Cold Weather - Safe for Rowers

Rowers are notorious for never letting up, even in extreme weather. It might be an early morning row in below freezing temperatures,  or a cross-training run where the water has frozen over but rowers keep going.  Still, some are concerned about the effect on the body of exercise in such extreme temperatures. 
A recent position paper from the American College of Sports Medicine, reviewed in the New York Times, indicates that exercise in cold weather - no matter how cold - is safe, even for those with exercise induced asthma. 

Two key points:

1. The air is warmed to body temperature before entering your lungs - no matter how cold it is outside. 
2. Those who suffer from exercise induced asthma need not fear the cold - or at least can now know that it is actually the dry air that accompanies cold that causes them stress. The effect in dry warm air is just the same. 

The author suggests that wearing a balaclava will help by becoming moist and thus moistening the air before it enters the lungs. It is also important that asthma sufferers take precautions in dry warm weather,

Study confirms importance of protein suppressing appetite in a diet

A recent study, as reported in the Globe and Mail today, provides some confirmation of what many rowers have long felt - protein in a diet suppresses appetite better than fats or carbohydrates. In fact, the researchers were looking at the hormone ghrelin , secreted by the stomach, which is an appetite stimulant. Drinks containing more protein did a better job of suppressing ghrelin than fats, and while carbohydrates initially did a good job, later on they were quite poor. This of course will be familiar with anyone who is quickly satisfied by a high carb feed, only to be extremely hungry shortly thereafter.

This obviously bears some resemblance to the effect seen in high glycemic index foods, where insulin reacts to high blood sugar after high carbohydrate foods, often overreacting and actually lowering blood sugar.

Master's (and others?) - How taking beta-blockers affects exercise

An article from the Mayo Clinic on beta-blockers and exercise will be of interest to some readers. Beta blockers are prescribed to lower blood pressure and have the effect of lowering heart rate. As such normal exercise heart rates cannot be achieved. If this is the case for you, check out the article.

Strength Training

I just stumbled upon an interesting article on strength training for rowing you might be interested in.

I must say though that I have always been a proponent of specificity of training and the usefulness of on-water or on the erg strength training - you can read more here. This needs to be balanced with an athletes need for variety, and for changes in the training methods to prevent injury. Heavy load rowing without adequate preparation or experience can be a recipe for injury.

Winter Nutrition and Hydration

Many athletes mistakenly believe that their hydration requirements decrease in the colder winter months. Not so! Of course, if you are properly clothed for training sessions then you will still be producing excess body heat and sweating as in any hard workout. In many places, the winter air is drier and your bodies natural moistening of the air as it takes it in results in further water losses via respiration.

What's more,  your thirst response is diminished in the winter - so your drive to drink is less.

Athletes and need to consciously choose to hydrate during winter trainign sessions for optimal performance.