We interviewed the young Danish athlete Cecilie Brünnich Sørensen about her life as an elite rower. Check out what she has to say about the relevance of endurance mindset in her rowing career!
1. You are a Danish rower and you are part of the Copenhagen Rowing Club. Could you please introduce yourself a bit more?
My name is Cecilie and I am 17 years old. I have been rowing since I was about 10 years old. Besides rowing, I am a Team Danmark student at Falkonergårdens Gymnasium. This means that my education is extended and takes 4 years instead of 3 years. In my class, I study together with other talented athletes from different sports, which means that our school days are not as long as normal ones, and there is time for training in the morning both Tuesday and Thursday, when we all meet at 10:00.
2. How did you discover your passion for rowing?
My whole family has always been into the rowing world and rowing has always been part of my life. My grandfather was a rower in Aarhus Rowing Club and he even became Nordic Champion. My mother has been a rower as well, but she never achieved her goal a hundred percent, so in a way, I live my mother's dreams and goals. This means I get a lot of support from my family and that is extremely important for me.
3. What was your toughest challenge so far and how did you manage to overcome it?
My last season (summer 2017) was the toughest challenge I have overcome so far. In the beginning, it went really well and I qualified for the European Championship and became Nordic Champion. But in the second half of the season, I severely injured my back and we did not qualify for U19 world championship qualification. So, for the rest of the season, I focused on recovery and rehabilitation, but I was not good at that at all. I was too much of a competitor to just sit still and watch the others becoming better and better while being sidelined and unable to do anything. So, I lied to my coach – I told him I was fine, so I could train, but in reality, I had more pain than ever and it only got worse. When the winter season was about to end, my physiotherapist called my coach and told him that I had to take a break from training if I ever wanted to be able to exercise pain-free again. It was the toughest thing I have experienced in my rowing career. Getting the thing that you love the most taken away from you, is never fun. Although the injury season was a very hard time, I have to say that I have never learned as much about my body and myself as I did.
4. How important is it to have an endurance mindset in rowing?
It´s very important to have an endurance mindset when you are rowing. Our distance is 2000m, which means there is a lot of time during the competition where you have to overcome bad thoughts and believe in yourself. And of course, you will also need to have a positive mindset in your daily training. Everybody has off-days and especially then it is important to be persistent and have an endurance mindset.
5. You recently participated in the Baltic Cup – how did it go and what do you wish for the next time? I participated in the boat type “single sculler”, which means you are on your own.
On Saturday I came in second place over the 2000m distance and I achieved a third place on the short distance (500m) on Sunday. However, I am never completely satisfied before I get to the top. But since it was after a season characterized by injuries and personal challenges, I was satisfied. My main goal for 2019 is to enter the U19 national team and participate in the U19 World Championship in Tokyo.
6. What are the most challenging aspects of rowing?
It's hard to answer this question. But my answer would be that it is difficult to have your head with you and not just the body. You have to listen to your body, while everything is still going well and fun, so you don’t end up with avoidable damages. But that's probably the case in most sports. Also remember to stop once in a while, take a deep breath and enjoy each exercise even though it's hard sometimes.
7. You are still a student besides your rowing career. What advice would you give to the fellow rowers that are facing the same situation?
I'm really glad I have the opportunity to have my education under Team Danmark. The school itself and my friends have a full understanding of my sport. If I'm away for a training camp, I can even get extra teaching as soon as I am home again. The class is also really supportive since everybody in the class is athletes. We are very good at helping each other if we need it.
8. Why should people try rowing in your opinion?
Because it's amazing! Rowing is a tough sport, but also an incredibly beautiful sport. It's a sport that takes time – but if you want to challenge yourself both physically and mentally, rowing is definitely something I would advise people to try
9. Do you have any hobbies or sports besides rowing?
It's hard to do other sports while being into elite rowing because it's really time-consuming. However, in the winter season, I do some alternative training such as biking, swimming and running. But in the summer, it's primarily rowing and weight training.
10. What are the rowing competitions that you would absolutely recommend to other rowers?
I do not have a special competition that I like most. I would not say that there is “one best”. Of course, there are some races that are better than others. But in the long run, even the slightly worse races, make you a better rower because you always learn from your mistakes.
11. What are your favorite DANISH ENDURANCE socks and why?
I love all the DANISH ENDURANCE socks and also the elastic bands. I train daily in the Quarter Pro Athletic Socks, because I think they are absolutely perfect and provide good support. In some periods, I also use the Kompressionsstrømper, because they facilitate faster recovery and in some periods, this is a great advantage.