Whatever it Takes: Rowing Camps, World Records and The Routine

Whatever it Takes: Rowing Camps, World Records and The Routine

Posted by Sarah Perkins on Feb 06, 2015 in #Ambassador Blogs.


Lightweight Women’s Single: 59kg

Lightweight Women’s Crew: 57kg crew average, with no athlete over 59kg

Lightweight Women’s Erg: 61.5kg

Olympic Boat Category: LW2X (Lightweight Women’s Double Scull)

Hi all,

It has been a long time between my last blog and this one, my apologies, much has happened between the end of November and the end of January! The last blog detailed my general woes of deciding to drop down a weight division…and the upcoming trials to be invited to the National AUS training camp.


December took me through the 5km erg trial (on my birthday). The backdoor into the Australian National training camp is to pull a 5km erg score under the benchmark set…rare and unusual as usually the benchmark is close to the world record. The Benchmark for lightweight women in Australia is 18:40 (no weigh-in). I pulled an 18:36…a sloppy erg test I’ll admit (who seriously wants to do something like that on their birthday and in the 30C+ heat!), but enough to warrant an invite to the AUS camp.

Ironically enough, after the continued effort and frustration involved to secure an invite, I was advised to decline any invitation offered. I will say, I was baffled as this came from a selector as well as my own coach…a lot of trust was involved when I agreed to decline. The reasoning was, whilst the AUS training camp and national time trials are valuable to get noticed and row in crew boats, they are not part of the final selection process. The advice I was given was to stay in my home environment, go on my club training camp and continue to drop weight in a healthy manner…looking back now, this was one of the wisest choices I have made this season.

Falls Creek Rowing Camp

Every December just prior to Christmas, my squad travels up to Falls Creek, Vic for a week long rowing camp. The altitude, the rigorous training each day and a new eating plan tailored to have me drop 700g a week made this camp the toughest and most effective week I have had so far. I actually wish I could go back there and spend several months training…the environment and routine is exceptional. A standard day in the life of Falls Creek Rowing Camp for Sarah Perkins:

5:45am wake up/ coffee + gel pack

6:15am run the 2k from the ski lodge to the training lake

Approx 7am-8/8:30 Row 1X

8:30am run 2k back to lodge

9am Breakfast


12noon til 1pm Timed 10km run: a steep incline trail from Bogong Village to Howman’s Gap

1:30/2pm Lunch

4pm snack

4:30pm run the 2k from the ski lodge to the training lake

Approx 5pm-6/6:30 Row 1X

6:30pm Run 2k back to lodge

7pm/7:30pm dinner

Looking at this day written down, it doesn’t seem much different to my day at home…however with the restricted eating plan, altitude and a seriously difficult and steep trail run thrown in, I was dropping 200-300g a day! Fully hydrated…crazy weight loss. Up in the mountains it’s like being in a world away from The world…the ideal training environment surrounded by others hungry for improvement too. Returning to Geelong is returning to a constant battle with distractions, complications and obstacles.

The 5km Ergo World Record (Boxing Day)

The 5k erg world record attempt was something I had planned for months; it just revolved around when I could weigh-in under 61.5kg without too much trouble. My coach and I planned the attempt for Boxing Day, so I could have several days of active recovery after our return from Falls Creek. As it often is with me, I was far more nervous about making the weight than the actual erg test. And because the weigh-in was in the afternoon I had to sweat out the weight I took on from eating breakfast through a row and an hour run. No dramas though, 61.3kg, and I could rehydrate and have lunch before the 4pm test.

The actual test was quite comfortable up until 1300m to go, if you’ve ever done a 5k erg test you’ll know what I mean…and this one was voluntary! I’m so thankful I had such great support in my coach and training partner, not many people would want to come in on Boxing Day and watch an erg test even if it was a record attempt!

What I take from this record is I am definitely on track in several areas, 5k or 2kerg scores are by no means a guarantee to go fast on the water, however, it is an excellent start to the season!

The Routine, Setbacks & Sacrifices

There will always be setbacks in even the most perfectly drawn up plan, and I seem to have had a number one after the other from late December until now. These can be as simple as changes in your life that alter the Routine, often people who don’t understand can unconsciously affect your progress. And there will always be illness at some point…I am still recovering from a recent illness.

There is pain in what I do, to be in this division. I don’t speak of just the brutal physicality of it, but the heartache and sacrifices. There are three, maybe four people that comprehend what I do each day….my coach, my dietician, my training partner/best friend and to some degree my mother. To be at this level The Routine cannot be compromised and the majority of people, even my friends, do not understand it. The pain is having to sacrifice close friendships and family. I often have to remind myself by writing notes and sticking them around my house of what it is I’m aiming for and why.

At Present…

With less than two weeks until the first weigh-in (February 13th, NSW state titles, first selection event for the AUS team), my daily routine at present consists of 3 sessions; a morning Steady State Row in the single scull, a 2 hr hill run before lunch and an afternoon session of either row/weights/erg. I now have to buy exactly the right amount of fruit/soy yogurt etc. each morning for the day, if I have more than that it’s too tempting and usually disappears regardless of the strict eating plan. I constantly have to put myself in a position where there is no option but to follow the strict regime. I have to make choices when my head is clear to protect the plan from when I’m not thinking so clearly! One tiny slipup often leads to a large slipup and with such little time I can’t afford any more big setbacks, the work has to be done now so in another week I have more chance of making the weigh-in without overly drastic measures.

The challenge over the next week will be lowering my base weight to below 60kg before I leave on the 9th for Penrith, NSW. I will document each day from the 9th-15th of February to give you an idea of what I will have to do to make the 57kg and race depleted and dehydrated with the aim of coming away with a win.

Until next time,

Sarah Perkins

Favourite food this week: Prawns with smoked paprika

Favourite training song this week:

  • I Made It – Kevin Rudolf feat. Birdman, Jay Sean, & Lil Wayne
  • Check out the Bulk Nutrients playlist.

Bulk Nutrients Products I recommend:

  • BCAA Watermelon (another new flavour! Excellent blended with frozen mango, banana and coconut water)
  • Muscle Food 101 (Cookies and Cream) new flavour strongly recommended by a friend.
  • The new Bulk Nutrients gym bag (had it for a month or so, it’s awesome!)
Compare all Bulk Nutrients proteins