Friday: 3 x 20′ L4

Another day, another L4.  Dentist appointment in the morning, so no chance to work out then.  By 4:30 in the afternoon, things were simmering down in the office, and I snuck off to the gym.

Today was a 60′ L4 on slides.  I’m just messing around with different stroke sequences.  Today it was:

4’@ 18 / 3’@ 19 / 2′ @ 20 / 2’@21 / 2’@20 / 3’@19 / 4’@ 18

Basically rowing over a big hill.  Then I did it again.  For the third one, I just did 2 repeats of 4/3/2/1, but I really amped up the power for the last 2 minutes while trying to hold the stroke rate.  This is kind of useful on slides because you need to maintain good stroke mechanics even when you are pulling really hard.  You need to focus on a nice smooth recovery or else the erg gets all kinds of upset with you.

As usual for me right now, the HR was a bit too high.  I’m not overly concerned for a number of reasons.  I’d appreciate feedback on this because my understanding of this stuff is far from complete.

At very low intensities, essentially all the energy comes from the metabolism of fat.  This form of metabolism does not generate any pyruvate, which ends up being lactate.  As intensity increases, this form of metabolism cannot supply enough energy and carbohydrates begin to be used.  This metabolic pathway generates lactate.  This is illustrated as the “crossover concept”, introduced in the mid 90’s in a paper by Brooks and Mercier

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 11.57.18 AMLactate is a useful form of energy which is also metabolized in exercise, so at a certain intensity, the production of lactate is balanced with the consumption of lactate.  This results in a stable lactate level that is used to determine the appropriate intensity for maximally effective endurance training.  The level can vary by athlete and fitness state, but is usually between 1.5mmol/l and 2.5mmol/l of lactate.  Exercising above this intensity leads to the incremental accumulation of lactate in the muscles and eventually to exhaustion.  Way above the limit rapidly increases lactate levels  (like a sprint) , a little above the limit results in a slow climb (like a 60′ time trial)

The fundamental theory behind polarized training is that the different energy pathways can be developed independently.  That you increase the ability to metabolize fat by exercising at levels that lean most heavily on that energy system.  That exercising at a intensity where you are at that lactate stasis level will eventually lead to improvement in the steady state power required to be at stasis.  Of course, to succeed in competition, you also need to develop your ability to tolerate high lactate levels, the maximum amount of power you can product, and the neuromuscular coordination to perform at high output levels.  That is why you do the hard part of polarized training.

So, why not just go hard all the time?  Three reasons.  First, it does nothing to help develop your ability to metabolize fat.  Two, it does nothing to develop your ability to metabolize lactate.  Third, it leaves you too depleted to go really hard when you are working on lactate tolerance and power.

So what’s up with how I’m training right now.  I’ve put myself into a holding pattern.  I have no boat, and I am rowing on the water only about once a week.  My job is requiring a lot of travel and a lot more hours than it was before so my ability to maintain a structured training plan is compromised, as is total amount of time I can devote to training.  So, I am focusing on trying to maintain my base aerobic fitness and push a little bit harder than I normally would because I am not putting a lot of energy into high impact sessions.

I am conflicted about this.  I think I would probably be better off if I turned the intensity down on these sessions and made a point of including one sprinty session a week, and I might do that, but for some reason that really isn’t making feel all that happy.  My highest priority is doing whatever I need to do to get my ass onto the erg as often as I can and less about what I do once I am there.

Anyway, back to the workout.  Basically the same deal as the usual.

Now it’s Saturday and I’m trying to figure out when to squeeze in a workout.



Thursday: 4 x 20′ L4

With my work schedule and stress I am finding that I have no appetite for intense erg sessions.  When I go to the gym, I really want to just relax and space out doing some endurance training.

I found myself in the gym a bit earlier than usual, around 6:30, so I decided to do 80 minutes today.  I decided to start harder and get easier as I went along, but I got tired faster than the intensity dropped so my heart rate ended up higher than I was hoping to see, especially in the last 20 minutes.

On slides.  18spm –> 170 ….21spm –> 200W


Wednesday: 30′ L4 – Flying blind!

I arrived home from Denver around 1AM, so I slept in to 7:30 instead of getting up to workout.  By the end of the day, I was a nervous wreck.  Lot’s of work tension these days.  So, I decided to do a quick 30 minute session to just calm myself down a little.

The session was 5 x 6′ L4 sequences (on slides)

2′ @ 22, 2′ @ 20, 2′ @ 18 at just under 10W x stroke rate, so 170W at r18, 190W at r20 and 210W at r22.

Everything was going fine until I was starting the 4th interval, when the batteries in the PM5 died in dramatic fashion.  By dramatic fashion, I mean that entirely theatrically.  It died and came back to life at least 3 times.  Each time it totally reset the session.  Ultimately with around 8 minutes to go, it died entirely and I was rowing completely blind.  As you can see from the HR plot, I seem to need the feedback because my HR went through the roof as I pushed harder and harder while counting strokes to try to hit the rate.

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I really needed this workout.  I felt much more relaxed afterwards.


50′ in the Fitness Center 

I had planned to head out to a crossfit box, but I was up later (and drank more) than I had planned. 

I’m at a conference for users of our products, and part of being a good host is hanging in the bar and buying a few rounds of drinks. 

Anyway, I decided to sleep a bit longer and do a short maintenance session in the hotel fitness center. 

30 minutes inclined walk (15deg, 3.2mph)

20 minutes stationary bike with a rolling hills workout programmed. 

I fly home tonight. Back to the erg on slides tomorrow morning. Another easy endurance session. 

Monday: 4×20 L4

I decided to work from home today.  I caught a evening flight from Boston to Denver, and I wanted to get a bit of extra sleep and avoid driving.

I finished up my meetings in the early afternoon, and decided to do a nice easy endurance session.  I had a little extra time, so I thought 80 minutes of work time would be a good idea.

I started really easy

  • alternating 18 and 19 spm (10W x stroke rate) in 2 minute chunks for the first 20 minutes.
  • (18,19,20,19,18 in 2 minute chunks) x 2 for the second.
  • (4′ @ 18, 3′ @ 19, 2′ @20, 1’@ 21) x 2 for the third
  • (3′ @ 18, 3′ @ 19, 3′ @ 20, 1′ @ 21) x 2 for the fourth.

This worked out really well with me slowly pushing up the heart rate and hitting the top of the UT1 band in the last minute of the 80 minute session.  I felt very fresh after I was done.

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Tomorrow:  I have found a crossfit box about half a mile from my hotel.  I’m thinking that I might take another shot at the CTC.



Sunday: 12K in a quad on a windy morning

No rowing on Saturday.  My wife and I were down in New York City.  We had Friday night tickets to the “hot new musical” Hamilton.  It was a remarkable show.  Difficult to believe that you can create a heart wrenching play about the guy who was the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.  Even more remarkable, the show was hip hop based and nearly the entire thing was rapped or sung.  In my mind, it has basically just reinvented the genre of musical theater.

We got home in the early evening on Saturday.  Too late for a row.

The weather data says it was only a blowing 7-10mph, with gusts up to 15mph, but it felt like a lot more wind while we rowed in it.  It was straight from the north which is a head wind while rowing up lake.

I was in a quad with Bob, Angela and Deb.   This time of year, there is a fully buoyed, six lane, 2K course set up on the lake from the 290 bridge down to the rt 9 bridge.  There were races later on in the day, but we could row up the lanes this early in the morning.

We headed up lake first and turned around before the rt 290 bridge because the stake boats were out and then turned and rowed with the tail wind (and big chop) all the way down the lake.  Then we turned around for the long slog back up to the boathouse.

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I forgot my HR strap at home so no HR data.  I also got the screen splashed pretty hard during the last push to the bridge, so the last 1000m or so is missing from the pace plot.  The TCX data kept recording though.

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Tomorrow:  Probably another 3×20.  I fly out to Denver late in the day tomorrow and return on Tuesday night.


Thursday: 8 x 2′ / 2′ rest

On slides

Target pace 1:48 (I wish it could be faster, but I’m trying to be realistic)

Started off with a Fletcher warmup.  HR was a bit high.

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Then on to the main event.  I had a brief, little break down during the first rep.  Basically, it started to bite a little and I needed to do a gut check to decide if I was willing to “go there” today.  I was.

Annoying HR dropouts from the Wahoo TIKR again.  It only happens when I do short intervals.  I have no idea why.  I kind of enjoyed the last rep.


After that I did a 2K cool down.

Tomorrow:  3 x 20 / 1′ rest (static)

Wednesday: 3 x 20′ / 1′ rest

I wanted to keep up my momentum, so instead of shortening the session, I got up extra early, so I could do the full hour, and still get to my 8am meeting on time.

The session was a carbon copy of yesterday’s.  Constant 20 spm, constant power, around 184W.  On slides.  HR was a little bit higher today, but only marginally.  In terms of RPE, it was exactly the same.

Tomorrow:  A bit of spice.  A short interval session.  8 x 500.

Tuesday: 3 x 20′ / 1′ rest r20

The objective was an easy session.  Stay in UT2 and UT1 HR bands.

I decided to just stick to r20 and around 180W (on slides) and see what happened with my HR.  I hit the top of the UT1 band with about a minute to go in the session.

It was, all in all, very relaxed.

Tomorrow:  Shorter session.  I have an 8am meeting.  Probably a 10K (UT1) or something.