Beach Sprints 2016: Advice from Jack Nunn how to row/race your 1st 2000 meter Indoor Race

Beach Sprints are here! The once a year unique virtual indoor rowing race is presenting its 30th Annual Concept 2 Sponsored Event.

roworx 0Thousands of people will attend this year’s race to cheer on fellow friends and family members as they push the limits of one’s own strength and endurance. Concept 2 Rowing machines own more than 90% of the Rowing Machine worldwide market. Every single Olympic and National Team from around the world uses this machine to test strength, endurance, and focus throughout any race distance. Whether it be a 10,000k, 6,000k, or a standard Olympic distance 2,000k test, this machine does not lie. High school students from around the U.S. will test on the Concept 2 Machine over the next 3 months or so in the race series and will all have a chance to gain acceptance or even a scholarship based on the outcome of this race. The equation is GPA + SAT + 2K Concept 2 2000 meter Rowing Test = College Acceptance and or Scholarship! I know, because after my 2k in 1997 as a senior in high school I had Brown, Washington, CAL Berkeley, Stanford, Wisconsin, U Penn, and Cornell calling me for a recruiting trip. Concept 2 describes the race as the equivalent of playing 2 back-to-back full court basketball games. Since I don’t play basketball I like the ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach throughout this race. 🙂  But seriously, you have to have a plan and here is how I break down the infamous 2k Indoor Rowing Race.

1 Week Before Race Day: My college Coach Steve Gladstone at Cal Berkeley always told us that races are not won or lost on race day, they are decided months in advance. Given this philosophy, you are not going to gain or lose any speed in one week. Make sure you maintain a steady workout routine everyday leading up to the race (in other words, don’t take any days off before the race). Maybe doing a few 1,000m pieces 4 days before the race and then some 500m pieces 2 days before the race. You want to feel tight and ready, not lethargic and slow. Have a light row and move around a bit the day before the race.


Use 500m Split Time Function to Predict Your Time: You will need to use the 500m split time function on the monitor in order to predict what time/score you will produce. Otherwise if you row with Watts it will be like rowing blind. Here is a link to find out how to predict your time. When you row for awhile in class remember your average split time (for example: if you are rowing a 2:00 split time your end result will be 8 minutes flat for a 2,000 meter race.. 2:00 split x 4 500m = 2,000 meters). Use this site to find out more information:


Nutrition:  A light pasta dinner of some sort is good. Drink lots of water and get to bed at a reasonable time. If your nerves are going that’s a good thing. It means your body is expecting a hard workout. Adrenaline will be pumping but try and control it to the best of your ability. Personally I don’t like to eat very much before a race so I stay safe with a banana and maybe a protein bar (cliff or power bar is fine) about 45min before your race.

Display Drag Factor:  Many participants forget about this valuable tool on the Concept 2 rowing machine. Make sure to set your damper on the side of the machine to the right number. In order to set this option press ‘More options’ on the Menu button of the Concept 2 Rowing Machine, then go to and press ‘display drag factor’. Then it will say ‘row to display drag factor’. Make sure to then row some good hard strokes to get a number to pop up on the screen. This number is a ‘gear’ essentially like a bike. You want to find your right ‘gear’ in order to last through the race. If your number is too high, you will go fast but it will get too heavy and you might bonk or overload yourself through the race. If you are too low, you will not go as fast and it will feel to light as if your ‘spinning your wheels’ working harder to keep the stroke rate up but not going anywhere. There is a preference on where this drag factor should be, however the general number for age/weight/ gender is as follows in my opinion. Heavyweight Men over 180 lbs (120-135 drag) Lightweight Men from 140-180 lbs  (110-120 drag) Heavyweight Woman over 160 lbs (110-125 drag) Lightweight Woman under 160 lbs (95-110 drag). Again, this is only a estimate. It is up to you to decide the best drag for yourself. The drag will be on the monitor for display as you get ready to row on the actual ‘racing machines’.

Warm-Up: In my experience rowing for nearly 20 years this is one mistake I see people do time and time again. For a 6-9 min race you only need 20min max of actual rowing warm-up time on the machine. That means get a machine 30min max prior to race time and row no longer than 20min. I see people every year get on the machine an hour before the race and it amazes me because they get so tired before the race even starts. The warm-up rowing machines will be located inside the boathouse bays near the back of the boathouse at LBRA. Throughout the warm-up start by breaking down the stroke, arms-only, arms and back, 1/4 slide, 1/2 slide, full slide, doing about 30 strokes on each part. I would do this 2 times and then stretch and get some water. After the first 10 min of the warm-up go to the next phase and do some power 10’s and or 20’s strokes at stroke rates 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, and 34. Don’t take more than 100 or so hard strokes. This will be enough and your race pace will probably be around a 28 – 32 strokes per minute. If you are elite or national team member you are probably going to be at 34 – 36 strokes per minute. Once again, remember that a high stroke rate does necessarily equal faster speed. Stay relaxed, drink your water, and approach the race calm and collected. Remember to breath right from the beginning of the race.

Click here to get a quick runthrough on the rowing stroke:

The 2,000m Race!  You will have a choice if you want to have a coxswain (person behind you to help you during your race) to help motivate you and keep you on your pace throughout the 2k. The start is important as it sets the tone for the rest of the race. I would use the Men’s Olympic Gold Medal Eight Race Start from 2004 in my opinion. It’s simple, fast, and sweet. First 5 strokes is 1/2 stroke 1/2 stroke 1/2 stroke then 3/4 of a stroke, followed by a full length stroke and a high and hard 10-15 strokes to follow. You will feel amazing, you will feel full of adrenaline, you will feel like you’re on top of the world. However, you will need to come down to your pace and settle in to your actual racing stroke rate after the first 30-45 seconds. May sure to breath and take a look at the time. Settle into your stroke rate after the first 30 seconds. Very Important!

The rest of the race will be your little adventure. I like to race to the 1,000m to go mark. Talk to yourself and get through the 1,000. Maybe take 10 hard strokes every minute for legs. A ten for breathing. A ten for composure and so on. The hardest part of the race in my opinion is somewhere from 1,200m to 800m to go. Make sure you concentrate and focus. Try to keep your splits steady and stay focused. Get to the 500m to go point and your on your way to the finish. Races can be won or lost in the last 500 meters so make sure you know where you are at or have your coxswain yell at you and tell you to move at around the 300 meter to go point. If you wait till you get to 200 meters or 100 meters it won’t really make a difference. Don’t wait. Drive those legs down and finish hard all the way. That’s the way we all train at Roworx so let’s race that way and kick some butt. Good luck to all participants and most of all have a great time. This is a once a year fun-filled event! 🙂

Medals will be awarded to 1st 2nd and 3rd place finishers!

 Roworx will feature a Rowing Clinic this Saturday December 3rd, 2016 at 11:15AM for 90 minutes on how to make you more efficient and faster rower on the Concept 2 Indoor Rowing machine. RSVP here at 

Cost: $30 for non Roworx members at the Roworx Fitness Location, 5750 Boathouse Lane, Long Beach Ca. 90804

Included for Roworx Monthly members and 2 Punch Card uses with Roworx card

Here is my race at Beach Sprints from 2008. Check out the start and the pace to get a better idea of what I’m talking  about at the start. Make sure to keep your head up straight this was something I picked up in college and it’s bad technique, ha. Enjoy!

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Jack Nunn

Jack Nunn is the head trainer and owner of Roworx. Jack is a former national team rower who has competed in more than 100 triathlons, including 9 full Ironmans. He has created a system of rowing that prepares the whole body for both competition and fitness longevity.

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