Sunday: 3 x 20′ / 1′ rest L4

I thought about doing 80 minutes, but decided to stop after 60.  It was a lovely workout. Today, I did 3 – 20 minute segments. Each segment was

  • 3’@18, 3’@19, 3’@20, 2’@21, 3’@20, 3’@19, 3’@18
  • Every thing at 10W x spm (18 spm = 180 watts, etc)

This seems a bit harder than other arrangements of the same stroke rates because you have 8′ at 200W or above in  the middle of each section.  Makes the time go by a bit faster too.

I used ergdata today with the PM5.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.43.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.41.26 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-06 at 5.39.50 PM


Tomorrow:  I might give the CTC a try 9 x 300 / 30″ rest.  I’ll start at a 1:40 and see where that takes me.

Catching up: 2/27 to 3/3 – sick all week

Saturday 2/27: After I managed to really blow up big time in my 2k attempts, I went downhill fast. Stomach cramps set in by around 6pm, and by 8 I was in bed shivering and strangely enough struggling with nasty leg and foot cramps. I was up and down all night

Sunday 2/28: pretty darn ill. Basically slept the entire day. Ate nothing. Manage to drink about one glass of water. This was worrying because I had a business trip coming on Monday. 

Monday 2/29: dragged myself to the airport, and got through my meetings in Chicago, but was still feeling under the weather. 

Tuesday 3/1: I had time to trading before my 9am flight to Minnesota, but decided sleep and recovery was the better choice. Another day of meetings large and small in our design center up there. 

Wednesday 3/2: again, I had the time to get in a workout, but still didn’t feel up to it. Flew from Minnesota to Portland, Oregon. Another design center and another set of meetings. Started to feel ‘normal’ in the afternoon, and by dinner I noticed my appetite was starting to return with a vengeance. 

Thursday 3/3 (today): today, I managed to get down to the fitness center for a very easy 30 minute session, 10 minutes on a cross trainer that seemed incapable of providing resistance, and then 20 minutes walking up an incline. (15 % grade, around 5 mph). This was good, heart rate right around 70% HRR. It felt good to work up a little sweat. Today, I’ll be in our second biggest design center in Los Angeles, for another day of meetings. Then I’ll grab the red eye back to Boston. 

Tomorrow, I will plan on an easy erg session, maybe a 3×20 L4. I expect that the illness and training layoff has probably set me back a month in terms of fitness. It’s time to lay out objectives for the summer and map out a training plan. 

This kind of stuff is frustrating, I need to work on making the overall training program challenging AND enjoyable on its own. I’m trying to find the balance. On one hand, setting goals to achieve certain levels of performance in competition is very motivating and enables me to really push harder workouts and not blow off training. On the other hand, I have higher priorities than competition, especially since my competition is against my own prior performance. I’m never going to set records or win big events. That doesn’t change the feeling of satisfaction that comes as you reel in and pass someone in a head race, right at the edge of your capabilities. 

Enough philosophy. Time to go talk to some engineers!

Comparison of ErgStick and ErgData

This is not meant to be a comprehensive product review.  Instead it is an evaluation of two products to figure out which one is the best for my specific needs.

Those needs are:

  • Record stroke by stroke data from the erg
  • Support PM5 (required), PM4 and PM3 (bonus)
  • Works with iphone
  • No physical connection required to phone (because I use headphones and wear the phone on my bet when I row * )
  • Works with other apps running including wahoo fitness, stitcher, spotify, etc
  • Works with wahoo tikr HR strap
  • provides CSV output for post processing (required)

* Note:  Before you ask, I have tried wireless ear buds and none of them stay in my ears, and all of them are incredibly fiddly.  Maybe someday cheap, reliable BT earbuds will be available that I can screw securely into my ears.  Until then, the phone stays on the hip.

I was going to originally include PainSled in the evaluation, but I am still working through some Beta issues with the developer.  As soon as I have something useful to say, I’ll write that one up too.

First up.  Ergstick.  Check out their website.  It is a USB dongle that is sold for $120.  This is what it looks like.

2016-03-05 21.46.22.jpg

You jam the green thingy into the back of your PM5, or the bottom of your PM3.  I haven’t  tried it with the PM3, but I plan to tomorrow.

Then you fire up the app and I made a horrifying discovery.  To get the single most important feature that I wanted from the software (CSV exports), I needed to pony up for “ErgStick Pro” to the tune of $39.99.  And this did not buy the pro version, it gives a one year subscription to the pro version.  So the cost of ergstick is $120+$40 initially, plus $40 per year.  Wow! Ouch!  On top of that, I can find nothing about this on their website.  The only place where it is defined is in the description of the app in the apple app store.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 9.55.12 PM.png

OK, well I’ve come this far.  Next step is to try it out.  I paid my money (in for a penny, in for a pound) and upgraded.  The app synched right away with the dongle and provided a live screen with nifty data that I don’t look at.

I programmed the PM5 for a time interval session (10′ with 0:00 rest), and off I went.  When I finished, I pushed menu to terminate the workout and checked out my phone.  Here are the cool screen you get.

Pretty nice displays.  On the Heart Rate, Pace and Stroke Rate screen, the cursor should have been showing the values.  For some reason it didn’t in the interval session.  It did for this simple 100m test session that I did without a HR sensor.

2016-03-05 17.37.23

Getting CSV was not as convenient as some other apps, which allow you to ship to dropbox or sync multiple files automatically.  In this app you need to email each file individually.  A pain, but workable.  From there it was simple to modify my ergdata spreadsheet to deal with the ergstick format data.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 5.47.57 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-05 at 6.05.03 PM

ergstick provides 4 to 6 records per stroke, and a huge number of data fields in the CSV.

Total elapsed time (s)

Total distance (m)

Stroke rate (/min)

Speed (m/s)

Current heart rate (bpm)

Stroke count

Stroke power (W)

Stroke calories (cal/hr)

Projected work time (s)

Projected work distance (m)

Split/interval time (s)

Split/interval distance (m)

Split/interval rest time (s)

Split/interval rest distance (s)

Split/interval type

Split/interval number

Split/interval ave. stroke rate (/min)

Split/interval ave. pace (/500m)

Split/interval total calories (cals)

Split/interval average calories (cal/hr)

Split/interval speed (m/s)

Split/interval power (W)

Split/interval ave. drag factor

OK, so on to ergdata.  With the PM5, it’s just the same except it doesn’t cost anything. I started ergdata on my phone, and it immediately synched up with the PM5.  I programmed the same 10’/0 rest interval session on the PM5 and did another L4 steady state session.

After I finished, I pressed menu on the PM5 to terminate the session and checked my phone.  Here are the key screens.

On the logBook screen you can push the sync button and like magic, the session appears in your concept2 online logbook.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 10.11.38 PM.png

Then you can push the little magnifying glass to dive into the workout.  And then this is what you see.  I’ve heard through the grapevine that HR data will be added to the graphs and summaries soon.  The graphs show the selected interval.  There is no choice of units or ability to show the whole workout.  There are apparently some glitches in the way that it calculates pace for interval workouts with rest meters in them.  I assume for ranking distances that they have tested the crap out of it, but if you should check the numbers if you care a lot.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 10.12.28 PM.png

You can see over on the right side, at the bottom there is an option to export stroke data.  This is a much less sophisticated data set than ergstick, but it has all the basics with a single record per stroke.

Stroke Number

Time (seconds)

Distance (meters)

Pace (seconds per 500m)

Stroke Rate

Heart Rate

This was easy to massage into excel.  So easy in fact, that I decided to add a watts graph to the collection.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 6.05.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-05 at 6.05.22 PM

So, from my perspective, there is a clear winner.  Ergdata is much, much cheaper, and it provides automatic synching with the concept2 log book.  If you have a PM3 or PM4 and you are thinking of buying an ergstick, I suggest a PM5 upgrade instead because the cost will less after the second year.

There is a specific group of people that I think will prefer the ergstick.  If you are on a team or have a common practice facility with a large number of ergs that have PM4 or PM3 and you want to get workout data in a consistent format, then ergstick will be a very good solution.   It will let you use any erg and get the data you need.  But it is pretty darn expensive.




Saturday: 3 x 20′ L4 (Bliss)

Yesterday was a blur.  I got off the red eye at 6AM and I was bleary eyed and strung out.  I went home and tumbled in bed and slept until nearly noon.

After that, it was a bunch of work phone calls, mainly trying to figure out a bunch of travel coming up in the next few weeks.  There just wasn’t enough time to workout before my wife and I needed to pack up and head in to the city to celebrate my twin sons birthday (#23!).  A very frustrating day and a workout would have definitely helped my mental outlook.

Today, nothing would stop me, and I had new toys to try out.  I’ll put up a separate post, but today, I compares ergdata, ergstick, and painsled today, along with giving my new PM5 a maiden voyage.  I was in data heaven.  But we’ll get to that.  First the workout.


  • 3 x 20′ L4 format
  • 10W per stroke
  • 2′ rests to let me change which toy I was trying.
  • Try to keep peak HR in UT1 range.  Try to keep average in UT2

First 20 minutes, I used painsled.  No luck.  This was all I got from painsled.

2016-03-05 16.26.10

I’ve emailed back and forth with the developer and apparently, this is not an error that any other users are seeing.  Oh well.

Here’s the results using the old fashioned method.  The stroke sequence was

  • 2′ @ 18, 2′ @ 19, 2′ @ 20, 2′ @ 19, 2′ @ 18
  • 1′ @ 21, 3′ @ 20, 3′ @ 19, 3′ @ 18


2016-03-05 17.11.07

Nice low HR.

Then over to ergstick for another 2×10′.  This time, I did 2 of the 1×21, 3×20, 3×19, 3×18 sequences.

Ergstick provides a CSV output that I quickly adapted my ergdata worksheet to use.  Here’s the result of that.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 5.48.14 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-05 at 5.47.57 PM

2016-03-05 17.11.15

So, pretty easy stuff.

Finally, over to ergdata.  And a carbon copy of the prior 20 minutes

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 6.05.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-05 at 6.05.22 PM

And of course with ergdata, you can seamlessly sync to the logbook, so boom, here’s the summary.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 9.33.43 PM

What an enjoyable workout.  Just about the perfect intensity.

Tomorrow:  4 x20′ – All on erg data.