EXCLUSIVE: 'If it wasn't for my petite frame I could have gone faster'

Published: 2 Mar 2012 11:300 comments

The final week of Shakila Barabhuiya's Nation On Trial column.

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I'VE been using an ergo nearly a month now, but last week was the most satisfying of all because I managed to smash my personal best by 16 seconds in the final week of the Nation on Trial.

I passed my own 2k trial by clocking 11 mins 54 secs and though I was absolutely shattered by the end of it, I was relieved to have beaten my time.

Now I can understand how people get addicted to rowing - the desire to beat your time is a strong one, even for me.

My eye was constantly on the predicted finish time at the bottom of the screen, which was always fluctuating.

As it got towards the final 500m, I think my technique went a little bit to pot as I pushed through the pain barrier in pursuit of my goal.

If it wasn't for my petite frame, I'm sure I could have gone faster.

What I've learnt from these four weeks is that having a goal and a reason for using a rowing machine really does help.

I had no idea what to expect when I first started but once I got into it, it really made me want to get fit.

In fact, I found myself looking at other people on rowing machines in the gym and critiquing their technique, which I never thought possible, given I had absolutely no idea about a month ago.

Overall, it has been a very positive experience for me. For one, it's taught me how to use a rowing machine properly and if there's one piece of advice I would give anyone, it's learn how to use it properly, as it will make a massive difference to your body.

Second, it is a fantastic way of working your whole body and using muscles that you would never normally use.

I will definitely continue using the ergo in future visits.

Here's an insight from someone who really knows what it's like to be in a trial situation.

Chris Heemskerk is in her first year of GB trials after learning to row four and a half years ago at Reading Rowing Club.

She is now based with Wallingford Rowing Club, who have 10 rowers in the GB development squad.

"I'm loving having people around me who have done it before," she said. "I can draw on their experience."

Speaking about the tension just before an ergo test she said: "The moment I put the 2k on screen and I'm waiting for the coach to start me, I feel sick, I'm shaking with nerves.

"It's an absolutely horrible feeling. But as soon as you do the first 10 strokes you you don't even notice what's going on around you. It's you, the screen, and wanting to beat your own score."

Heemskerk is aiming for a time of 7:05 that could stand her in contention for the European Championships in Italy in September.

The open trials, scheduled for the beginning of February, were cancelled due to Dorney Lake being frozen and have been rescheduled for March 17.

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