The hardest day in your training schedule when you’re a dedicated athlete is the rest day, especially the mid week rest day, but that’s what I did today. After a handicap 5k race on Monday evening followed the 8 x 750′s at lunchtime, and then yesterday’s steady distance session was replaced by a 500m attempt for the CTC, a rest day was really in order today.
I have also entered the “cross training meets duathlon” race taking place in Reading on 16th August. The event is held at an outdoor athletics track and consists of 800m run, 2k row, 50 press ups, 50 squat thrusts, 2k row, 800m run. I decided that my weak link was the press ups, so have been doing some training for those over the past 4 or 5 days. Today has also been a rest day from those. This event should be very interesting, what type of person will do well at it? As an 800m run will probably vary between 2min30 and 4mins for most competitors, and the 2k row between maybe 6:40 and 7:40, it will probably be pretty balanced between the people who are simply specialist in one or the other. I think the press ups could be key, as if you’re good at them 50 press ups can be done in 50seconds, if you’re bad it can take 3+ minutes. But really the key will be pacing – don’t let your ego get the better of you trying to set an unrealistically fast time in your discipline. I could do the first 2k in 6:30, but that would leave my heart rate too high for the press ups and lactic acid would build much faster, and leave less for the row and run at the end. So, adrenelin allowing, I think going pretty easy in the 800m and 2k at the start, as fast as possible through the press ups and squat thrusts, then going harder on the second 2k row to put yourself in with a chance over the 800m is key.
A lot depends who is in the race. If someone like Hywel Davies is competing then first place is gone, though as he won the UK double ironman last weekend hopefully he might sit this one out. I competed with Hywel before in a supersprint indoor tri – erg, bike, run. As I knew he was so strong on the run I knew my only chance was to get to the run with him, so I went flat out on the bike and got to the treadmill level with him, from where he destroyed me, and I dropped from joint first to probably 6 or 7th over the space of a 1k run! I won’t make that mistake again, of win or die, because the pain of running when you have nothing left to give is not a nice feeling. Therefore realistic pacing is the aim. I don’t expect to be any real competition for any of the regular cross training competitors who will take part, but I don’t think I will be last either, as with 4k of rowing (making up over 50% of the total duration) it will be a pretty strong event for me.
It was a choice between this event and the rowathlon. The rowathlon is something I really want to have a go at, but it will have to wait till next year. I’m just not confident enough yet on my road bike at speed. I know I have the fitness and leg power to do well from the turbo sessions, but I can’t translate this to the road yet, and not around a small cycling velodrome with lots of other people around certainly.
Stroke rate and SPI:
There are been some debate between some of the athletes I coach on desired, and ideal, stroke rates and stroke power index (SPI) for training. SPI for those who don’t know is effectively just a measure of the stroking power. It is a useful measure to track where improvements in time are coming from, but there is no ideal number to aim for in any particular training session. Generally speaking though, the higher the stroke rate, the lower the SPI. You have to reduce the stroking power as you increase the stroke rate otherwise you won’t be able to keep going.
So stroke rate should be proportional to the pace you are rowing at. Take the 2k pace and rate combination as the reference point – if you are training at a faster pace than 2k pace (eg an 8 x 500m workout) the stroke rate should be higher. If you are training at a slower pace than 2k pace (eg a 4 x 2k workout) the stroke rate should be lower. If you’re doing a steady distance session, the stroke rate should be lower still. As a very rough and generalised rule of thumb, a 1spm difference in rate either way should be accompanied by a 2second difference in pace. So for example for me with a 2k pace and rate combination of 1:33.0 and 34spm, at 33spm I would train at 1:35 pace (perhaps a 4 x 1k workout), at 32spm I would train at 1:37 pace (perhaps a 4 x 1500m workout), and at 31spm I would train at 1:39 pace (a 5k pb attempt). This would put me at 29spm coupled with 1:43 pace – my 10k pb rate and pace. It would also put me at 1:53 pace at 24spm, which is probably about the right steady distance combination for me really, although I tend to push them along a little faster at that pace – perhaps to my detriment in terms of the training effect desired from those sessions.
Work out for yourself from your 2k pace and rate what this would give you as pace and rate combinations, and see how they fit with the training sessions you’re doing.