I've read about athletes that only train to race. I don't think they'd make it very far in rowing. We spend countless hours trai...

Why I Love Racing

I've read about athletes that only train to race. I don't think they'd make it very far in rowing. We spend countless hours training, probably over 1000 hours a year, for maybe ten 8-minute races. 12.5 hours of training for every minute of racing? You'd better really, really, really love to race.

But personally, I don't think I could do this if I didn't love to train as well. There is something glorious about my time in a boat, on a boat, running and lifting; the clear correlation between input and output is what motivates me to continue.

And that is why I love racing.

I've won silver medals and cried with joy and elation. I've won silver medals and cried with disappointment and frustration. The result is simply what you make of it, and not really the point.

There was a quote in the Princeton locker room:
"It's not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters." — Paul "Bear" Bryant
That's why I love racing. First, it gives me the will to prepare. It gives the training cycle and end point and therefore must give it a starting point as well.

Second, there is nothing more satisfying than showing up on race day having prepared beyond a doubt to win and then winning beyond a doubt. Racing, by nature, evens the playing field on the will to win front--everybody wants to win equally as badly. What racing really displays is who prepared.

If at any point you doubt that, and think that born talent is enough to win, rethink your commitment to your training. Take a step back and be critical of yourself; in the end, that's what being a great athlete is all about. Finding your weaknesses and systematically eliminating them through power of will.

In the past seven months, I've learned an all important lesson: weighted importance of races. Yes, all races are important, just as all practices, all meals and all good nights of sleep are important. And some are no more important than that: they are practice races, and places to learn lessons about your race day performance.

I have learned that sleeping enough is more important than a training taper, and that I need to be responsible for race information like course maps, race times and entry numbers. I have yet to learn how to manage a weigh-in the day of a race, and how to plan a successful race strategy; I'm looking forward to the opportunity to practice. It would be disappointed to prepare to win the 8 minutes down the course only to lose the race on the way to the starting line.

Do you love to race? What's your favorite part?

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