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Archive for the ‘Distance intervals’ Category

Hard days and easy days

Posted by thepeteplan on May 14, 2008

One of the philosophies behind any training plan I devise is that it is split into hard days and easier days. I find this essential personally, both from a physical point of view, and from the psychological side. I know when the balance is starting to go wrong when I start pushing the easier sessions too hard, and the knock-on effect is that the hard sessions suffer.

Since I have started using rowpro for some of my evening sessions I have tended to push a little too hard on the steady distance sessions. A combination of being reasonably competitive, and quite well known in the sport means I don’t like to get beaten if I can help it, even on my steady sessions. Today’s hard session was evidence of this effect:


4k, 3k, 2k, 1k, 500m with 4, 3, 2, 1min rest between the reps, respectively 

4k = 13:57.4 / 1:44.6 / 29

3k = 10:25.3 / 1:44.2 / 29

2k = 6:58.7 / 1:44.6 / 29

1k = 3:27.8 / 1:43.9 / 29

500m = 1:39.1 / 31

Totals: 10.5k = 36:28.2 / 1:44.2 / 29

It is still a solid training session, but it should have been faster all the way through. I will restore the balance to my training from now on and keep the steady sessions steady so the hard sessions can be fast.

The good thing about training in a training group, and of coaching other athletes, is that I never want to quit on a session, so no matter how tough the hard sessions are, even if I have to miss the targets, I will always endeavour to complete the entire session, as that is what I want the athletes I coach to do.

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Training update

Posted by thepeteplan on May 9, 2008

Due to the heat the past few days I’ve chosen to train in the evening at home rather than at lunchtime in the gym, and so haven’t got around to posting the training I’ve been doing here.


Wednesday was a rowpro session with a group of people I’ve not rowed with before. It was quite late at night (8.55pm start time), and I made the mistake of rowing it in the garden. Not only did I get bitten by mosquitos a fair amount, but it was also too dark to see the monitor after the first 10mins of the row. Still, with rowpro you can see what you’re doing on the laptop screen luckily.

30mins = 8234m / 1:49.3


On Thursday evening I had two friends round for the evening for a training session and then a barbeque. I had a go at a new session which is their team challenge for this month. I also put on my sunnto heart rate monitor for the first time in a few years to see what sort of heart rate level I would get on this type of interval session. The suunto chest strap is read by the PM4 monitor, so gives me the HR while rowing the piece, but then the end HRs at the end of each rep when I recall the splits.

4k, 2k, 1k, 500m / 2min rest between each

4k = 13:45.9 / 1:43.2 / 30 (end HR = 161)

2k = 6:48.0 / 1:42.0 / 30 (end HR = 165)

1k = 3:18.8 / 1:39.4 / 33 (end HR = 168.)

500m = 1:32.5 / 37 (end HR = 168.)

I don’t quite understand the level my heart rate was getting to. Either there is some physiological reason my HR was so low, or there is some technical reason the information isn’t being read correctly. The last time I did a treadmill VO2 max test I reached a max heart rate of 197, and the few times I’ve used a HRM for very intense intervals I’ve seen well above 190 on the erg too. Either it’s possible that the longer distance training I’ve been doing has made my heart very efficient at these sort of paces (though the 500m is under 2k pace), or has simply stopped me being able, physically, to raise my heart rate so much. More likely though it’s some technical problem.


Tonight was another rowpro session, but a new one for me. A handicapped 10k with people starting at different intervals depending on their expected 10k times. I was the last to start with a 3min44sec handicap, with 7 people having started before me from 3min44 to 1min before. I rowed a bit harder than I planned to, and caught the last of the 7 people inside the final 500m of the race. The racing instinct is hard to leave behind, and it’s very easy on rowpro to go faster than you really mean to.

10k = 39:06 – 3:44 = 35:22

Posted in Distance intervals, Fast distance, Steady distance | 2 Comments »

CTC and 10min intervals

Posted by thepeteplan on May 5, 2008

Rowpro has it’s upsides and downsides. The downside is that it tempts you in to rowing when you really should be resting. Sunday is generally my scheduled rest day, but yesterday I saw a 5k planned on rowpro, and took it as a good opportunity to put a first score in for the CTC. Aim to just break 17mins.

Sunday Training:

5k = 16:59.1 / 1:41.9 / 30

Monday Training:

Then today’s scheduled session for the PP08 group was 4 x 10mins with 2min rest between reps. The first 3 reps were to be done at 1 second faster than 60min pb pace <- I have only just remembered this as I write this entry, as I mistakenly did them at 60min pb pace instead!

4 x 10min / 2min rest:

2851m / 1:45.2 / 28

2852m / 1:45.1 / 28

2853m / 1:45.1 / 29

2873m / 1:44.4 / 29

Ok, so I actually did the first 3 reps 1sec slower in pace than I told the others to do them. Though it was far too hot and stuffy in my living room, and I did them on rowpro in the hope that someone might join me in the later reps (they didn’t). So in reality the average pace I actually rowed at was probably a few tenths faster. I really should consult my targets spreadsheet before rowing!

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Intervals and improved recovery

Posted by thepeteplan on May 1, 2008

Today’s session was another of the sessions incorporating 5k paced work in the middle of a longer distance session. Hopefully by keeping a little 5k and 2k paced work in our programme in this way through the HM and 10k training stages it will mean we gain in pace during the 5k phase much more quickly.


4k = 14:56.8 / 1:52.1 / 25

5min rest

2k = 6:46.5 / 1:41.6 / 30

5min rest

2k = 6:46.0 / 1:41.5 / 30

5min rest

4k = 14:46.6 / 1:50.8 / 25

Totals: 12k = 43:15.8 / 1:48.1 / 27

Improved recovery:

In the past I have always been very weary of any training that negatively impacts the erg training. In general this has meant not doing any running, and not doing any leg weights, or really erg specific weights in general. Although this is beneficial in the short term on paper, as the leg fatigue from this type of training slows the subsequent erg workouts a little, I think the positive longer term impact will pay off. Although I’ve only run 3 times now (each between 38 and 40min in duration), I noticed a step change today in my recovery from last night’s run. My legs felt much fresher today than after the previous two runs, indicating that my body is starting to get used to the extra (and varied) workload. This is a good sign, and as long as I can persevere with the running every 3rd day I think it will pay off in the long run, not only to aid my other sporting ambitions for the year, but in the erg times too. I will, however, need to think carefully about whether to take a 1 week break from running before each of the end of phase tests to ensure a peak performance for them.

Posted in Distance intervals | 1 Comment »

Intervals and race taper

Posted by thepeteplan on April 1, 2008

Due to work commitments I was forced to do my second interval session of the week today. It’s never ideal doing two hard sessions on consequtive days, but it’s better than missing one of them completely.


Today was the longer of the distance interval sessions (in terms of rep length) – 3k, 2.5k, 2k with 5min rest between each.

Warm up = 1k @ 1:55 / 24 

3k = 10:17.9 / 1:42.9 / 29

2.5k = 8:34.0 / 1:42.8 / 29

2k = 6:46.6 / 1:41.6 / 30

Totals = 25:38.4 / 1:42.5 / 29

A good improvement on 3 weeks ago where the reps were 1:43.9, 1:43.8 and 1:43.1, with a 1:43.6 average.

Then a couple of weights exercises:

Bench press = 60kg, 3 sets of 8

Clean and press = 40kg, 3 sets of 8

I think that once I’m finished with the exercise in heat trial at the end of next week I need to start doing weights in a second session a couple of days a week to start making progress. Doing them straight after erg sessions, leaving time to do very little anyway, I don’t think is going to be best in the long term.

Race taper:

In short, I don’t taper for races. I’ve experimented with different levels of taper over my years of erg racing, and for me personally training normally right up to the race gets the best performance. Given the choice I’d not do the heat chamber session on Thursday, but that can’t be avoided.

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Hot and sweaty

Posted by thepeteplan on March 26, 2008

This afternoon was the first go on the bike in the heat chamber. 3 x 20mins with 20min rest inbetween, all the time in 45degrees C with 4 layers of clothing on. Even though the intensity on the bike was not high, I sweated a lot. However, as I’m due in the chamber again on Friday afternoon, and so can’t do a hard session tomorrow, there was no choice but to attempt the 4 x 2k afterwards. The average from 3 weeks ago (without the long warm up) was 1:41.1, but that was done using the last rep as a CTC mile attempt with the 4 x 2k splits of 1:42.2, 1:41.9, 1:41.5, 1:38.7. So rather than go for the average, I thought I would attempt to beat each rep.


500m warm up = 1:55 / 24

4 x 2k / 5min rest:

6:47.7 / 1:41.9 / 29

6:46.5 / 1:41.6 / 30

6:46.5 / 1:41.6 / 30

6:56.2 / 1:44.0 / 29

Ave = 27:17.0 / 1:42.3 / 29

One rep too far today, and the cumulative fatigue and dehydration caught up with me on the final rep. I was starting to cramp in my legs, upper arms, and even abs, so had to back off the pace and limp home, rather than stop. The first 3 reps beat the first 3 reps (on average) from 3 weeks ago, so a good session overall I think.

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Scared of intervals?

Posted by thepeteplan on March 20, 2008

As discussed yesterday, because of the heat trial I moved my usual middle distance intervals from Wednesday to Thursday this week so I could have a better go at them. Week 1 of the cycle means 5 x 1500m, and with a target from 3 weeks ago of 1:41.1 average pace.


5 x 1500m / 5min rest:

5:01.4 / 1:40.4 / 30

5:01.0 / 1:40.3 / 30

5:00.4 / 1:40.1 / 31

4:59.6 / 1:39.8 / 31

4:58.5 / 1:39.5 / 31

Totals = 25:00.8 / 1:40.0 / 30

A pretty solid interval session. Though not my best on this session, with the current training load I think this is pretty good. It can get to a point on most sessions where you see a certain pace as a “barrier” to get past. 1:40 is always there in my mind on these type of sessions, and seeing 1:39’s on the monitor somehow feels a lot faster than 1:40’s, and as such going for sub 1:40 from the start can seem a lot harder than staying just above, and passing it at at the half way point. Next time obviously I will have to get all 5 reps under 1:40, but this was a good step to getting back there.

Scared of Intervals?

Many people seem quite apprehensive of interval training because it is seen as higher intensity than just doing single distance pieces. However there is no reason to make your first move into interval training by doing a series of flat out repetitions leaving you gasping for breath in a heap on the floor – instead you can work up to that.

Interval training is simply a method of letting you row for a certain duration at a faster pace than you can manage in one go, by splitting the distance up with short rest periods. So the obvious way to begin down this path is to row the intervals at a pace you could row the total distance at in one go, and then improve on that each time you attempt the same set of intervals. People in many athletic sports use interval training to great effect, and on the erg it is certainly a way to improve your paces across the range of distances.

You can keep it simple to start with. If you normally do a 30min row every day, try splitting that row into 2 x 15min rows, or 3 x 10min rows, with a 1 to 2min break between. Do the first 15mins, or the first 2 x 10mins, at the same pace you would normally row your 30min. Then for the final repetition row it just a little bit faster than your usual pace. At the end of the session take a note of the average pace for the full 30mins, which should be a little faster than your usual 30min rows, and use that as a pace to shoot for next time you do the same session. Again do the final of your repetitions a little faster.

As these intervals gradually increase in pace week after week, you will find you have the ability to row the 30mins as a single piece a little faster too. If you don’t currently do any interval training, just try this method as an introduction and see how it adds a new element to your training.

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The effect of temperature

Posted by thepeteplan on March 13, 2008

This week I have begun a 5 week trial I am taking part in at work assessing cooling garments for military aircrew. This involves doing exercise in a heat chamber for 1 to 2 hours with various temperature readings, heart rate, ECG, and other physiological measurements taken. This will obviously have an effect on my erg training in two ways – I am not allowed to do hard training the day before each session in the chamber, and on the day of a heat session I’m going to be fatigued for training.

Wednesday’s training:

Wednesday’s heat chamber visit consisted of 60mins of continous leg pressing. Not a very heavy weight (obvious if you can do it continuously for 60mins), but at 45 degrees C still fairly fatiguing.

1 hour after finishing it was off to the gym for Pete Plan week 3 distance intervals, with a slower target so I might be able to complete the session:

3k = 10:23.6 / 1:43.9 / 30

2.5k = 8:39.0 / 1:43.8 / 30

2k = 6:52.4 / 1:43.1 / 30

Average = 22:55.0 / 1:43.6 / 30

It felt equally tough all the way though, just general fatigue from the activites earlier.

Thursday’s training:

The day after an interval session means steady distance. I decided to take it really easy today, but in the end gradual negative splits made it a reasonable overall pace anyway.

10k = 37:12.4 / 1:51.6 / 24

2k split = 1:53.9, 1:52.6, 1:51.4, 1:50.7, 1:49.1

Then time just for one quick weights exercise:

Bench press – 60kg, 3 sets of 8

I was due to have my second heat chamber experience tomorrow, but that has been put back so hard distance work can go ahead as normal.

Blog updates:

There was a comment on one of my recent entries that the 5k training section is not currently a lot of use without any explanation of how to follow each plan. It’s really a balancing act when trying to run a coaching business as well as a blog as a useful resource. Too much information and noone will need coaching advice, not enough and the information isn’t worthwhile as a resource. So I will make that a priority to add some explanation to the 5k training page to at least give information on the idea behind each session, and how I intended them to fit in together.

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Intervals and the CTC

Posted by thepeteplan on March 5, 2008

My training today consisted of the middle distance intervals of week 2 of the Pete Plan (4 x 2k with 5min rest), incorporating this month’s CTC into the final rep (more on the CTC later).


1k warm up = 1:55 / 24spm

4 x 2k with 5min rest between reps:

6:49.1 / 1:42.2 / 30

6:47.7 / 1:41.9 / 30

6:46.2 / 1:41.5 / 30

6:35.0 / 1:38.7 / 31

Ave = 26:51.9 / 1:41.1 / 30

For the final rep I stopped the clock with 30seconds to go and set a single 2k, with a 1609m split to get a mile time for the CTC. I then rowed the first mile faster, and cruised in the final 400m. This gave me a first CTC entry of:

1609m = 5:12.6 / 1:37.1 / 33 (with the final 391m being 1:45.3 / 30 to make up the final 2k)

A good session overall I think. The pace was obviously a little conservative on the first 3 reps to be able to go that much faster on the final 2k, but as I’m in the first cycle back on the plan this is the best way.

Cross Team Challenge (CTC):

The CTC is an inter-team challenge that has been running since December 2005. Times are entered by the individual on the CTC website:

If you are not in a team you can enter under the club “Independent” to make complete boats with those other people unaffiliated to indoor rowing teams. A great monthly challenge to get involved with and add a different test piece into your monthly training.

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