If you want to design a safe and effective training program use the 2 essential rules listed below as guidance. Do your best to make them your priority and keep them in order. Remember, an injured athlete can't improve, or perform.
Through all my research I have not found an article that has done a better job than "Training the Energy Systems" by the late Dr. Fritz Hagerman. Dr. Hagerman was the exercise physiologist for the U.S. National team for about 30 years. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for his contributions to the sport of rowing. I've attached the document below since it has been rather difficult to find online. If you would like a copy sent to you in an email feel free to contact me.
I profiled a few key points that stood out to me, and that help to define my program, but please take the time to read the article for yourself. There is a treasure trove of information in these 8 pages. It took me about a year of research to learn all of this on my own. You will be saving yourself a lot of time by diving into this piece of work.
In the sport of rowing injury rates are staggering. I've read figures that range from 30%-70%. This means that at least one in every three rowers will find themselves without a seat. Yet the biggest issue is that these rates are accepted as normal in our sport. Every season athletes fall to injuries and the cycle repeats itself year after year. The simple truth that is commonly overlooked is that keeping our athletes healthy is the easiest way to improve performance. If our athletes are healthy then they have more time to train and thus more time to respond to training adaptations. More importantly, we then allow our athletes to live their lives without dealing with the consequences of a serious injury.
The truth is that there are only 3 ways to get injured from rowing (excluding any freak accidents or a serious crab).
It's unclear what the cause was for my injury. What was clear was the fact that my five year rowing career had just come to an end. I found myself lost and confused. My coaches and teammates made me feel like I was weak and exaggerating the injury to remove myself from the competitive rigors of Division 1 rowing. After five months and five different doctors it was clear that I wasn't exaggerating anything. I had spondylolisthesis at L5 and two herniated discs. Surprisingly, I was told that this injury was common in rowers and that it was completely possible to continue my rowing career. In actuality this may have been true but I feared continuing would only make it worse. I eventually decided against continuing with the hope of being able to play with my kids in the distant future.
I didn't know it at the time but my injury happened for a reason. I've spent the last 4 years of my life trying to figure out how to reduce the chance for injuries in the sport of rowing. I don't claim to be the best coach by any means but I do believe I'm making a difference in these kids lives. What I hope to do by sharing my experience is to create some thought that may help more kids than I can personally reach.