Pre and Post Workout Fueling: Carbs and Protein for A Faster and Stronger You


When you’re working out on a regular basis, no matter what the workout is, feeding your body properly makes a huge difference in your success. It’s not just the meals you eat throughout the day but when you eat them and what you eat in between, if at all.

My coach in college was especially adamant about 2 things, eat before practice and eat after practice. When it’s 4:30 in the morning eating a full breakfast probably doesn’t seem like a good idea – and it probably isn’t. At that point you’re lucky you managed to pry yourself out of bed let alone make any food but, it doesn’t have to be that involved. If you’re not used to it, it might also take some easing into but the addition of a small snack before your workout can make a significant difference in your performance during your workout. It’s really simple – if you’re working out in the morning the last time you ate was probably somewhere between 10-12 hours ago! What energy does your body have to work with? If you are working out during the day it won’t have been that long ago but giving your body something to actively burn while you workout allows it to effectively do what you’re asking of it.

Usually you’ll find me sneaking a bite of Clif Bar out on the water between pieces because once you feel the difference a little food makes it becomes a necessity. Try to avoid anything super high in sugar or protein, include a balance of some carbs and some protein, just generally make it something healthy. Going for a little bit of everything is a safe bet. My go to is usually a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip LARABAR. They’re pretty small compared to most bars. They contain only dates, peanuts, chocolate chips and sea salt. Nothing fake, you know exactly what all of that stuff is and it all provides a little bit of the basic nutrients to fuel your body. Since they are so simple you can also just search online for all kinds of easy recipes to make them yourself.

Now, you just did an hour or more of crazy intense rowing, cross-training or weights. You know its gonna hurt tomorrow (and… probably the next day). That hurt is your body getting stronger as it heals the muscle tissues you just stretched while you pushed yourself during that 4 x 2k workout. This process also deserves some nutrients. It is best to start refueling within 15 minutes after you finish your workout. Since most of us aren’t at home or even near any food within that time make sure you are always packin’ some protein! (and carbs) I find one of those little chocolate milk boxes in my rowing bag works the best. You don’t have to worry about refrigerating it and it’s packed with carbs and protein that will go right to work rebuilding and replenishing your muscles. There are other options such as yogurt, low fat smoothie, peanut butter and a banana – or… you could get crazy and start throwing back some pickle juice. I’m serious. There have been recent studies that support the idea that pickle juice has many qualities that will stop muscle cramps. It’s worth a try!

If you haven’t been practicing pre and post workout fueling you’ll want to test out different timings with each and find something that works right for you. Try for 1-3 hours before your workout and 15-30 min after your workout. If even if you think a little food is going to make you feel sick while you workout, take the time to find something that won’t. Try different food options and try to keep them simple, and all natural, as much as possible. High fructose corn syrup is not something you want to be feeding your hard working muscles. Read the ingredients and make sure you know what they are. Also – don’t introduce this fueling schedule on race day.

Since our muscles support us it is very important we support them – especially while we are trying to push them to become better. Pre and post workout food, if you are not already eating it, is a small change that can make a big difference. Try it for yourself, find the foods that work and then see what it can do for you. Good nutrients = good athletes.

Check out these articles for more perspectives and suggestions on the topics discussed:

Posted in Nutrition

Boat Profiles: Kris Karlson & The FVRA Women’s 8+



The FVRA 2002 Vespoli women’s 8 is a part of rowing history. The Kris Karlson ’85, affectionately referred to as “The Kris”, is named after World Rowing Cup/World Rowing Championship medalist and Olympian, Dr. Kristine Karlson.

Kris Karlson was a 4-year collegiate sweep rower with Williams College. She entered medical school at University of Connecticut in 1985. A chance meeting with Stewart Anderson, rowing coach at Simsbury High School, got her back on the water- this time in a scull. After getting her own single, she kept it at the Trinity Boat House in Hartford and rowed on the Connecticut River.

Essentially a self-taught sculler, Kris entered the 1986 Head of Charles via the lottery system and placed 2nd in the women’s club single. With encouragement from friends, she decided to try out for the national team in 1987. She met Paul Carabillo through the Simsbury Boathouse and together they developed a training plan.

Her first gold medal was in 1988, World Rowing Championships in Milan, Italy. In 1989, at the World Championships in Bled, Slovenia, she won the gold in the lightweight single and double with C.B. Sands. She is the first women and 2nd American to win 2 golds in 2 different events at a World Championship Regatta. The previous American to win 2 golds at a World Championship Regatta was John Kelly in 1920, father of actress Grace Kelly.

Kris was named Female athlete of the year by the USRowing Association in 1989. After competing at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, Kris went on to complete fellowship training at the University of Michigan in sports medicine. She has been a doctor for several Olympic teams as well as, most recently, the US team that competed in the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida. She currently practices Family Medicine as part of Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

derby_women1Dad and Terry 088 (640x424)

In 2002 Williams College named a Vespoli 8 after Kris Karlson. The boat was retired in 2007 and sold to Farmington Valley Rowing Association. Since that time, the Kris has competed in many races. Most recently her biggest successes have been at the 2012 Masters Nationals in Worcester, MA, where she took a bronze in Women’s Club A 8+ and Women’s Open A8+, and competing as part of the Women’s Club 8+ in the 2016 Head of the Charles. The Kris 8+ is one of FVRA’s most used boats in clinics, practices and racing and we hope to keep it that way for many years to come.






  6. Lewis, Linda, Water’s Edge, Women Who Push the Limits in Rowing, Kayaking & Canoeing. 1992, pp 87-114.


Posted in Boat History

A Change of Scenery Through Cross-training

A beautiful day cross country skiing
A beautiful day cross country skiing

A beautiful day cross country skiing

A wise coach once told me that medals are “won in the winter, and picked up in the spring.” While this may be motivating right after the fall season, several months of erging indoors can bore even the most dedicated rower.

Ideally, with spring just around the corner, many of us are in our “rowing-specific preparation” phase of training. In addition to continuing to improve our rowing stroke on the erg, we should also be improving our aerobic fitness, strength, and flexibility. Erging is important this time of year, but cross-training can provide a change of scenery without losing your fitness momentum. If you’re going to venture outside the box, or erg monitor, the off-season is the time to do it! I’ve listed a few ideas to get you started. And, as always, consult with your doctor and fitness professionals before starting any fitness training regimen.

Running – If you can’t erg for a cardio workout, I’d say running comes in a close second. From steady state, to tempo runs, to high intensity interval training, you can’t go wrong with the versatility! All you need are a good pair of shoes and a safe place to run. Watch out for ice and check the weather before you go out to make sure you’re bundled up properly.

Biking and Swimming – Some equipment and facilities required. But if you can hop on a bike or jump into an indoor pool, you’ll have one heck of a workout. Swimming especially is a great low-impact, full-body workout. Just make sure you’re up-to-date on your swimming lessons before doing a cannonball into the water.

Cross Country Skiing – A fun but exhausting way to enjoy the great outdoors. This is harder than it looks, and you’ll discover muscles you’ll never know you had. If you have the equipment and skill, go for it!

Lifting – This is something most of us should have been doing anyways. But it’s never too late to start! Focus on building strength endurance with a higher volume of reps and sets, and lighter weights. Compound exercises, or movements that work multiple parts of your body at once, are great too. Think squats, burpees, or pull-ups.

Yoga – After all that running, lifting, cross country skiing, biking, and swimming, what better way to bring it all together than with a relaxing yoga session? Many rowers on our team do yoga to help with stability and flexibility. Find a good yoga instructor and you can too!

I hope this helps point you in the right direction to diversify your fitness routine. What kind of cross-training do you do in the off-season? Send us an email at to let us know how it’s helped you reach your winter training goals!

Posted in Training

Why Choose Rowing?

Photo by: Sport Graphics

Written By: John Greaser

Tired of looking in the rear view mirror of your life?  If so, become a different you and take up rowing. Have you ever asked yourself the question, why do people row (scull, crew); or more specifically, why out of all the possible movement disciplines consider rowing as an option.  I posed that question to myself 20 years ago and haven’t regretted my decision to take up rowing.

Perhaps you no longer find chasing the yellow fuzzy ball around the court challenging or interesting.  Or perhaps you headed to the track the other week and discovered running the 110 meter high hurdles didn’t rank high on your list of kinesthetic endeavors any more.
You know what else I like about rowing; it doesn’t require a high IQ to participate.  Once you satisfy your reasons (why) for choosing to row, you will discover a feeling that is indelibly attached to the process of rowing.  I call it the “grunt factor.”  Your why has now morphed into a “must.”  A passion for the sheer joy of moving with the craft will begin to consume you.  You begin to look forward to deliberate practice.  Once off the water for the season, this feeling will draw you into the winter training routine of erging or cross training; activities that many rowers rely on to build and prepare for the next season.
Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 3.40.39 PMJim Rohn, author, says “we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.”  If you want people to help bring you up, put aside your “excusitis” and come join us for the next row season. Choose rowing!
My friend Seneca once said, “It’s not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.  I dare you, choose rowing with FVRA.
Posted in From Our Members, Rower's Opinion

Yoga-Inspired Stretches for Rowers

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 3.08.35 PM

By: Kirsten Preskenis

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? Maybe it’s to lose a few pounds if you’ve over-indulged on sweets this holiday season (if you’re looking for inspiration, check out the article, ‘4 Tips to Build Winter Momentum’). If you’re a rower, you may be looking for ways to improve or spice up your training.

One of my resolutions is to improve my flexibility. I often skimp on stretching, especially when I’m in a rush, and it shows! But good flexibility is important for rowers. For example, think about the last time you erged – did your ankles stay down as you approached the catch, or did they rise up in order for you to reach full compression? I find that when I’m less flexible, erging isn’t as comfortable. Plus, it can impact my power application at the front end of the drive.

How can we improve our flexibility? I recommend budgeting time at the end of your training sessions for static stretching. Many rowers on our team also turn to yoga to supplement their stretching regimen. I’ve listed three yoga-inspired poses that I do on my own regularly after training. Before you start your own stretching regimen, make sure it is within your range of ability to prevent injury. Always consult with your doctor and certified fitness professionals before starting any new regimen.

Modified Downward-Facing Dog with Calf Stretch

  1. Start on your hands and knees, with your arms and wrists positioned under your shoulders, and legs hip-width apart, toes curled underneath.
  2. Slowly push up and back through the hips, keeping the spine as straight as possible, pressing through the hands.
  3. Gently press back into your right heel while bending your left leg.You should feel a stretch in the calf of your straightened leg.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds, then alternate to the other leg.

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 3.07.19 PM

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 3.08.35 PMModified Cobra

  1. Lie on your stomach. Place your hands on the ground on either side of your chest. The tops of your feet should rest on the floor.
  2. While keeping your elbows near your sides, raise your torso up, drawing your shoulders back and chest forward, while relaxing your shoulders and neck. Pull gently forward on the ground to lengthen your lower back.
  3. You should feel a gentle stretch through your spine, although go with the natural flexion of your back – don’t force the stretch!

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 3.08.47 PMModified Bridge

  1. Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees, placing your feet on the floor, tucked close to your hips.
  2. Push your hips upward and buttocks off the ground, tightening your core, while keeping your hips in line with your shoulders and knees. Keep your shoulders and arms on the floor, with your palms facing downward.
  3. Hold the position for 30 seconds. You should feel a good stretch in your spine, thighs, and hips.

I’ve found that these stretches, when done properly, help with my overall flexibility. Again, consult with your doctor and certified fitness professionals before starting any new training regimen. Good luck!

Posted in Stretching, Training, Winter Training

4 Tips to Build Winter Momentum


winterTrainingStuffBy: Katie Ouellette
After a long and very cold holiday season jumping back into a solid routine of strength and cardio building activities can seem like a very daunting task. You might feel like there is no way to be saved from the endless piles of delicious pastries you couldn’t help but enjoy over the last month but getting back on the train is all about how you approach it. There are several practices that I use to help make a successful transition back into the rhythm of an active lifestyle.

  1. Set a weekly and monthly tangible goal for yourself – breaking the winter into smaller pieces allows you to not see it as a roadblock but as separate smaller manageable pieces where you can work to complete smaller goals. An example might be, “This week I will do 100 weighted squats”. This not only sets a goal but also requires you to plan out when you’re going to complete it. “That means Tuesday and Friday will be my squat days!”
  2. Find a partner to work with or tell someone you trust to keep tabs on you – if you have a workout buddy who is depending on you to meet at the gym at 6 AM every Tuesday, you aren’t gonna leave them out in the cold! Get up and do the work and build your strength together! It will make it a whole lot easier. If you can’t find someone to go with you, tell someone. “Guess what!? I’m going to PR on my number of squats this week!” “WOAH Awesome!” Something as simple as that can pick up your energy and get you moving.
  3. Make a 3 month plan – now that you’ve planned the smaller pieces it’s good to also keep the big picture in mind. Not only what all your goals add up to but also what days of the week do you have time to do what and when? Make sure that the plan includes rest days! Rest does not mean you’re slacking off but letting your muscles repair themselves and regain energy for the work ahead. In my opinion the rest should always be treated with as much importance as the work. An example of a week plan might be,
    • Sunday – Tank/erg
    • Monday – Cardio/Crosstrain
    • Tuesday – Yoga & Weights (Legs)
    • Wednesday – Erg
    • Thursday – Rest & Stretch
    • Friday – Cardio & Weights Arms
    • Saturday – Rest & Stretch

Include days to check in with yourself to see how your goals are coming along. Do a first week baseline, 3rd week check in, 6th week check in, 9 weeks and 12 weeks on whatever your goal may be. The idea is just to make progress towards your winter goal by completing weekly and monthly mini goals. Ex: I want to plank for 5 min before we get on the water. Do a baseline by holding a plank for as long as you can, record the time, then in 3 weeks do it again, keeping in mind that you will need to practice that skill as part of your weekly routine in order to make progress.

  1. Write it down! – I have been keeping a workout journal since high school. It’s great to have a record of what workouts you’ve done and see the time you’ve put in all in one place. You can include weight routines, erg workouts, cardio practices, really anything at all that you have done to work towards improving your fitness. Don’t confuse this with your Concept2 logbook, the endless pictures of erg monitors in your phone or your fitness tracker. What really was the workout you did? Does that picture make a record of how you forgot your headphones and water bottle but worked out anyway? Does your fitness tracker know that you had a breakthrough in technique you want to practice next time? Does it know that was the best weights circuit you’ve ever done? Just take a few minutes at the end of each workout to reflect on what you’ve done and keep track of it for the future stronger you who wants to remember the journey. Carry a workout journal in your gym bag and with you wherever you go. It’s your waterbottle’s new friend 🙂

Hopefully these tips will help you get back in the groove and on the path to success for yourself whatever that path may be. Be realistic with your goals, make sure they are quantifiable and share your progress with your team and friends because they are excited to help you. Now get your gym clothes on and let’s get going, March will be here before you know it!

Posted in Erging, Training, Winter Training

Fall Race Results 2016


Women’s Team at Head of the Riverfront in Hartford

Congratulations to the FVRA Racing Teams for a great fall season. We were able to enter 13 boats over four races through out October which is up from 9 entries in the fall of 2015. Improvements were made over the season and we were able to share some first races with members from both the men’s and women’s teams. It was a strong finish to the year and we look forward to picking up the momentum in January as we start winter training!

Head of the Riverfront
Hartford, CT – October 2nd
2.25 mile course or aprox. 3621 meters
Mens Master 4+ – 11/12
Raw – 21:25.83 – Handicap – 00:27.30 – Final – 20:58.53
Womens Master 4+ – 12/14
Raw – 21:35.34 – Handicap – 00:47.30 – Final – 21:08.04
Womens Master 8+ – 7/8
Raw – 17:32.03 – Handicap -00:05.70 – Final – 17:26.33
Mixed Open 2x – 1/1 🙂
Raw – 17:12.16

Head of the Housatonic
Shelton, CT – October 18th
2.7 mile course or aprox. 4345 meters
Mens Master 4+ – 20/20 – Raw – 18:57 – Handicap – 00:30 – Final – 18:27
Womens Master 4+ – 13/17 – Raw – 18:28 – Handicap – 00:58.1 – Final – 17:30
Womens Master 8+ – 10/13 – Raw – 17:18 – Handicap – 00:07 – Final – 17:11
Mixed Master 2x – 4/7 – Raw 17:18

Head of the Charles
Boston, MA – October 22nd & 23rd
3 mile course – 4800 meters
Womens Senior Master 4+ [50+] – 40/42 – Raw – 23:35.049
Womens Club 8+ – 36/39 – Raw – 20:40.558
Directors Challenge Mixed 2x – 28/37 – Raw – 22:39.934

Head of the Fish
Saratoga Springs, NY – October 29
2.3 mile course – 3700 Meters
Mens Master Lightweight 2x – 5/6 – Raw – 14:29.7 – Handicap – 00:39.8 – Final – 13:49
Mixed Master 2x – 9/23 – Raw – 13:05 – Handicap – 00:01.1 – Final – 12:59.4

Posted in Uncategorized

Race Recap – Derby & Festival 2015


Derby Sweeps & Scullsderby_women1

FVRA rowers gathered en masse at the Derby Sweeps & Sculls Regatta Saturday, June 6th in Shelton CT. FVRA participated in a record number of 12 races.

The mixed master’s 2x finished 4th as did the men’s masters 1x, men’s masters 2x, the women’s masters 2x, the men’s masters 4+, and the mixed masters 8+.

Newcomer to FVRA Mary Dinnean stroked the novice women’s 4+ to 3rd place. Also in the line-up was new member Alex Fisher. Elissa Center stroked the women’s 8+ to 3rd place.

Both Katie Ouellette and Gail Zaherek grabbed 2nd place finishes in separate flights of the women’s masters 2x, and then soon thereafter jumped into the women’s open 4x with Elissa and Sarah Center-Gray and rowed into a 2nd place finish. This was FVRA’s second 4x racing entry. And while the women’s masters 4+ competed, their finish was not recorded and therefore did not place.

Lowell Festival Regatta

There wasn’t a dry eye or any other dry body part at Lowell Festival Regatta last Sunday as heavy rain soaked rowers, boats, and oar handles for most of the day, but that didn’t stop FVRA rowers from a successful albeit soggy regatta experience.

Highlights of the regatta-

 Two women’s masters 2x entries with 2nd and 6th place finishes.

 Katie Ouellette rowed to a 2nd place finish in the women’s masters 1x.

 Ryan McMahon and Katie Ouellette finished their mixed masters 2x heat in first with raw time,

but walked away with 3rd place due to age handicap that continues to haunt them.

 Jacqui Futia stroked the women’s masters 8+ to a 1st place medal in their flight against CRI and Northampton, even though both competitor teams had greater handicaps. A special thanks to Karen Duni who filled in to make racing the 8+ a possibility at Lowell.

 Every inch counted in the women’s masters 4+, a race that was bow ball to bow ball between FVRA and Riverfront Recapture for most of the 1,000 meter course. With their handicap, Riverfront took 2nd place by literally a fraction of a second (00:00:00.37) knocking FVRA into 3rd place. However, it’s worthwhile to note that in raw time, FVRA beat Riverfront by 00:00:01.48. Every bit of length in each stroke counts!

 Men’s masters 4+ finished in 3rd place.

Five FVRA rowers travel to Syracuse, New York next weekend to represent FVRA at the US Rowing Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Master’s Regional Championships with entries in the women’s 4+, women’s 2x, and mixed 2x, and men’s 1x events.

Posted in Uncategorized

Spring Meeting Review


meetingSeventeen individuals braved howling wind gusts of 50-60 mph to attend the FVRA annual spring meeting on March 17th . Generously hosted by club member Tamra at her beautiful historic Farmington home, old and new members gathered around with treats and libations ready to discuss forthcoming season plans and schedules.

First up on the agenda was the 2015 budget which was unanimously approved without comment. Membership prices have been increased slightly this year and money has been appropriated for an oar rack and the shower project. Advertising expenses were also increased to help get the word out about our learn-to-row events and to help grow the general membership. Otherwise, there were no major changes to the budget.

A “welcome booklet” has been created for all new incoming FVRA members. The booklet covers important information such as race dates, the Camp Shalom Farmington River water course, equipment guidelines, and all the rules and regulations of which every new member needs to be made aware. Contact club President Katie Ouellette if you would like a copy of this slick little publication.

Team captains Ashely Shepard and Ryan McMahon talked up plans for the upcoming racing season and rolled out an assignment for those interested in racing this year-a goal sheet. Anyone interested in racing should complete the goal sheet consisting of both personal and team goals and email the completed task to both Ashley and Ryan. If you’ve not received the goal sheet, email either captain to obtain it.

Additionally, rowers should review the 13 (in some cultures 13 is a lucky number) races that the club plans on attending in 2015 (posted on and provide the captains with an idea of your availability for each race. This will allow Ashley and Ryan to plan boats and seating well in advance so that teams can practice together.

A mandatory safety clinic will be scheduled within the next few weeks before we get out onto the water. A coxing clinic will follow soon thereafter.

Wednesday workouts at Power 10 will continue until further notice. Club members should be sure to maintain fitness levels over the next few weeks until we’re able to get back out onto the water. When that will be is anyone’s guess. Likely we can all agree it won’t be soon enough.

Posted in Club Updates

Winter Training 2015


wintertrainingIt’s February in New England. It’s cold, it’s dreary, and we’re all feeling winter’s cold icy clutch. Despite poor weather conditions, rowers are already deep into the winter training session preparing to hit the water in the spring ready to row.

This year we have 12 new rowers and 20 experienced rowers, most of who represent the FVRA men’s and women’s racing teams.

“We have a great group of new rowers of all ages and backgrounds,” says Katie Ouellette, FVRA President and coach for the beginner rowing group. “It’s amazing to see each of them gain more confidence in their stroke just during one session. Everyone has grown so much and I’m very excited to get them out on the water!”

The Trinity sessions include erging and then tanks followed by a group yoga stretch. After two Sunday practice cancellations due to inclement weather, there are only three remaining sessions at Trinity. The group is likely to stay with Wednesday training at Power10 in Avon until it’s safe to return to the water for the season.

There is still room for those who would like to join in on a session at Trinity or Power10 . Email for more information.

6.45-8.15 pm

Trinity College
8.45-10.30 advanced rowers
10.30-12pm beginner rowers

Posted in Uncategorized
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