I once asked my very good friend Sarah Wall why she rowed and she answered, “I don’t know why I row, it’s become like brushing my teeth. I just do it.” I laughed because she had summarised it perfectly and it made me wonder exactly why I stuck with a sport that has helped me go from somebody who couldn’t run a mile without stopping to considering entering a half marathon.
Honestly, when I signed up for the rowing team in October 2010 I did so because I was terrified of the dreaded freshers fifteen. I was already a less than ideal weight and the thought of putting on any more was enough to kick me up the behind into University of Leicester’s Student Union in search of a sport. I knew I needed a team sport as a way to keep me going and I knew there was no point starting football or rugby because of my appalling hand eye coordination and lack of experience.
I found out that the rowing team would teach me from scratch and don’t involve any kind of throwing or catching (I would learn about crabs later), it seemed to be a perfect fit.
I am the kind of person that needs to be constantly supervised during exercise. I’m fine doing weights, I listen to my music, focus and have a little me time. I think about dinner and the funny cat video I watched on Youtube last night. It’s great! I love weights. Cardio is another story. My inner monologue goes into panic mode and becomes a stream of “Just stop. Really. It’s time to stop Megan. That hurts, that really hurts, everything hurts. Ow ow ow ow. Is that meant to hurt? Just stop. Stopping won’t hurt. Whatever you’re doing right now hurts.”
I am the exercise equivalent of the child that needs to be watched at all times because he’s likely to start eating the crayons. Don’t even get me started on erging. Without somebody next to me on the erg I am prone to unstrap my feet 400m in and just glide back and forth until somebody tempts me away by asking if I want to get food (yes, is the answer).
I row for my teammates. I row for my body fat index. I row to travel. I row because going to the gym is a lot easier when you have a gym buddy. I row because I have never had a pair that I didn’t like. I row because I find skin tight clothing hilarious. I row because Tyler described the feeling of being in a varsity boat as “a choir of angels singing”. I row for the percentage of male rowers with six packs. I row because this was quite possibly one of the happiest days of my life:
And because I would never have had the opportunity to do this:
I row for this photo which will never, ever, ever get old.
I row because I honestly don’t know what I would do otherwise.
It is for these reasons that I joined a team sport. When my muscles are screaming and my lungs are burning during a race, I don’t hear my inner monologue telling me to stop because my crew are counting on me and my cox is louder than that pesky voice. When I’m erging a 10k and Echo has an average .1 seconds faster than me I suddenly forget how much I want to stop and find a pocket of energy I didn’t know I had that helps me push a little harder.
Just like brushing my teeth, I do it every day. Sometimes I don’t think about why I’m doing it, but when I do stop and think I realise that I definitely couldn’t do without it.