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Archive for April, 2008

The night before

Posted by thepeteplan on April 18, 2008

The start of the marathon is about 14 hours away, and I’m starting to really regret ever thinking about attempting it. My last marathon there was no build up at all, a friend was rowing one as part of a gym open day, and I agreed the day before to row it with him. No expectations, no real plan, just picked a pace and set off. There were also a lot of distractions being an open day in the gym with lots of people coming and going throughout.

This time there are three of us rowing the marathon, and as far as I know noone else will be around. It’s not just down the corridor, it’s a 75mile drive north. I have a plan, I have an expectation. I’m nervous as hell. I even considered just setting the erg up in the living room this evening, setting 42195m, and getting it out of the way.

I’m sure I will feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish rowing tomorrow, and I’m sure the nerves about the task ahead will go soon into it, but currently I just wish I’d never considered it. Blogging your training has a great motivating effect, but there is also no backing out when you decide to do something, be that a good effect or not. At least in 17 hours it will be over…

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The final session

Posted by thepeteplan on April 17, 2008

With the marathon now 2 days away today was my last training session, with a planned rest day tomorrow. I wanted to try out another session to get an idea of pacing for it to use it during the early stages of our group periodised training routine beginning on Monday.


4k = 15:02.9 / 1:52.8/ 25

2min rest

4 x 500m / 2min rest:

1:34.3 / 34

1:34.2 / 33

1:34.2 / 34

1:34.1 / 34

2min rest

4k = 15:03.1 / 1:52.8 / 25

The idea behind this type of session is to keep some faster paced work in the early stages of our periodised training routine, but as part of a longer endurance session. We will be doing two types of session like this, one with roughly 2k paced work in the middle, one with roughly 5k paced work in the middle, but each surrounded by steady distance pieces to make up a solid endurance session overall. Neither session will be done weekly, just often enough to retain the ability to row at these paces.

Blog updates:

I have some new content to add to the blog at some point soon including a 24 week “beginner Pete Plan” laid out as an introductory standalone programme for people new to erg training. All the sessions are laid out for the full 24 week period with 3 core sessions and 2 optional sessions each week. I will add this tonight, so take a look at the new page “Beginner Training” for details. I will discuss the other new content over the next few days.

Marathon thoughts:

My one marathon before is the only row I have tried sitting on a towel during, and I will do the same on Saturday. Apart from glute pain the biggest problem will be dehydration (and to a less extent fuelling), and so I plan to stay as cool as possible to minimise this. I’ll be using my c-breeze of course, but will also take a fan with me incase the room is hot (I have a 75mile drive each way to the venue we’re rowing the marathon in). My drinking plan is the same as for my last marathon – I will have both water and carbohydrate / electrolite drinks next to me and will drink from them alternately. I will start off taking a drink every 5k, gradually then drinking more often in the later stages. I can cope with the dehydration, and won’t drink too much as I won’t actually stop to drink, but the mental effect of both breaking the distance up like this between drink stops, and of just wetting my mouth, will help. If I drink during an erg I always do it the same way, moving my left hand to the centre of the handle, taking a bottle in my right hand one stroke, drinking and swallowing a mouthful the next stroke, then taking a further mouthful on the third stroke and putting the bottle back down getting back up to speed. Then I can slowly swallow the second mouthful over the next couple of strokes. This way only 3 strokes are slower, and the average split won’t have chance to change really.

When I have done sports physiology trials like the recent heat trial you are asked periodically to rate perceived effort and sometimes heat or discomfort in various areas of the body. I will aim to do this in my head every few km’s to rate the effort level in different part of my body, and the fatigue. This is for two reason – to objectively know whether I’m tiring too much, but also to allow me to register early if I’m feeling the fatigue too much in one area so my technique can be adjusted accordingly. The good thing about rowing at a relatively slow pace is that you have scope to alter variables like stroke length, and place more emphasis on different muscle groups through the stroke – for example rowing periods with greater body lean and less leg compression, if required. This sort of modifications I believe can get me through any tough patches and still maintain pace.

The current top time in the world rankings for this season (ending in April) for the 30-39 heavyweight marathon is 2 hours 38mins 52.2seconds, or about 50seconds faster than my pb. This is a pace of 1:52.9, and so my aim will be to beat this time. Therefore I will try to keep the average split on 1:52.9 throughout.

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Negative split distance

Posted by thepeteplan on April 16, 2008

I am three days away from my second ever erg marathon. My choice for this week was between training fairly hard so that marathon pace will feel fairly easy (slow) on Saturday, or training at around marathon pace to be as fresh as possible on Saturday. As I think the mental side of rowing for that duration is going to be the toughest I decided that aiming to make the planned pace feel as slow as possible was the key.

As such I decided to do a fairly tough 10k this morning aiming to negative split it as follows:

4k @ 1:46, 3k @ 1:45, 2k @ 1:44, 1k @ 1:43, which would give a final average of 1:45.0, and so the aim would be to just break 35mins.


10k = 34:59.6 / 1:44.9 / 27

1k splits (so that I know how close to planned target paces I was):

1:45.9 / 27

1:45.9 / 27

1:45.9 / 27

1:45.9 / 27

1:45.0 / 27

1:44.9 / 28

1:45.0 / 28

1:44.3 / 28

1:44.3 / 28

1:42.4 / 29

Unsurprisingly the toughest part was between 3k and 1k to go with the second increase in pace. The first 4k at 1:46 felt comfortable and relaxed, then increasing to 1:45’s from there required a slight increase in rate, and the effort level was noticably higher. Dropping to 1:44’s from 3k to go is tough though, and so I settled for just seeing more 1:44’s than 1:45’s, which was fine. Then with 1k to go you’re in sight of the line so the final increase in pace is ok.

This is a good way to row a solid distance piece because the exact targets for each 1k mean you can mentally break the distance up in your head, rather than trying to simply hit the same pace start to finish. I like, on hard distance pieces, to get faster over the later stages, even if the early part was constant paced. I think to do this always in training builds good habits, and you naturally when want to speed up when racing and you’re in sight of the line.

Marathon thoughts:

As I said before, my target for the marathon is simply to get a pb, ie under 1:53.6 pace. I have considered whether I could go a good bit faster than this, 1:51 perhaps, but I’m not sure what that would actually gain. I might be able to maintain it, I might not. As rowing over about 15k in one go is something I so rarely do I don’t think the absolute time is so relevant compared to the strength gained from simply erging for that long. I hugely admire people who are willing to do marathons on the erg when it takes them 3.5 or even 4 hours. I couldn’t imagine sitting on the erg for another hour longer than I will be. I’ll be keeping in mind on Saturday that there are a number of other athletes in south Wales at the time rowing 100km each over a 24hour period, that’s hardcore (or crazy perhaps).

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Long intervals

Posted by thepeteplan on April 14, 2008

I’d given a new session to Jamie this week, and as it was a session I hadn’t tried myself before I said that I too would attempt it this week.

The session is 5k, 4k, 3k, 2k, 1k with a equal number of minutes rest following an interval as the km’s of the interval – so 5min rest after the 5k, 4min after the 4k, and so on. However, the twist is that I told Jamie to go at whatever pace he wanted, but he must go at least 1second faster in pace on each subsequent interval. So the trick is going at a pace on the 5k where you’re able to go 1second faster on each interval, but where this means that the 1k is close to maximal at the end.

With 15k total distance in the session it is quite long as interval sessions go (for me), and with increasing pace and decreasing rest it was going to be tough to judge a starting pace. I didn’t think too carefully about it though and picked a pace marginally faster than my 1hour pb pace for the 5k – 1hr pb = 1:45.2, so starting pace = 1:44.9, stepping down from there.

The session:

5k = 17:29.4 / 1:44.9 / 28

5min rest

4k = 13:51.4 / 1:43.9 / 29

4min rest

3k = 10:17.5 / 1:42.9 / 30

3min rest

2k = 6:47.8 / 1:41.9 / 30

2min rest

1k = 3:21.3 / 1:40.6 / 31

Totals: 15k = 51:47.4 / 1:43.5 / 29

I’m glad I didn’t think too hard about the pacing before starting the session or I would have realised that the 5k was inside 60min pb pace, and well inside current 60min potential – the 3k was right on 30min pb pace, and the 1k close to current 5k pace. If I had thought about it like that I think I would have started slower! As it was I think I got the pacing just right – if I had started 1sec faster pace for the 5k I would not have finished the session.

The 3k was probably the mentally toughest piece in the session when I realised it was at 30min pb pace after 9k of sub 1:45 rowing, with a faster 3k to come. The 2k and 1k were physically pretty tough, but not in the same way as faster paced interval work. Overall it was a great workout.

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2008 timescale for target phases

Posted by thepeteplan on April 13, 2008

I have now consulted the calendar and split the time between now and the British Indoor Rowing Championships on 26th October 2008 into phases.

Intial target – Marathon:

Saturday 19th April

Phase 1 – Half Marathon / 60mins:

21st April to 31st May 2008 – 6 weeks – the first 6 weeks will aim for a HM and / or 60min erg test in the week ending 31st May 2008. Noone else following this periodised training programme will be obliged to row over 60mins in one session during this phase, but I expect many will want to complete a fast HM.

Phase 2 – 10k / 30mins:

2nd June to 12th July 2008 – 6 weeks – the next 6 weeks will aim for a 10k and 30min erg test in the week ending 12th July 2008. Each athletes will prioritise either the 10k or 30mins for the final week, and do the other in the penultimate week.

Phase 3 – 5k / 6k:

14th July to 30th August 2008 – 7 weeks – this 7 week stage will aim at both a 6k and a 5k test in the week ending 30th August 2008. Each athlete will do the two tests in that order with a 6k test 1 to 2 weeks before the end of this phase, and a 5k to finish the phase.

Phase 4 – 2k:

1st September to 26th October 2008 – 8 weeks – the final 8 week stage will lead us up to BIRC. There will be no obligation for anyone to actually compete at BIRC, and indeed some may well be aiming for races slightly later in the season such as the European’s in Rome in January, or the World’s in Boston in February. If training goes well I would like to do one or other of those races too.

Athletes following this training:

The athletes following this full training schedule with me have all been following Pete Plan Coaching for some time now, and we will all gain a lot from the added motivation of regular testing as we move through the year’s training. We all have different commitments, motivations, strengths and weaknesses, and as such will not be following identical training routines during the year. I hope that, where possible, we will be able to get together occasionally for the tests at the end of each phase. Of the 7 of us who have currently confirmed we will be following this periodisation one is in New Zealand, one in the USA, and one in Scotland, so I don’t suppose we will all manage to get together!

I have updated the “Pete’s training” blog page to reflect these timescales, and the goals discussed on Friday:

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Marathon preparation

Posted by thepeteplan on April 12, 2008

As I have decided to row a marathon next weekend I don’t want it to be completely uncharted territory having not rowed over 10k in at least a couple of months. So I decided last night that if I wake early enough this morning I would row a half marathon at planned marathon pace (about 1:53.5) to at least give my body some idea what to expect.

Unfortunately various factor conspired against me doing a half marathon this morning. I woke early enough at 6.45am, and the sky was blue (vital as the only place I’m going to row a HM on my own is out on the patio). I put the TV on to see the weather, and rain showers are forecast for later this morning, so I had to start early. Recall that I usually do all my training in the gym at work at this point. So I got the erg out of the garage and onto the patio. Tried to turn the monitor on and nothing. Rowed a few strokes and the monitor would come on faintly, but go off as soon as I stopped. Dead batteries obviously. But the PM4 has a rechargable battery pack, and although you can put normal batteries in it’s place I didn’t have any.

I went to the trouble shooting page to see what I could do, and found out you can charge the monitor with the USB. I’m not an internet rower so have never taken the USB out of the packet, but managed to find it, then set up the laptop and USB cable on the patio with the erg. Finally at 7.50am I set 21097m on the monitor…


21097m = 78:38.1 / 1:51.8 / 25


4300m: 1:52.8 / 25

8600m: 1:52.3 / 25

12900m: 1:51.5 / 25

17200m: 1:51.2 / 26

21097m: 1:50.9 / 26

I know I’m carrying a fair bit of fatigue from a week of hard training including 3 long sessions in the heat chamber, but I have to say I’m not looking forward to the marathon now. The pace wasn’t difficult at all, but my glutes, hamstrings and quads felt sore and weak from start to finish. Ok, they actually felt better at the finish than the start once they had a little warmth in them (it was cold outside). There will definitely be a complete rest day on Friday before the marathon next Saturday!

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Out of the heat

Posted by thepeteplan on April 11, 2008

My final 1hour 40mins of leg pressing marked the end of the heat trial this afternoon, so training can now return to normal. Time for a short gym session following that:


5k treadmill run, 13kph, 23:05

Bicep curls = 16kg dumbbells, 3 sets of 8

Tricep cable pulls = 16.75kg, 3 sets of 8

A nice short session, including the first running I’ve done in at least 2months. Not long and not fast, just nice and comfortable and hopefully the start of putting in some reasonably regular running into my overall training programme.

One week of training now leading up to the marathon next Saturday, therefore the intensity and volume will taper off over the week to make sure I’m fresh for the marathon or it could be a hard slog to get through it!

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2008 goals

Posted by thepeteplan on April 10, 2008

Today’s training:

10k = 35:45.8 / 1:47.2 / 26

2k splits = 1:47.6, 1:47.5, 1:47.4, 1:47.2, 1:46.5 (all 26spm)

Clean and press: 40kg, 3 sets of 8

2008 goals:

Tomorrow is the final day of the exercise in heat trial, and so training can get back to normal from next week. Therefore it is time to set my goals for the rest of 2008, timescales for them, and how I plan to achieve them. Many of my personal best times were set towards the end of 2003 and in 2004, and at 30 years old I am certainly not past my physical best, I’m not there yet. Therefore I plan on revising a number of my pbs over the coming year.


I rowed my one and only erg marathon in November 2004 in a time of 2 hours 39mins 43.2 seconds, a split time of 1:53.6 at 26spm. I will row my second marathon on Saturday 19th April 2008. My aim will be to beat my previous time. I haven’t done any specific training to achieve this, I haven’t even rowed over 10k in a single day for well over a month. But I know I can do this, and mental belief is a large part of achieving a goal.

Half marathon & 60mins:

My half marathon personal best time is 74mins 58.7seconds, a split time of 1:46.6, and my 60min pb is 17116m, a split time of 1:45.2. The next stage after the marathon will be aiming at beating these two pbs, but the 60mins especially is a much tougher target than the marathon or half marathon. I won’t keep going endlessly until I achieve these two goals, I will put a time limit on this stage to get the best time I can, and then move on. The exact time scales I will work out over the next few days, but this stage will last around 6 weeks.

10k & 30mins:

My 10k personal best is 34:22.2, a split time of 1:43.1, and my 30mins pb is 8750m or 1:42.8 pace.  The next stage will be to move onto training to beat these two times. Following the 6 week or so working up to the half marathon and 60mins I don’t think this stage will be as difficult, but again this will be a 4 to 6 week stage.

6k & 5k:

My 6k pb is 20:04.1, a 1:40.3 split time, and my 5k pb is 16:33.6, a 1:39.4 split time. The next phase will focus on these two distances, following a slightly abbreviated version of the 5k training plan on the blog. My main aim in this stage will be to try and break 20mins for the 6k. This stage will be somewhere between 6 and 8 weeks in length.

2k, 1k & 500m:

Depending on the timing against races like BIRC, I will then move onto 2k training, incorporting some of the sprint intervals on the sprint / HIIT page on the blog. If there is sufficient time before BIRC I will aim to set pb’s at 1k and 500m first using the sprint training, otherwise leave those to after BIRC. My 1k pb is 2:56.0, a split time of 1:28.0. My 500m pb is 1:20.6. My 2k pb is 6:11.8, or a 1:33.0 split time.

Achieving the goals:

As I said in relation to the marathon goal next weekend, mental belief that you can achieve the goals is a very large part of doing so. Without mental belief that your training will enable you to achieve your targets you set yourself up to fail them. If you do not currently have that belief in your training method, consider seriously using a different method.

Some of my coaching group have very similar aims to me and as such some of us will be following a broadly similar periodisation of our training over the year, and hopefully aiming to start and finish each phase within the same week. The paces will obviously be different, and some of the sessions will be different, but by doing core sessions the same each week it will help us to motivate each other.

By the time I sit down to complete the marathon next weekend I will put down on paper timescales for each of these phases of training over the year, and have determined exactly who in my coaching group will be along for the ride.

Posted in Goals, Steady distance | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Week off plan

Posted by thepeteplan on April 8, 2008

As I’m in the heat chamber for 3 sessions this week I don’t have the time or energy to do a full week of training on the erg as well. Monday was another 1hr 40mins of leg pressing, but the hottest condition yet, and dispite drinking a lot of water I still lost over 2lbs, so erg training was off.

Training – Tuesday:

10k = 36:27.4 / 1:49.3 / 25

2k splits:

1:51.8 / 25

1:50.5 / 25

1:49.7 / 25

1:48.9 / 25

1:45.7 / 26

Chin ups: 4/3/3

Inverted rows: 5 sets of 5

Bench press: 60kg, 3 sets of 8

The 10k should have been steady at the pace I started, but after 2 days off the erg it felt pretty easy so I let the pace drift faster. From next week I will try to fit in 2 dedicated weights sessions each week, so was trying out a couple of new exercises today. Chin ups I have never been good at – I can do sets of 3 with a short rest lots of times, but can’t do many more at once. The inverted rows are done on a smith machine pivoting on the heels with body straight pulling up from the floor to chest on the bar. Seems like it could be a good exercise to put into a back routine.

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10mile Turbo TT

Posted by thepeteplan on April 6, 2008

As I hadn’t tried a time trial on the turbo (bike) yet I thought it would be a good use of my rest day this morning.

5min warm up

10miles = 19:06 / 31.6mph / 336watts (41.4mph / 458watts max)

5min warm down

It was actually marginally faster than that as I didn’t switch to time until I’d stopped, so this included the turbo slowing from 41mph to rest.

I thought as it was a similar time to a 5k TT on the erg that I’d think of it that way, and judge pace as if every 1mile was a 500m split of an erg 5k. As it was if my legs felt like they did 4miles in at 2k in a 5k on the erg I’d not finish it, yet I was fine to maintain pace throughout, and speed up by 10mph in the final stages. Much more to come.

I added a new blog section the other day Sprint / HIIT to discuss sprint training and High Impact Interval Training on the erg. I will add more to it at some point.

Would would have thought this would be the view of your back garden in southern England in April?

Or this from the front window:

Maybe the weatherman can be right sometimes.

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