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Episode 88 – Sam Loch: Lots of Watts

Sam Loch is a two-time Olympic Rower, having represented Australia at the Beijing and London Olympics. Since his Olympic days he’s focused on something you all know I’m familiar with: the Concept2 indoor rower.
Sam has the 24 hour tandem record, the 1000m record, the max-metres-in-a-minute record and held the 1000m record on the skierg, just for fun.
Often we think that people as successful as Sam are just born that way, that there’s something preordained in their genes. But the reality is that Sam is NOT suited for rowing, and was told his whole career that he would never make the Olympics.
Through nothing more complicated than dedication and effort, Sam proved everyone very, very wrong.
“If you say something’s important to you, it can’t just be important to you when you feel good about it”.
People say they want to achieve something, like losing weight, moving better or feeling better. Yet day in, day out, their actions demonstrate that they really want the opposite.
“You’re not getting up early because you like it, it’s because of your goal. You can take that and apply it to why you’re eating what you’re eating, to why you’re doing the stretching and the yoga, to why you’re saying ‘no’ to something … it’s the bit of you that decides something is important.”
Tune in to today’s Your Revolution podcast to hear Sam’s incredible story: what he really thinks about elite sport, his thesis on body image (did I mention he went to Princeton?), and the simple attitude it takes to succeed.

Jane Erbacher: Hi everybody. Before we dive into today’s episode with Sam Loch, which I am so excited about. Obviously, I’m so excited about it. But I wanted to talk about something that is running at Revo this Saturday and it’s going to be really really great and we only have a couple of tickets left. So a lot of you have probably been listening to the podcast over the last couple months but I featured Kevin Toonen on the podcast earlier this year and I actually did a repeat post of it because it was such a successful episode but I went up to Sydney and met him a few months ago and I was absolutely and completely blow away by his approach to training and movement.

But more than just the training side of things, I was absolutely so impressed by his attitude and his message. In just the couple of hours that I actually spent training with him and talking with him and spending time with him, I learned so much about both my movement capabilities, my imbalances and also a lot about the attitude I have when I approach both training and life. He’s absolutely on the same page as me, in his understanding and his real passion for the transferability of training for the rest of your life. He talks a lot about how training and the approach that you have to your training is what makes you a better human, a better dad, a better wife, a better husband, a better workmate, a better everything. Comes from the approach that you have to your training and also the outcomes that come from your trainings.

So, I’m super excited at Revo to be hosting him this Saturday in his only workshop in Melbourne, which is going to be awesome. It’s called “Be Hard to Kill”, which I think is really awesome. Little line there but it’s this Saturday at Revo. So you can sign up by jumping across to or you can jump on our Instagram and follow the link there. Then you don’t to be able to spell anything. So it’s this Saturday Revo PT in South Melbourne 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. It’s going to be workouts as well as learning. It’s going to be fantastic. I hope to see you there.

Hello and welcome to the Your Revolution podcast. The Your Revolution podcast is a collaboration between revolution personal and performance training in Melbourne and the Me Project. The purpose of the Your Revolution podcast is to inspire you on your mission of betterment. Each week on the podcast, you’ll meet game changers who have created extraordinary lives and you’ll listen to stories and lessons to empower you to make the changes necessary to your life. The Your Revolution podcast is committed to fitness, health, nutrition, mindset, community, education, empowerment, and betterment. And we hope that you can take what you learn here and acquire it to your very own revolution.

Now first a word from the Your Revolution podcast sponsor.

Jane got me into a pair of LALO athletics. I had been wearing a pair of pumps that ended up so bad they were starting to run by themselves. I figured it doesn’t really matter what you wear on your feet. Shoes are only there to keep them clean. Man, was I wrong. I cannot believe how stable the LALO athletics feel when I’m dead lifting, squatting and jumping. Yet so light and responsive enough that I can feel everything through my toes. I feel so much more confident now in dynamic movements especially in clean and jerks and snatching. I don’t need to put on special lifters anymore because my LALO Athletics check all the boxes.

Jane Erbacher: Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the Your Revolution podcast. My name is Jane Erbacher and I’m your host. I’m so excited. So, so, so beyond excited because I’m sitting here next to somebody who’s recently become my friend. But who has been who I’ve really really really looked up to for a few years now. I would probably say. I have no idea what the start date of my fangirl of you has been but it was. But here is Sam Loch. Hi Sam.

Sam Loch: Hi

Jane Erbacher: In his house. In his gym, in his house. Which is-

Sam Loch: Right here.

Jane Erbacher: The coolest. I know right? And what did I just do like a minute ago?

Sam Loch: You sullied my ergs.

Jane Erbacher: I stepped on his rower. Right here. Which is between the camera and us and I feel so bad. I am so sorry.

Sam Loch: It’s okay. It’s a minor infraction.

Jane Erbacher: I’m in trouble now.

Sam Loch: Just don’t ever do it again.

Jane Erbacher: I will never. I’m like successfully walking around everything now.

Sam Loch: Yeah. Just don’t touch anything at all and we’ll be fine.

Jane Erbacher: So this is Sam Loch. He is incredible. Anybody who has not heard of him, jump online, jump on Instagram, jump on something and Google him because he is an absolute game changer. Not just in the world of rowing but in the world of being just great at anything.

Sam Loch: Ha ha.

Jane Erbacher: Really. I call you the Row King. You’re the Row King in my head. And I think our friend, Haymish, also calls you the Row King. So-

Sam Loch: Well it could be worse.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah totally. But he’s an absolute game changer and I wanted you on the podcast for quite a while now and I only met you for the very first time last week. The reason I really wanted you on the podcast is I talked to people all the time who listen to the podcast about how everybody I have on the podcast is amazing and they’ve done great things with their life and their, you know, they’ve got such purpose with their life. I want you on here because everything that you have created in your life, every success you’ve ever had has come from your hard work. You weren’t born with any super power or special power and what you do every single day of your life, which is so aligned with a purpose that you have, is something that I admire so much. I want people who listen to understand that they can do something great with their life as well. And it just takes commitment and hard work and some passion. And so that’s why I wanted you on here.

Sam Loch: Sounds good.

Jane Erbacher:

[00:06:22] Sounds good. And I can tell you I talk too much so I’m sorry. Everybody who’s listening, I am very nervous because Sam is, he’s like a huge mentor of mine; A mentor, hero, I’m not sure. laughing[inaudible 00:06:23]

Sam Loch: No I really, I was just listening to what you were saying and I was thinking like what I am doing. It’s not curing cancer and I don’t think of it as great. It’s really not. It’s a niche activity and I’m steering towards something that I’m good at now but most of the attributes that I’ve developed in order to be able to achieve the goals that I have. They are not God given. I’ve got above average talent but what I’ve tried to be able to do is exploit my potential as much as possible.

I’m doing it in a certain realm that I’d like to encourage people that if that’s something they’re interested in. They don’t necessarily have to aim to be the best in the world but, I think they have a lot of undiscovered potential. You don’t really know what you’re capable of until you do your absolute best for a period of time. And trying to figure out what your best actually is takes a bit of time. To most people feel like their 40 percent is their 100 percent so they just … You know you can press a little bit more. But within the context of a training session, itself, be that on the rower or otherwise or just in the day to day life.

Jane Erbacher: I think its really interesting because I agree with you. You’re not curing cancer, you’re not doing things like that. But I think it’s important not to underestimate the influence and impact you have on ordinary peoples’ lives just by requiring more of yourself than what’s normal. And we had a really great conversation last week about how we’re both really interested in making other peoples’ lives better. And how you do a lot of coaching and it’s not just with people who, you know, want performance goals; who want to get world records or be the actual best. It’s with normal people who want to be better and I think its really important that, in this field, that we recognise that any impact on somebody’s life, that makes it better, is something to be proud of. And you do that by, a lot of the time, by just requiring a lot of yourself and so I agree with you. There are some people out there that are absolutely making the world an incredible place on a macro scale but I think you are as well.

Sam Loch: Yeah it was never or- my intention was selfish basically. That’s the thing I want to do. Try to figure a way out to do it and then attempt to do it. Whatever that goal, that’s changed over time and probably just the proliferation of social media. There’s that access to people and broadcast what you’re doing a little bit more and it seems as though what I’m doing has some traction with some people. A bunch of weirdos.


Jane Erbacher:

laughing I’m one of them.

Sam Loch: They’re my sort of weirdos. So I follow other people with, you know, hoping to learn a thing or two. To gain some, I don’t really get my motivation from that but I do like seeing people kick ass because they’re pursuing their own goal with their own resources.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. So let’s talk about exactly what you do and where you come from. So we met last week and I heard a lot about your life up until this point. I love people to know kind of your past. You’ve been to the Olympics; you’ve got a pretty interesting past. I’d love to let people know kind of what’s led you to now.

Sam Loch: Sure. I mean, there’s a long version and a short version and probably many in between. I guess my relative history is that I went to high school in Sydney, the King’s School, which is where I started rowing on the water. We hadn’t had a lot of recent success but the sport at King’s is pretty important. It was the certain environment that it was encouraged of you to like- it seems to be with anyone in the schools first. I came in as a young kid trying to find his way. That’s what I aspired to do and was originally interested in rugby but rowing became the sport to practise in the summer because it was the best for fitness and for toughness.

There’s attributes that you’re looking for as 14 year old and it was easy because although I was obsessed with basketball, we were terrible at that so, didn’t win a single game of basketball for two years. Starting rowing as soon as I could because they don’t let you start at the start of high school. Because they worry about your back so that’s sort of the case you made to rowing in high school sports.

So I waited a couple of years. Terrible summer sports experiences in a winning front and then when we started rowing, my very first race, I remember the stylist saying “Attention Go” do a couple of strokes and all I could see was just puddles on the side because all the crews had just rowed off from us. And I was like, “How are they so far ahead so quickly?”, we had decent resources but we just didn’t have a cultured winning at that stage. I followed a few more seasons of not winning a single race and I was going to throw in the towel in my last year because I was like, “I could really go to Rugby school. I could throw the shot put, lift weights and train for rugby.” This would be way easier and more fun and my mom said “Oh maybe you should keep rowing.” And so I did and with the same guys, same coach, same resources, we trained our asses off and we won maybe 28 races in a row.

That sort of made the idea of rowing in the future, more enticing because, my God, winning is fun. Winning races is fun and I was fortunate enough to be able to extend my rowing and academia by going to Princeton University in the U.S. and I was there for four years and we won way more races than we lost and I rowed with some awesome guys both people and athletes; really high standard. The academic environment was incomparable to anything I was going to otherwise have access to and it did help develop me from a rowing perspective to be able to pursue some future goals.

So I came back in 2006 and that’s when I graduated and I wanted to … in 2004 watching the Athens Olympics online and I saw the U.S. Men’s Eight win the gold medal and I knew a lot of those guys and they were just regular people, you know big guys, guys around my size and it was just very tangible and I thought I could do that. Then, that’s like. I remember in 2004 that schedule was just, from the henceforth it was just making that happen. Like there is an expectation when you graduate from college, like “Okay go do something with your life”, and I was like this is what I’m doing; whatever it takes.

Anything other- any other goal is only to amplify that goal. So I was able to get down to the AIS in Cambria at the end of 2006 and then was selected for the Men’s Eight for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. I kept rowing for the next four years to London also in the Men’s Eight and also the same result, which is six players, both times, which is … I’m at peace with it. But, it’s given the performance side of the Olympic experience is so important to me. The people, if they hear you’re an Olympian, they’re like, “Well, that’s amazing.”, and it is and I’m so thankful for it. But for me it’s kind of tainted because I don’t really think we performed to our capabilities and I’m all about performing to our capabilities and I accept my responsibilities in that for whatever it was.

It’s not as though we didn’t have potential. We had some good years in the meantime so .. Won a bronze medal in 2010, and in 2011, we had a lot of good guys but I don’t think we were- Anyway, everyone has- not everyone can have an entirely positive experience with the Olympic games because, in any event, there’s only one gold medal. Then everyone after that is going to be some version of disappointed. It was on balance terrific and just to be given the chance to do that.

I think the longer I get away from it, the more I hope to steer towards that as opposed to being angry about not performing. Since then, I’ve basically just been bashing up and down; lifting some heavy weights. Being in a team for a few years and especially in an Eight and feeling just a little bit like you didn’t have any control in any part of the training or preparation or calendar or what boat you were going to be in or necessarily who you’re going to be rowing with. Most of my goals have been selfish, but also within my control so I can, if I don’t achieve my targets, well then I’m entirely responsible and I’m happy to accept when I don’t hit the mark. You know I’m happy to feel good about myself if I do.

Jane Erbacher: So what are you working towards right now?

Sam Loch: Well I’m still … The short version is I’m developing some attributes that will help me allow to pursue future goals. I think no matter what your goals are, it’s probably a good idea to be stronger and healthier. Whether the goal is for a distance that’s longer or shorter, it might be worth developing more aerobic components, more explosive qualities. So I’m focusing on attributes that don’t come to me. Basically my weaknesses. I focus on the weaknesses and then the performances come.

Jane Erbacher: I think what’s really interesting about what you do, as well, is it’s absolute like you said before you take entire responsibility. You from every aspect of your training to the plan that you follow, your recovery method, your nutrition, your rest, everything. You completely programme yourself. What do you find is challenging about that? Like do you find some days you don’t want to do it or-

Sam Loch: No, if it’s, I mean. The thing I find difficult is this most recent goal is for the 500 metre world record. It’s a really tough standard.

Jane Erbacher: It’s like 20 years old that standard.

Sam Loch: 26

Jane Erbacher: Yeah

Sam Loch: Or thereabouts

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Sam Loch: And but that’s good. That means it’s going to be a real test of what I can bring to the table or whoever else attempts it. I fell short of the second fastest time ever, .9 away from the current world record, .9 of a second, which is short but it’s kind of long given the shortness of the duration so it was just a what most measures an out-and-out failure. So people are like, “Why didn’t it happen?”. I don’t necessarily know. There’s not a short answer. What it is, is a combination of things that I think I could do better and then that’s what I try and do.

Here’s what I learned from that preparation. Here’s where I think I could of done things differently. Here’s where I made some mistakes. Here’s where I emphasised something too much or something else too little. And then I try again or I use that information and apply it to some other goal. I don’t like the uncertainty of not being out of the pattern of being accountable is that it all resides with you. If you perform, if you under perform and so accepting responsibility is like, yeah if I didn’t then there is no one to blame here. It’s so objective. That’s fine, but there’s not necessarily a definitive answers. You just have to live in that space where it gets. It’s problem solving basically.

Jane Erbacher: What did you think so, what exactly is the record and what exactly did you get?

Sam Loch: Yeah

Jane Erbacher: Like what’s your fastest time?

Sam Loch: Yeah so the record is 1:10.5 and I went 1:11.4.

Jane Erbacher: So for everybody listening, so I talk about you at all my Project Row workshops and based from Australia as I described you a-

Sam Loch: Yeah just a really cool guy.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah pretty much and I talk about you. I knew it was around the 1:11 mark. I’m sorry. We- Sam and I laughed ever since meeting about how opposite we are. Anyways, I don’t have great memory of numbers. I think you’re quite good with that.

Sam Loch: It just goes and goes. Not numbers in general.

Jane Erbacher: You remembered some of mine that I posted.

Sam Loch: I read one time. There’s so many things I can-

Jane Erbacher: Remember.

Sam Loch: Yeah. I think it’s a matter of wiring and attentiveness.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah

Sam Loch: I don’t. I mean that is probably an innate strength.

Jane Erbacher: Definitely.

Sam Loch: I don’t try to do that.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Sam Loch: And my memory on average, is not good so I can’t explain it.

Jane Erbacher: Just a numbers.

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: But it’s interesting because I talk about you a lot and I explain to people because what they see on the screen is their pace per 500 metres and it’s something that I’m explaining a lot; is what the screen is actually telling you. For Sam to do a 1:11.4 which means he has to hold a pace that about 1:11 for a minute and 11 seconds or what he’s got to aim is for a minute and 10 seconds; which is incredible. So what did you find in your problem solving of not obtaining that goal? Like what did you go back to the drawing board about?

Sam Loch: Specifically, I feel as though I dropped out the weight lifting portion of my, sort of backed off in a way that wasn’t helpful. Lifting heavy as possible is not necessarily ideal and so it has to be somewhat sub maximum just because create too much fatigue. Too little intensity is not going to provide any stimulus so you kind of half to walk that line. I did too little too soon because my tendency is to do too much for too long. I kind of … that was just a zig when I should have zagged and I thought I lost a little bit of my capacity to row distance per stroke. I should have done some more lower stroke rate, higher power. Just to make sure from catch to finish that I was able to produce peak output. The qualities that I did develop, Lactate tolerance. There is a lot of stuff there that was working, but the margin for error is small. I kind of rely on these overwhelming qualities to make it happen, I have to push all the right buttons.

Jane Erbacher: The tiny little percentages.

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: What about like in terms of mental resilience? Like what does it take? Because you attempted it twice or three times within a week.

Sam Loch: Three times.

Jane Erbacher: What does it take to come back from a disappointment mentally, like you’re very good at problem solving. Like kind of the physicality of it but like what happens to you in your mind like during the training or during the execution?

Sam Loch: Yeah. It’s something I’ve thought about quite a bit before for other athletes. Like how they do that. So if you have someone who is in a pool stage of the competition, and they get their asses kicked, and then they take like an NBA team and they just worked their way through the season and then how do they stay “Hang tough”.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: When you’re in the experience you’re just dealing with it. Like what’s the next step. I imagine that’s all anyone’s ever tried to do. Like okay, let’s get on with it, let’s reflect on what didn’t work, what did work. Stay pretty pragmatic. I remember like having a sense of, I would have preferred if I had done this already. Like if-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah I hear yeah.

Sam Loch: [inaudible 00:23:33] and could move on with my life. I was obligating myself to that goal and I had a … There was a finite time frame because I was flying overseas, my last attempt was the day before flying to the U.S. It was just, you know, make the best of it with the time that I have. Which I think is all that anyone’s ever trying to do. It’s just a little bit more acute at that point in time.

Jane Erbacher: Totally, and how do you think you stay accountable to you? Because a conversation I have with people so often is that they need someone to stay accountable to. But you’re entirely accountable to yourself. How do you sustain that?

Sam Loch: I’ve got this, and its nothing new to me, I’ve got friends like this as well. That you have a certain, I’m vigilant against feats like soft. My own softness because I think of myself as when I was young. I could have been a total pussy and I had to learn how to be tough. I think it’s a little quality and so I remain weary of not cowering to like the inner coward.

That might be just trying to get you not do the thing that you’re supposed to on any given day. Because the feeling of, add coward to that is worse than- I mean it’s, to me, that’s the worse thing imaginable. If I didn’t do a training session just because I didn’t want to. I just, no. It would take me a long time to get over that. Because my whole value system is based around it. Like this is not mandatory, you’re into this or not. If you say that something is important to you then it can’t just be important to you when you feel good about it. It has to be important to you all day. And every day and it doesn’t mean that every day has been to be smashing your head against a wall but when it’s time to show up, you have to because it’s your whole goal.

Jane Erbacher: 100 percent. In your coaching, of other people. You do online coaching.

Sam Loch: Yep.

Jane Erbacher: And what kind of people do you work with? What kind of things do you address with them?

Sam Loch: I work with all sorts of people so whoever gets in contact with me, we have a little bit of back and forth and I try to be selective about the people that I work with. But it’s not selective in terms of their need to be aiming to go sub-six minutes for a 2K. It’s more like they need to be sufficiently motivated about whatever their goal is. Because with the online coaching, I’m not there to- I’m not that sort of coach anyway to pretty much hand holding. If I’m not even in the same country and I’m sending you this prescribed workload and you don’t have enough energy to be able to do that, then it’s not going to work. I can’t provide the motivation. But I’m trying to provide the framework so that their effort can be expanded in the right direction. It’s based entirely around what their goals are. That’s the starting point. Like, what do you want to do? And then I’m like, “Can I help this person do that? Is it an interesting goal”, and then we are working together to help achieve that goal.

Jane Erbacher: Totally, and they’re going to help themselves. Exactly.

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: It’s interesting that you said that; I just tried to write down. Sorry I should have said at start, I take notes when interesting people talk. So I’m taking notes here. I’m not just writing a shopping list over here. I think something you said just before, which was when something is that important to you, you show up. You do it. I think it’s interesting when you talk to a lot of people, I talk to people all the time that have this “I want to do better” in this area or this area and it’s like day in and day out, their actions demonstrate the opposite. You said that it’s just an innate part of you. Do you-

Sam Loch: It’s not innate. That’s what I’m weary of … It just gives you leverage because that’s what your goal is. You have to workout before you go to work or school. Like so, you have to get up early in the morning. I don’t know about you but I don’t like getting up early in the morning. I have real issues with getting up before the sun does. But I have plenty of times, because my reasons to do so were good.

Jane Erbacher: Outweigh the= yep.

Sam Loch: Because if you don’t have good reasons, you’re not getting up early because you like to. You’re doing it because you have this goal and then you can apply that template to the reason you’re eating the thing or doing the stretching or doing the session or saying no to whatever that you need to. It’s not because in that moment that’s what you want to do. The bigger you, the side that’s telling you it’s important. And you’re allowed to … Your goals are up to you and they don’t have to stay fixed. Like if my passion for the 500 was gone, then I would have no qualms with not pursuing it and that’s okay. You have to want to do it otherwise you’re not really going to be out to fight for energy. If you say I’m going to do something then you have to go ahead and do it.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Sam Loch: And give it your best and learn something from the experience that you can apply to future goals. Be they in the same realm, like if it’s go fast, run a rowing machine, or whatever else that people are interested in.

Jane Erbacher: Totally and I just wrote down process versus content. Its like a lot of people get stuck in what the content is of what you’re doing here. And it’s that you’re pursuing this 500 metre right now. But I think that what you have developed over the entire course of your life is the process of working towards a goal; the process of success. I was really interested last week when we talked about the people that you coach and it’s less about them hoping sub-six minute 2K people, to more about the people who want more for their life. Who are actually willing to put in work and the process that you’re developing with achieving your goal, working towards your goal can be picked up and put onto any other area of your life. It’s just-

Sam Loch: Yeah, that’s what I try and teach. Especially to the high school rowers that I coach because most of them aren’t going to be rowing after school. The sport has a high rate of attrition because it’s hard and you got to be into it. So to them and to their parents, and I mean this, it’s a vehicle to develop some skills. I just haven’t moved on with my life. I feel, it feels silly to me, me talking about it because that’s very well when you stay with completely the same thing. But that won’t always be the case, part of the reason I write a book about indoor rowing is because it occurs to me that at any moment I could be like ah, Forrest Gump, I might be like “I might go home now”.

Jane Erbacher: Yes. I’m done now.

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. I think it’s interesting. I’m obsessed with the transferability of the skills that you learn in a training environment to the rest of your life. So different things, like following a plan seems to be one of my biggest challenges, is following a plan of any description.

Sam Loch: But it’s just for fear of training right? If you follow a plan?

Jane Erbacher: I’m quite good at following my own plans. I’m not great at following other people’s plans. So it’s like, I’m extremely driven in whatever area it is. But I like to follow my own rules. I don’t like somebody else writing rules for me.

Sam Loch: Yeah but if you have a plan, you follow that?

Jane Erbacher: Yes.

Sam Loch: Okay.

Jane Erbacher: If I am going to the effort of it.

Sam Loch: So your issue is not following a plan, it’s following someone else’s plan?

Jane Erbacher: Totally yeah. It’s funny. Sam and I were talking last-

Sam Loch: Me too.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. There’s one of our similarities. It was amazing. We were chatting and all of a sudden it got turned around as to what my training looks like right now. I was like sitting there answering questions like, “I’m being coached right now”. How do I work with you? I was immediately like, “I need you”, like this is great.

Sam Loch: Always selling-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. Not at all. And that became the next conversation

Sam Loch: No it is what I’m. If I notice someone is training-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: I want to know what they are doing. [inaudible 00:32:23] It’s where I end up asking people.

Jane Erbacher: But it’s the best and for those of you who are watching this face, say “I’m going to work with Sam.” That’s what’s going to happen moving forward because I respect you so much. I’m just not great at, I’ve- actually gotten a lot better at following people’s plan. But it’s got to be somebody that I respect a lot and I do respect you. But I don’t know how I just got on to that conversation. I was talking about transferability of training for the rest of your life and I think it’s great that you’re working with teenagers. Like coaching and stuff. I think that the skills that you’ve learned in here and in training environment have created the resilience that you have in all the areas of your life. I have no idea where I was going with that.

Sam Loch: That’s alright. I was just thinking that a lot of what I have to say is informed by making mistakes.

Jane Erbacher: Yes

Sam Loch: Especially when I’m coaching young guys. If they’re keen on it and they want to get faster than maybe I can help them in some of the same areas that I did. Because I would go head first into, like this is a good idea and most of the time it was. Most of the time, if it wasn’t I could work around it, with just effort but it wasn’t the most efficient means.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: And there’s definitely things, like oh that was a stupid thing to do for two years.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Sam Loch: But you only know that from having done-

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. Right.

Sam Loch: We should be gradually increasing your understanding of performance. And what I have observed and my personal experience combined with what I’ve researched. That’s what I’m trying to distribute as much as possible. That’s the relatively selfless portion of what I’m trying to do.

Jane Erbacher: And you’re writing a book right now, which you’ve almost finished. It’s your first book. It’s called “Lots of Watts”.

Sam Loch: It is.

Jane Erbacher: And I did have … I was very impressed by the name. I love it. I feel like you have row at Lots of Watts and what’s.

Sam Loch: Yeah. That’s really really creative.

Jane Erbacher: Buts it’s basically for 45 thousands words.

Sam Loch: Yeah that’s where it is at the moment. I don’t know if that sounds like a lot.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: Because a tweet is like 140, so.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah totally. I actually didn’t like talking terms of letters.

Sam Loch: Yeah I just wished I could just only use 100 characters.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah characters, yeah.

Sam Loch: It’s longer either way. It’s the longest anything I’ve written ever. Yeah. I mean the last thing that I wrote longer than a blog post was in college, which was 11 years ago.

Jane Erbacher: Your thesis, right?

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Do you remember? Because we were talking about this last week and I found it extremely interesting. It was about now body image. Wasn’t it?

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah. Can we talk about that for a second? And then your “Lots of Watts”.

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: So what was the topic of it?

Sam Loch: It was the fluctuating ideology of the male physique in the 20th century in western society.

Jane Erbacher: I was going to ask you about your body now but can you just give us a very brief rundown of what you did in college? What did you learn in the end of that and what were you trying to say through your thesis?

Sam Loch: I don’t know.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: I don’t know because it was a long time ago. And if invariably when I talk about my thesis, I will say that I wanted it to be called “Why Boobs are Good”.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: And that’s what I was going to write about. Well they’re good. Let’s get to the bottom of that.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah totally.

Sam Loch: And then my thesis was, oh great but it’s already been done. So let’s check out blogs and then I’m writing this thing and then anyone would say “What’s your thesis? How is it going? What’s it about?” I would be like this and they would be like of course it is.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: Well I’m not interested in the body image, male and female and just the modulation of the human form and how it refracts society. Which is what it was, is how basically there are societal indicators influenced ideal body types at various times in the 20th century.

Jane Erbacher: So I only asked you that question, not because I’m not interested; I’m extremely interested. We talked about it last week. I really wanted people to realise how intelligent you are. And you have had a very interesting- you’ve got a very interesting perspective on a lot of issues that are going on. We’re sitting in front of this because you are very pro-equality in all people.

Sam Loch: I’m just loving the gays. You know.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: It just seems so obvious to me.

Jane Erbacher: It’s been going on for a long time. You put this up-

Sam Loch: Yeah this is just doing the bid for the debate in this country. I don’t understand the counterpoint. Is it the same as the denial of equal rights? It seemed obvious to me that if what you’re doing doesn’t infringe on someone else’s ability to do what they’re trying to do then- and if that is a problem with you then I just can’t help you.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. Yeah, and I wanted people to know that you are more than rowing and training. And I know that, I don’t want that to come across the wrong way, but I think that people are very quick to use social media to determine somebody’s entire world.

Sam Loch: Oh, yeah, they’re worried that I might be a meathead. Don’t worry, I’m worried as well.

Jane Erbacher: That’s the best.

Sam Loch: Well, I know what I look like. I kind of get away from that.

Jane Erbacher: So let’s talk about your body cause we-

Sam Loch: Let’s.

Jane Erbacher: Covering all your favourite topics now. So you are huge, like, you are a big guy. You weren’t always. You got to 81 kilos or something? We talked about last week?

Sam Loch: Yeah, I mean, yeah. So, when I was rowing most of the time of my [inaudible 00:38:21] I was about 91 to 95 kilos, which is just below my natural set point so I was dieting for most of that time for performance purposes. I think if I did it again I’d be a bit heavier but that’s a other discussion.

Jane Erbacher: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sam Loch: After London Olympics and same as in Beijing as well I just ate my face off and had been dieting for four years and so- but in within a week I had gone from low-mid 90’s to 102 in a week. So that, and then a trip to the States, and so my levels of general disgust were just enough that I thought it would be prudent to get lean and I think that everyone should get really shredded at least once. My girlfriend at the time was a lightweight roller so I thought, “Okay I want to understand for her in general”, like that experience in weight cutting so I dieted down from 102 to 86 and then sweated down to 82. As I said to you last week I wish I had gone to 79 just for shits. But I didn’t and then more or less since then I’ve just been gradually putting it back on, not linearly, up and down, big or heavy, just generally what I’m trying to do is put on mass, which usually comes as [inaudible 00:39:54] and get me put on more mass and so I’ve been doing that for …

You know I couldn’t get this big when I was rowing. It’s not optimal for performance in the boat. So now it’s my body, my choice. But it’s modulated. This is effective for me. I’m interested in the ability of people to get small or bigger, stronger, jump higher.

Jane Erbacher: And use their body to support what their goal is at the time.

Sam Loch: Yeah and whatever, your goal might just be to look cool at the beach and if that provides enough meaning and leverage for you then that’s your goal. Or it’s yoga or dancing or it’s Tae Kwon Do. Like, people are into different stuff.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. I think you said something so great just before and it’s like, I mean it wasn’t profound but “my body, my choice”, which was such an interesting term cause you having been a professional athlete when you were on a team someone else was determining what you should weigh, what you should do, what you should eat, is that right?

Sam Loch: At least having a- I mean, there were at least conversations about it.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Which is such an interesting place to come from cause I guess [crosstalk 00:41:08]

Sam Loch: And I do that as a coach now.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah.

Sam Loch: I tell my athletes they need to gain or lose weight. I’m not insensitive about it but nor am I on tippy toes either because it’s pragmatic.

Jane Erbacher: And it’s part of the sport.

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: And it’s really important. Like, I totally agree with that. It’s just interesting because a lot of conversations I have on a daily basis are with people who almost forget that their body completely belongs to them. Like, a lot of people think that they’re out of control with how their body can look and what it can do. And I think that it’s so important to be constantly reminded that’s it like, you choose what food goes into your mouth and you choose what movement you actually do. It’s your choice unless you’re in a context where you can’t.

Sam Loch: Yeah, I can’t remember where I originally read or saw that but it’s definitely an appropriated term and I’ll use it universally like if someone says, “Oh, I’ll have an ice cream or something”, like your body, your choice. Likely could be anything and I feel like dancing. [crosstalk 00:42:02] It’s a cute way of saying it’s up to you.

Jane Erbacher: Yeah, and I think-

Sam Loch: And like good or bad, you know? You wanna fuck off on your diet like that’s up to you. You don’t … You’re at a social event and you don’t want to eat whatever the finger food is because your goals supersede the need of the nuts that are there. Well, that’s your body, your choice.

Jane Erbacher: Totally, and it’s such a funny thing, because it’s like, it’s a constant source of conversation amongst people. Everyone comments on everyone’s body and I wonder if people comment on your body a lot.

Sam Loch: Not to me.

Jane Erbacher: No?

Sam Loch: No, and it’s not been my experience … Like, most of the people I hang out with are my friends and they tend to be big guys as is and if they’ve known me, it’s very familiar. I would imagine if a bunch of rugby league players were together they’re not necessarily- like it’s normal, so yeah.

Jane Erbacher: Okay I want to talk about “Lots of Watts”. When is it coming out?

Sam Loch: Hopefully by Christmas. I mean, by Christmas.

Jane Erbacher: And what’s it about?

Sam Loch: It’s about how to get fast on a rowing machine.

Jane Erbacher: Great.

Sam Loch: Yeah, I know I wish it would be like okay you know, you gotta do A, B, and C, and great. But I don’t have much of an ability to be succinct so I’m thinking, “Okay what sort of subjects do we need to discuss?” And nutrition is [inaudible 00:43:34] to performance. The riding machine, okay, we need to talk about that. Need to at least talk about it from a theoretical perspective and then also how I look at it and also how it’s worked for me at various times. If I’m talking about [inaudible 00:43:48] I need to also not talk about not [inaudible 00:43:51] because I also do a fair amount of that and the benefits of that and how can you incorporate that and it goes on and on. The writing doesn’t seem to happen quickly so I’m just working my way through.

Jane Erbacher: I cannot wait. I actually really want to read it because I spend a lot of my time talking about rowing and a lot of my time answering questions about the rowing machine. The number one question I get asked about is the drag factor.

Sam Loch: Yeah.

Jane Erbacher: I find that’s probably the point of most contention in a lot of people. Do you want to talk about it at all?

Sam Loch: Yeah. I’ll steer into that. I think most people from a non-rowing background it’s easy to think that heavier- that ten is higher, is heavier, is better and the sensation- it feels like you’re working harder. So, that’s most people that are on the rowing machine in the first place. They’re wanting to work hard. That’s not the place you go to take it easy or not the place where you’re sent to take it easy. So you’re on there doing work, okay, let’s do more work but it’s not necessarily how you should frame what you’re trying to do when you’re rowing. The drag factor should be to allow you the most proficiently produce your target output at a specific rate for a target distance, which isn’t to say that the drag shouldn’t be appropriate for what you’re trying to do. That can be shorter or longer, and you can be bigger or smaller and all that plays a part. That doesn’t mean necessarily always rowing with the same drag factor but modulating the drag for different set like that’s the next avenue I think people want but I’m trying to work it out.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Sam Loch: No definitive answers as yet. Just that, you know, to seem to go fast, try the specific drag that doing higher and lower helps your ability to high drag you can feel the loading the sequencing cause the drag phase is extended when it’s lower you have to find that connection earlier and quicker and be more relaxed more agile and those allow you to go faster to a certain drag.

Jane Erbacher: I think as well … Thank you for that answer. It’s such an interesting thing because it is actually quite complex and I do love the mechanics of the machine. Like, I am a little bit of a geek in most ways but I really like learning about how the machine is designed and it’s exactly as you said thouigh. For different activities a different drag actually works well. So, I don’t understand why people think that there’s kind of a one answer, because there’s not.

Sam Loch: Ah yeah, it’s not and that’s … I wish that were the case even for girls of the same age, of the same weight, might not necessarily utili- in terms of optimising performance. If you’re approaching a squad I put everyone on the same drag factor because they’re loading in the boat is going to be the same and the machine is a means to an end. But if you’re going to tailor it to an individual then over your time you’re trying to shift your- it’s better to be able to handle a high drag but it’s really about finding idle rhythm to sustain your target split for the target distance and whatever drag accompanies that.

Jane Erbacher: It’s so funny when people ask me the question, I’m like, it’s a very in depth answer and [inaudible 00:47:30] and just getting into it.

Sam Loch: There’s so many questions that I wish I could [crosstalk 00:47:39]

Jane Erbacher: But it’s not and I think that’s why both of us are drawn to it as a sport though is that there is so much complexity to it and it’s like, if we look at what you’re so much of the goal of your life right now surrounds this and it’s like, that’s what determines your training plan, your rest, what you eat, what you don’t eat, what you, you know, all of your recovery methods, everything is this and if it was simple it wouldn’t be that.

Sam Loch: You know there’s a lot of it that is simple it’s just the minutiae. But it should be anything you know, kind of nuanced. Do you want it to be. I feel like the most part is sort of entertain all the complexities but then try to make the processes as simple as possible.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. What don’t people know about you that you want them to know?

Sam Loch: That’s an impossible question for me to answer. [crosstalk 00:48:31]

Jane Erbacher: Do you want me to answer it? [crosstalk 00:48:33]

Sam Loch: I really don’t know.

Jane Erbacher: We were chatting before and I said to Sam right before we started because we have absolutely no problem with conversation. We’re just [inaudible 00:48:48] to all different areas of interest. [inaudible 00:48:52] But I said to Sam, “You are so likeable. Do people say that to you all the time?”, and he’s like, “That’s something that no one’s ever said to me before” or something like that and he said that’s the last thing I try to be and it was interesting because I’m actually fascinated by likeability because if you look around at the people that you meet who are the most likeable they are the ones that are so disinterested in being likeable and that’s what makes them likeable because they’re- that’s not a role or priority for you at all like it’s not that you walk down the street and you’re like, “I hope everybody likes me today.” You just do your own thing.

Sam Loch: It would feel like I’d be dishonest.

Jane Erbacher: It’s not likeable.

Sam Loch: No to be-

Jane Erbacher: Trying-

Sam Loch: To be anything other than just to be.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly and I think that was what struck me and I think this is something that people don’t realise if they do follow you on Instagram is what your personality is actually like. You’re extremely relateable, you’re extremely honest, you’re just exactly as you are. You’re not thinking of things before you say them, you’re just saying them as they come into your head and that’s what makes you likeable.

Sam Loch: Well, what about, Jane, if they’ve been listening to this the entire time and they’re like, “Nah, he’s definitely not likeable.” There’s also that possibility. I just think that I’m an acquired taste.

Jane Erbacher: Totally.

Sam Loch: I am, and hey, no judgement  like, you like what you like, I like what I like, I’m … You know some people are going to be in my stuff and some people probably really dislike me and that’s fine.

Jane Erbacher: Totally. Exactly.

Sam Loch: Doesn’t make any difference to me.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly, but well, okay, I’m going to talk about it from my perspective. I think that you’re likeable so I don’t really care what everybody else thinks. So that probably makes me really likeable too.

Sam Loch: Well, you’re likeable. I, you know, I just assume you’re this nice to everyone and this, like, forthcoming with the [inaudible 00:50:39] I don’t know.

Jane Erbacher: No I just tell the truth. This is something that i learned a long time ago, I have no ability to not say what I’m thinking, it just comes out so I might as well just own it. And I think that too many things go unsaid. I’ve had experiences in my life where I didn’t say exactly what I thought and then that was my last opportunity and so it’s like now it’s like if I think something, whether it’s constructive or it’s complimentary, I just say it and so that’s exactly how I roll.

Sam Loch: That’s the same thing as going from training is that you’re like, okay I did a thing in a situation cause I thought that was the good option at the time and either it didn’t work or it didn’t make me feel good and so you course correct and I think that’s what we’re trying to do.

Jane Erbacher: Exactly.

Sam Loch: And I cringe at some of the personal interactions or some thought processes when I was younger and when I’m coaching the teenagers I try to mention to them at least one point during the season just to remind them how stupid they are and it’s totally fine because I was way more stupid at their age than they were and so I get it. That’s why we have to do things the way we do it. It’s because your brains not working properly. Apparently where the brain’s not fully developed heading towards 25 is the pre-frontal cortex that I think [inaudible 00:52:19].

Jane Erbacher: And it’s true. It’s not anybody’s [inaudible 00:52:25] or their fault.

Sam Loch: No there’s still accountability but we’re constantly talking about trying to make a right decisions and know this from being in a position of not making the right decisions.

Jane Erbacher: Totally, you’ve got no idea. It’s the teenagers. I’m really quite glad I’m not a teenager anymore. That was like- I’m glad that I’m not a teenager.

Sam Loch: I’m glad I just don’t have to go to school. We had training in the morning and then get in the uniforms and go to class and like, have fun with that. School’s great but I don’t miss that part of it.

Jane Erbacher: Same, I agree. I have one more question for you. This is my favourite question to ask everybody. I want to know if you feel like you have a purpose in your life and what it is.

Sam Loch: Well it’s amazing because I could talk all about purpose. I just try to do whatever I do with integrity and as well as possible and to invest into the stuff that’s meaningful to me. I’ve played around with the big picture, existential like what are we doing here and like, is it about being completely selfless and helping other people or is it showing a path by investing in yourself and your own interests and it’s probably going to be different for different people so I’m just trying to do the stuff that I’m interested in as well as possible. I said before that I work within realms that I’m good at. I think that most people do. I’m trying to do it in a way that’s … Integrity, I think

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Episode 88 – Sam Loch: Lots of Watts


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