Fergus Mainland 

“I appear to be immune to boredom:” The 24hr indoor rowing epic

They say a day is a long time in politics, it's even longer when your going up and down on a rowing machine non-stop. 

On January 1st this year Julien Tavener of Go Row Indoor Club, Bristol Ariel started a challenge to raise money for a new rowing initiative, EasyRow, with the aim of getting more children active in the Bristol community.

The challenge: Cover three million metres on the rowing machine in 300 days, and tick over the marker with one gargantuan 24 hour effort.

After his monumental effort, Julien spoke exclusively with Inside Indoor.

How did you come up with the year long challenge and the 24 hour row?

"I wanted to do something that was personally challenging and could also capture the imagination of the rowing club.

"The 24 hour indoor rowing challenge was a wonderful event and many club members joined in to help get me through the ordeal!"

How do you prepare for a 24hr challenge?

"Sitting on the erg for about an hour a day for 10 months was my training. I don't think you can train specifically for 24 hours, it's just too long.

"I made sure that I understood what my body could do, the food I needed to intake and the mental pressures. I monitored my heart rate to ensure it was always in a manageable range."

What did you use to stay fuelled up?

"Pasta salads, dried fruit and energy bars. I tried to avoid eating too much sugary stuff, but concentrated on slow release carbs. I made sure I was constantly hydrated and used electrolyte tablets to stave off cramp.

"I think it was the right mix. I never felt like the food was an issue in any way. I had a big piece of cake afterwards!"

Did you ever think about giving up and what kept you going?

"I had two dark periods. At 10 hours in it seemed to be endless and I was allowing myself to think about stopping. I had great support and never let those thoughts take hold.

"Once the sun came up it gave me a new energy. Then with around 6 hours to go it began to really hurt. I didn't think about giving up, but worried that my body might give up on me. I'm glad to say that it didn't."

What's your favourite part of indoor rowing?

"I appear to be immune to boredom. I find it quite therapeutic to sit on the erg for an hour or more."

What advice would you give anyone who has just bought a rowing machine?

"Can you get a refund? No! Rowers have a love-hate relationship with the rowing machine. Use them wisely. I always like to have a plan or goal to work toward.

"There is really no better exercise, but every session doesn't have to be a race. If you are doing a UT2 session, then stick to it. Don't turn it into a chance to beat your last time.

"The rowing machine can form part of an all-round fitness regime, but shouldn't be the only thing that we do."

What's the next challenge?

"I need to let the memory of this challenge fade first. However, I can't lie. I have developed a taste for distance work and might flirt with ideas over the Christmas period. New Year...New Challenge maybe!"

What three songs are straight onto your rowing playlist?

  • 60 Miles an Hour by  New World Order
  • Detonate by Charli XCX 
  • What's My Age Again by  Blink-182 
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