Why do we do it?

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By Anne Fulton

“It’s not about motivation, it’s about commitment. Motivation fluctuates, whereas commitment is about knowing that even if you are not motivated, you still commit.” Says the coach as the crew huddles together for a meeting before the water session. Training for the Port Alfred Boatrace became more than I bargained for, and in a good and terrifying way.

It’s 4 degrees. We begin by waking up at quarter to 6, shoving a small breakfast down while trying to put on rowing gear in the dark and driving down to meet our coaches at the water. Upon arrival, we begin with a warm up run and stretch. My rowing gear is covered with a layer of tracksuits and waterproof jackets. Mist is covering the dam, and I can’t even see the water’s edge. I laugh to myself as I observe one of my crew members climbing into the boat with a scarf wrapped around her face and head. Some even has frost growing on their legs. The sun thankfully rises as we row, thawing our bodies.

Eat, sleep, row, repeat. We nap between each session, and wake up eating. We don’t stop eating and we often talk about how worried we are about our eating habits. The amount of energy spent on camp is astounding, it’s no wonder we don’t stop stuffing our faces. Sometimes, we take a drive out to spur for supper, where it’s not uncommon for people to order two full meals. Other times it’s a braai around the cottages, or heading out to the closest farm stall where we order a slice of cake. Or two.

The last session of the typical rowing day ends with the sun setting, and sometimes we end up rowing in darkness. Our legs are sore and stiff and we all waddle to the ablutions for a nice hot shower at the end of the day. Why do we do this? Well, it’s not just the rowing we are committed to. Its everything in between – the beautiful sunrises, the progress and the end goal. Your crew becomes your family, and they become your additional reason to commit.

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