“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” I saw this uncredited quote recently and thought about a rowing experience of mine.


I row alone. I don’t go to a gym (I guess lately you couldn’t anyway). What I do and the effort I put in is up to me. No one is watching me. No one is coaching me. No one is pushing me. And there is no witness if I quit. So, what do I do when no one is watching? I NEVER GIVE UP! And here’s why.


Last June, I participated in an online indoor rowing class called ROW-20 run by, who I now call my mentor, Austin Hendrickson of Training Tall (start following him on YouTube and go from there). It was a great experience all done through FaceBook Live sessions. 20 students, 20 days, 20 minutes a day. If you are new to rowing, or even if you are not, I recommend ROW-20. I made strides in my rowing that I didn’t think were possible. 

But, what happened after that made me take my training up another notch.


Austin created a ROW-20 Veterans FaceBook group that enabled all past participants of ROW-20 to post and talk about rowing and their rowing experience. It’s a great chance to connect with people all over the world and get inspired by their efforts. There are some truly amazing people in this group! I love to read about what others are doing, the challenges they are pursuing, and the progress they are making. Some are training to row a marathon. Others are focused on a 500M sprint. And some are putting in the meters to help them optimize their fitness. I guess that’s the category I fit into even though I am striving for a sub 8 minute 2K. I started posting a lot of my own results, sometimes on a daily basis. I mean, I’m not the greatest rower in the world but I like to share my progress – especially when my results are good (come on, who doesn’t?) And then it happened, I had a shitty day. And good or bad, I was committed to posting my results. I didn’t want to do it but, I did. And that’s when one of my fellow veterans had my back.


In early August I did an interval workout of 6 intervals of 500 meters each (with 2 minutes of light rowing between intervals). Two intervals at 26, 28, and 30 strokes per minute pace. All at a “tough” pace which, for me, was under a 1:50/500M split time. I hit the fifth interval and I crashed. My body just gave out and I couldn’t push anymore. But I limped through that interval and got to my two minutes of light rowing. My interval time was awful and I was toast! I considered quitting. I had failed. I wasn’t going to make it. But while I was light rowing between intervals (and trying to get my breath back), I decided to row the final interval even though it was a terrible outcome. Not my greatest day, but I posted the results. I didn’t really want to but, like I said, good or bad, I was committed. In my post I said, “Full disclosure, I just gave out in the 5th interval. Just could not push anymore, I was exhausted – toast. For the first time ever I considered stopping but somehow I sucked it up for the last one. Not the greatest result but, got it done.” 

In the comments one of my ROW-20 colleagues said, “The point where you could stop and no one would know but you, but you push on? That’s awesome man. Well done.”


She has no idea how her words inspired me. Up until that point I had never thought about quitting. But I thought about it that day. You see, I had never pushed my body the way I have been pushing it during and after ROW-20. And she was right. I could have stopped and no one would have known. No one was looking. I could have not posted my results and no one would have been the wiser. No one would have cared. 

Six months have passed since that day. I’ve done many brutal workouts since. Workouts that I knew would be grueling, gut wrenching, drenched in sweat, heart rate to the max, “imma gonna die!” workouts that have left me spent at the end. And I have NEVER thought about quitting. Because when I am facing one of those workouts, I stop and think about 

“…but you push on?”

And I push on.

One thought on “Encouragement

  1. Giles- great article! I am in the Veterans ROW 20- just recently having done it in Jan and Feb. I had that moment last Saturday and like you pushed on.

    One of my coaches says it’s better to suck than skip. So that is my mantra when that place creeps up. Keep on rowing, and writing!

    Liked by 1 person

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