How POWERbreathe has affected my training

Jen HowseSince my last blog I have been continuing with the Powerbreathe 30 breaths. Having started with the resistance at the lowest level and struggling initially to complete the full 30, I have seen progress in that I now can manage 30 with the resistance up to level 2.

So how has this affected training? I have been repeating breathing training sessions I did in the build up to the Crash-Bs last year and have found that I wasn’t feeling as wheezy if I didn’t use my inhaler. But the real test would be rowing at the Agganis Arena in Boston on race day.

Last year I had real problems with the dry atmosphere of the arena and couldn’t perform as well as I hoped. On race day I weighed in 2 hours before my race at 128lb, well under the 135lb limit. Warming up I felt the air was dry like it was last year. Into the arena which is always a bit nerve racking but concentrated on getting myself settled and in the zone.

A bit slow off the start but not worried about that as I’m not always quick, but I know a lot of others fly and die so I wasn’t overly concerned about being 7th after a few strokes. Hit the 1:52s and stuck there. 500m gone and moving up through the positions, starting to get the 1:51s in as to race plan, breathing fine, no problems like last year.

750m and looking to hit 1:51-1:50.

Half way and 20 m behind the first place. Settling in to the second half of the race and gaining steadily on first – down to 10m at 1500m. At that point for the first time I knew that the hammer was mine if I wanted it and boy did I want it! Ready to take it up. My cox called to go, I was lifting it.

1650m gone and the screen went blank. I kept rowing in the hope that it would come back. I could hear Kimberly shouting for someone to come. I think I screamed that my screen had gone. The volunteers round us had no idea what to do. We realized the machine had dropped off the race and my race was over. Gutted does not even start to describe how I feel.

After a lot of discussion I was given a choice – either take the DNF or have the chance to re-row. I had come to Boston to do a 2k and I was not going to be stopped from doing one by some monitor blowing up on me. Agreed to race with the junior lwt girls at 12:30 and so I had 2 hours to recover, refuel and recompose myself.

By the time I had warmed up for a second time I was feeling much calmer. After my race last year my chest felt so tight that there was no way I would have been able to row again after completing nearly a whole race flat out. This time my breathing had been much better and much more controlled so I know that wasn’t going to let me down. It was just a question of whether I had recovered from the last race. Again another slow start. Again not too worried by that one. On to the 1:52s with a few 1:51s in there.

750m – still on race plan hitting the same splits as before.

Started getting the 1:50s in there. Half way and felt exactly like the last race. Could hear my cox behind me and all the rest of the group in the stand willing me on.

Towards 1500m hitting 1:50s.

Could hear all the supporter in the stands getting louder and I went for it, rate up, hit 1:49, 1:48. My cox asked for 1:47, I got down to 1:46, Think I saw 1:45 for the last stroke.

7:22.6  Gold by 3 seconds!

I am now a proud owner of a Crash-B winners hammer.

Thanks to POWERbreathe for the Heavy Resistance model. Using it has definitely made a difference and I have been less reliant on my inhaler for training sessions, but the big improvement has been when rowing in the race venues which are notorious for having dry atmospheres which make breathing hard.

Also thanks to all of Team GB for their support too!




Breathing definately is the key to improving rowing performance

Jen-Howse-RowingWell I’ve had my POWERbreathe for a little while now. My first attempt to use it showed how much improvement I had to make! I tried the thirty breaths at level one and failed!

Very soon after the arrival of my POWERbreathe came my first test in the lead up to the World Indoor Rowing Championships (Crash-bs), the British Online Rowing Championship. The inaugural event this year saw people round the world connect their Concepts 2 rowing machines to their computers and row against each other from the comfort of their own shed/garage/living room! I normally train in the garage but I decided to move the erg inside for the occasion.  Regretted this move about half way through as the air felt drier than usual and I started to struggle a little with my breathing.

Managed to come home first in my race and win the 30-39 lwtwomens category in a time a little slower than I had managed in training a few days before, but it is always different in a race situation.

From that race I realised that breathing training is definitely one of the keys to improving performance in races, as they are often not the best atmosphere for me.

So I have been using the Powerbreathe for a while now and can do 30 breaths without taking a break, which is quite an improvement from the first attempt.

Now into the last 6-week build up to the Crash-Bs and I will be doing another 2k test in the next few weeks to see how I have progressed over the last month.

POWERbreathe user trial – Jen Howse: It has arrived

Jen-Howse-RowingWell, my POWERbreathe has now arrived and I look forward to using it.

I’m going to be blogging in the lead up to the CRASH-B sprints in Boston in February 2012. So a bit of background on me.

I’m a rower who competes both on the water and indoors on the Concept 2 rowing machine, otherwise known as the erg (or by various other terms not suitable for publication!). I also do some running as cross training and dabble in cycling just for good measure.

So what is the CRASH-BS? Every year in February rowers descend on Boston to compete over 2000m – the length of an Olympic regatta. There are categories covering all ages – I believe the oldest was 93. The top heavyweight men cover the distance in just under 6 minutes and the top heavy weight women in just less than 7 minutes. And it’s a very painful 7 minutes!

I went for the first time in 2010 and managed to come 4th in the 30-39 heavyweight category in 7:22.2, around 16 seconds behind the winner of the category. As an asthmatic I found that the atmosphere in the arena was very difficult and I’m hoping that training with POWERbreathe will help with that. I’m aiming to change category this year and switch to the 30-39 lightweight category. I’ve done a 2k test to get a starting mark in build up. The next step in training is to begin to use the POWERbreathe. The next test is the British Online Rowing Championship at the end of November.

I’ll be reporting back on how I find the POWERbreathe and how training is going.