Lunch hour

The Pete Plan blog

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).

3 Responses to “Emulate the top lightweight?”

  1. Tim said

    Many lightweights don’t go over at such a high rate and post really good scores. Of the Danes, there’s Eskild Ebbessen, Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist, all who crack close to the 6:05 mark.

    Bar Eskild, none of them have the lactic capacity of Hendriksen, who can take 36 m/mol. Most humans hit the limit around 15 m/mol.

  2. Jamie Pfeffer said

    Join the Light side of the Force, Peter. If you decide to go for it as a lightweight, you can be the World Champion. I have no doubt. None.

  3. Jamie Pfeffer said

    Pete, can you tell what damper setting he’s using?

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