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Archive for November, 2010

BIRC to Boston Day 1

Posted by thepeteplan on November 29, 2010

Today marks the start of the BIRC to Boston training group. 23 people training together for 12 weeks with the same aim, a fast 2k at the end of it (at the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston, USA for some, in the gym or at home for others). We have a great mixture of people within the group from current British champions and world record holders, to multiple previous international level medalists, to some people fairly new to structured erg training.

Session 1: 12 x 500m / 1min rest

Target = 1:42.0 (approximate current 5k pace), with a gentle negative split allowed.


1:41.9 / 28
1:41.8 / 28
1:41.7 / 28
1:41.6 / 28
1:41.4 / 28
1:41.3 / 28
1:41.2 / 29
1:41.0 / 29
1:40.8 / 29
1:40.4 / 29
1:39.9 / 29
1:35.9 / 32

6k = 20:08.8 / 1:40.7 / 28

I have done this session a good bit faster in the past, but as I have hit the distance work reasonably hard over the past 3 days I didn’t want to push my luck. Also because I am planning on racing another 2k on Saturday at the Welsh indoor race I don’t want to take too much fatigue into the second half of the week. So as the target stated, I started at 1:42.0, which let’s face it generally means 1:41.9, gradually negative split the session, then pushed the final rep a bit harder.

For completeness, yesterday’s 10k on rowpro:

2k splits:
1:49.2 / 25
1:49.9 / 25
1:49.9 / 25
1:49.4 / 25
1:44.4 / 28

10k = 36:11.3 / 1:48.6 / 26


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Rowpro 60mins

Posted by thepeteplan on November 27, 2010

Back on rowpro again today, after about a 6month absense judging by the session log that rowpro handily keeps for you before yesterday. Today was another 60min row, with the aim to pace it steady at 1:52 to just go over 16k. The one “problem” with rowpro though is that you often get tempted into going faster than your plan if there is someone there to push you:

10min splits:
1:51.7 / 25
1:52.1 / 25
1:52.0 / 25
1:51.6 / 25
1:49.9 / 25
1:45.7 / 27

60mins = 16295m / 1:50.5 / 25

With another guy in the row going at closer to 1:51’s for the first 10k I let him get to about a 35m lead before I just had to try to close the lead back down. From 5k to go I kicked the pace down to 1:50’s, then gradually negative split the last 3k to really push hard into the final 5mins. It was the best I’ve felt on a longer row in a long time, 1:52’s felt a cruise for the first 11k, and I felt strong winding the pace up to the end. Depending how fresh I feel tomorrow it might be time for another go at the 2 x 20min CTC.

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Steady distance and Welsh Champs

Posted by thepeteplan on November 26, 2010

The last few days of training has looked like this:

4 x 10mins / 2min rest:
40mins = 10424m / 1:55.1 / 23

4 x 500m / 1min rest:
All at 1:39.8 / 29
This was going to be a 12 x 500m but I just felt a bit flat so decided it was better to stop before I started to stress by CV system.

I signed up for a 60mins on rowpro but had to cut it short just after 40mins due to a phone call then having to go out.
41:59.0 = 11207m / 1:52.3 / 24

Welsh Open Championships:

I sent my entry off a couple of days ago for the Welsh Open championships in Cardiff on 4th December. The target will simply be to beat the 6:23.5 time from BIRC to set a better baseline time at the beginning of the BIRC to Boston training group.

BIRC to Boston
There has been a good take up for the BIRC to Boston training group, with 22 people signed up to date. We begin our training together on Monday, and have 12 weeks to prepare for some fast 2k’s in Boston (or at home, on rowpro, or generally just have fun and get fitter together for 12 weeks).

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BIRC to Boston

Posted by thepeteplan on November 23, 2010

More on BIRC:

I was sent a link to a youtube video of the last 1400m or so of my race at BIRC. I am on machine Y8 in the white and blue vest. The video was taken as a technique contrast between me and Casey (machine Y30, behind me in the blue polo shirt). My technique didn’t look great, but more conventional than Casey’s. He beat my by 3 seconds though, and that’s all that counts. Judge for yourselves:

The CTC:

Today had been pencilled in as a session with two of the PPC athletes to attempt this month’s CTC. They both had better excuses than me for not wanting to do a hard session this close to BIRC as both won gold in their categories, but a hard session we did.

My target pre session was to break 1:45 average pace. I knew that if I was feeling good I should be able to achieve this – I’ve done a recent 10k under 1:45 pace, and my hour pb is 1:45.2 pace, so 2 x 20mins should pose no huge problems. However, my chest wasn’t feeling good yesterday or this morning, so I obviously didn’t get rid of whatever I had last weekend, but the target was set.

Rep 1: 5720m / 1:44.8 / 28

I felt good for the first 10mins. Once I started breathing harder though I just didn’t seem to have the lung capacity to take in enough oxygen, and it got to the point of being quite a maximal CV effort by the end of the first rep. I don’t normally have any CV issue at this sort of pace, so this wasn’t good.

I’d done one rep, and my previous score was slow, so I thought I may as well do the final rep. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair on the other two to stop after 1 rep. So I decided to set off on the second rep a little slower and see how I felt.

I started off aiming to sit on 1:50’s for 10mins then negative split from there. I got to 10mins in at 1:49.7 average so gave myself one more minute before starting to push on. 9mins to go, 1:49.7 average. I took it from there in 2min steps, from 9 to 7 not seeing slower than 1:49, 7 to 5 not below 1:48, 5 to 3 not slower than 1:47, then pushing a bit more over the final 3mins.

Rep 2: 5547m / 1:48.1 / 26

Totals = 11267m / 1:46.5 / 27

So I finished with a respectable score, but had to work pretty hard for it (the second rep wasn’t nearly as hard as the first though). I may have to take it pretty easy for a few days now so that whatever is up with my chest can clear up fully and I can do a proper full on attempt at this right at the end of the month.

Call me crazy, but I am serious thinking of entering the Welsh open 2k competition on 4th December to set a better baseline 2k time at the beginning of my Boston build up. I don’t think I have another good opportunity prior to Boston to race a 2k, and getting under 6:20 would set me in a much better position to push on to 6:15 by Boston.

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BIRC and beyond

Posted by thepeteplan on November 22, 2010

My BIRC race:
6:23.5, splits = 1:35.9, 1:36.5, 1:36.2, 1:34.9
No excuses, this was just about all that was there on the day. It doesn’t reflect my recent training, and so I am seriously considering going to Cardiff in 2 weeks time (if I can still enter) to put in a better time at the Welsh open.

Other Pete Plan Coaching athletes:
Shirley Godkin = Gold, W60-64H, 7:54.2
Georgina Price = Gold, W55-59L, 8:00.1
David Crawford = 4th, M40-44H, 6:23.0
Steve Smith = 10th, M45-49H, 6:37.8 (pb)
Paul Clucas = 8th, M40-44H, 6:29.3
Michael Wright = 12th, 40-44L, 7:09.9

Overall some great results there. Shirley successfully defended her BIRC title. Georgina with a BIRC gold despite losing her seat cushion prior to the race. David with another solid row, though like me not happy with the time. Steve a great pb and I think the row of the people I coach. Paul a solid race to just beat Warren Matthews. Michael’s race just looks like a painful last 300m from the stroke graph, and it hurts me to look at it – he will beat 7mins very soon though, perhaps the next time he is in the country we’ll have to get together!

Training now:
The BIRC to Boston training group begins 1 week from today. I have a number of people signed up for the group so if anyone else is interested you need to let me know in the next couple of days before we begin. My current plan is that I will go and race in Boston, and will train hard for that race over the next three months with this training group to maximise my performance.

BIRC weekend:
The BIRC weekend was great. It was the first time I’d stayed over in Birmingham, and this was a great decision. Dinner the night before with Doug, Shirley, Casey and Steve, and also joined by Michael and Huw for drinks. Then lots of old and new friends there on the day, but also lots of people I didn’t get the chance to meet or speak to unfortunately. It was good to meet Steve Backley (former olympic javelin thrower) and his friends, as Steve has been following some of the Pete Plan sessions in his training for BIRC (he was 2 seconds slower than me luckily, which I think was a pb for him). Also good to meet Pam of Rowpro fame for the first time, having exchanged many emails over the years. It was also great for the Pete Plan to get a mention in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday in the BIRC article! (If I find this online I will post a link, let me know if you do.)

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Training complete, race time!

Posted by thepeteplan on November 19, 2010

The final week of training is complete, now it’s time to rest for a day before the big race on Sunday. Today was the final session, a simple 4 x 500m / 2min rest at race targets throughout. This felt good, and I am happy with my race plan now.

The final hard session was on Wednesday, and went as follows:

12 x 250m / 2min rest:

Total = 8:48.5 / 1:28.0 / 38

This was the last in the progression of the sprint intervals, and hopefully this will serve three purposes – it will enable me to rate a little higher throughout the 2k, it will make my 2k cruising pace feel slow enough to be sustainable, and it will have trained into me a good sprint finish to end the race. I am physically on form now for a strong sprint at the end, so if I can mentally push myself to commit to that sprint it should be worth between 2 and 4 seconds off my final 2k time on Sunday.

There are a number of fast people in my race, so it’s all about the time for me. I have a time I would be content with, a time I would be happy with, and a time I would be extremely happy with – I will be shooting for the middle one and let the sprint finish dictate if I can make the final one.

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Final week, then “BIRC to Boston”

Posted by thepeteplan on November 14, 2010

Entering the final week of preparation for the British Indoor Rowing Championships a week from today, and I have had a badly timed cold for the last 2 days. I put off today’s training session to late afternoon, by which time I felt good enough to go for it. This was aimed as being slightly on the moderate side of hard. 1250m reps at the sort of pace I might normally do 1500m+ reps. Because of the cold I went on the slow side even of that, but with the option to speed up on the final rep if I felt good. I felt good.

4 x 1250m / 5min rest:
4:14.7 / 1:41.8 / 28
4:14.1 / 1:41.6 / 30
4:13.8 / 1:41.5 / 30
4:04.1 / 1:37.6 / 31

16:46.7 / 1:40.6 / 29 = 5000m

A session like this is a lot of fun when you’re rowing a little within yourself up to the final rep, because you’re well warmed up and can then go a lot faster on the final rep for seemingly no extra effort. Feeling good for the final few session this week now.

BIRC to Boston:

Following BIRC I am then running a training group called “BIRC to Boston”. A 3 month programme of coached training leading up to the World Indoor Rowing Championships in February 2011, held in Boston USA. Being part of the programme is not dependent on taking part in either competition, it is just a convenient time frame and focus for the training. The plan is beginning 1 week after BIRC (November 28th), and running up to the Crash B’s on 20th February 2011. If you might be interested in taking part in this coached training group send me an email to and I can give you more details.

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Race pace and faster

Posted by thepeteplan on November 12, 2010

I needed a confidence boosting session at my planned 2k pace for the British Championships next weekend, but not an overly long session as I’ve been suffering with a bit of a cold over the past few days. I picked 1200m as a good distance as it gives you the feel of being well into the second half of the race, but stops you before too much fatigue sets in. The plan for the 1200m piece was to row it just how I want to row the first 1200m of the 2k on 21st Nov.

1200m = 3:48.8 / 1:35.3 / 31
200m splits:
1:34.7, 1:35.5, 1:35.5, 1:35.5, 1:35.7, 1:34.7

Other than the slight push in the last 200m here this is just where I would like to be at this stage in the 2k. The rate is on the low end of where I’d like to be, but at least that gives me somewhere to go in the second half. As long as I am at, or under, 1:36.0 average pace will 500m to go I can break 6:20 if the mind is willing. Physically I have no doubt at all (at least now I don’t) that I am in shape to row under 6:20, so it is all about putting myself at the point where I’m close enough to see the finish being both close enough to pace to make it, but far enough from pace not to be pushing too hard yet. Therefore 1:35.5 at half way would be about perfect, where I can either maintain pace in the 3rd 500m, lose a little if needed, or ideally gain a couple of tenths.

I then finished the session off with some short HIT reps again to try to get the rate up ready for that final push:

8 x 100m / 1min rest = 2:09.4 / 1:20.8 / 47

There was even a rep at 1:19.5 in the middle there. A fairly short HIT session, but enough to show me that my legs were still in good shape with 800m to go.

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Good days, bad days

Posted by thepeteplan on November 8, 2010

I generally find in the final weeks approaching a 2k, where speed work is the primary aspect of my training, that I have days where it feels good, and days where it feels bad. On the good days my 2k target feels fully achieveable, on the bad days I wonder if I can even get within 5 seconds of target. As the speed work progesses the good days tend to get more frequent, partly because the overall volume reduces and along with in the background fatigue levels. Then with the right mix in the final week I can generally make sure that race day will be a good day.

Today’s sprint session was in contrast to the 2k paced session on Saturday. That was a bad day where the pace felt hard, today was a good day. On 17th October I did the first of my sprint session with a 25 x 100m session averaging 1:24.3. The aim for today was to reduce the reps slightly to 20, bit hit the session hard from the start and aim for a faster pace.

20 x 100m / 1min rest:
2000m = 5:25.8 / 1:21.4 / 44

A significant increase in pace over the session 3 weeks ago, and it felt good. The idea behind this session in particular is that as I fatigue over the session I learn to adapt my technique and still pull the very fast splits for rep after rep. After a while it becomes second nature. When it comes to 21st November I will be able to flick the “sprint switch” with 200m to go and be able to take the pace down significantly, no matter how tired I feel, or how the first 1800m goes. Of course the real challenge is convincing yourself mentally that you want to hit that turbo boost at that point in the race, but that’s another matter…

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A balancing act

Posted by thepeteplan on November 6, 2010

With the British Indoor Rowing championships now 15 days away, but feeling somewhat rundown and lacking energy at the moment, it is a balancing act between recovering and training. I made the choice to do a race pace session this morning, but to back off slightly from the last time I did this session to make it right on current race plan, rather than optimistic race plan.

The session was 1k, 750m, 500m, 500m each with 4mins rest between. The plan was to go a little under 1:36 pace for the 1k (so 6:23 for 2k), a bit faster on the 750m (around 6:22 pace for 2k), and negative split the 500s aiming for a session average to just break 1:35 (so 6:19 for 2k).

1k = 3:11.6 / 1:35.8 / 33
750m = 2:23.1 / 1:35.4 / 32
500m = 1:34.4 / 34
500m = 1:33.0 / 34

2750m = 8:42.1 / 1:34.9 / 33

I would like to say that felt easy, but it didn’t. I know I am a little run down at the moment though, and just didn’t feel like I had top gear there at all. The line up in the race is looking strong just from the people I know of, so to equal my 5th place finish from last year is going to take the best performance I am currently capable of on a good day I think. It is all about the time though. Having done a couple of mid 6:20’s in the gym over the past month, and a 6:17 paced mile (1:34.3) I know I am in shape to go under 6:20 on a good day. However, if it’s not a good day I’m only in perhaps 6:24-6:25 shape, so going out too fast would be suicidal.

As I have been telling a number of people (coached by me and not) over the past couple of week, to make your target time for the 2k you only have to get your average pace there by the last stroke. So to finish on a 1:34.9 average pace I don’t need to hold 1:35’s from start to finish, and I certainly don’t want to pull anything under 1:35’s with the help of adrenelin at the start (aside from the first 6 or 7 strokes). A hard 2k always feels much better when you speed up inside the last 500m rather than hanging on. The pain just isn’t the same if you’re going faster at the end. So I need to aim to get to half way within touching distance of 1:35.0 pace, but with the least effort possible.

Two weeks of training left means plenty of time to recover and be in good shape by race day, and also around 12 training sessions to go, of which perhaps 4 will be hard intervals, and a couple more moderately hard, but with lots of recovery work in there too.

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