Covid test in my room, joined the rest of the crews at a team building exercise. The majority of people I had never met before, so it was great to get to know a bunch of new faces. There was a mix of both undergrad, masters and postgrad students. As I am a mere 11 days from the big 3-0 I was the eldest (by far!); most of my crew were only just turning 20 so I naturally assumed the “mum” role of the group – constantly reminding the girls to wear their sunscreen!
After our fun team building, dinner was served. Due to Covid restrictions, we weren’t allowed to do anything inside so all activities were outside under a gazebo and all meals were in takeaway bags in a marquee, which at 0630am and 8pm was very cold!
The days all followed a similar schedule and pattern – which as I’m sure comes as no surprise to you, I loved. I loved the structured exercise and following a routine. It’s amazing how quickly your body gets used to following a certain pattern – the 6am alarm every morning was second nature by Friday and I naturally woke at that time on Saturday too, even after camp had finished.
The schedule for the week went as follows:
- 6am – alarm
- 6:30am – breakfast in the marquee, which was freezing!!
- 7:00am – warmup workout and activation
- 7:45am – run 2 miles to the boathouse
- 8:15am – erg (rowing machine) session
- 8:45am – 10am – on the water in the boat
- 10:30am – walk back to college and pickup coffee to warmup on the way back
- 12:30pm – lunch
- 1:00pm – talk with Dr Alex on injury prevention or nutrition etc
- 2:00pm – nap!
- 3:00pm – either run or another session on the water
- 7:00pm – yoga
- 8:00pm – dinner
- 9:30pm – crash out in bed!
I have never been one for napping but oh my, it was much needed this week! Most afternoons I would crash out without even turning off the light or closing the blinds. The prison-issue bed wasn’t particularly comfortable either, but when you’re burning through energy like we were, I could have slept standing up!
This week has given me a new found appreciation of this wonderful sport. When you see people out rowing, they make it look so easy and effortless but let me tell you this, it is not. It’s hard work. It’s a full body workout. I had muscles ache that I didn’t even know I had. It’s also a sport that requires a fair amount of brain power, just to keep in time and follow all of the cox’s instructions. But I loved it. I will always be a runner/cyclist at heart but I have definitely found a new favourite sport to add to the list.
It’s a real team building sport and the feeling you get when it all comes together and you’re whipping along down the river is awesome. As I’m sure is evident by now, I love entering the pain cave every so often and pushing my body to see how far it can go. With rowing, it’s full on, full body workout and at times I was entering the pain cave and just making it out alive. I loved it.
And the great thing is, once Trinity term starts I will be back in the boat with my Catz crew training Monday morning, Wednesday morning, Thursday evening and every other Friday morning. What also makes it such a perfect sport for me, is that the outings are at 6am….my favourite time of the day.
So all in all, a very exciting and fulfilling week. I thoroughly enjoyed doing something a bit different and I’m so glad I got to experience proper rowing in Oxford, and even better that I can continue this term.
I had to leave camp slightly early to take part in the Map the System competition on Friday afternoon, which my Loneliness team came 2nd in! A great way to end the week before taking a bit of a “staycation” down in Cornwall for a few days.
It’s lovely to leave the Oxford bubble for a few days and sit on this rock right now and appreciate the sea, the calmness and reflect on a great week before the madness of Trinity term begins.