R. C. (Rudolf Chambers) Lehmann.

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fact, that came handy. It never took me long to get my
wind and muscles in trim for rowing.

At Maidenhead the great race was one for Coxswain
Fours. At Goring we rowed in Eights and Coxswainless
Fours. Our Maidenhead record stands as follows : From
1883 to 1898 inclusive, I entered a crew every year, except in
1885 an< 3 1888 fourteen years in all. During that period
we won ten times, rowed one dead heat (not rowed off), and
were beaten three times twice (in 1883 and 1886) by Abney
House crews, whom, however, we beat in 1884 and 1887, anc *
once (in 1893) by a lively crew of the Formosa Boat Club,
hailing from a hospitable house on the Clifden Reach. On
this occasion, however, I had only been able to scrape a
crew together four days before the jrace.

At Goring we entered regularly from 1895 to 1897, and
again (in a Four only under the Fieldhead colours) in 1899
and 1900. We won the Eights, Fours, and Pairs in 1895 and
1897 (I rowed in the Eight only). In 1896 we won the
Eights against Kingston, but they beat us in the Fours after
we had defeated London in a heat. In 1898 we did not enter
at Goring, but in 1899 and 1900 we came on again for the
Fours and won them. In both these years our crews were
exceptionally fast, especially in 1900, when I rowed my last
race. Our 1900 crew was seated in the following order :

st. Ibs.
R. O. Pitman (bow and steerer) 10 7

2. C. W. H. Taylor 12 9

3. R. C. Lehmann . . . . . ... .114

C.J. D. Goldie (stroke) 12 2

The remarkable point about this crew is that stroke-
side outweighs bow-side by three stone. However, by dint
of very hard work on the part of Pitman and myself, we
managed to keep the boat very straight. We practised for
about ten days, but before we began we were all fit and hard,
and we shook together directly. No stroke was too fast for
us, and the pace we got on the boat was amazing. "An
Old Hand," writing in The Horse and Hound, said of us :


" Undoubtedly the Four proved themselves one of the fastest
if not the fastest of the year. In their heat (at Goring)
they simply romped away from the far stronger Thames Four,
and in the Final had no difficulty in disposing of the powerful
and well-placed L. R. C. crew, which had previously won all
the Senior Fours after Henley. This really was a most note-
worthy incident." In the final heat we were clear in less than
30 sees., and two lengths ahead in a minute. We rowed at
least 44 to the minute, and without the semblance of a splash.
In order to show roughly how we practised for a race, and
how work was distributed, I venture to give here an extract
from my rowing log of 1891. We had got together a four for
the Maidenhead Regatta under the colours of the Orkney
Cottage Boat Club. It was composed of H. B. Cotton (bow),
2, W. F. C. Holland ; 3, R. C. Lehmann ; stroke, C. W. Kent.
With the exception of myself all these men had been in
rowing practice during the greater part of the year. I was in
fairly good condition, and had little superfluous weight to get
off. We got together not quite three weeks before the date
fixed for the race. The course of the Maidenhead Regatta is
a short one of about three-quarters of a mile. It necessitates,
therefore, a very fast rate of stroke, which can only be rowed
effectively when a crew is perfectly well together.


Monday, August 3. Got the crew out, fixed the stretchers, made

everything comfortable, did paddling work.
Tuesday -, August 4. Paddled at 28-30 strokes to the minute over

course, inside, 3 mins. 51 sees. Quite smooth, no wind.
Wednesday ', August 5. Wind down stream. In morning paddled

mostly. Notice-board to finish in 63 sees. (30 to minute). In

afternoon rowed course (28-30 to minute). Strongish wind ;

inside course : 4 minutes.
Thursday^ August 6. Out in morning. Start to notice-board,

2 mins. 30 sees. (36-35 to minute). Smooth, no wind; good.
Friday and Saturday, August 7 and 8. Did not go out in four,

Kent and Holland being away. Cotton and R. C. L. in pair.


Monday, August 10. Out in afternoon, Rowe being 2. Holland
absent owing to accident. Rowed 2 mins. from start (73
strokes). Notice-board to finish, 57 sees.

Tuesday ', August n. In morning rowed a minute outside from
start, reaching the third tree past notice-board with No. 3*8
rigger (39 to minute). Starts. In afternoon a course (inside),
leading breeze, stream strong (37-39 to minute), 3 mins. 29 sees.
Went well. Then a start, 14 strokes in 20 sees.

Wednesday, August 12. Out in morning only. A minute from
start reached same tree as yesterday. Notice-board to finish,
56 sees. Nasty cross wind from S.W. and W.

Thursday, August 13. Out in morning above Boulter's Lock.
Rowed 2 mins. In afternoon course inside, cross wind (38-37
to minute), 3 mins. 33 sees. Rather dead.

Friday, August 14. In morning rowed from start to Red House.
Notice-board, 2 mins. 25 sees. In afternoon did alternate
paddling and rowing, also starts at 42 to minute. From notice-
board to finish, 55 sees. Cross wind as before.

Saturday, August 15. In the morning to Bray Lock; rowed a
minute from start, reached half a length further than before;
half a minute start (21 to minute). Cross wind. Afternoon,
course (outside), cross wind, rather against us, 3 mins. 31 sees. ;
started 40 to minute.

Monday, August 17. Nice leading wind in the morning; rowed
course, starting 41 to minute, 3 mins. 19 sees., record. For
about half a minute were scratchy, otherwise fair. In the after-
noon rowed starts. Tried to beat record from notice-board to
finish. First time we gave a huge lurch just before steps and
almost caught crabs ; second time, owing to a crowd of boats,
could not mark finish, and rowed a length beyond in 55 sees. ;

Tuesday, August 18. In the morning out at 10 a.m., rowed
starts. One minute from start, added another half length (41 to
minute). Half a minute (23 to minute), though Kent left his
slide. Did not go out in the evening.

Wednesday, August 19. Out in morning to Formosa and back.
Paddled as steady as a rock, beautifully together. Rowed half
a minute (23^ strokes). Then 20 sees., into which we crammed
17^ strokes; then a minute of 42. Finally n strokes in
15 sees.


In my log of 1897 I find another passage relating to the
rate of stroke which we employed over this short course.
Our crew in that year was composed of R. O. Pitman (bow) ;
2, H. Willis ; 3, R. C. Lehmann ; C. J. D. Goldie (stroke).
"For some time we were unsteadier than usual, but we
always had great dash and life, and when at last we managed
to get the boat on a level keel our pace was remarkable,
equal, if not superior to, that of the best crews we have
turned out. . . . The day of the Regatta was very fine. . . .
In the final we had the Bucks station against Marlow Rowing
Club. We got off beautifully, and at a most surprising pace.
Harcourt Gold and Carr, who were in the launch, timed us
to row close on 25 strokes in the half and 46 \ strokes in the
full minute. In the boat it felt like a comfortable 40. The
consequence was that we simply romped from Marlow, whom
we cleared in half a minute and headed by about three
lengths in a minute. From this point we settled into a long
brisk paddle, winding up with ten hard strokes close on five
lengths ahead."



BY the term "training" is understood the adoption of
certain rules of living by means of which the body is
brought into the very best possible condition to withstand
the strain of racing. These rules are the outcome of the
experience of many years ; they have not been drawn up in
consequence of any scientific experiments, but are, in fact,
the simple common-sense rules of healthy living which would
naturally be followed by men performing hard physical work.
The period of training must be taken as covering the whole
time spent in practice for the race, although it is not usual
for the special rules of diet to be observed for so long. For
instance, the practice of a University crew occupies some ten
weeks in all, but only for the latter half of that time is strict
training enforced. I call attention to this broader definition
of training because, as I shall point out, by far the most
important part of any athletic training is the physical work
done. Indeed, a man who is taking regular hard exercise,
such as daily eight-oared rowing, will require only a short
spell of what is called strict training in order to make him
"fit." I may go even further than this and say that three
or four weeks of strict training will usually produce better
condition in such a man than would a longer period. The
case of a man who has not rowed for a year or more is very
different ; he will usually require at least three or four months
of hard exercise to get fit, and for the last five or six weeks
of that time training rules must be very strictly observed.
A table showing the daily routine of a University crew in



training for the boat-race at Putney has been given in the
previous chapter.

It will be seen from that that the rules of training fall
naturally under three headings, of which the first is by far
the most important

1. Exercise.

2. Rest.

3. Diet.

Theoretical Considerations

I propose to sketch out briefly some of the physiological
effects of hard exercise upon the human body, and to show
in what respects the man " out of condition " differs from the
trained athlete.

The most marked result of a course of violent exercise is
found in the development of the heart, for the heart is a
muscular organ, and, like any other muscle in the body,
increases in size as a consequence of work.

When a muscle contracts a chemical change takes place
by which oxygen is consumed and certain products are
formed. The blood carries oxygen to the muscles and other
tissues of the body, and takes away the waste substances that
are produced as a result of their activity ; further, the blood
becomes oxygenated once more in its passage through the
lungs where an interchange of gases takes place. It is
evident, therefore, that since the function of the heart is to
pump the blood to the tissues and through the lungs, it will
have to perform a much greater amount of work when the
muscles are active than when they are at rest. In the case
of an individual who is habitually taking hard exercise, the
heart will share in the general muscular development and will
become considerably increased in size. This development
of the heart muscle is called " hypertrophy ; " it enables the
heart to perform a greater amount of work and so increases
the efficiency of the skeletal muscles by maintaining the

>erve force


requisite supply of blood to them during prolonged activity.
When the body is at rest the heart is performing its minimum
amount of work ; it is capable of doing much more the
difference between the minimum and maximum being the
" reserve force " of the heart.

The effect of hypertrophy is to increase very largely the
reserve force of the heart as may be graphically represented
by the accompanying diagram.
The man with the normal or not
hypertrophied heart becomes
rapidly short of breath on taking
violent exercise ; the heart is
unable for long to keep the cir-
culation up to the pitch required
for perfect oxygenation of the
blood and "air-hunger" results.
The trained athlete, on the other
hand, having a much greater re-
serve force, does not become dis-
tressed till later.

What we commonly call a
" good wind " means, therefore,

' Irfork of ikeJfeo.^

a hypertrophied heart ; it has little Wv *

to do with the lungs, although a ^
large lung capacity is a valuable
asset. If the heart is suddenly called upon to perform work
far beyond the limits of its reserve force, the chambers of the
heart become dilated and are unable to empty themselves at
each contraction, so that the requisite quantity of blood is
not propelled onwards.

This is known as " dilatation," and may be merely a
temporary embarrassment of the circulation, or may be more
or less permanent. Dilatation is the exactly opposite con-
dition to hypertrophy, although in both there is enlargement
of the organ ; some degree of dilatation, however, accompanies
hypertrophy, that is to say, the chambers of the hypertrophied
heart are enlarged in capacity, but not to such an extent as


to be incompletely emptied at each contraction of the heart

This development of the heart is the most important factor
in all athletic training ; it is probably more marked in oars-
men than in other athletes.

It is evident that the changes which take place in the
heart as the result of violent exercise should influence the
trainer in determining the amount and character of the work
to be performed by the crew. For instance, it would be
wrong to begin practice with very hard or fast work ; the
men's hearts would not be in a condition to withstand the
unaccustomed strain, and permanent damage might be done.
As the hypertrophy develops so may the amount and severity
of the work be gradually increased without any risk of over-
taxing the powers of the oarsmen. University undergraduates
and others who are rowing almost continuously throughout
the year do not altogether lose their heart hypertrophy
during a rest of a few weeks' duration ; consequently a very
short training is sufficient to get them into condition.

The next effect of rowing exercise that has to be noticed is
upon the skeletal muscles which are concerned in propelling a
racing boat. It is a very popular but erroneous belief that great
muscular development is essential to success in rowing, and in
this connection I would draw a distinction between what may
be called naturally muscular men and artificial strong men.

The latter are the outcome of one of the systems for
muscular development which have come into such prominence
of late years ; as fine specimens of humanity they may be all
that their trainers claim, but as oarsmen they are, with very
few exceptions, useless. I will not attempt to explain the
reasons for their failure in this respect except to point out
that great muscular power is not so essential to the oarsman
as quickness of application. Indeed, rowing is far more
nearly allied to track athletics than to weight lifting or any
other feat of strength, and though, c&teris paribus, a strong
man is better than a weak one, stamina and quickness are
much more valuable assets than big muscles.


The naturally muscular man starts with a great advantage
over the majority of his fellows, and his physique will bring
him into the first rank of oarsmen, provided that he can learn
the art of light-boat rowing and has stamina. Unfortunately,
however, neither the art of rowing nor stamina are his to

Practice under good coaching will do much to teach
him the former, but cannot ensure success in this respect.
Similarly, training will increase his stamina by developing
his heart, but there can be no doubt that the really great
oarsman or runner is gifted by nature with a naturally
capable heart, whereas certain individuals are quite unable
to educate their hearts up to the standard required for
winning a hard race. By this I do not mean to imply that
rowing is harmful to those who do not possess what we call
good stamina: I do not believe that any young man will
injure himself by rowing, provided that he possesses sound
organs to begin with, and pays due attention to the common-
sense rules of training. Success, however, will go to the
man who has the best staying power, efficiency in oarsman-
ship being equal.

In speaking of the effect of rowing upon what we may call
the rowing muscles, we must distinguish between the develop-
ment of the muscles themselves on the one hand, and of their
nervous mechanism on the other. The movements that are
gone through in the act of rowing a stroke are brought about
by a vast number of muscles working in exact harmony with
one another. Now each of these muscles is governed by its
centre in the brain, and contracts in accordance with impulses
sent up to and despatched from that centre. The novice has
to employ considerable mental effort in order to perform the
various movements, but as time goes on the act of rowing
becomes practically automatic, like that of running or walking.
I will not weary the reader by entering upon the theoretical
considerations as to how the nervous system responds to
repeated practice and produces this automatism ; it will suffice
for our purpose to notice that, as a consequence, the novice


becomes fatigued sooner than the old hand even though
physique and condition are equal. Practice, therefore, has the
effect of increasing the efficiency of the individual apart from
any improvement in style, watermanship, and condition that
may result. As regards the actual development of the muscles
themselves, this is not such a marked feature as might be
expected. A considerable quantity of muscle is laid on during
training, especially in the thighs, back, and abdomen, but it is
not very obvious, even to the watchful eye of the trainer, because
practically the whole body shares in the development.

Moreover, as I have already pointed out, quickness of
action and stamina are far more important to the oarsman
than great power for a momentary effort, so that he develops
the quality rather than the quantity of his muscle.

So far, I have only touched upon the physiological effects
of exercise upon the man in training, which are

(a) To produce hypertrophy of the heart, upon which
stamina depends.

(b) To develop the power of and control over the skeletal
muscles used in rowing.

Practical Considerations

If we turn our attention to the practical side of exercise,
the question immediately arises, how much work should a
man do in order to get himself into the best possible
condition ?

No hard and fast rules can be given ; the amount of work
and the length of training which will give the best results
differ with different individuals.

The work which is usually done by a University crew
during the ten weeks of practice is as follows :

For the first six weeks, while the eight is on the home
waters, the boat goes out once a day only ; for the last three
or four weeks both morning and afternoon journeys are
undertaken, if the state of the tide at Putney permits.


During the first two or three weeks it is usually necessary
to make frequent changes in the constitution of the eight, and
only light work is attempted, consisting chiefly of paddling at a
slow stroke twenty-six or twenty-seven to the minute with
occasional bursts of hard rowing for ten or twelve strokes.

No good purpose is served by starting practice with severe
work ; as already pointed out, the physical condition of the
men is not suited to it at this time.

A man who has not been in a boat for several months will
become exhausted after a very few strokes of hard rowing,
but he can manage to paddle at twenty-seven to the minute
for a considerable distance without distress.

If untrained men should be given hard work at the very
outset of their practice, the immediate result would be a
deterioration, or, at all events, a lack of improvement, in
their rowing ; for no man can get the better of his faults
and pay due attention to his coach's exhortations when he
is working to the utmost of his power. Improvement in
style and watermanship is made when a man is rowing well
within himself, and can spend the greater part of his energy
in overcoming his particular faults ; later, his improved style
of rowing will become so natural and automatic that he will
adhere to it without mental effort, even when rowing at top

As soon as the order of the crew has been definitely
decided upon, hard work begins in earnest ; a minimum
distance of six miles is covered daily, and, on two or three
out of the six working days of the week, this is increased to
twelve miles or more. Moreover, some hard rowing is under-
taken every day, the duration of which varies from five to
twenty minutes. Two or three weeks of this kind of work
should suffice to get the men hard and in fairly good condi-
tion, while particular attention is being paid to their individual
faults. It must be remembered that it is quite unusual for
any member of the crew to start practice in really bad
condition ; the majority of the men will have rowed in their
College fours and in the trial eights during the previous


October term. If, however, any man should be manifestly
unfit and much over weight, he will, in addition to the work
in the boat, be given land exercise, the character of which
will be detailed later.

The first half of the ten weeks' practice usually reduces
the weights of the men to some extent, the loss corresponding
to the removal of superfluous fat ; during the latter half of
training, especially in the last fortnight, the weights should
rise slightly, but steadily, the increase being due to added

Five weeks before the date fixed for the race, the crew
goes into "strict training," that is to say, the regular hours
set forth in the table in the previous chapter are adhered to,
all smoking is forbidden, and the special rules of diet are
strictly enforced. During the last three weeks, the character
of the work is altered somewhat, that is to say, the rate of
stroke is increased day by day, until racing pitch is reached.
Rows at full speed over some distance between one mile and
two and a half miles will be done on alternate days, and short
bursts of one and two minutes' duration on the other days.
Three, or perhaps four, full-course trials will be rowed during
these last weeks of practice, and, on the days that these are
undertaken, the work is often limited to the one outing only.
Very little work should be done on the three or four days
immediately preceding the race it is usually confined to
starts from a moored skiff, half-minute, minute, and two-
minute bursts at a fast stroke. All the hard rowing should
have been accomplished before this, and the crew ought,
therefore, to be at its very best as regards both rowing and
condition ; light work for a day or two does no harm at this
stage, but, on the contrary, brings the men to the post full of
life and vigour, and, at the same time, avoids all risk of over-
working them at the eleventh hour.

Such is, in brief, the average amount of rowing which is
accomplished by University crews in training, but the exercise
is not confined to the work in the boat. At least six or
seven miles' walking should be done every day, and may be


fitted in as follows : One mile before breakfast, four miles in
going to and from the river, and, in addition, two miles in the
afternoon either before or after the second practice.

The early morning exercise before breakfast used to be
insisted upon as a highly important part of the day's work ;
of late years it has come to be regarded with less favour.
Formerly it was the rule to run a mile or more before
8 o'clock, or at least to take a hard sprint for 200 or 300
yards as well as a brisk walk. I think that, for the vast
majority of men, a stroll in the open air for 15 or 20 minutes
is ample, whereas a long run or even a hard sprint for a short
distance before breakfast frequently has the effect of making
a man feel tired for the remainder of the morning. It is
quite true that it suits some people to take hard exercise
before breakfast, but these few fortunate individuals belong
to the class of exceptionally strong men who need a vast
amount of work to bring them into condition and who rarely,
if ever, get overworked. The old idea used to be that there
was some great virtue in getting thoroughly out of breath
and so " clearing the wind " early in the morning ; but I
have already pointed out that a " good wind " depends upon
the action of the heart, and I can therefore see no special
reason why violent exercise should be taken before breakfast
rather than later in the day.

With regard to walking and running exercise at other
times, I think that more attention might with advantage be
paid to them. During the early stages of practice nothing is

Online LibraryR. C. (Rudolf Chambers) LehmannThe complete oarsman → online text (page 10 of 39)