Superfit @ 50: rowing to maintain strength and endurance

As I previously wrote Superfit@50: No more ultrarunning for a while an auto-immune reaction with the cartilage in my right hip has put an end to long runs and ultra-running for the time being. However, I remain true to my goal of trying to be Superfit @ 50 and I am using rowing with my WaterRower to help maintain strength and endurance whilst I work through this chapter of my life (and health).

I remain positive and longer term, I still want to complete ultras. For the time being though, short runs supplemented by rowing and spin cycling will be the way to go! Whilst this is disappointing and an inconvenience, we are only talking of a sore hip and a change of exercise routine. There are many folk in their fifties with more life changing illnesses and disabilities, so no complaints from me; it’s always good to maintain a sense of perspective.

Rowing to help with Osteoarthritis 

My physio suggested I embrace as much non-painful exercise as possible to retain strength and flexibility around my hip, pelvis and core. This should aid a speedy recovery when I eventually have the hip replaced. 

Rowing is an excellent exercise for this, using 86% of the body’s muscles to provide a total body workout in a linear and low-impact way so as not to cause any discomfort whatsoever on my hip. The rowing really is quite amazing. I have adjusted my weekly schedule to include 2 hour-long rows, where I am working hard to maintain as much endurance as possible. I supplement this each week with one 20 minute ‘tempo’ session plus a couple of 15 or 20 minute warm-up rows prior to a run. I am still running daily, albeit with weekly mileage around 20 rather than 50 miles and at a much slower pace. I was over-taken by a brisk walker last week, am not sure who was the more embarrassed 😊

Improved body tone

The rowing is also improving my overall body tone and I was already conscious that as we get older and into our fifties, we need to incorporate some resistance training into our weekly workout routines. I think this aspect that had been previously missing from mine. There is always some good that comes from the unexpected …


I purchased my WaterRower as a demonstration model back in 1998 (where has the time gone!). Over the 23 years there have been periods when I have not used it, but on the whole I previously averaged 2-3 20-minute sessions each week and since last summer when I contracted Lyme’s disease, I am averaging around 3.5 hours each week (over 4-5 sessions). When not in use it can stand up against a wall out of the way.

The WaterRower has been super-reliable with only two ‘breakdowns’ over this period and has needed only minimal servicing. It has required one tank seal replacement (damaged during a house move) and recently the foot strap broke. On the few occasions that I have had to call WaterRower (office in Acton, London) the team has always been swift to help and offered great customer service every time. The machine is quiet, very smooth to use and enjoys self-regulating resistance thanks to the water in the tank being the resistance. In my opinion, it also looks beautiful piece of kit!

Cycling and swimming

I do plan to get myself a spin bike to incorporate more low-impact HIIT training into my weekly training. If you have any thoughts on which machine to go for please do let me know. In addition, a friend of mine has kindly agreed to buddy up and accompany me open water swimming once the water temperature increases (I am diagnosed epileptic so cannot swim on my own). The water this morning was only 4°C, brrrrrr … the swimmers are so brave!

Take care, stay safe and think about being the best person you can be, even during these challenging times.



Header photo: Courtesy of WaterRower

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s