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Archive for April, 2011

Challenge series, Farnborough 5k, Training groups

Posted by thepeteplan on April 29, 2011

Challenge series:

It is the penultimate month of the C2 challenge series, and with the month almost over today was the last day I had available to put in a respectable score for this month’s challenge.

6344m = 21:57.2 / 1:43.8 / 28

1000m = 1:44.4 / 28
2000m = 1:44.5 / 28
3000m = 1:44.4 / 28
4000m = 1:44.3 / 28
5000m = 1:44.0 / 28
6000m = 1:43.3 / 28
6344m = 1:37.8 / 31

A slightly strange distance, but being close to a third longer than a 5k a good training distance to do. Speaking of the 5k…

Farnborough 5k competition – Saturday 14th May:

The closing date for entries for the 5k competition is officially Monday 2nd May, but tomorrow is the last day that post will be delivered to me before then. Therefore I plan to sit down and draft out the timetable tomorrow. If you haven’t sent your form off and still want to enter send me an email today and I will fit you in!

Training groups:

As regular blog readers will know I have run two training groups over the past 6 months. The first ran for 12 weeks between BIRC and the Crash Bs and focussed on the 2k race at Crash Bs. The second has run for the period from Boston up to the Farnborough 5k competition in 2 weeks time. Both training groups have provided a great training atmosphere for the athletes that have taken part, and we’ve produced a lot of pbs in each group. Due to the success of these group I am going to run another group following the 5k competition, but running slightly differently as there are no races to target in the following period. Instead the next training group will run in two blocks as follows:

  1. An 8 week “Pete Plan” training group running from Mon 23rd May to Sun 17th July.
  2. Two 8 week streams to choose between for the following period from Mon 18th July to Sun 11th Sep.

The choice of stream to follow after the initial 8 weeks will be either a sprint focussed training group aiming towards the 1k and 500m distances, or a long distance training group aiming towards the 60min and Half Marathon distances. There are a few points to note:

  • There will be a one off cost of £40 to take part in each 8 week coached training group.
  • There is no obligation to either do the PP group prior to the sprint or distance groups, or to follow on to either stream following the PP group.
  • Email me at to register your interest in taking part and I will send out further details in due course.

For these training groups there are no minimum or maximum time commitments to training. The way the training groups are formatted there will generally be 3 core sessions each week, and this will be the focussed sessions with specific targets and progression. Ideally you will do all 3 sessions every week, but some weeks due to other commitments, being non-professional athletes, people won’t manage to complete all of the core sessions. This is no issue. On top of those 3 core sessions it is then up to the individual how much steady distance work, cross training, weight training, or any other physical activity they do. I will give guidance and suggestions on this for those people who want it, but otherwise leave it up to the individuals. As always, any questions feel free to email me and ask.


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Week 9 of 12 = 10 x 600m / 1min rest

Posted by thepeteplan on April 25, 2011

I seem to have missed blogging the past couple of sessions again, so a quick recap on recent sessions before I move on to today’s.

Wednesday 20th:

10k = 38:55.3 / 1:56.7 / 21

Thursday 21st:

5 x 1250m / 4min rest:
4:11.2 / 1:40.4 / 30
4:11.3 / 1:40.5 / 30
4:11.1 / 1:40.4 / 30
4:11.2 / 1:40.4 / 30
4:08.1 / 1:39.2 / 30

20:52.8 / 6250m / 1:40.2 / 30

Friday 22nd:

The third core session of last week was scheduled as a fixed target, sub maximal 2k. It is good to keep doing these regular 2ks as a standalone session, but this one was perhaps targetted a little slow really.

2k = 6:34.8 / 1:38.7 / 30

Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th = Rest

Monday 25th:

We are now beginning week 9 of 12 of the 5k training group. For the first core session each week we are now making another change from the Danish format of the past few weeks to the standard Pete Plan 5k intervals. This means a step down in the rest periods from roughly 1:1 work to rest to a standard 1min rest across all sessions, and a total session distance of 6k rather than the 7.2 to 7.5k of the Danish intervals we have been doing. So the first session in this new progression is 10 x 600m / 1min rest, and therefore the same length reps as last week but with half the rest between them.

Target for this session was a starting pace roughly 2seconds slower than the best average from the Danish version of the session, with the option to speed up a little in the second half if this felt too slow.

10 x 600m / 1min rest:
1:39.8 / 30
1:39.7 / 30
1:39.9 / 30
1:39.8 / 30
1:39.5 / 30
1:39.4 / 30
1:39.2 / 30
1:38.9 / 30
1:38.7 / 30
1:35.1 / 32

6000m = 19:48.4 / 1:39.0 / 30

It took me a little while to get into the session today. It didn’t seem to click till rep 5, and from there I felt in a good rhythm. It’s important to think of these sessions as a 6k with short rest periods, rather than as 600m reps. The temptation is to try to do them too fast, rather than row them as a hard middle distance piece. As it’s a hard middle distance piece we are now in the final stages of preparation for, that is what we are emulating.

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Farnborough 5k – 4 weeks to go

Posted by thepeteplan on April 20, 2011

With less than 4 weeks left to the Farnborough 5k race there is not long left to get you entry in. Forms have to be received by Monday 2nd May, which as that is a bank holiday (I didn’t realise this at the time) effectively your form will need to be in the mail next Tuesday if it’s going to get to me in time. See the “Farnborough 5k” tab at the top for the entry form and details. There is also a mirror event taking place on rowpro – details of this are also above.

The race line ups are going to be good. We have a couple of men with sub 16min pbs entered, and quite a number more under 17mins. On the women’s side there are a few with sub 19min pbs. So we’re set up for some great head to head races.

Last time I posted I was actively avoiding doing the 4 x 2k session. Here is now that went when I finally sat on the erg to do it:

For some reason I seemed to have developed a mental block on this session. My target in week 1 looked straight forward on paper and I failed to hit the target in the final rep. At the second attempt in week 4 I was fatigued going into the session and deliberately paced it slow. I made my first attempt at this session for week 7 on Thursday, and didn’t even get through 300m of the first rep. On Friday I did a hard 10k in preference to a proper attempt. Today was the last possible day to do the session. Still the target on paper is straight forward, and still I had a mental block on actually pacing it flat at the target. I needed to break this cycle, so I devised a pacing plan to get through it.

Target = 1:42.5 (just break 6:50 on each rep)
Plan = Negative split each rep from 1:45
Reasoning = I have just done a straight 10k at 1:45 pace (1:45.6, close enough), so there is no way I can’t start the reps at this pace even if I get tired. I have also done 8 x 900m reps sub 1:40, so I can do the last 900m at 1:40 in each rep to hit the overall target. So worst case 1:45 first half, sub 1:40 second half.

4 x 2k / 5min rest:
6:49.8 / 1:42.4 / 28
6:49.7 / 1:42.4 / 28
6:49.7 / 1:42.4 / 28
6:47.5 / 1:41.8 / 29

8k = 27:16.6 / 1:42.2 / 28

So job done with a far from optimal pacing strategy. Pretty much it was 1:44 first half, 1:41 second half of each rep. I need to do this session when I’m fresh sometime to get my confidence back on it, because I really do think I should be doing this a couple of seconds quicker pace throughout.

I then went into the first core session for this week quite fatigued, and set out just a little too fast, having to readjust the target through the session to ensure finishing. Completed solidly though with all reps nicely under 5k target pace:

12 x 600m / 2min rest:
1:38.0 / 31
1:38.0 / 31
1:37.8 / 31
1:37.9 / 31
1:39.8 / 29
1:39.3 / 30
1:39.4 / 30
1:39.0 / 30
1:38.9 / 30
1:38.4 / 31
1:37.9 / 31
1:36.7 / 32

23:37.2 / 7200m / 1:38.4 / 30

There is an interesting direction that these sessions now take in the final run up to the 5k race, which will be seen next week onwards.

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10k on rowpro

Posted by thepeteplan on April 15, 2011

It has been a tough 7 days of training. Following the Basingstoke 2.5k race on Saturday I then joined some training group mates on rowpro on Sunday for our first core session of the week with the 900m reps. I then had an enforced rest day on Monday, generally required after 2 hard days training like that if I don’t want to get ill. Tuesday was then the 5k and a solid pace for this point in the training, and although this felt good the cumulative effect left me feeling very flat. Wednesday I went to the gym and did a slow and very steady hour:

60mins = 15273m / 1:57.8 / 22

Yesterday I made an attempt at the third and final core session of the week, the 4 x 2k. I think it was one of the earliest quit sessions I can ever remember. I warmed up – not enough, which is usually a sign that I really don’t want to do the session when I don’t even have the energy to warm up sufficiently. I then didn’t even get as far as 300m into rep 1. A bad day, but a good decision to just stop at that point rather than have a downhill battle.

I was neither mentally or physically up a second attempt at the 4 x 2k today, so instead took a look on rowpro for a middle distance piece to do. A 10k with a large crowd looked like a good option. I planned to go out hard for the first 2k then drop to a cruise pace from there. Although I did lower the pace, it never really got as slow as a cruise, and ended up as a pretty good middle distance row:

1k splits:

1:45.0 / 28
1:45.4 / 27
1:45.8 / 27
1:46.0 / 27
1:46.3 / 26
1:46.3 / 26
1:46.4 / 26
1:47.0 / 26
1:46.2 / 27
1:41.4 / 29

10k = 35:11.3 / 1:45.6 / 27

This is actually nearly 7 seconds quicker than the “end of phase 1” 10k test I did just 3 weeks ago, and wasn’t flat out (aside from perhaps the last few hundred metres). This is a good sign that my fitness levels are still going in the right direction.

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5000m – half way to the Farnborough 5k race

Posted by thepeteplan on April 12, 2011

We finished the first week of the 5k training group by doing a baseline 5k trial. I managed a 17:13.0 by rowing 1:44 pace for the first 3k then speeding up. Since then we have done 5 weeks of training, and have 5 weeks left to the Farnborough 5k race. So the 5k this week marks the half way point on that training journey. This is really Friday’s session, but as Andy Baines was doing this on rowpro today I decided to join him.

My plan was to go for 1sec quicker than the last 5k, and so pacing the first 3k just under 1:43 pace with a minimum target of breaking 17:10. Mentally I rowed the whole 5k relating it to the 900m reps I had done on Saturday. So for the first 900m I’d done rep 1 at 1:39.9 on Saturday, and today was rowing 1:42.9. 3seconds slower pace is no issue whatever your head might tell you about having another 4100m to go afterwards. 4100m to 3200m to go and it’s rep 2. I’d done 8 of these on Saturday all under 1:40 pace, and I’m still looking to sit on 1:42.9. Again this can’t physically be an issue going 3sec slower pace, even without a rest between. 3200m to 2300m and the same deal between body and mind – we’re still rowing around 3sec slower pace, we’re still only on rep 3 and we did 8 of these on Saturday at faster pace. Now getting into the mentally easier stages approaching 2k to go, but again take another 900m rep down to 1400m. And again down to 500m to go…

5k in 500m splits:
1:42.9 / 30
1:42.9 / 29
1:42.7 / 29
1:42.6 / 29
1:42.8 / 29
1:42.6 / 29
1:42.7 / 28
1:42.7 / 29
1:42.0 / 28
1:37.4 / 31

5k = 17:01.2 / 1:42.1 / 29

I decided approaching 500m to go that I wasn’t quite close enough to be able to push for a sub 17, but then approaching 200m to go the projected time was sitting on 17:03 so I had to push and try for it. I left it a bit late to get there, but finished strongly.

No clear cut 3k / 2k split as I had intended, but rather than try to be overly strict on the first 3k I just went with a target of keeping each 500m split under 1:43, but no faster than 1:42.5. This put me enough ahead of where I needed to be that there was no need to increase pace till 1k to go. With another 5 weeks of training to go before race day I’m happy with the point this points me.

Interval training is as much about mental preparation as it is physical, training in general is really. I like to be able to relate any hard erg session to a recent session in this way, knowing that the target I have set myself is realistic because of something else I’ve done. By making small progressive gains with the training this is always possible, and the trick simply comes in being able to read the training in the right way to set the right target for the next row.

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8 x 900m – Danish Mk3

Posted by thepeteplan on April 10, 2011

The third session in the Danish progression, and the longest reps we will do of this type, is an 8 x 900m session to begin week 7 of 12. Really this session should be tomorrow, especially having raced yesterday, but two of my training group were doing this session together on rowpro this evening so I decided to do it with company.

Rowpro isn’t ideal for online interval training. Each rep has to be set up as an individual row, so one person in the session has to use a stop watch to time the rest periods. Also this means that each rep has a “race” start, with timing being done by rowpro, making each rep marginally slower than the same on a stand-alone erg. However, this effect is made up for by the added motivation of rowing along with other people going through the same extreme effort levels during each rep.

My plan for these was the same as the 750m reps last week, just sub 1:40 pace for the first 7, and anything left for the final rep. 900m reps are getting really quite long for significantly faster final reps, so I didn’t expect too much more on that one. Of course the problem with racing starts in a group for 8 individual rows is that there is a reasonable chance that at some point someone will false start by pulling a stroke before the monitor says “ROW”. Unfortunately this person was me on rep 5, and as such I ended up having an extended rest between rep 4 and rep 5. The effect of this was simply that I had no excuse then not to maintain target, and had to put in a strong final rep.

8 x 900m / 3min rest:

2:59.7 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:59.7 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:59.7 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:59.7 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:59.7 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:59.7 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:59.5 / 1:39.7 / 30
2:49.4 / 1:34.1 / 35

I didn’t expect quite that much pace to be available for the final rep. I went out hard, but planned to settle after 10 strokes. One of the other rowers, Bjorn, was still level with me though, so I had to maintain pace as the last rep is always effectively a race. He didn’t slow down, so I didn’t slow down. It wasn’t until 300m to go that he had a call that his pizza had arrived (not in a good way, as he’d eaten it earlier that day…), and was forced to back off a little. I was close enough to the finish to keep pushing at that point. A great session all around.

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Basingstoke IRC – 2500m race

Posted by thepeteplan on April 9, 2011

Today was the Basingstoke indoor rowing competition. The main race distance is 2500m, with the only real short course championship races in the UK over 100m and 300m. There was also a rerun of the rowing bleep test, a 1min on / 1min off event with increasing pace targets each level. I only entered the 2500m race as I knew if I entered the bleep test as well it would be an easy excuse not to row the main race as fast, and this one fitted in with my training requirements better anyway.

Being 6 weeks into a 5k training phase I’m not doing any training much below 5k pace, and therefore wouldn’t expect to be very fast over shorter distances at the moment. My aim for the race was to row a flat pace for the first 2k, then gradually speed up over the final 500m. I wanted the pace over the first 2k to be enough faster than target 5k pace to give good confidence that I’m on course, and not too fast as to risk any blow up in the middle. I knew the form of most of the other competitors well, so always expected Rich Blagrove and Si Gough to be a long way out in front, and noone else pushing me too much. So I aimed for low 1:38’s for the first 2k pace, and ideally wanted to speed up enough over the final 500m to just sneak under 6:30 pace (1:37.5).

The race went to form. Si and Rich went out at 1:35s and gradually opened up a good gap ahead. One guy in the U23 went out fast for the first few hundred metres, but then dropped off to 1:40 / 1:41, so once I passed by him I opened up a good lead to the people behind me. From there is was just a matter of pulling 1:38 / 1:39 through the majority of the race. It was hard not to watch the battle up front on my monitor with the lead changing stroke by stroke. I don’t think I saw more than 2m between them up to the final 100m or so, it must have been a great race to watch!

2500m = 8:08.6 / 1:37.7 / 31
500m splits:
1:38.1 / 32
1:38.3 / 31
1:38.4 / 31
1:38.1 / 31
1:35.7 / 33

A little too many 1:39s through the middle of the first 2k which put me a bit too far from the 1:37.5 final target pace. I’m sure I would have made target if I was pushed in the final 500m, but as it was I was just speeding up for my own result with noone close either side. I’m happy with how the race felt, and how I felt at the end though. The 1:37.5  target was a bit arbitrary really so no big deal.

Knowing the sort of form Rich and Si are in currently put it into context for me today how fast I was at my best though. My best 2500m race was at the Nottingham GP race in the 2003 / 2004 season, and my time there would have put me a tenth of a second faster than Si’s time today!

I saw an empty erg in the 100m race a while after my 2500m, so couldn’t resist jumping on for a go. I’m not great at the very short sprints as I don’t have the size or the power to accelerate really fast. I managed to peak at 1:13 splits, and row through the line at 1:15 pace still, but the average split showing on the monitor at the end was 1:19.3 for a 15.9sec final time. Not as fast average pace as the 30sec sprint I did in the Southampton shopping centre a few weeks ago, but the average would have carried on dropping had I rowed another 14seconds today.

A great day out, lots of good racing to watch, and a race I recommend anyone who can make it to attend next year.

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30mins with a big rowpro crowd

Posted by thepeteplan on April 7, 2011

I had decided yesterday that I would drop the third core session of this week due to the Basingstoke 2500m race coming up on Saturday. This meant that today should have been a steady row, and tomorrow a rest day prior to the race. I looked on rowpro late in the afternoon to see if there was anything to suit my steady distance session, and saw a 30min set up as the core session for the 5k training group. I looked at the line up, and among the 12 people signed up there were 5 or 6 of my coached athletes from the training group, how could I not row along with them?

13 people sat on the start line ready for battle. With the Basingstoke 2.5k race in 2 days time I didn’t want to go 100%, so thought I’d settle for marginally faster than the 3 x 10mins yesterday, and then negative split the final 2k to just sneak inside my 10k pace from a couple of weeks ago (1:45.9). So the 3 x 10 target was 1:47, and I set myself up for a 1:46.5 cruise pace to then build up from 7mins out.

It’s amazing how much less work it is to hold a mid way average like this, rather than a point zero. Because you can just fluctuate between two splits it just seems a lot easier than trying to hit one exactly every stroke. I started off at a fairly high rate / light stroke, and gradually got into a rhythm with the stroke rate setting lower. Felt nice and controlled right up to the 7min to go point, then it was 1:45’s to 5mins, 1:44’s to 3mins, 1:43’s to 2mins, and so on down to a sprint for the final 20 strokes.

30mins in 5min splits:
1:46.5 / 29
1:46.5 / 28
1:46.4 / 27
1:46.4 / 27
1:45.6 / 27
1:42.2 / 29

30mins = 8522m / 1:45.6 / 27

I’m happy with this row because it felt good and solid for the first 23mins, and there was a lot left to gradually bring the pace down over the final 2k. The last few strokes were on 1:29 / 1:30, finishing off that fast last 5min split. Of course put in context this row is actually a little slower than my best ever 60min row! Having been much faster can help mentally, because you’re never going into new territory, but it’s hard not to compare to what you’ve done in the past and feel like you should be much faster. This wasn’t close to a 100% effort though of course.

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3 x 10mins / 3min rest

Posted by thepeteplan on April 6, 2011

As we progress towards the second half of the 5k training plan, and the intensity of some of the core sessions increases, the third core session each week is generally going to be backed off in terms of intensity or duration each week to compensate. When I put the basics of the plan together 7 or 8 weeks ago I didn’t plan in any other races along the way, but this coming Saturday is the Basingstoke 2500m race. This gave me a couple of choices this week – to skip one of the core sessions, or to do all three and race (more) fatigued on Saturday. The ideal scenario would have been to do Friday’s harder core session today, and the session planned for Wednesday as a more moderate session either Friday, or perhaps on Sunday following the race. I didn’t feel physically or mentally up to the harder core session today though, so went for the moderate Wednesday session.

My target for the 3 x 10mins was a flat 1:47 pace, putting this session as a mid UT type intensity. As I won’t be doing another hard session after today prior to the race on Saturday I gave myself the option going into the session that I could push the final rep a bit harder if I felt like it.

3 x 10mins / 3min rest:
2807m / 1:46.8 / 27
2807m / 1:46.8 / 27
2914m / 1:42.9 / 29

8528m = 1:45.5 / 27

Nice and comfortable for the first 2 reps. The final rep I did the first 5mins at 1:44 pace, the next 3mins at 1:43, then pushed the last 2mins a bit harder. It felt good, and up to the final 2min push not really any harder than the first 2 reps due to the higher rating.

Yesterday just a steady 10k in the gym:

10k = 38:33.0 / 1:55.6 / 22

I am hoping that my gym will begin to turn up the aircon before the Farnborough 5k race comes around on 14th May. As the temperature gets warmer outside they don’t yet seem to be cooling it down inside, and this makes even easy sessions somewhat uncomfortable. Today’s 3 x 10min session was done in my back garden.

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10 x 750m – Danish Mk2

Posted by thepeteplan on April 4, 2011

Week 6 of the 5kTG, and our second Danish intervals session.  If you remember from last week the formula for these sessions is that the total distance is 150% of target distance, and the rest period between reps roughly 1:1 to the work. The 12 x 600m session from last week was a little shorter overall at 7200m total distance, and the reps this week are each 25% further. I had pushed the pace pretty hard last week negative splitting down from 1:39.0, and I didn’t have the confidence to match this pace on the harder reps today. 1:40 pace is still a fair bit faster than my current 5k form, and a bit faster than I hope to be over 5k come the end of this training group. The plan was therefore to just break 1:40 pace for the first 9 reps, and put in a fast last rep with whatever it left over for confidence.

10 x 750m / 2:30 rest:
2:29.9 / 1:39.9 / 30
2:29.8 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:29.8 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:29.8 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:29.8 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:29.7 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:29.8 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:29.7 / 1:39.8 / 30
2:29.6 / 1:39.7 / 30
2:22.2 / 1:34.8 / 33

24:50.0 = 7500m / 1:39.3 / 30

A strange session today. Through the first 5 reps I wasn’t sure I would be able to complete the session on target. I simply asked myself during the rest period if I was sure I could do one more rep on pace. The answer was always yes, and so the target was always just to get the next rep done on pace target. It wasn’t until rep 7 that I knew I would be able to finish the set on target and could start considering how much might be left for the final rep. When it came to rep 10 it turned out there was actually a fair bit left in the tank. The last rep on 750s tells a lot more than shorter interval sessions. 500s and below anyone can put in a much faster last rep, but once the duration of the reps gets over 2mins it gets quickly tougher (on hard interval sets) to go significantly faster on the final rep. That’s what I find anyway.

This session is a good illustration of the reason why I prescribe a “fast last” rep on this type of interval set. Through most of the session I wasn’t sure if I could even complete all reps on target, never mind do any under target pace. By pushing the last rep pretty much as hard as you can it gives you a good indication how much you actually have left physically, and so when it comes to racing you know how tired you can feel 750m before the end, and still be able to go faster. This is the point where your head is going to be telling you “you can’t maintain this pace, slow down”, and that’s when you tell to ignore these feelings, and draw on the mental strength your training has developed.

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