2000 meters. 7 minutes. How hard could it be? Those were my initial thoughts when I first rowed 2000 meters for time. The ‘standard’ for this distance for men is sub 7 minutes, and sub 8 minutes for women.

Think about how many 7 minute periods fly by in a day without you even noticing them. 7 minutes when working, sleeping, eating or watching TV is absolutely effortless. While rowing, however, it’s a completely different story.

The first 500 meters of the row is ‘free.’ What I mean by this is that it doesn’t hurt. You’re able to get through this first quarter of the row without any lactic acid buildup or without your breathing being affected too badly. Then, suddenly, everything changes.

Over the next few minutes, you’re confronted with both the best and worst version of yourself. The part of you that justifies quitting and the part of you that refuses to give up when confronted with hardship. One wages war against the other as the meters roll on and the clock ticks away.

It’s said that persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement, and this is seldom demonstrated better than the psychological shift that takes place when you conquer something physically difficult. Finishing the 2000 meter row for the first time in under 7 minutes remains a pivotal moment in my life. During those 7 minutes, I was confronted multiple times with that poisonous voice that keeps us from being the best versions of ourselves. 

The one that tells you it’s ok to settle, to stop, to not be great. But I overcame it, and in doing so showed myself that my mind holds power that I never knew existed. The rower, the meters and the time are essentially arbitrary measurements. They’re man-made to keep track of performance. Their true value lies in the fact that they offer immediate, tangible and real feedback to the participant.

This is why I love the 2000 meter row for a time as well as any challenge in the gym that requires mental fortitude. You’re able to instantly prove to yourself that you’re stronger than you thought – not just in body, but in mind. The feedback is also absolutely honest, something that’s very rare in an age where participation meddles are handed out regardless of effort.

You can change your life in 7 minutes. When you refuse to quit because something got difficult, you show your mind the strength it posses, and this naturally ripples out into the other aspects of your life. When times get tough you don’t quit. You dig in, you forge forward and find a way to get through. Imagine the benefit of taking that mentality into the work place, into your relationships and your daily life.

The good news is that this opportunity is available to anyone and everyone. We’re blessed with bodies that allow us to bridge the chasm between the fragility and strength of the mind. At Roark, we preach this principle on a daily basis. Our workouts are designed to make the mind and body more resilient, meaning those who train with us become stronger, tougher and more capable, both in and out of the gym.

If you have any questions about training with us, or would like to book a trial session, click here.