Yesterday the following link was posted on the concept2 training forum. The video shows Henrik Stephansen rowing the lightweight world record of 6:02.2 at the World Indoor Championships in Boston in February 2008.
This is an amazingly controlled 2k row for a guy who weighs under 165lbs (75kg). The fastest ever 2k recorded in competition by a lightweight. But what is different about this row compared to how the top heavyweights row a 2k? This 2k was rowed at right around 40spm from start to finish, and to hold 1:30.5 pace for 6mins at 40spm is hugely impressive, but also perhaps the way to approach 2k’s for those of us who aren’t 7 feet tall.
I couldn’t wait to get to the gym this afternoon for a little experiment. Not the brightest idea I’ve ever had, but I thought the best experiment would be to try a 1k at 40spm. Did I think I should try it at the same 1:30.5 pace that Henrik rowed that 2k at? No of course not, that would have been too sensible. Instead I decided to aim to beat my 1k pb, 1:28.0 pace, having nothing approaching this pace or rate in training. I started off with a 3k warm up, averaging just over 1:51 pace. I was in my work gym, and noone else was there, so I turned the music up, set 1k, and set off. My aim was 5 hard strokes then settle to 1:28′s at 40spm. I got 550m into the row with the average on 1:28.3 and stopped. Does that make the experiment a failure? No, I don’t think so. Of course I never should have stopped, as I don’t know how close I would have got to a 1k pb at the end, but at that point into the row I couldn’t quite imagine pulling under 1:28 for the last 450m, and I’d got it in my mind that it was a pb attempt, rather than a rating experiment.
I do think this is the way to go for me to row faster 2ks though. Maybe not as high as 40spm, but perhaps 36-37spm. I am as fit as I’ve ever been, and I’ve always had to the fitness to be able to rate high on the erg. In the Newark mile race I averaged 1:33.0 for the 1609m, and rated right on 36spm most of the distance. It felt good. At BIRC my rate dropped down in the second half and I was stroking closer to 33spm, and averaged 1:34.3, and it didn’t feel good.
I will try to have one more experiment during this week, and then have a little tester next weekend. I have entered the Welsh open championships that take place in Cardiff next Saturday, so will go there and aim to row through the 2k at 35spm+, looking to average under 1:34 (6:16).