Rowing Vs Running

Hi all, my first post on the board but I have been reading for the last couple of weeks what's going on.

I only started running 14 weeks ago and the total I do each week is a 10 k run tuesdays and 5k warm up run (this one before a circuit training session) on Thursday. The reason I do it is the coach of the rowing club I row for insists on it. I must admit that I enjoy the running when running with others and can even "drag" myself of bed occasionally for the odd solo run but I would much prefer to go sit on a rowing machine for an hour. But I was just wondering if anyone knew the benifits for rowing fitness that running might bring?

Also though I can run at a pace which is not fantastic compared with a lot of people (10 k in 41.12) I never seem to run "easy" if anyone understands what I mean by that? maybe my technique needs work or something?

thanks in advance anyway to any replies


  • I am no expert, other than being married to a rower who has to run once or twice a week too as dictated by his coach. I think he finds that it contributes to his general aerobic fitness in a way that even a 20k erg doesn't. I know that when he is rowing, running and circuit training he is at his peak and does the best 2k erg times - I think it's the hollistic approach that works best for him. He does have some knee problems though - his thighs are hugely over-developed from rowing and I guess that the thigh muscle pulls on his less-developed knee muscles when he runs, so he can't run further than 6 miles and prefers softer surfaces to roads. He did his first 10k race last year and was on a real high (although he beat me which I was a bit pissed off at!) And by the way, please don't say that 10k in 41mins is not that great - it's a damn site faster than the majority of runners (I think the average min/mile of a Runners World reader is about 8-9mins, so 50-56mins for a 10k) NO wonder you don't run easy! Strap a heart rate monitor on and see what your heart rate is, it might be up at the 80-90% range!

    Happy running/rowing!
  • Thanks,

    I found that when I started running (and others for that matter) that my calves were wrecked the next day!

    I know rowers must over develop some of the muscles in their quads, and not the ones for running, by the feel of my legs when I run. I think if I ever do get pain now it's in my Abductors? Not sure if that's the right part but right at the very top of the leg at the front of the body. It's a bareable pain put there sometimes all the same.

  • Rob, The aerobic benefits from running will be really helpful. I am mainly a runner but I have one of those damned Concept rowers at home that I have a love/hate relationship with.
    On the rower I can breeze along without my heart rate rising too much whereas when I run it quickly rises and depending on the session I'm doing I can get it to max out, something I've never managed to do on the rower. It could be that I'm not developed enough in terms of muscle power to be able to push it enough.
    In short stick with the running sessions I remember a documentary about Redgrave and Co and they used to do a fair amount of running (which they hated). It didn't do them any harm.
  • Rob Brown - this is a serious question honestly - how do you stop your bum going numb on the rower in an hour
  • ha ha, A very serious question most rowers have trouble with as well. Some use a seat pad, others a towel.

    I personally have found the best way is to take a very quick stretch break in the middle, either that or just shuffle around ;)
  • Rowing and running combine excellently. Before a lower back injury many years ago I was a committed rower who ran as part of the training process. It is all about aerobic fitness.

    Rowing develops most of the muscles in the body and the training regime around it is based on concentrating on individual parts of the body.

    Consequently it includes heavy and light weight training and longish runs about the 5 to 7 mile mark. This would then be followed by an "outing" on the river.

    Typically a club rower will train four night a week plus weekends. When I was at it these sessions would be 2 to 3 hours each including boat time.

    On the subject of numb bums its just the same as cycling really, you become immune after a while. The only time I ever suffered was on the Boston Marathon which is/was a 32 mile event from Lincoln to Boston. As a sucker for punishment I used to do it is a single scull i.e. on my own.

    There you would pad the seat as much as possible. By the end you would be is some discomfort though.
  • Rob, Just out of interest what's your best for 2,000 on the concept rower
  • you can't stop your bum hurting on a concept 2....
    towels, stretching are all very well, but it still fact, rowing does hurt...running is sooooo much easier....although when i was a proper rower (i use that term loosely) i used to find running hard.....i used to do an hour erg with a split of 2.10, run at 10 minute mile pace and weigh 11 stone, now i do 30 mins erg with a split of 2.30 , run at 7-8 min mile pace and weigh 8 stone ...hmmmm think i'll stick with the running, and the erg for cross training....i can feel the pain just from typing the word....erg.....
  • Ah ha! I thought it was some secret that rowers developed extra padding in the posteriror. I currently use an indoor rower (a kettler something or other so not as good as a concept 2) but find that after about 15 minutes I'm really struggling with numb bum syndrome - I'll try the extra padding idea.

    PS: As a relatively experienced runner I would say that my average HR is always a lot higher when running.
  • I used to be a pretty serious rower when I was at University (so a very long time ago). We used to do a 2 mile run (at 6 min mile pace and up a big hill, hard to imagine now!) before our twice weekly gym training session and one other 4 mile slower run one a week.

    I now have a Tunturi rower at home, not as good as a Concept 2 but smaller and a fraction of the cost. I use the rower for a bit of cross training and for when I am injured. I have found that unless I do fartlek, 1 hour of rowing is not as tough as 1 hour of running. So in answer to the question, running definitely helped my aerobic fitness for rowing.

    Incidently, having had a two week break from running due to injury and working only on the rower, I have found that I feel a lot stronger when running, especially on hills.
  • My best time is 6.28 for 2k on the rower, but I hope to improve on that, At the moment I'm doing 5k's which I'm at 17.15 for the time being and improving each week. (only test once a month though)

    I believe the HR is lower on a rowing machine as it's weight bearing unlike rowing.

    Also i remember when I first started and couldn't use my muscles properly (ie pulled with my arms and back not the legs) i felt I could never could a proper work out. But believe me you can really really tire yourself out no matter what the length of the session on the ergo is :)
  • Martin H.

    My hubby is a Concept 2 rower and does the odd marathon distance - used to use bubble wrap (careful which way you fold it or it [email protected] at you!!!) until he bought a seat pad, now has little trouble.
    I never use the pad or wrap plenty of my own padding!
  • Thanks NB sounds like I need a seat pad - MrsH would say I do enough [email protected] without any external support!
  • am i the only one who finds running hr is generally higher on the erg than get my running hr up to 170 i have to run pretty fast...something like 7 min seems to get that high just by sitting on the erg ;) can't imagine rowing for an hour anymore, though i frequently run for 3 max time on the erg is 30 mins...then my muscles (what there is of them) have really had it.....feel it does me good, though.....
  • On the subject of Numb Bum Syndrome, my crew and I found that the best (and most cost-effective) solution was to beg/borrow/steal computer mouse mats. They are a better substitute for the standard Concept 2 neoprene seat pads. Chopping pairs of holes in the bare relieves pressure on the bum. The mouse mat apparatus can be further customised by "laminating" several mats together to form a thicker pad. The bespoke pad can then be fixed to an Ergo seat using velcro tabs, or glued permanently to one's own boat/ergo. Using too thick a pad does create problems with rigging the boat. NB any mat will degrade/compress over time, but they are a better weight-for-weight solution than a rolled up towel!
  • I really like the C2 and use it as a substitute for running mileage. I tend to do a 7K erg which I do in about 28 minutes. I've started to up the drag setting too, I'm now at around 200.

    Since erging my whole body feels stronger and I'm sure it's helped my running by strengthing my core and allowing me to keep up the mileage without pounding my knees.

    I would love to get a C2 at home, but unfortunately we haven't the room inside.

    So, I'll have to make do with my cycle home trainer.
  • I must confess to being another X rower!
    Why have we turned to the roads and fields?
  • Pammie*Pammie* ✭✭✭
    because we're mad
  • Pammie*Pammie* ✭✭✭
    Did my 1st 2000metres last weds took 13 minutes is that good or bad what time should i aim for
    running is my 1st sport.
  • ChaosChaos ✭✭✭
    Difficult to tell Pam without knowing age, height, weight (heavy helps!), running fitness, type of rowing machine, etc and also without seeing your technique.

    I'd suggest you take a good look at the Concept website - - for some technique tips. I suspect that as a runner you are probably capable of a much better time than that.
  • Pammie*Pammie* ✭✭✭
    i am 35 5 foot 4 10 stone was concept 2 born again runner up to 35 mins nonstop running but i guess its something i can improve on i like rowing for its cross training and that it exercises the major muscles esp. upper body strength.
  • Pammie*Pammie* ✭✭✭
    2000metres today in 11:48
  • You should feel most 'burn' in your quad muscles, front & side of thigs as opposed to you upper body. Maybe check out your technique if you are feeling it in your upper body too much.

    I would aim to be pulling sub 10mins. That would be a consistent 500m split of 2:30. But give yourself plenty of time to get there, you are going in the right direction.

    But with the erg technique is a big NB. Both from performance and injury prevention perspectives.
  • Hello Ariana

    Where did you find this thread, thought it disappeared to the planet of lost threads, never to be seen again

    Have not rowed in ages, used to d so on concept 2 in the gym, but as i am no longer a member and can't afford one of these magnificent machines.

    I do have a basic rower at home which i've used from time to time running is more dominant now :o) but the computer gadget which tells your speed and how far you have gone is busted so when i do go it has to be on time.
    But thanks anyway something to think about if i conme into money, get an obscene payrise (highly unlikely) or i join a gym again.
  • Hi Pam,

    I didn't even realise it was over a year old!!! I'm not very observant obviously. I think i found it under the Best of Training links or something like that...I'm a rower who runs as part of training and i do races (running) in the rowing off-season so anything to do with rowing tends to get my attention.

    Personally if i was just a runner i'd never go within a mile of an erg, it's way too technical, i've never seen anyone in a gym use it properly and rowers/ergers nearly always suffer back pain/injury at some stage.

    Anyhow, G'luck with your running.

  • I'm primarily a marathon runner, but last year rowed for the uni too (quit this year to concentrate on ultra-running). I found that I was easily coming very close to club records for 5k ergs by about my 3rd ever erg session, even though when running I almost never do any aerobic stuff. Alas, a carp sense of balance prohibited my ever becoming a top boat rower, but the erg training definitely helped running because I'm just too clumsy to sprint, but on an erg could really max.
  • No problems Ariana
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