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Relationship of Running to Rowing (ergo)

Knee injury is preventing running at the moment, so I've been substituting the row machine (concept II) for running.

I've just done a 10K row. Interestingly, I do it in about the same time (a little bit faster) than I would a 10K run.

The other observation is that the heart rate is quite a lot lower.

I'll come clean with the stats: best 10K Run time: 41:09. Best 10K Row time 40:07. The row is with the settings at level 10.

Both for the row and and the run I try to do each K in 4 minutes. I find this much easier to do this with the rowing machine - i.e. I can manage negative splits and keep a pretty good pace. With the run I blow up at about the 8K mark - losing 30 seconds each K.

For the row, the heart rate reaches about 150 at half way, getting up to 164 by the end (I'm 44, which gives an HR Max of 176 - but my observed HR Max is 183).

For the run, it gets much higher (which I guess is to be expected: although all the main muscle groups are used in both events, the cadence is a lot lower in the row - about 28 or 29 strokes per minute, compared with 180 steps per minute on the run). The run was about 168 at 5K, going up to 183 at 8K, crashing down to 164 after blowing up.. but the race intesity is probably about 170 or so compared with 164 for the row (the level of discomfort feels about the same).

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone else had similar data, and how they compare - does running vs. rowing over the same distances come out at the same times, or are there wide variations? Am I better at running than rowing or vice versa? Admittedly, the row feels easier than the run (run is flat out, do or die, row is training). I tend to do a 5K row and run at similar paces to the 10K - i.e. I can't go any faster at the shorter distances...

Anyway got any experiences/data to share?

Just found this link: http://www.concept2.com/update/s2001/xtrain.htm


  • a4asha4ash Posts: 29

    I used to come on this site about a year ago and promised i'd do a triathlon but never got round to it with work and girlfriend etc, anyway now unemployed and single so started training again and i find my 5k run is average 24mins but pb is 19:59 a while back, my 5k row is around 20mins but my pb is 18:50, my 10k run is 50mins, pb of 46mins and my 10k row is around 42mins, pb 39:30.

    Not sure about the heart rate stuff as i've never checked and not really sure how, although i intend to learn.

    Hope this helps but probably not

  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Well, the conclusion from the Concept II article was that if you are heavily muscled then your row times will be better than your run times. This is because you are sat down on the row, and so the penalty for carrying the extra weight isn't anywhere near as bad as it is for running. So if you are weedy like me (76Kg/12st 6' tall, 15-16% body fat - If I was lean I would be about 11st - 11.5 st) then your runs will be the same as rowing. If you are well built, muscle wise, then you are likely to be a better rower.

    I guess that makes sense.
  • a4asha4ash Posts: 29
    Makes good sense, im 6ft 1, 14stone and about 12% body fat and really struggle with running
  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    The reason why your HR is lower on the ergometer is that your body weight is being supported by the machine itself.

    Generally for an occasional rower there is a good correlation between running and ergometer, however if you are a specialist runner or a specialist rower the difference will probably be greater. This is due to the fact that specialist runners (even compared to lightweights) do not have the upper body strength for the finish, and the specialist rower will know the machine - he/she will be experienced in pacing a piece and more imprtantly will be techically better and therefore be faster.

    Incidently the two benchmark ergometer distances that rowers use for the ergometer are 5kM and 2kM and for older guys 2.5kM. The magic times for these distances vary according to the sex and size of the rower, but in my day 5kM target was sub 17 minutes the 2kM target was sub 6.40 and the 2.5 target was 8.00 minutes.

    Since I retired the one thing I have not done is go on the ergometer ; too many memories some bad, many good but all very painful
  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    Most national rowing teams are doing their 2K and 5K tests soon so those benchmark times may change
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Concept II stage an annual british indoor rowing championships.


    A significant percentage don't make 6:40 for the 2K.

    Obviously, this percentage gets higher as you get through the age groups.

    Interestingly, I don't feel so bad now - as I wouldn't have been last in either the Mens, or the M40+ group. And, at 76Kg, I'm almost lightweight - well, I would be a lightweight if I lost of pounds of unneeded blubber.

    Assuming that the BIRC has a reasonable field (and some big rowing names have won/competed in the past), 6:40 seems to be equivalent to around 34 mins for a running 10K. At a guess.
  • langers08langers08 Posts: 19
    I've done quite a bit of ergo work & have to conclude it can be v painful. Interestingly, best time for a 10k run is 45 mins but for a 10k row I'm a shade over 36 mins which is OK. I've done a 6.30 2k last year but couldn't quite match it at the BIRC in November (6.34).

    One thing I would advise is to have the lever set at 4-5 (which is where the big boys have it). It's not a gear lever - it adjusts the airflow in the flywheel & if you have it at 10 it'll feel like you're rowing an ocean liner. Having said that, I've been to gyms where they don't service their ergos & occasionally you have to put it up to 10 to get the drag factor right. This can be measured on the machine - you need a setting of 100-130 depending on body weight.
  • are you from cork?
  • bobraynerbobrayner Posts: 27
    Jack Hughes wrote:

    Concept II stage an annual british indoor rowing championships.


    It looks like a really good challenge. One of my friends is doing it this year; I'm tempted to join him. Of course, he's a serious rower, and I hate indoors training on machines (rollers, rowers, treadmills &c) so he'll probably wipe the floor with me.

    But if it was easy, it wouldn't be a challenge, would it? [:D]

    The record is 5:42.5! [color=#810081]http://www.concept2.co.uk/birc/records.php[/color]
  • langers08langers08 Posts: 19
    Nope - based in Hampshire
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