Techno-Thursday – 14K of technical rowing

Yesterday was a rest day.  When I woke up this morning, I was still stiff and sore from my run on Tuesday.

After all the good feedback that I got after I posted the side view videos, it seemed like a good idea to do a session focused on technique.  I also wanted to keep the intensity low.  The data indicates that many of my steady state sessions are pushing toward “black hole” type sessions.  I need to dial it back so I can train the right stuff on the right days.

Conditions:  Sunny, Temps started in the mid fifties and were up into the sixties by the time I finished.  There was a light breeze that was generally a tail wind going down river and a head wind heading up river.


  1. Workout divided into 4 sections.  Each one takes me the length of the river.
  2. To start,
    • Start at the finish with blades buried.  With no pressure go through the whole recovery with blades buried to the catch position.  Feel the pressure on the blades and allow it to pull you further into the catch.  Feel the pressure go down as the boat coast to a full stop.  Then with no pressure, go through all the phases of the drive in slow motion, properly sequencing legs, then body, then arms.  Keep blades buried at the finish.  Repeat.
    • 10 to 20 reps of “King of the Mountain”, trying to focus on keeping my shoulders relaxed and isolating the arm movement.  Maintain balance at the catch without getting all tense.
    • Go straight into “Top Quarter”.  Try to get 10 strokes using only 6″ of slide without getting all caught up at the finish.  Try to extend to 12″ of slide (this is really hard)
  3. 500m of rowing with square blades.  Watch the boat acceleration on RIM.  Try to work on clean finishes by looking at the “bump” in the boat acceleration that happens at the finish if I gets caught up.
  4. 500m of rowing with a slow roll up.  Finish into a feather and immediately start to slowly roll the blades to fully square by the time arms and body are in the catch position.  Work on balance and firm control of the blade position.
  5. 500m of normal rowing 18-22 spm.  Try to translate what was going on with the SBR and the roll ups into normal rowing.  Work on getting blades clear of the water on recovery.  Work on smoothly squaring the blades in the last quarter of the recovery.  Work on smoothly accelerating from the catch.  Work on finishing early and crisply.
  6. repeat to the end of each length
  7. For the last leg home, do the whole thing at 18-22spm steady state rowing.

It was a nice morning.  I forgot my HR strap, so the plot looks a bit different.  The drills went quite well.

King of the mountain:  I was getting so I could really get the blades high above the water and hold for a beat before dropping again.  I pushed it too far one time and nearly flipped, but good progress on balance

Top quarter:  I had a couple of good strings where I was cleanly popping the blades out and getting back to the catch, but I was definitely hanging up on the finish as soon as I was using more that 6″ of slide.  I think I had trouble with the additional boat speed.

SBR:  Sometime messy, sometimes clean.  I was definitely getting hung up at the finish.  I may need to give my self some more room by moving my feet another notch into the bow.

Slow roll up:  This was the first time I really tried to do this in a single.  It was hair raising for the first 10 strokes or so, but then I got the hang of it.  I really liked it when I got a perfectly clean recovery, without touching any water and slowly rolling to square.  I felt like a “real rower”.  Of course I only felt that way on about 5 strokes out of the 200 that I took that way.

Steady state:  The big thing here was trying to work on the connection through the whole drive.  Looking at the RIM display I could see the instantaneous acceleration display had a real hook in it during the first phase of the drive.  I was trying different ways to try to smooth it out.  If I did a softer catch and accelerated through the leg drive a bit more slowly, I could smooth it out.  Interestingly, I also went faster.  Depressingly, it felt very foreign.  I was also trying to keep in mind to keep my shoulders and hands nice and low during the catch to try to avoid the “over the barrel” effect.  During the last leg of the river, I was seeing some really nice boat speed for the rate I was rowing.  I suspect I was working a bit hard, but things felt silky smooth.

Perhaps there is a light at the end of this very long tunnel.


00020_|_0340_|_01:56_|_2:50.9_|_030___|_15.5_|_11.3_|_000___|_arms & body
00360_|_2960_|_14:48_|_2:30.0_|_268___|_18.1_|_11.0_|_000___|_2x(500 of SBR, roll ups, SS)
03320_|_3220_|_19:50_|_3:04.7_|_300___|_15.1_|_10.7_|_000___|_2x(500 of SBR, roll ups, SS)
06540_|_0480_|_02:12_|_2:17.1_|_041___|_18.7_|_11.7_|_000___|_500m ss @ 18
07020_|_1000_|_05:14_|_2:37.1_|_094___|_18.0_|_10.6_|_000___|_1x(SBR, Roll ups)
08020_|_0500_|_02:15_|_2:14.7_|_048___|_21.4_|_10.4_|_000___|_500m ss @ 22
08520_|_0800_|_04:05_|_2:33.1_|_077___|_18.9_|_10.4_|_000___|_1x(500 of SBR, roll ups)
09320_|_0900_|_05:29_|_3:02.7_|_094___|_17.1_|_09.6_|_000___|_Legs only
10220_|_2260_|_10:29_|_2:19.1_|_217___|_20.7_|_10.4_|_000___|_SS @ 20
12480_|_0160_|_00:57_|_2:58.4_|_019___|_20.0_|_08.4_|_000___|_”the Cut”
12640_|_0240_|_01:03_|_2:11.5_|_024___|_22.8_|_10.0_|_000___|_Little burst at 22
12880_|_0440_|_02:02_|_2:18.6_|_045___|_22.1_|_09.8_|_000___|_big curve
13320_|_0160_|_00:40_|_2:04.4_|_018___|_27.1_|_08.9_|_000___|_finish at 24

13120_|_09:03_|_2:37.9_|_1245___|_18.0_|_10.5_|_000___|_Main set

Tomorrow:  I’m thinking a steady state rate ladder session 3′ @ 18, 2′ @ 20, 1′ @ 22.  Repeat ad nauseum.

Note:  Good videos of some of these drills are on Rowing Related