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Archive for March, 2011

60mins = ‘Steady’ distance

Posted by thepeteplan on March 30, 2011

I wanted to push out the steady distance row today to longer than my “standard” 10k distance, so set 60mins on the clock. I went out a bit too hard for a ‘steady’ piece, so decided to back off the pace for a while at half way to keep the overall intensity level down a little. The total duration was the important part today, and I want to build myself up to doing this type of distance again for all of the steady rows.

60mins = 15834m / 1:53.6 / 23

10min splits:
1:51.9 / 24
1:51.9 / 24
1:52.0 / 24
1:59.0 / 20
1:56.5 / 22
1:51.0 / 24

I knew approaching half way that if I carried on at pace I would get too tempted to push the closer I got to the end to maximise the distance, hence the deliberate deduction in pace for 20mins from there.


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Always complete the session

Posted by thepeteplan on March 29, 2011

The second core session of week 5 in the 5k training group were some 1250m reps for a change. I shifted my week forward by a day this week such that I could do the second core session prior to the weights session I do once a week. I then spent about 4 hours yesterday digging, and axing, a large tree stump out of the ground. This was tiring work, and left me as musularly drained for core session 2 as I have been the past few weeks! The session felt hard from the first rep, and after the second rep I considered for a second quitting the session and starting it again tomorrow after a rest. This option was quickly dismissed and I finished the session just taking it one rep at a time.

5 x 1250m / 4min rest:
4:11.8 / 1:40.7 / 29
4:12.3 / 1:40.9 / 29
4:12.1 / 1:40.8 / 30
4:12.1 / 1:40.8 / 29
4:09.6 / 1:39.8 / 30

20:57.9 / 6250m / 1:40.6 / 29

The sessions actually got marginally more comfortable through reps 3 and 4 than it felt in reps 1 and 2. This often happens when you start a session with some level of fatigue, and is a good lesson that once you start a session you’re best to finish it, because you may actually have more left than your brain is telling you early in the session. Of course a big part of this stems from inadequate warm up. When you’re tired before a session you just want to get it done. I did 2000m of warm up today, but not very intense, and not feeling fully warmed up at the end. Had I warmed up for longer perhaps the earlier reps would have felt easier, and the thoughts of stopping the session early would never have surfaced?

Still, the session was completed, and completed pretty well, so it’s another tick on the sheet and another step towards the 5k goal in 7 weeks time.

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Week 5 = Danish time, 12 x 600m / 2r

Posted by thepeteplan on March 27, 2011

The first step change in the 5k training group training is at this point, 1/3 of the way through the 12 week plan. The first 4 weeks were primarily focusing on the 10k that began week 4. Now as we begin week 5 the core 1 slot is now taken by a Danish interval session. Those of you who have read my blog for some time will remember the general formula for the Danish interval sessions – 150% of target race distance, and roughly a 1:1 work to rest ratio. The idea for this format of session came from Tim Male, thanks Tim. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that 12 x 600m is only 7200m, rather than 7500m, but it’s close enough. Afterall, 1 more rep would make it 13, and you can’t do 13 reps.

With the step change in training focus needs to come a step change in focus to train. My target pace on paper was 1:41, but I was certain that I could do this session starting at 1:40 pace. As it was I went a little too fast in rep 1, and didn’t look back from there.

12 x 600m / 2min rest:
1:39.0 / 29
1:38.9 / 29
1:38.9 / 30
1:38.7 / 30
1:38.6 / 30
1:38.6 / 30
1:38.3 / 31
1:38.2 / 31
1:38.2 / 31
1:38.0 / 31
1:37.5 / 32
1:33.5 / 34

7200m / 23:32.5 / 1:38.0 / 30

The fast last rep was at a good pace today. Doing 600m at 2seconds under my most recent 2k race pace is moving pretty well, and a good sign that the session wasn’t completely maximal. On these Danish interval sessions I will try to keep the last rep nice and fast, as I really believe that this then becomes second nature, and when it comes to the 5k race you naturally speed up in the final stages.

I moved the session to Sunday so that I now have the choice to either do my weekly weights session tomorrow, leaving a clear day before core session 2, or to do core session 2 early on Tuesday, weights in the afternoon, and have a full 2 days of steady rowing prior to core session 3. Either way it gives more time between the weights session and a core erg session, which can only be a good thing.

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Concept2 challenge series (16m19s)

Posted by thepeteplan on March 25, 2011

Since Concept2 introduced the challenge series 3 seasons ago I have taken part in every monthly event. I like the idea behind it, providing a motivational challenge that people can complete in their own gym, garage or back bedroom, and submit their time online to compare with others around the country. Plus you get a free t-shirt if you complete all of the monthly challenges. The participation seems to have gradually increased over the 3 years it has run so far, and the standard, certainly in the 30+ category, has steadily improved. I think the series has got a little long now with 9 rounds, and so running for 9 months, but then it is only 1 session in the month.

The challenge for March is a single timed row of 16mins and 19secs, the significance being that this is the record for the boat race. In 2 months time this would be a strong event for me as my training is focusing on a 5k race in mid May. Right now it was a case of picking a realistic pacing plan in order to use it as a good middle distance training row. With the standard this season in the challenge series I am not in a medal position, so I don’t need to dedicate a rested session to the challenge. So the timing wasn’t ideal for a fast attempt, as I did a hard session yesterday, but I like to use the weekend for a steady session Saturday then a rest day Sunday to be fully fresh and ready to attack my primary core interval session on a Monday.

The plan for today’s row was to break 4700m, which is roughly 1:44 pace. To do this I planned simply to flat pace the row at 1:44 until I was in the final stages, then speed up to the line. The data was set up to record 4 split times for the row:

4:05 = 1:43.9 / 29
8:10 = 1:43.9 / 29
12:15 = 1:43.9 / 28
16:19 = 1:43.0 / 29

Total: 16:19 = 4718m / 1:43.7 / 28

Not fast for me, but at this stage of training, and fatigued from a number of hard sessions this week, I’m happy with it. I expect to be doing twice this distance at this pace within the next 2 months.

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4 x 2k / 5r – The effect of fatigue

Posted by thepeteplan on March 24, 2011

I haven’t made a blog entry since the 10k on Monday because I haven’t done any erg training worth blogging about. Instead I have given myself a good reminder about the effect fatigue from unfamiliar forms of exercise can have.

After the 10k on Monday, because the weather was so nice, I decided to go for a short run as a cool down. I changed my shirt and set off on my first run for maybe 6 months. After about half a mile I realised that this was perhaps not the wisest plan straight after a hard 10k, not when my legs aren’t accustomed to running at the moment. On Tuesday I then did my weekly weight training session. The core lifts I do each week are cleans, dead lifts and bench press. I am currently doing these with roughly 50kg, 90kg and 70kg respectively. I decided to lengthen my session by doing some additional upper body work, and then went to the swimming pool to cool down. As it was empty I did about 20 minutes of lengths, which was good.

Then it came to Wednesday and time to attempt core session 2 for the week, the 4 x 2k. The DOMS were such that I could barely lift my arms high enough for the catch position, never mind row properly, and my legs were a little dulled too. But rather than take the sensible option and put the session off to today I attempted it anyway. I made rep 1 on target, finished rep 2 a long way off target, and didn’t begin rep 3.

I have decided that I would go down as a DNF on this session this week, but when it came to training today I just couldn’t bring myself to set that example to the rest of the group. If the coach DNFs a session then how can he expect noone else to do the same? The DOMS were a little better today (but still there), so I set myself a slower target and 3 main aims – make sure I row faster than the 5 x 2k / 90 sec rest session from last week (how hard can that be? One less rep and over 3 times the rest between); do each rep faster than the last; finish the session no matter what – DNF not an option! So I revised the starting target to be just under the 1:44.5 I had achieved on the 5 x 2k / 90r session last week.

4 x 2k / 5min rest:
6:57.3 / 1:44.3 / 27
6:55.2 / 1:43.8 / 28
6:53.4 / 1:43.3 / 29
6:44.2 / 1:41.0 / 30

8k = 27:30.0 / 1:43.1 / 28

It’s always amazing how much effect fatigue from non-familar forms of exercise can have. One of the biggest effects I find of muscular fatigue is that it makes you want to move slower, ie rate lower. Once you realise that then you know that if you force yourself to rate higher you will go faster, but if you try to go faster without rating higher your muscles just won’t take it. So by gradually rating higher through the set I was able to gradually increase the pace, and put in a reasonably quick last rep just to salvage an average pace for the set that is somewhere at least in the same ball park as the original target!

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10k (end of Phase 1)

Posted by thepeteplan on March 21, 2011

Today’s 10k ends the first phase of the 5k training group, and now we move firmly on to 5k focussed work for the remainder of the training. This is the first core session of week 4 of 12, though the Farnborough 5k competition actually falls at the end of week 11.

In general the target for the 10k was 1sec (in pace) slower than the “first 4” target for the 5 x 2k session from last week. For me this meant a target for the 10k of 1:45.9, so just breaking 35:20. The plan to execute this was to sit on a low 1:46.x average split until in sight of the line, then push the pace down to meet target.

1k splits:
1:46.2 / 29
1:46.2 / 28
1:46.0 / 28
1:46.1 / 28
1:46.3 / 27
1:46.2 / 27
1:46.4 / 28
1:46.4 / 28
1:46.0 / 28
1:43.3 / 28

10k = 35:18.0 / 1:45.9 / 28

I am obviously happy to have made target with a consistently paced row. I did have thoughts of trying to push the pace down earlier in the row, but quickly decided against this. My motivation level was high, but it’s easy to get complacent early in a middle distance row like this and come to regret going too hard when you are into the second half. There was no deliberate pattern to the way the splits fell – I got the average pace down to 1:46.2 after about 500m, kept it there till 2500m in, then brought it down to 1:46.1, and then let it drift out to 1:46.2 again where it stayed until I started to push for the line to make the target. A good solid last 1k, and as evident by the stroke rate not rising just a gradual increase in power rather than a sprint finish as such.

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5min reps, equal work to rest

Posted by thepeteplan on March 18, 2011

I generally format Anaerobic Threshold (AT) training such that the work to rest ratio is roughly 1:1, though up to a maximum of 5mins between reps. I don’t train with a heart rate monitor, as most people know, so using the term AT for this type of session is really a description of the training aim for the session, rather than any sort of heart rate banding. So the aim of this type of training for me is to work at an intensity such that I pass my AT gradually earlier rep to rep, and thus train my body both to train through increasing levels of lactic acid, and to process and clear it between reps. I am not sure if this is the meaning everyone uses for AT training as I think some people might use the term to mean that they cap their heart rate at their AT point, but really this is the definition of UT training, with the upper bound being AT.

So in general, for longer reps at least, I tend to use the rule of 1:1 work to rest on these session, but with no longer than 5mins rest between reps. In my experience most well trained athletes can actually produce the same performance with up to half of this rest period, but the longer rests allow more mental regrouping, time to maintain hydration levels, and enough time to get off the erg and walk around a bit.

In the 5k training group we have around 40 athletes. I set their targets for each session in 2 weekly blocks, and use the last 2 to 3 weeks of results to determine their current capabilities. Having been doing this for some years, with athletes of various different ability levels, ages, and level of motivation and mental strength I have built a very good ability to set targets that are both realistic, and progress people’s performance. I stress that the targets are always achievable from recent results, but that the core sessions will push people pretty hard, and as such they should stick to the targets set in order to eliminate any big risk of session failure but progress well. Even after over 10 years of self coaching I still seem unable to stick to the same rules for myself though!

From the targets I set for everyone else, my targets for today’s 5 x 5min reps should have been 1:41 to 1:42 for the first 4 reps, then a faster last rep. For some reason I decided that 1:39.9 would look much better on paper, and that’s the target I would go for. I quickly came to the realisation at early as 2mins in the first rep that this would not be a realistic target, luckily early enough to back off to the original one!

5 x 5mins / 5min rest:
1486m / 1:40.9 / 29
1473m / 1:41.8 / 29
1473m / 1:41.8 / 29
1472m / 1:41.9 / 29
1488m / 1:40.8 / 30

7393m / 1:41.4 / 29

In the end, on paper at least, it looks like a well paced session (aside from rep 1 being too fast). In reality it felt like the target was too fast and I had to back off a lot to finish the session, because I had set in my mind an unrealistic target of 1501m (1:39.9) for the first 4 reps. Will I learn? Well, if I haven’t so far, probably not.

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2 x 20mins / 2min rest

Posted by thepeteplan on March 16, 2011

As with last week’s 3 x 15mins I thought this would be a very straight forward session today. Theoretically my targets should have been 1:49 and 1:48 from the 15min reps last week, but I decided this would be too easy so opted for 1:48 and 1:47 instead. Yesterday I did my weekly weights session. I have only started incorporating dead lifts into this since Boston. These really take it out of you when you’re not used to them don’t they? So with cleans and deadlifts among other stuff yesterday afternoon in the gym my body just didn’t work today. I knew that this morning when I got up, and I still knew it when I got to the gym. So why didn’t I revert to the original targets?

The first rep went by without too much trouble, although feeling generally muscularly tired and lacking a bit of energy:

Rep 1: 5556m / 1:47.9 / 26

I tried hard to hit 5555m, but it just clicked over to 5556 on finishing.

Now on a normal day rep 2 should have been easy. Like last week on the 15min reps, despite knowing that I was fatigued before the session I had thoughts of shooting for a 1:45 paced second rep as a trial for the 10k next week. As it was I started at 1:47, as the new target, did 5mins at that pace then had the overwhelming urge to stop and go to sleep! Of course I didn’t actually stop, but slowed down to 1:50’s and just decided to get through the distance.

Rep 2: 5539m / 1:48.3 / 27

I pulled the pace back a little towards the end just to make it respectable.

This is normally the point where I’d decide that the weights are affecting the rowing too much, and I’d ditch them. But I am trying hard to think of the longer term performance benefits of maintaining the weight training, even if it makes the Wednesday session each week a little rubbish till my body gets more used to it. I guess next Monday’s 10k will tell whether this was just an effect of the weights yesterday, as I am convinced that on a good day I could do a straight 40mins at this pace and rate without it being more than a strong UT1 row.

For completeness, the session totals: 11095m / 1:48.1 / 26

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5 x 2k / 90sec rest

Posted by thepeteplan on March 14, 2011

The first core session of Week 3 of the 5k training group, and again one focussed towards the 10k test next week.

5 x 2k / 90sec rest:
6:59.7 / 1:44.9 / 28
6:59.9 / 1:44.9 / 28
6:59.8 / 1:44.9 / 28
6:59.7 / 1:44.9 / 28
6:55.0 / 1:43.7 / 29

Total = 34:54.1 / 1:44.7 / 28

The 90 second rest periods felt just right for this workout. Enough time to have a quick drink and for my breathing rate to return to something approaching normal. I don’t find this type of workout much easier than a straight 10k at the same pace because although you get those short recovery periods they also break the rhythm. A tough but good workout.

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Sussex Mile race

Posted by thepeteplan on March 13, 2011

I took one day off the 5k focussed training to race in the “Sussex Mile” today at Bexhill college. As I am aiming to do a 2k every 3 weeks throughout the 5k training phase then doing shorter distance races fit this bill nicely as well. With this, and then the Basingstoke 2.5k in 4 weeks time, it will ensure I stay in some sort of reasonable shorter distance work through this training period.

My plan for the race was fairly simple. I wanted a confidence boosting row of going comfortably under 1:35.0 average pace (ie 6:20 2k pace) to prove to myself that my two “problems” on 2ks at the moment are mental, and stroke rate. So the aim was to keep the average pace under 1:35 throughout, and try to keep the rating higher than the 31 I seem to have been stuck on during the middle of 2ks recently, and which for me is too low. After a fast start I settled to 1:35’s, and kept the rating at 32/33, and from there the metres quickly ticked down. In racing terms I was quickly in a big gap in 2nd place, with first 20m ahead, and 3rd 20m behind. With a strong last 200m I brought the average pace down to a finish of 1:34.3, or a time of 5:03.6. This was just the confidence booster I needed with the average never hitting 1:35.0, keeping the rate up slightly throughout, and never feeling like I was in danger of slowing. First place was a long way ahead with Adam Scrivner pulling a 4:55.6 / 1:31.8, a little faster than my all time mile pb by around a second, so not something I was ever going to be pulling today.

Having done a lot of mile and 2k races in the past I know that, for me at least, this pace is at least on par, if not marginally quicker, with my 2k in Boston, and so this is a good position to be in a few weeks into 5k training. I felt at the end that is 391m had appeared on the monitor to round it out to 2k I could have carried on and kept the pace under 1:35, and that’s where the psychological part comes in – seeing 2k on the monitor at the start is a different matter. The regular 2ks throughout the year will address this though.

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