Progressing not Stressing

Hello lycra, my old friend. Trialling has begun again, and I can’t help but compare these first weeks to those of last year. Then, I found myself uncomfortably near the bottom of the squad, and my focus was solely on performing well enough to earn a seat (any seat!) in a boat race crew.

Now, it’s easier to see the bigger picture. I can look around and feel pleased that the squad is so strong. I still worry about not getting the seat I want, but the competition is a welcome chance to push myself to my limits; even a sneaky peek at someone else’s puddle is enough to squeeze out the extra 5% that can make the difference.

Training started rather unceremoniously on a chilly Monday morning at Churchill College Boathouse. With exactly six months until the Boat Race, there was no time to lose.

We took advantage of an empty river by spending most of our time on the water, getting re-acquainted with the lovely River Cam. I was glad to settle into the early morning routine before the final year of my Zoology course begins next week, something I am eagerly awaiting despite it putting an end to my beloved post-outing naps.

A squad meeting at the end of Week One allowed our new committee to introduce themselves, outline this year’s plan and get our attention with a recording of the lightweight women’s awesome win last Easter. My heart raced – nerves already!

Next week brings with it the first 2k test of the season. Our coaches will use this to help set crews for our first race, the Cambridge Autumn Head, as well as the fast-approaching Fours Head in November. I know from last year that the  temptation to overanalyse erg times and slight changes in crew order will be even harder to resist than the snooze button on my morning alarm clock, but the focus must be on progressing, not stressing. Unlike last year, race day feels real this time round, and every stroke I take is with that stake boat start in mind.