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The Pete Plan blog

Archive for August, 2010

Height, weight and stroke rate

Posted by thepeteplan on August 30, 2010

Yesterday’s training session was a lesson in the difference height and weight can make to effective and efficient stroke rates. I tried to recreate an 8 x 500m session a fellow athlete had done the day before, both in terms of pace and stroke rate. The reason for trying to replicate the workout is because the report of the workout sparked a discussion on the use of this particular workout (with 2min rests between the work reps) as a 2k predictor session. One workout that is often described as a 2k predictor workout (in that the pace you can achieve on it is very similar to the pace you will achieve on a 2k test) is 6 x 500m with 1min rest between reps. My argument was that from experience that workout is actually a little faster than 2k pace, and 8 x 500m / 2min rest will be a little faster still. I also suggested that the particular negative split pattern employed on this workout was different to following the workout at a continuous split throughout – essentially that doing the first 2 reps fairly slow meant that they were effectively as extension of the warm up.

As it turned out I couldn’t replicate the full workout:

8 x 500m / 2minR:
1:36.4 / 30 (target 1:36.6 / 30)
1:35.5 / 31 (target 1:35.5 / 31)
1:34.4 / 31 (target 1:34.4 / 31)
1:33.5 / 31 (target 1:33.5 / 31)
1:33.3 / 31 (target 1:33.3 / 31)
1:32.5 / 32 (target 1:32.5 / 32)
280m @ 1:32.1 / 33 (target 1:32.1 / 33)
DNS (target 1:28.5 / 35)

The mistake I made was thinking I could match the rate as well as the pace, despite it being below my 2k rate up to the final 2 reps. And of course attempting the workout the day after a hard 30r20 was not overly wise. The athlete I was trying to replicate has 7inches in height, and about 30kg in weight over me. With that advantage you will be able to rate relatively lower on this type of workout (or any workout really) than someone of similar absolute erg times. I got to half way through rep 7 and aside from rating up considerably at that point I could no longer maintain pace. Even the thought of attempting a 1:28.5 final rep at that point was enough to make me stop completely. Ok, so in reality I paddled to the end of rep 7, began rep 8 aiming for the 1:28.5 anyway and got about 200m in before stopping again, paddled to the end and again attempting the 1:28.5 getting around 250m in this time. The lesson at the end here is two fold – always complete the session to the best of your abilities, and if you do actually stop completely it’s probably best to just leave it for another day and not start and stop 2 more times!

So it was an interesting exercise. The paces on paper do not look overly tough, even the 1:28.5 at the end. But coupled with the stroke rates being fairly low as the pace rises through the middle of the set it just got to the point of being impossible for me to complete on the day.

Today (Monday)’s training was a steady 10k at 1:52.4 / 24, followed by a few lengths of the swimming pool.


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How do you “man up” in 600 strokes?

Posted by thepeteplan on August 28, 2010

You row a hard 30r20. (Or 30 minutes at 20 strokes per minute for those who don’t like short hand.)

Not a training session I do often, and one that really favours taller athletes as it’s all about stroke length and power when the number of strokes you can do is capped. But when it’s all about stroking power all you have to think about it pulling hard on the handle every 3 seconds, nothing more (well, pushing hard with your legs really, you know the deal).

So 30mins set on the clock, exactly 600 strokes in which to cover the greatest distance possible. It’s one of those sessions where you have a maximum pace you can go at, so if you start too slow there is just no catching up. But also if you start too fast there is no trading rate for pace to be done, and it can be a long and painful decline in pace to the end. It nearly went that way…

5min splits:
1:47.4 / 20
1:48.3 / 20
1:48.2 / 20
1:49.4 / 20
1:48.6 / 20
1:47.9 / 20

30mins = 8305m / 1:48.3 / 20

Always a row where you get to half way and could happily stop and call it a solid training session, but you can’t really every call 15mins a training session can you? I may have slowed a little there to get through the tough patch, but for the first 30r20 for some months I’m pretty happy with the overall effort and pace. Previous experience has taught me that rowing this session regularly I can get a fair bit faster at it, but that is doesn’t translate well to an improvement at free rate distance, or 2k, and therefore it’s not something I plan to do.

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More running

Posted by thepeteplan on August 27, 2010

I was short of time for a training session today, so decided to get my weekend run out of the way early. Rather than going for a 10km run again I decided to go for 5k but at a faster pace. So with the runs last week starting at 12.7km/h, including the 10km, I picked a starting pace today of 13.3km/h (this being 4m30 per km). I increased speed gradually up to the 5km point (up to 14.3km/h), then slowed back to 12.5km/h up to 6km, then a cool down walk up to 30mins.

This is the run that shows me how much the small amount of running training I have done has improved my running. Not because it was particularly fast (though recall I started with 1km at 12km/h 6 weeks ago), but because it wasn’t hard, and there is no leg fatigue following the run.

Away from training:

As the title of this blog suggests, the premise behind my blogging is to describe how I train within the general constraints of training during my lunchhour at work. On a few blog entries over the past few weeks I have mentioned being short of time for a particular session, and so doing a shorter session to make the training efficient. The reason for these interuptions to training time, or occasionally motivation for training, is not being over-worked. My company is going through a big restructuring exercise currently, which means potential redundancies at the beginning of November. Rather than wait to see what happens at that point I have been looking at all of my career options, both within my company, within other companies within my industry, and any other possibilities. So time (and mental resource) has been taken up with CV work, job applications, and the odd interview. Ideally I am trying to give myself options before the decision is made for me in November.

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Speed work begins

Posted by thepeteplan on August 26, 2010

It’s time for speed work to begin. The British Indoor Rowing champs is now within 3 months, so it is about time to start to remind my legs what faster rowing feels like.

16 x 250m / 90sec rest:
1:32.0 / 33
1:31.8 / 34
1:31.4 / 34
1:31.2 / 34
1:31.2 / 34
1:31.2 / 34
1:31.0 / 34
1:30.6 / 34
1:29.8 / 36
1:29.8 / 36
1:29.8 / 36
1:29.6 / 36
1:29.4 / 36
1:29.2 / 36
1:29.2 / 36
1:25.4 / 39

4k = 12:01.5 / 1:30.1 / 35

Obviously a conservative starting pace judging by the sub 1:30 second 8, and the final rep at 1:25.4. These are the sort of sessions I need to begin with, then increasing the rep length at this sort of pace, in order to get my 2k pace back down again. An enjoyable session that I can definitely attack harder next time.

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An (unsteady) hour

Posted by thepeteplan on August 25, 2010

It was time to get a steady hour in on the erg after work today, but I couldn’t really face the thought of an easy intensity hour to did it with a twist. Here is what the overall hour looks like on paper:

60mins = 16001m / 1:52.4 / 24
10min splits:
1:54.6 / 23
1:53.5 / 24
1:52.9 / 24
1:52.2 / 24
1:51.6 / 25
1:49.9 / 25

In reality the way it was paced was with a base pace of 1:55 with a number of hard strokes at each 5 minute point. At 5mins in I did 10 hard strokes (nominally at 1:45 pace), then at 10mins 15 hard strokes, 15mins was 20 hard strokes, and so on up to 60 hard strokes at 55mins in. This was a good way to pass the time quickly, and it didn’t feel hard at any point.

It is now a long weekend off work, so hopefully I can catch up on some sleep and get in 5 good sessions in the 5 days off work.

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Sprint training (and yoga)

Posted by thepeteplan on August 24, 2010

Following the 10k run on Sunday I had a pain in my calf that was a little worrying, and is one of the reasons why for large parts of the year my training consists of erg sessions only. In nearly 10 years of consistent erg training I don’t remember ever having an injury caused by the erg training. Impact activities just carry more risk, even just running on a treadmill. However, I enjoy the variety in my training, and I’m not a professional athlete, so I have no plans to go back to just erg training.

Due to the calf pain I didn’t go to the gym on Monday lunchtime. As I was already booked to go to a yoga class at the gym in the evening I still attended that though. 90mins of Yoga with the guru Gregory and what do you know, a completely cured calf! 24 hours later, and still no issue with it at all, so I don’t know what the injury was yesterday. I’ve only ever been to bikram Yoga before, not this more authentic variety. Bikram yoga is run in a hot studio, something like 37C (100F), and is a real sweat fest of a training activity. This “Hatha” yoga by contrast was very relaxing, and something I can see myself doing again (though 90mins seems like a long time for something that doesn’t seem like hard work).

Back to today – time was short so I went for a nice short sprinty session:

10 x 30sec / 15sec rest:
5mins = 1605m / 1:33.4 / 35spm

A 15second rest period is not a long time, and I think I missed the start on 3/4 of the reps, which meant I was chasing the average pace throughout. A good CV pushing session anyway, though realistically this is about 1mile and not as fast as my 1mile pb pace, but the short rest periods actually make it harder I believe as I had to accelerate from a stop 10 times during the session.

I then finished off with a single 30sec blast after a 500m paddle:

30sec = 189m / 1:19.3 / 50

With all rowing done at 129 drag.

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Running: Week 5 = 10km

Posted by thepeteplan on August 22, 2010

It is now the end of the 5th week since I started incorporating some running into my erg training routine. Each week I have ended with a “long” run at the weekend moving through 6.44km, 7.25km, 9km and finally to 10km at the end of week 4. The time for that first 10km last weekend was 47:49, so the aim today was simply to be a little faster. As I stated in my last blog entry, I have been starting my short runs this week at 12.7km/h, so that was to be the starting speed for the 10k today too. A very gradual speed up over the distance saw me finish today in:

10km run = 46:26

So an improvement of 1min23 from last Sunday’s time. My legs still aren’t at all used to this duration of running yet. The pace isn’t too hard, but the fatigue just really sets in during the last 4km or so, which is why I don’t want to push the pace too much yet. Hopefully the addition of the running is having a positive effect on my overall fitness level, time will tell.

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Rowing and running

Posted by thepeteplan on August 20, 2010

Since the 3 x 1k CTC attempt on Monday it has been a busy week, and as such I have just done mixed rowing and running sessions from Tuesday through to Friday (with Wednesday as a rest day).

Tues: 20min erg (1:58.1 / 19) + 20min run (4.45km)

Thur: 6k erg (1:52.0 / 24) + 2.5k run

Fri: 10k erg + 2k run, details below

For today’s 10k I was rowing with a colleague from work at lunchtime. He was aiming for a 10k pb, and breaking 41mins for the first time (so sub 2:03 pace). In order to give him a little incentive, and both of us a good hard workout, I gave him a 5min headstart then aimed to close to gap right at the end. I pushed the row at 1:46 / 26 for the first 6k, then had to back off slightly to 1:47’s for the next 3k before a final 1k at 1:43.4 for a final time of 35:27.1 (1:46.3 / 26). A solid enough time at that stroke rate, and as a bonus I pushed my colleague to a big personal best time, and also beat him to the finish by 4 seconds (he finished in 40:31).

The running continues to go well. For the first month leading up to the 10k I did last weekend my short runs at the end of erg sessions started at 1km, and pushed up to 2km in week 4. Initially these runs all began at 12km/h, and didn’t go over 12.5km/h. In week 4 they started at 12.3km/h, and pushed up to 13km/h. This week so far each run has begun at 12.7km/h, and yesterday’s run (2.5k) finished at 15.3km/h. This is all looking good for a much faster 10k run this weekend, where my aim will be to start at 12.7 and see how it goes from there. With a longer term aim of a sub 40 for 10k on the treadmill (15km/h) I might start pushing one post erg run each week to this pace and building up from a short (1km) run to get used to the pace. I may also decide to alternate weekend between the steady 10k run, and an intervals session at 15km/h.

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CTC – still not quite fast enough!

Posted by thepeteplan on August 16, 2010

Another week begins, and time for another attempt at this month’s cross team challenge. It’s a tough challenge this month, close to 2k pace but also shorter rest than most people are accustomed to for reps in this speed range. Most training plans prescribe between 1:1 and 1:2 work to rest for paces around 2k, whereas this session is closer to 2:1 for most people. Why does this make it such a tough session? Because the rest between reps is such that if you go even a little bit too fast for the first 2 reps you can lose ground quickly in the final rep. Here’s how it went today:

3 x 1k / 2r:
3:13.8 / 1:36.9 / 33
3:13.7 / 1:36.8 / 33
3:10.3 / 1:35.1 / 33

3k = 9:37.7 / 1:36.2 / 33

The average pace from my previous attempt was 1:36.9, hence the pace for the first 2 reps this time. What I did differently today was to deliberately keep the rate a little higher, which seemed to work well. Going into the final repĀ I was confident it would be the fastest, and so I would be setting a faster time. It was then a question of how much faster I could go on the final rep, and so which of my close rivals each month I could pass on the leader board. The last rep felt good. I started off with 5 hard strokes, settled down to 1:37’s, then from 600m out gradually brought the pace down with a final 200m sprint. I finished so strongly that I’m sure there is more left if I do this again next week. I beat my usual two close rivals, but managed to exactly tie another who is a new rival this month having made big technical improvements recently. This is the bad part about being an erg coach as well as competitor as we had done some technique work together when we did a 10k test together a few weeks ago. When we got together for the 60min test on Friday it was obvious he had worked hard on the technical aspects we’d discussed then, so it’s my own fault if he now manages to beat me this month!

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10km run

Posted by thepeteplan on August 14, 2010

It has taken a month to build up to it, but today I did my first full 10km run. I know it’s still a short run compared to a lot of you, and not at all fast, but then I’m really not a runner. Now that I’ve worked up to the full 10k without pushing the pace this forms my baseline to work from. The time at the end of the 10k today was 47mins 49seconds. It probably wasn’t ideal doing this the day after a hard hour on the rowing machine, but I really didn’t fancy doing a slow row session today so this seemed like the best option.

So the plan with the running is to continue with the short (2km or so) runs after each rowing session, and a longer run one day at the weekend (generally 10km, and pushing the pace slightly faster each time from this one). Hopefully by the gradual build up I have done over the past month it isn’t affecting the (priority) erg training at all, but also will have a positive effect when I stop running for 7 days before any races.

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