Lunch hour

The Pete Plan blog

Archive for November, 2008

Emulate the top lightweight?

Posted by thepeteplan on November 30, 2008

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).


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It’s time for some speed work

Posted by thepeteplan on November 29, 2008

I had two options in my mind for training this afternoon – either take part in the 2k on rowpro, as I’ve not used rowpro for a while and I want to get in a few 2k’s before Boston, or go to the gym. I decided to go to the gym and do the session I’d avoided earlier in the week, the type of work I need to do in the run up to Boston if I’m to be faster over 2k.

10min warm up = 2666m / 1:53.0 / 25

1k – 3minR – 500m – 3minR – 1k – 3minR – 500m – 3minR – 1k

1k = 3:09.8 / 1:34.9 / 34
500m = 1:34.9 / 33
1k = 3:09.9 / 1:34.9 / 34
500m = 1:35.0 / 34
1k = 3:09.1 / 1:34.5 / 35

Totals: 4k = 12:38.6 / 1:34.8 / 34

Then the now usual 50 Jamie’s and 3 x 10 Waddell’s. I’m happy enough with this session, but I know I need to do more of this type of work if I’m to make a dent in my 2k time. My fitness level is as high as it has ever been, but I’m just not fast enough physically or mentally at this type of work at the moment.

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45mins at low drag

Posted by thepeteplan on November 28, 2008

Again I wasn’t feeling great this morning so I didn’t take any gym kit to work to avoid the temptation of going to the gym. Again after work I then decided again to go for a quick trip to Fitness FIrst, and a “just row” distance row. They’re starting to annoy me now telling me that someone is coming to clean the ergs. I tell them it’s not hard to do themselves. Soon I will do it myself. So I fitted the c-breeze, pushed the resistance up to 10 (and checked the drag, 120!) and set off.

45:15.3 = 12503m / 1:48.5 / 26
10:00 = 1:49.5
20:00 = 1:49.2
30:00 = 1:49.0
40:00 = 1:48.4
45:00 = 1:44.8

I feel much better after the row, and I think after a couple of good nights sleep over the weekend I will be fully cured of whatever has been lingering. Well, unless I train too hard over the weekend, which is a very real possibility…

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Blog updates and Waddell’s

Posted by thepeteplan on November 27, 2008

Here is Xeno’s youtube video showing Rob Waddell doing the exercise that I have named the “Waddell”:

Look about 50seconds into the video.

I have updated two pages on the blog – the racing page with some race day tips, and the Pete’s training page to update the targets and results I went for through 2008.

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40mins negative split

Posted by thepeteplan on November 27, 2008

Limited by time this lunchtime so decided to set 40mins as the maximum I had time for. I decided to do it negative split by raising the rate each 10mins from 22, 24, 26 and 28+.

40mins = 11144m / 1:47.6 / 25
10mins splits:
1:51.4 / 22
1:48.7 / 24
1:46.5 / 26
1:44.1 / 29

Then 50 Jamie’s and 3 x 10 Waddell’s.

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And some more steady rowing…

Posted by thepeteplan on November 27, 2008

I have had a bit of a head cold for 2 days now. Nothing serious, but enough to make me think I should take a rest day yesterday. Well I rested at lunchtime, my normal training time, anyway. After arriving home from work I decided to just go for a short session in Fitness First though before dinner. Unfortunately the ergs there aren’t kept clean, despite them telling me a week ago they would be cleaning them, so the maximum drag I could get was 120.

As with recent steady rows I put the c-breeze on, hit “just row”, and set off. As with Tuesday I didn’t feel great to begin with but once through 5k started to feel better in the head:

43:57.5 / 12006m / 1:49.8 / 25

And finished off with the now normal 50 Jamie’s.

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Under the weather

Posted by thepeteplan on November 25, 2008

Perhaps yesterday’s session just took its toll today, perhaps I have caught a slight cold, or perhaps I just needed a day off today. My motivation was low at lunchtime for training, and I did a “just row” session all the same, and feeling better through it managed:

30mins = 8050m / 1:51.9 / 24

I left it at 30mins because I know I need to take it easy today. I then finished off with 55 Jamie’s and 2 x 10 Waddell’s. Speaking of these erg exercises, I keep getting the odd message asking what they are. I did describe them in one blog entry a week or two ago, but I will describe them again now, and add a full description to a blog page in due course soon (I’ll let you know when I do).


There are effectively erg sit ups. I call them Jamie’s as Jamie P showed me how to do them when I was in New York. Essentially all you need to do is sit on the erg, feet strapped in, legs almost straight but not locked knees. Then place your hands crossed over your chest, and lay slowly back until you’re about parallel with the floor, then sit up again, and repeat.


I call these Waddell’s as I saw Rob Waddell performing then on a Xeno Muller youtube video – I said before I would find this video and post a link – I will do that when I put a new blog page up describing them. Here what you want to do is get in a press up (push up) position with your hands on the floor about 45cm behind the erg, and toes on the erg seat. For a single rep simply slide the seat away from you until you are stretched out in a full press up position, then slide the seat back towards you to compress your legs into your body.

I am doing these two exercises most days after my erg session as a bit of additional core work to that provided by normal erg work. Your core muscles of course are a vital aspect of your erging performance, as the power generated by your legs has to pass through your core to get to the handle, and thus the flywheel. With a weak core you just end up damping out the effort put in by your legs, and lose power, and so speed.

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A leap into the unknown

Posted by thepeteplan on November 24, 2008

Ok, a leap is probably stretching it a little, perhaps just a little step into the unknown.

Last week’s session was 4 x 6mins / 5mins rest, where I managed to get all reps just under 1:40 pace. I spoke to a friend and fellow indoor rower on the phone that afternoon and he thought it was a good session, and I said I’d never quite managed to get 4 x 2k under 1:40 pace, despite trying a few times. Today’s session was scheduled as 3 x 8mins / 6min rest – 2mins per rep further than last week, and the same total duration split into 3 reps rather than 4. The pace I assigned for most people doing this session this week is 1 to 2 seconds slower than the 6min reps from last week, depending how close to the limit I thought they were last week. For me that meant 1:41.x for these reps today. I thought I would push the boundaries a little though and shoot for the same pace as last week:

8mins warm up = 2134m / 1:53.0 / 25

3 x 8mins / 6min rest:
2402m / 1:39.9 / 31
2400m / 1:40.0 / 31
2382m / 1:40.7 / 31

Totals: 24mins = 7185m / 1:40.2 / 31

That was a tough session. 2400m per rep is a long way further than 1800m a rep. I got through the first two reps at pace by convincing myself that I can do 5k straight at that pace, so I must be able to do 4800m in two reps. The third was tough though as my head felt like it was going to explode – I started off the same way with 5 hard strokes, then settling to pace. I kept it just under the 1:40 average to about 2mins, then pulled 1:41’s for most of the rest of the rep, just trying to keep mentally strong and not give in. 1:40.2 is a pretty good average for the session I think, and I’m glad I hit the 1:40 for the first two reps rather than aiming for 1:41’s from the start.

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Steady hour

Posted by thepeteplan on November 22, 2008

60mins = 16216m / 1:51.0 / 24

10min splits: 1:52.3, 1:51.7, 1:51.0, 1:50.9, 1:51.0, 1:49.1

Very dusty ergs in fitness first, so this was done on max drag of 120! Set off as a just row, eased into it over the first 20mins, then held a steady 1:51 before bringing the average down over the final 10mins to break 16.2k.

Finished off with 50 Jamie’s and 3 x 10 Waddell’s.

My fitness over these longer distance ergs is feeling very good now. This pace and duration feels quite light, and is noticably well below anaerobic threshold as my breathing stays light throughout. This week has been a very good week of training beginning with a very nearly 17k hour, a solid 4 x 6min all under 1:40 pace, and the 6:19.7 for 2k yesterday as part of an interval session. A solid hour today to finish the week off, and the training is definitely going in the right direction.

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2k, 1k, 500m

Posted by thepeteplan on November 21, 2008

This session is a great mental build up session for 2k racing. By doing a near maximal 2k as just the first part of an interval session it takes away the pressure of a standalone piece, but also gets you used to rowing fast 2ks in the gym.

2k – 6minR – 1k – 4minR – 500m

W/U = 3k / 1:54 / 24

2k = 6:19.7 / 1:34.9 / 34
[1:34.4 / 35, 1:36.2 / 33, 1:35.8 / 33, 1:33.3 / 35]

1k = 3:10.0 / 1:35.0 / 35
[1:35.1 / 35, 1:34.9 / 34]

500m = 1:34.3 / 35

It really does take the pressure off the 2k, as it’s not the be all and end all of the session. It is just a tough 2k, with then the target of beating the pace of it on the subsequent 1k. This makes is doubly tough though, as the tougher you are at getting close to max on the 2k, the harder you also make the rest of the session. As you see, I didn’t quite manage to beat the pace on the 1k – this is the mentally toughest part of the session though, as 1k is still a long way at this pace. A good session overall though.

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