Fitness Fan exclusive interview with Olympic gold medallist Helen Glover on rowing, her training regime and more.
Name: Helen Glover
Height: 5’ 10”
When did you first start rowing?
Until 2008 I had never considered rowing, having left University I was about to take up a teacher training degree. My mum saw a Sporting Giant advert in the paper, she called me up and said “why don’t you apply?” The only criteria set was that you had to be over 5ft10, even though I was 5ft9 ½ I applied and it was a talent scheme looking for tall people to be directed into three sports which were handball, rowing and volleyball. The first stage was the paper application, and the second stage was where they measured you, tested your fitness and your potential to gain fitness. From that, 30 boys and 30 girls got asked to start rowing and 2008 was the first time I sat in a boat and picked up an oar all because I had applied through this scheme. I watched the Beijing Olympics when I had just started rowing and it made me realise what I had let myself in for and what a big task it was. The reason I started rowing was to win Gold in 2012, it wasn’t for fitness or recreational purposes, it was to win.
How often do you train?
We have 2-3 sessions every day. In the winter it’s based on mileage and getting our strength, and in the summer it’s about getting our power levels up.
How long do you train for?
In the winter we’ll start with an hour and forty minute continuous row in the racing boat for about 24km. The second session will be on the rowing machine and we’ll row about 18km, slow and steady, more endurance based than anything. We’ll finish the day with a weight session, which we do about four times a week in the gym to gain strength and body mass. We do six hours a day of physical training, including warming up, cooling down and physio. Our days last from 7.30am till about 5.00pm
What are your goals?
Definitely to defend the World Championships, the closer it gets to the Olympics, the more important it is to be on form. Post Olympic year and the year after that aren’t the most important and I understand that and sport fluctuates, but actually after Gold, the only way is Gold. I didn’t think we’d be unbeaten so far, we jumped in having a lot of work to do and I didn’t predict us being a Gold medallist pairing in the World Championships.
What is your favourite work out
I Love to run, but I don’t do much of it now that I’m rowing but every time I run my body seems to think I’m a runner again. I want to keep a certain body mass as I’m a little bit small and every time I run I lose body mass but I love to go home, go out to the sand dunes, stick my earphones in and just run. As a group, I love working in the weight room as you can push each other and help each other lift.
What music do you listen to when training?
A mixture of most things to be honest, I rarely chose what music is played in the gym.
Who do you look up to or admire?
Obviously I looked up to, and aspired to achieve what Sir Steve Redgrave has done in the sport. Winning Olympic Gold is the epitome of any sport and to achieve that at a home Olympics was the cherry on top of the already well baked and decorated cake.
What is your best achievement?
Winning Olympic Gold by a mile. It’s all I wanted to do when I was growing up. That was why I entered the sport of rowing, to win Olympic Gold, and through hard work and dedication, my dream became a reality.