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5k race review

Posted by thepeteplan on September 21, 2014

With a cold having taken hold this was always going to be a tough 5k race. I thought about the race plan on the drive to Sussex. This was always going to be a time trial more than a race, with the objective of setting a time that would adequately reflect 8 weeks of solid focused training aiming at this 5km row. My ultimate target was to break 17mins, but with a season’s best of 17:12, and feeling not the best, I decided that I wanted to make sure of breaking 17:10.

So the plan was to go out for the usual 7 hard strokes, settle over the next 10 strokes, then just hit 1:43s and 1:44s and see where that put me with 2km to go. This was always going to be the tell tail point. If I feel good with 2km to go I can push on and take a good margin off the average split, but if I don’t feel good I want to be in a position where I can maintain pace and still achieve a good time.

After a good start I settled to pulling 1:43’s after around 150m, and this saw me pass the 500m mark well ahead of target at 1:41.1. Pulling mostly 1:43s for the next 1000m took me through the 4000m to go point at 1:42.1 average pace, and through 3500m to go at 1:42.5. This is an important point for me in a 5km time trial as it is the half way point to the big marker of 2km to go. I was working hard at this point, harder than I would like to be for the pace, so it was going to have to be about getting to the 2km to go point without losing too much ground. I was nicely ahead of target, with an aim of hitting 2km to go at 1:43.0 to give me the chance of a sub17 on a good day. From this point I was pulling more 1:44s than 1:43s, and went through 3000m to go at 1:42.8, the halfway mark at 1:42.9, and finally reached 2000m to go just about on target with an average split of 1:43.1.

The way I was feeling at this stage holding pace seemed like a tough task, never mind a big increase in pace to try to keep any outside hope of the sub17. So the next 1500m became about damage limitation. Hold the same pace and don’t let the average split slip too far. 1:43.2 at 1500m to go, slipping to 1:43.3 at 1000m to go, and pulling slightly back to 1:43.2 at 500m to go. At this point I knew I could find enough at the end to dip under 17:10, so it was just about picking the right time to step the pace up. 1:43s and a few 1:42s held the average pace through 300m to go, 250m to go, and ready to make the push in the final 200m. A good push over the final 200m saw the average split drop 0.1 about every 50m, and drop to 1:42.8 on the final stroke.

A really hard effort and not a time I would have wanted to settle for even a week ago. But in the circumstances a time I am very happy with.

5000m = 17:08.7 / 1:42.8 / 30
500m splits:
1:41.1 / 31
1:43.2 / 30
1:43.3 / 30
1:43.7 / 29
1:43.5 / 30
1:43.7 / 30
1:43.8 / 29
1:43.7 / 30
1:43.0 / 30
1:39.7 / 31


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The eve of the race

Posted by thepeteplan on September 19, 2014

An up and down final 2 weeks into the 5km race day tomorrow, with only the race tomorrow telling whether it has ended on a down. The last stretch into the race began with a special CTC distance for this month, in honour of one of our fellow indoor rowers Joan Van Blom who has been suffering with a brain tumour. The distance of 7684m is to commemorate Joan’s Olympic rowing medals won at the 1976 and 1984 games. A tough row on an off day, but a good solid pace non the less.

8th September:

7684m = 26:59.3 / 1:45.3 / 29

9th September: REST

The plan for the second core session of last week was for a slightly less intense session. 3 x 2500m with a target of the pace of the CTC effort for the first 2 reps then a quicker final rep. The plan here was not to push too hard in the final 2 weeks to ensure getting to race day fresh and well. More on that later.

10th September:

3 x 2500m / 3:30 rest = 26:00.0 / 1:44.0 / 29
8:42.8 / 1:44.5 / 29
8:42.4 / 1:44.4 / 29
8:34.8 / 1:42.9 / 30

This session felt good, but I felt particularly tired the next day and cut the steady distance short to just 6km.

11th September:

6km = 1:53.5 / 24

A week before race day and time for my favourite 5k race predictor session the 6 x 1k / 1min rest. The target from the previous attempt was 1:41.6, so the plan was to start just below this and push the final rep. A great session, and one that should point to a sub 17 for the 5k.

12th September:

6 x 1k / 1min rest:
1:41.4 / 31
1:41.4 / 31
1:41.4 / 31
1:41.3 / 31
1:41.3 / 31
1:39.0 / 32

6000m = 20:12.1 / 1:41.0 / 31

13th September: REST

14th September: REST

Two days rest, then a session just to stay sharp in the final week. 500m reps with a minutes rest, so shorter reps than any of the prep sessions over the past 2 months. I perhaps pushed the final 4 reps too quickly in this session and hit my immune system a little, because it has been downhill since here.

10 x 500m / 1min rest
5000m = 16:20.7 / 1:38.0 / 32

15th September:

30mins = 7911m / 1:53.7 / 24

16th September: REST

17th September:

Wednesday was scheduled as a moderate 30mins with a target pace of 1:48-1:50. It all went well with good intentions until 5mins to go. It seemed like a good idea at the time to push out the final 5mins at 5km pace for a confidence booster. It was a good confidence boost at the time, but I regretted it the next morning.

30mins = 8304m / 1:48.3 / 26
5min splits:
1:49.8 / 26
1:49.7 / 26
1:49.8 / 26
1:49.4 / 26
1:49.8 / 26
1:42.1 / 30

I woke Thursday morning with a sore throat, and have rested since. The sore throat is still there, but so far has not developed into anything else. Fingers crossed for tomorrow and feeling good on the start line. The ultimate target is still for sub 17 or die trying, but in reality the way I feel today I will be happy with anything under 17:10.

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End of Week 6

Posted by thepeteplan on September 7, 2014

Six weeks now completed, and just 2 weeks to go until the 5km race and target. The last core session of this week was a repeat of the 8 x 750m reps I had done earlier in the programme, and a score of 1:40.4 to beat. I wasn’t confident on this one, it’s a tough session, so I just went with a standard Pete Plan pacing strategy. So with a 1:40.4 average from last time I start off on exactly 1:40.4 from the first rep. A slight negative split over the first 7 reps still allowed for a good quick last rep.

6th September:

8 x 750m / 1min rest = 20:01.2 / 1:40.1 / 31
1:40.4 / 31
1:40.4 / 31
1:40.3 / 31
1:40.3 / 31
1:40.3 / 31
1:40.3 / 31
1:40.2 / 32
1:38.4 / 33

7th September:

A nice steady 10km row to finish the week off, and aid recovery before Week 7 begins tomorrow.

10k = 37:43.9 / 1:53.1 / 24

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2 weeks till (5k) race day

Posted by thepeteplan on September 6, 2014

I started this week off with a few days away in the Netherlands for work. Through luck rather than judgement (as it was the only choice) the hotel had a gym with a lone Model D erg. Unfortunately, like most hotel gyms, it was a poorly maintained erg in a badly ventilated gym. It was better than nothing though. Sunday was a long day – drive to work, meet a colleague and swap to a work car, then drive from there to Folkstone, through the channel tunnel, pass through France, drive the width of Belgium then most of the length of the Netherlands to get to the final destination. Just time to squeeze in a steady 30mins before dinner.

31st August: (Hotel gym Netherlands)

30mins = 8014m / 1:52.3 / 24

Monday was a long working day that involved very little in the way of food or drink. Bad planning, and not conducive to training. So just a short and slow session pre dinner.

1st September: (Hotel gym Netherlands)

5k = 1:53.9 / 24

Tuesday was the long drive back for the return journey home via work.

2nd September: REST (Travel back from Netherlands)

It is easy when other factors get in the way of your training regime to just do easy sessions for a while. It you put in the hard core sessions during these periods you will continue to make progress though, so during periods of lower volume keep the quality of the sessions high, don’t take the easy route. The last 3 x 2k session to beat included two 6:49s and a 6:45, so I went into this session aiming to beat the previous score rep for rep.

3rd September:

3 x 2k / 5min rest:
6:48.9 / 1:42.2 / 30
6:48.9 / 1:42.2 / 31
6:43.2 / 1:40.8 / 32

6k = 20:20.9 / 1:41.7 / 31

4th September: REST

Yesterday it was the hard distance piece of the week. Back to the 6k this time, and a 20:57.0 to beat from 3 weeks ago. Last time on the 6k the targets were all splits under 1:46 and the final average under 1:45, each was moved on by a second this time.

5th September:

6k = 20:46.6 / 1:43.8 / 29
750m splits:
1:43.4 / 30
1:44.8 / 29
1:44.8 / 29
1:44.9 / 29
1:44.8 / 29
1:44.5 / 29
1:44.0 / 29
1:39.6 / 31

Only 5 weeks ago it was a maximal 5k effort to dip under 1:45.0. Now I have achieved a 1:45.0 for 30mins (over 8500m), a 6k at 1:43.8, and on a bad day a 5k at 1:43.2. Things are certainly moving in the right direction.

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5k progress update

Posted by thepeteplan on August 31, 2014

Overall the past couple of weeks have gone very well training wise. With the main aim of this training period being the 5k the single distance or time pieces are the important ones, and those on which progress should be measured. This 10 days has included time trials at both 30mins and 5k, with each being my best performance on the row for at least a couple of years. The 30min row particularly is both pleasing and frustrating in equal measure. The ultimate target for the row was to break 1:45 pace, and as such I didn’t achieve it. But this was always going to be a stretch target, and one that I did not expect to achieve with 10mins left of the row. But I kept strong throughout, and missed out by perhaps just one or two strokes on dipping below 1:45.0 average. There was no fading at the end, so it was there.

A week later the 5km time trial was performed on a day I really didn’t feel up to a hard time trial, so to improve my time from 3 weeks before by 5seconds without having to push it to close to max is again a good sign. With a 5km race to end this phase of training in 3 weeks time I am still confident that a sub 17min performance is there on a good day.

19th August: REST

20th August:

30mins = 8571m / 1:45.0 / 29
3min45 splits:
1:44.5 / 30
1:45.6 / 29
1:45.8 / 29
1:45.8 / 29
1:45.7 / 29
1:45.7 / 29
1:45.3 / 29
1:41.6 / 31

21st August:

30mins = 8024m / 1:52.1 / 24

22nd August: Away with work

23rd August: 13 mile walk in the Peak District

24th August: Travel / rest

25th August:

30mins = 8007m / 1:52.4 / 24

26th August:

4 x 1500m / 5min rest:
5:05.5 / 1:41.8 / 30
5:05.2 / 1:41.7 / 30
5:04.8 / 1:41.6 / 31
5:01.9 / 1:40.6 / 32

Totals: 6000m = 20:17.5 / 1:41.4 / 30

27th August: REST

28th August:

5000m = 17:12.7 / 1:43.2 / 29
500m splits:
1:42.0 / 31
1:44.0 / 29
1:44.1 / 29
1:44.3 / 29
1:44.3 / 29
1:44.3 / 30
1:44.3 / 29
1:44.1 / 29
1:43.7 / 30
1:37.7 / 33

29th August:

30mins = 7922m / 1:53.6 / 24

30th August:

10 x 600m / 1min rest = 19:50.5 / 1:39.2 / 32
(Slowest rep 1:39.5, last rep 1:37.1)


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Week 4 part 1

Posted by thepeteplan on August 19, 2014

17th August:

30mins = 8006m / 1:52.4 / 24

18th August:

6 x 1k / 1min rest:
3:23.7 / 1:41.8 / 30
3:23.7 / 1:41.8 / 30
3:23.7 / 1:41.8 / 31
3:23.4 / 1:41.7 / 31
3:23.8 / 1:41.8 / 31
3:21.8 / 1:40.9 / 31

6000m = 20:20.0 / 1:41.6 / 30

The 6 x 1k / 1min rest is usually a pretty good predictor of 5km pace for me. Generally what the workout tells me is to go at a pace 1 second slower than the average for the first 3km of a 5km TT, then speed up over the final 2km where on a good day I will achieve the same average pace as this session. So I am in the right sort of ball park now physically to achieve my target of a sub 17mins for 5k. With 5 weeks still to go before my planned 5km race this is a good sign, as I am a little way from being mentally ready yet, but that will come with another few weeks of these core session.

The next stop this week is a 30min TT tomorrow after work. The ultimate target that I would like to achieve tomorrow is sub 1:45.0 pace, but that will take a strong effort throughout the TT to achieve. If I can keep focused then it is physically achievable.

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5k training – Week 3

Posted by thepeteplan on August 17, 2014

9th August:

30mins = 8000m / 1:52.5 / 24

10th August:

3 x 2000m / 5min rest:
6:49.8 / 1:42.4 / 31
6:49.6 / 1:42.4 / 31
6:45.3 / 1:41.3 / 32

Totals = 6000m / 20:24.6 / 1:42.0 / 31

11th August:

30mins = 8100m / 1:51.1 / 24

12th August: REST

13th August:

CTC August challenge:
1500m = 4:52.3 / 1:37.4 / 33
3min rest
1000m = 3:12.8 / 34
3min rest
500m = 1:31.5 / 37

Total = 3000m / 9:36.6 / 1:36.1 / 34

14th August: REST

15th August:

3500m = 11:52.5 / 1:41.7 / 30

500m splits: 1:41.7, 1:42.7, 1:42.8, 1:42.9, 1:42.2, 1:41.7, 1:38.5

16th August:

5 x 1250m / 3:30 rest = 20:55.0 / 1:40.4 / 32
4:12.3 / 1:40.9 / 31
4:12.1 / 1:40.8 / 32
4:11.9 / 1:40.7 / 32
4:11.6 / 1:40.6 / 32
4:07.0 / 1:38.8 / 33

Through Week 3 and into the beginning of Week 4 yesterday the numbers are all going in the right direction. The 3 x 2k was a good solid score. The CTC, having done nothing quicker than target 5k pace, was probably the most pleasing of the Week 3 sessions. This really shows what fitness can do for you without any specific speed work, and big gains can be made on this with the introduction of speed work in the run up to 2k races later in the year. Prior to that session I would have said that on a good day I could just dip under 6:30 for a 2k at the moment. But in reality the first rep of 1500m at 1:37.4 told me that I was comfortable enough at that point that actually I would be closer to the pace of the 1k rep in that session, or closer to 6:25 for a 2k. This is a great sign at this point in the training process.

The 3500m single distance piece on Friday afternoon was a tester to see how I feel at target 5000m pace for a little over 2/3rds of the distance. Good enough is the answer. Could I row under 17mins for 5k now? No, I don’t think so. Will I be able to at the end of this training phase in another 4 or 5 weeks time? Sure, why not.

The 5 x 1250m reps yesterday were then my first real objective measure of improvement, with a repeat of the session I had done 3 weeks before to begin this training phase. The final result was exactly 1second in pace quicker.

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6000m – end of Week 2

Posted by thepeteplan on August 8, 2014

The final session of Week 2 is another single distance piece. These are important mental training as much as anything. The interval sessions will prepare my body physically for the 5k time trial I am training for, but I need my mind to be ready for the relentless nature of a single distance time trial too. So these single distance pieces need to be done weekly with gradually increasing intensity to get me ready to perform to the optimal level at the end of the training phase.

At the end of Week 1 I did a 5km piece with a set target for the first 3k of around 1:45.5-1:45.7, then a negative split over the last 2k. Today the target for the 6k was to go marginally slower for the first 4k, with a target of 1:45.9 to 1:46.0, then again negative split over the final 2k. The idea here is to pace all but the last 2k of these time trials a little within myself to ensure that I can speed up over the final 2k, and give myself the confidence for next time that I can go quicker.

6000m = 20:57.0 / 1:44.7 / 29

1000m splits:
3:31.8 / 1:45.9 / 29
3:31.9 / 1:45.9 / 29
3:31.8 / 1:45.9 / 30
3:31.8 / 1:45.9 / 29
3:28.6 / 1:44.3 / 30
3:21.1 / 1:40.5 / 32

A good solid first 4k right on target, a decent step up in pace for the 5th km, and a fast last 1km split. All looking good so far in this phase of training.

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5k training – Week 2

Posted by thepeteplan on August 6, 2014

Into Week 2 of this 5k push now, and keeping the pressure on to be able to achieve the sub 17min 5k target at the end of the phase.

Saturday 2nd Aug:

8000m = 1:53,4 / 24

Sunday 3rd Aug:

This session followed on from the 5 x 1250m reps last week, with a target of getting all reps in under the 5k target pace of 1:42.0.

4 x 1500m / 5min rest:
5:05.7 / 1:41.9 / 31
5:05.5 / 1:41.8 / 31
5:05.5 / 1:41.8 / 32
5:02.8 / 1:40.9 / 32

6000m = 20:19.6 / 1:41.6 / 31

Monday 4th Aug:

This was going to be a nice easy and slow 30mins, but I decided that Tuesday would be a rest day and therefore I would push just a little harder on Monday. The day after a hard core session day I like to take it nice and easy unless there will be a rest day afterwards.

30mins = 8065m / 1:51.5 / 25

Tuesday 5th Aug:

As I said above, this was to be a rest day, but time and energy was there for an easy 30mins straight after work, and I don’t like to miss these opportunities.

30mins = 7900m / 1:54.0 / 24

Wednesday 6th Aug:

Onto the second core session of Week 2, and the 10 x 600m from last week moves to an 8 x 750m this week. The same overall session distance of 6k, and the same 1min rest between reps. Last week the target was to do all reps under 1:40 pace, so with 25% more distance per rep this week the target was moved to all reps under 1:41.0. The slightly longer reps combined with the slightly slower target pace actually made this session feel better than the 600m reps last week.

8 x 750m / 1min rest:
2:32.2 / 1:40.8 / 31
2:32.1 / 1:40.7 / 31
2:32.1 / 1:40.7 / 31
2:32.2 / 1:40.8 / 32
2:32.2 / 1:40.8 / 31
2:32.1 / 1:40.7 / 32
2:32.1 / 1:40.7 / 32
2:27.8 / 1:38.5 / 33

6000m = 20:05.8 / 1:40.4 / 31

As with all Pete Plan core sessions, be they on the standard PP 2k plan, the PP 5k plan, the coached sessions I set my athletes, or any core interval session I do myself, I always like to do a “fast last” rep. This is more of a mental exercise than a physical one. It quantifies for me as the coach (and in this case, me as the athlete too) how much I have in reserve. It also trains me to finish a session hard, which translates to any race or time trial piece. When I do this every core session I naturally do this at the end of a race or time trial, I simply can’t help it. I know how to do it, in terms of rate, technique, pacing and feel, and I want to do it to make the distance finish quicker. This fast finish can have a big impact whatever the distance, and it always feels mentally good to know you have this tool at your disposal. Train as you want to race.

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5k training

Posted by thepeteplan on August 1, 2014

Following on from Monday, where I took a step back into hard interval training, I decided firmly to train for the next 8 weeks with the sole focus of a fast 5k time trial at the end. The target for the time trial is 16:59.9 (or quicker), and I plan to achieve that by doing 2 hard interval sessions each week, one fairly hard single distance (or time) piece, plus steady distance work. So basically I will be training along the same lines as the 5k Pete Plan (, although with a slightly different format of sessions.

Week 1 started with the 5 x 1250m / 3:30 rest session on Monday, as blogged in the last entry. The rest of the week has then been:

Tuesday 29th:

30mins = 8002m / 1:52.4 / 24

Wednesday 30th:

10 x 600m / 1min rest = 19:56.3 / 1:39.6 / 31 (last rep 1:38.9 / 33)

Thursday 31st = Rest

Friday 1st:

5k = 17:17.9 / 1:43.7 / 30

500m splits:
1:45.7 / 29
1:45.6 / 29
1:45.6 / 29
1:45.5 / 29
1:45.6 / 29
1:45.5 / 30
1:43.3 / 30
1:42.9 / 30
1:41.8 / 31
1:36.5 / 34

Essentially this is how I believe a 5k time trial should always be rowed, as a 3k then 2k. The first 3k a little sub maximally to allow for a fast final 2k. The idea here in week 1 was just to put down a reasonable benchmark time. So I estimated what I thought my current maximum ability was on a 5k (1:43.5), added 2 seconds to the split (1:45.5), and set that as a “do not exceed” pace for the first 3km of the time trial. I ended up then with an average split just 0.2 seconds off my estimated maximum current ability for the 5k. Is this absolutely optimal pacing? No. I believe optimal pacing on a 5k is to have the first 3k about 1second slower than the final average split. But going that bit slower will allow you to get closer to your potential than going a second too quick in the first 3k. After all, erg performance is as much about mental strategy and belief as it is about physical ability and tolerance. By feeling like you’re holding back and rowing within yourself for 60% of the distance you’re like a fenced off race horse just wanting to sprint off.

This 2seconds differential between current max ability and starting pace for the first 3k is a good way to row a 5k if you’re not mentally conditioned to rowing hard sustained distance above your anaerobic threshold. After a few weeks of conditioning (physical and mental) then I will edge towards the 1sec differential between current ability and first 3k pace. But I will always maintain this 3k / 2k split for a 5k time trial, as I have used very effectively over the years of erg racing and training.

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