I use a number of hardware and software tools for rowing. I thought I would share what I use, how I use it and how well it works.
2013 Fluidesign EL Intermediate. (Blue Clear coat)
Concept2 – Fat2 ultralight vortex edge.
- Length: 278cm
- Inboard: 89cm
Speedcoach XL2, which appears to now be discontinued on the NK web site. I picked this unit because I wanted to track HR, along with rate and impeller based speed. It turns out that it has a good deep memory and a tool to enable you to transfer data to excel for analysis. I’m not sure how the new Speedcoach GPS units do for that.
I usually save readings for every 20m. The saved data is transferred to my PC by using the USB connection kit and the speedcoach utility. This utility can export the data as an excel CSV file.
I have an excel workout which produced plots of pace/rate/hr versus distance or time. It also calculates time in each HR training zone, and can be used to pick out intervals from the data.
In addition to the Speedcoach, I always have my iphone in the boat. The stretch of river that I row on can be kind of lonely at times and having a phone is a good idea in case I get in trouble. But since it’s there, it gives me the opportunity to capture more data. For that I have used 2 apps.
CrewNerd. CrewNerd is an iphone app that displays pace, rate, HR, and a bunch of other stuff, You can also program workouts into it and it will save all your workout data. The app is very well done and the display is very clear. The only issue I have had with it is the lag in pace readings caused by the slow (1Hz) GPS update rate of the iphone. You can buy a widget that increases that up to 10Hz, but I think going and buying a Speedcoach GPS would be another way to fix that problem. Anyway, the good thing about using GPS is that you get more accurate readings on still water. On the impeller driven Speedcoach, there is always an accumulating error over long workouts.
Rowing In Motion. I have used Rowing in Motion for at least a dozen outings. It is a very different app from CrewNerd and probably a better app for in the boat. It seems to do a better job tracking changes in speed than CrewNerd, but I’m not sure why. It also provides real time acceleration curves on the display for each stroke. So if you are working on technique, you can use it to see if you are actually improving the way you go through recovery into the catch. It also has a feature called “sonification” which uses the speaker on the phone to emit a tone. The pitch of the tone is related to the instantaneous acceleration of the boat, so you can work on technique without even looking at the display. I never go the hang of using that feature, but it was fun to try.
The data from RIM is typically analyzed in the RIM on line tool, but can also be exported to Excel, although I haven’t done that.
GoPro Hero2. Video feedback is very useful to try to figure out what you are doing wrong, and I use a GoPro waterproof camera to do that. I use it in one of two locations. First, I have a mount on my stern deck. This view provides a view toward the bow and shows me and my oars out to the ends. You can see issues with balance and oar height, but you can really see body mechanics all that well. This is also a good mount for races where you want something relatively unobtrusive.
This creates video like this:
For side view video, I was sent a gift by a friend in Canada. An old backstay. He had previously improvised a mount to put this on the end of his rigger to get the camera about 4 or 5 feet out to the side of the boat.
I modified the way to attach the gopro to the rigger. The end of the rigger is a 1 1/2″ OD aluminum pipe 3 1/2″ long welded to the rigger tube vertically. This tube is drilled on the stern side to mount the oarlock. Looking at it, I decided the easiest way to mount the backstay to the gopro was to put a bolt through the pipe and hold each end with a 1 1/2″ OD fender washer. It worked like a champ!
With this mount, I get videos like this:
Notice the pace, rate and HR? I’ll do another post later about how to do that.