My Epic Journey - Rowing Around the World in 22 years With a Concept2 Rower

why are you doin this?

TL;DR:

A guy rows on a Concept2 rower for 22 years. He finally has rowed enough meters to add up to a trip around the world. But just in his living room. Read it all to learn about the adventure, lessons, and challenges in the journey.

The Discovery

It started in a gym in Bethesda, Maryland. It wasn't a large gym, just a bunch of machines on the first floor of an eight floor building where I worked. I was starting to get too heavy, and wanted to lose weight at lunch instead of gain it. After stints on the stationary bike and going the rounds of various weightlifting machines, I sat on the rowing machine, a Concept2, and pulled a little.

After one particular workout when I rowed side by side with a co-worker, he said "I really enjoyed rowing next to you." I did too. It was my favorite machine in the gym. I focused more on that rowing machine. Then I moved to another town and forgot all about it.

In my new town, I used some of my moving allowance to buy a fancy high end stationary bike. It made me sweat but there was no upper body component.

After tiring of the bike and selling it for a NordicTrack, I used it for a while. It was a good workout. But that, too, I got tired of. That's when I remembered the Concept2 rowing machine.

I did some research and found that
according to the British Rowing organization, each stroke uses 85% of your muscles - and a 30 minute workout can burn 300 calories. What a great machine! It was time to buy one.

The Purchase

My wife agreed with me to make another exercise machine purchase. Anxiously awaiting the Concept2's arrival, I remembered the good workout that it gave me.

It arrived in November 2002, I put it together. I started pushing and pulling. And I haven't stopped.

The Trials

At first I just rowed until I got tired. I tried rowing for 20 minutes or 30 minutes. I did that for a while.

All of my workouts were logged on paper at the start. I wrote down a week or two of workouts and then transferred them to the online logbook at Concept2.com. I upgraded the rower’s computer so that I could automatically log my workouts when I finish instead of writing them down every time. I used my Android phone to connect via wire for a while, then upgraded to a Bluetooth connection and now my Apple watch records my heart rate while I push and pull. I also get my progress on my fitness rings when connected by Bluetooth to the Concept2.

Concept2 has continual challenges, including the annual Holiday Challenge that asks you to row either 100k or 200k meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas. At a 10k/day pace that I've been using, that's 20 workouts in 28, 27, or 26 days, depending on the year. I've done 200k for 22 years in a row - see the pins? If you complete the challenge they send you a pin.

To a 10k Workout

After playing with the rower's meter counter I realized that I could row a specific distance instead of for time. Most rowing races are 2k's (2,000 meters or 1.24 miles). I tried that. It wasn't a long enough workout.

I noticed on the Concept2 online logbook that some people had a nice, even number of meters for their totals. I tried that. 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters. Ah…, that's what I want to do too.

Rowing a 10k is a 45-ish minute workout that started my day off right, made me sweat, and burned a ton of calories. 10,000 meters is 6.2 miles (32,808 feet).

I settled in on rowing 10k's for a great, do-able within an hour workout that has kept me in shape for 20 years and counting.

What was the best way for me to do a 10k? At first I rowed as hard as I could for the entire 43-45 minutes that it took me to finish. Then, after injury and recovery (more on that below), modified that workout to intervals. 750 meters on, 250 off/recovery for the entire 10k. My overall time increased to 46-50 minutes, but I could feel the difference. I read that interval training was the best way to keep in shape, so I stuck with that.

Then I modified my intervals to row: 250 meters slower at first to warm up, then 750 harder, with a  push to keep my stroke rate below 2:00/500m for the last 100 meters. So, for every 1000 meters I rowed:

To add a “finish strong” element to my 10k row, I pull the last 100 meters as fast as I can, and try to hit a 1:35 pace before the 100 meters ends. Repeat the above 10 times and my workout for the day is done.

This has been my workout for the past 10 years.

I do this workout three or four times per week, for an average of 11 hours and 39 minutes per month.

My lifetime best 10,000 meter row is 42.14.6. That was back at the beginning. Now I average around 49 minutes per workout at a 2:25 pace per 500 meters. The world record for a 10,000 meter row in the 40-49 age group is 32.36.8. I’m not getting there!

Focus and Entertainment

When you row on a stationary rower, it gets boring to just stare at the wall. Yeah, looking at the wall allows you to focus better, but my mission was to do it, not turn my brain to mush.

So I put the rower in front of a TV. And I watch the shows that my wife doesn’t like. Science fiction, spy shows, and adventure. Here’s a small sample of what I’ve watched while on the rower:

Also many Netflix films and documentaries.


On second thought, maybe watching those shows has turned my brain to mush.

I’m sure that I could have had shorter row times for my 10K’s if I was not parked in front of the television.

Millions of Meters

The online logbook at Concept2.com is where I track all my workouts. At every million meter mark, they offer you rewards. 15 years ago they used to send you a laminated pin with the number of meters that you have completed. That stopped due to cost cutting I suppose. It was replaced with a 'self-gift' store where you can buy t-shirts, hats, and other stuff with a logo indicating the number of completed meters on them.

I have not bought anything from the self-gift store in a while. It’s time to get something with 41 million meters on it!

Statins and forearm pain

When I first started this journey, all that I did for my workouts every week was to row. I’d row 4 to 6 times per week in the morning before work.

After a visit to the doctor it was decided that with my family history of heart disease and my cholesterol numbers, I should start taking medication. I started on a statin drug.

Then my forearms started aching. It got worse. I took some time off from rowing. That helped a bit. But the pain returned when I started rowing again. I figured out that the statins were causing my muscle pain. Decision time. Stop rowing or stop statins?

Silly! I decided to modify my diet, watch what I eat more closely, and stop taking statins to see if my muscle pain would subside. It took a couple of weeks, but the pain gradually went away. Hurrah!

During that forearm pain time, I also experimented with doing something other than rowing for some of my workouts. I tried running - nah. Biking - that was nice, but there’s not much of an upper body workout and what would I do when the weather was bad? Then I found a friend.

Cross training begins

Tony Horton was my buddy for a few years. I'd alternate between rowing and his P90X workouts to help relieve my forearm pain. I also got to work other parts of my body and every once in a while have a nice Yoga day. I wore out those CDs, flipping them in and out until I got sick of them.

Then I found a bunch of friends.

I found an organization called F3. F3 stands for Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith. It’s a bunch of guys that meet too early in the morning - usually 5:30am - for a free bootcamp type workout that also includes witty banter and foolishness. I made some great friends. Got support and provided support. Improved my community, my leadership skills, my mind, my body, and my relationship with God. It changed my life and became my every-other-day workout. (F3Nation.com)

For the past 5 years, I have alternated days between F3 and rowing. Usually 3 days of F3 and 3 days of rowing 10Ks. Sometimes the schedule varies. This routine has worked excellently for me and kept me in the best shape of my life.

I believe that everyone should be and stay active.

Have you found your sweet spot for staying active? Do you have a habit of working out every week? How many days per week? Have you experimented with what works best for you?

It took me a while to find what workouts work best for me.

Putting a Target on it (41,000,000)

When I got over 30 million meters total rowed, I started wondering about the distance I have rowed if I tied all my workouts together and put them on a map. If I "started" in Wilmington, North Carolina, how far have I gone?


A quick Google search told me that the circumference of the world is 40,075,017 meters at the equator, and 40,007,863 at the poles. Maybe that could be my goal.

But I'm not rowing across land. What's the circumference of the world over only water-navigable passages - the circumnavigational distance?

Again Google was there to help. I used Google Maps to plot distance all the way around the world from Wilmington, NC south past Florida, around Cuba, thru the Panama Canal, across the Pacific Ocean, around the Philippines, near Singapore, thru the Asian and Red Seas, thru the Mediterranean Sea, then across the Atlantic Ocean back to Wilmington. 41,000,000 meters!

Finish Line

How many things can you count that have changed your life? I can count these: my faith, my wife, my children, F3 and the fellowships that I have gained from it, and this rowing machine and my quest for 41 million meters.

The Concept2 Rowing machine has both changed my life and saved my life. With my family history of heart disease, the machine has helped me maintain a resting heart rate near 50 bpm. My doctor checkups are all positive. Bloodwork is great. The mirror and the scale are my friends (my wife happily told me to add the mirror part).

Is 41,000,000 meters a record?

Well, both no and yes.

No. There are many other rowers with over 50 million meters rowed in their lifetime. Some people regularly row 1 million meters every month. Some have even rowed for 6 days straight to reach 1 million meters. Alan in California rowed 35 million meters
last year! They’re all crazy!


For me, yes, this is a record - until I get on the rowing machine next time. And then I’ll set another personal record.

I guess that it’s sorta impressive that I’ve been at this for 22 years. Have you done anything for that long? Could you stick to it for that long?

The Numbers

41,004,309 total meters rowed

128 total days rowed

Start date: February 1, 2001

End date: June 18, 2023

8,172 days between start date and end date

4,142 total workouts

2,417,108 calories burned

5,018 average meters rowed per day

What's Next?

Should I pull a Forrest Gump and just stop rowing?

Or search for another sweet spot in workouts?

Or turn around and row around again in the other direction?

I reckon that I’ll take a break for a couple of days and then get back on the Concept2. It just works for me. And maybe you’ll hear from me in another 20-some years when I crack 82 million meters rowed.