In the second in a series of blog posts from world champion rower Matt Gotrel he discusses life at training camp...

Training camps are one of the most important components of every year. Throughout the year they provide opportunities for us to focus on nothing but rowing. No commuting, no cooking, no families, girlfriends or late nights - no distractions! 

This is the beauty of a training camp, not having any distractions means all you can do is; eat, sleep and row, and you wouldn’t want to do much more than that, the training is tough! More hours in the day means more hours spent training and if you didn't appreciate your bed before, you will after a few days on camp. For about 3 months of every year we will be out of the country purely for training, away from the limelight of international competition. No other nations to test ourselves against, it’s just us as a team, pushing each other on and hoping that the work we do behind closed doors is enough to take on the world. But it’s not really ‘hoping’ - we know that what we do works! We know that if we follow the programme and train hard we will be better prepared than any other nation.

It doesn't matter where we are in the world; it’s always the same. A training location and a shared bedroom - the rowing machine never changes, the weights we lift never change, all that changes is the water we row on. So as glamorous as all the travelling sounds, we only have one job to do and that’s to train. There is no time for anything else; we are locked away from the world for two weeks at a time. You do forget what day of the week it is, you live your life day by day. You just look at the training each day as it comes, complete each session to the best of your ability and don't worry about what is round the corner. More often than not, if you look too far ahead, and you see the miles racking up, it will make you want to cry! So you’re safer to just worry about getting through the day. 

Rowing Image

Pictured above: The Mens 8 getting the miles done in Avis, PortugalDouble Olympic Champions Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge in shot.

As you can imagine with a group of 26 lads, we have a bit of a laugh. And you get to know your roommates pretty well - the ones who snore all night and the ones that like to spend half an hour in the shower. It’s a lucky dip, so I always bring some earplugs to be on the safe side. Off the water - time is spent recovering; plenty of TV shows and movies, the odd book and we have recently discovered the Jigsaw, which was rather more stressful than relaxing, but anything to switch of from rowing for a few hours.

With the racing season fast approaching and the team announced for the first test, the European Championships. We are currently out in Portugal to prepare. We come here three times a year to hone our skills for racing. It is a great location, a purpose built facility with everything we need. It usually comes with some nice weather too! High up on the priority list is food - we get through a lot of it, whilst on camp we will eat 5 times a day, and around 6,000 calories. The kitchen staff always provide us with healthy meals, and importantly - lots of it!

dining with robert welch

Pictured above: Robert Welch Radford Cutlery comes on tour with me!  

We know that a training camp is preparation for the ‘main event’, so when it comes time to leave, its not about being thankful its over, its only half the job, you have to be ready to perform. Its no good leaving your best performance on the training ground. The real test is getting out there and doing it on the big stage. For us, that is the European Championships - Brandenburg, Germany 6th-8th May.


Coverage is available live on the BBC Red Button and a highlights show on BBC 2 on Sunday 8th May