Thursday: r20 Steady State

Weather:  Perfect.  warm, 70F when I started, 75F when I finished.  Sunny.  Light WNW wind ~ 2mph.  This was a cross/tail wind going downstream and cross/head going upstream.   Water was very flat.  Really delightful.

Plan:  I was originally thinking to do a technique session, but I changed my mind.  I have been doing a lot of rate ladders and technique work, but not much pure steady state rowing.  And when I do, it tends to be at r18.  This has helped me work on balance and stroke mechanics, but it also has encouraged me to pull really hard at the low rate to get any kind of decent pace.  Today, I decided to try upping the rate a bit, and lighten my stroke to keep it low intensity

  • Steady State
  • 4 x ~3000m
  • 1′ rests to turn the boat and grab a quick drink
  • Rate: 20 SPM
  • Pace: faster than 2:30
  • Heart Rate: < 155, start to ease up on pressure when HR gets above 150
  • Technique:  Favor length over power.  Get fully compressed at the catch. Finish clean and early.  Get those damn blades off the water.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 11.26.52 AM plots of the TCX data from CrewNerd

Plots from Speedcoach impeller data

Summary data from Speedcoach

01137_|_2697_|_13:01_|_2:24.8_|_265___|_20.4_|_10.2_|_147___|_downstream tail wind
03900_|_2728_|_13:27_|_2:27.8_|_272___|_20.2_|_10.0_|_148___|_upstream head wind
06800_|_2827_|_13:54_|_2:27.5_|_281___|_20.2_|_10.1_|_148___|_downstream lt tail
09750_|_2731_|_13:33_|_2:28.9_|_274___|_20.2_|_10.0_|_151___|_upstream lt head
12480_|_1203_|_07:09_|_2:58.2_|_128___|_17.9_|_09.4_|_139___|_cool down

10983_|_53:55_|_2:27.3_|_1092___|_20.3_|_10.1_|_148___|_Main set
00356_|_02:24_|_3:21.7_|_041___|_17.1_|_08.7_|_130___|_rest meters
01203_|_07:09_|_2:58.2_|_128___|_17.9_|_09.4_|_139___|_cool down

Tomorrow:  1000m time trial, 10 minute rest, 4 x 750 / 4′ rest


Wednesday: Tons of Starts (28 of them)

Weather:  Cloudy, warm 70F, intermittent light rain.  Wind flukey, generally from the SW about 2mph.


  • Warmup: increasing stroke rate bursts over about 3000m.
  • Start Practice:
    • Standing start (obviously)
    • 15 strokes (5 to get to full length, 5 hard, settle to race rate over last 5)
    • 1 minute rests, with longer pauses to turn and avoid twisty bits of the river.
    • Technique:  Sit comfortably at the catch.  Don’t overly compress.  First stroke start smooth and finish early.  Quick, short strokes, barely feather, get blades off the water.  Then go out to full slide at maximal pressure for 5 strokes.  Crisp downshift to racing rate after 10 strokes.  Keep it light and above 30 spm.
  • Cool down: SBR, easy steady state, then feet out.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.38.05 PM

After an uncertain start, I had a blast.  My stomach wasn’t feeling all that great, and I stopped for a bathroom break on the way to the boathouse.  I didn’t feel strong and powerful during the warmup either, but I noticed that my paces were actually pretty good.

The warmup took me to the Moody Street Dam, and I turned around, had a drink and set myself up for my first start.  It was terrible.  The first stroke was uncertain and left me unbalanced, which led to multiple weak and shaky strokes.  But I hung in with it and eventually got up to speed.  The next one I took more carefully and it was pretty smooth.  Another 6 starts took me to the beginning of the S-turn.  I paddled through the turn and took about a 4 minute rest.

Then I did 6 starts up which took me to the newton end of the river.  By now, I was getting very comfortable at the catch and reliably getting my splits down into the low 1:40s.

I turned and took another 3 or 4 minute rest and had a drink.  Then I took off for the next set.  The light wind that was slowing me down a bit before was now behind me, and all the sudden I was seeing 1:39 or 1:38 as my peak pace.  This was getting fun.  I did 6 starts to the start of the s-turn.  Another quick break for a drink and to paddle through the turn.

Then it was 4 starts to get to the bridge, then a quick paddle through it and then 4 more to the end of the basin.  The last 4 were a blast.  After I finished I noticed that my legs were vibrating.  I was pretty beat.  But I was happy.  I achieved the highest strokes I ever have and I actually felt like I had better control than in previous sessions.  I also have never routinely seen 1:39 splits.  And it’s fun to go fast.  The thing I need to work on is getting a good settle and getting the pace back to around 2:00 so I don’t torch myself in the first 500m of the race.


myimage (31)

Tomorrow:  Steady State Endurance.  Probably technique oriented.  Definitely HR capped below 155.

Workout Summary - media/20160629-183958-2016-06-29-0658.CSV
Workout Details
01|04050| 21:32 |02:37.9|19.7|134.0|166.0|09.7
02|00103| 00:27 |02:12.0|33.1|130.0|148.0|06.9
03|00097| 00:23 |01:56.9|39.9|143.0|157.0|06.5
04|00114| 00:26 |01:54.7|34.3|147.0|161.0|07.6
05|00104| 00:25 |01:57.4|36.8|148.0|161.0|06.9
06|00107| 00:25 |01:57.2|36.0|154.0|162.0|07.1
07|00113| 00:26 |01:57.8|33.7|152.0|162.0|07.5
08|00113| 00:27 |01:58.9|33.4|152.0|162.0|07.5
09|00102| 00:25 |01:59.3|36.8|152.0|161.0|06.8
10|00329| 02:04 |03:07.6|18.9|140.0|157.0|08.4
11|00109| 00:27 |02:04.0|33.4|132.0|151.0|07.3
12|00097| 00:23 |01:56.6|39.6|144.0|159.0|06.5
13|00094| 00:22 |01:55.0|41.7|133.0|154.0|06.3
14|00101| 00:24 |01:56.0|38.4|146.0|159.0|06.7
15|00101| 00:23 |01:54.7|38.7|149.0|160.0|06.7
16|00098| 00:23 |01:57.0|39.4|150.0|160.0|06.5
17|00110| 00:25 |01:53.6|36.0|138.0|157.0|07.3
18|00110| 00:23 |01:48.2|37.8|148.0|160.0|07.3
19|00094| 00:21 |01:51.5|42.9|151.0|161.0|06.3
20|00103| 00:22 |01:46.2|41.0|153.0|162.0|06.9
21|00087| 00:19 |01:50.3|47.2|151.0|159.0|05.8
22|00093| 00:21 |01:49.0|44.4|151.0|161.0|06.2
23|00101| 00:23 |01:53.2|39.4|140.0|157.0|06.7
24|00092| 00:20 |01:51.0|44.0|150.0|159.0|06.1
25|00094| 00:21 |01:49.5|43.9|152.0|160.0|06.3
26|00090| 00:20 |01:52.1|44.4|151.0|159.0|06.0
27|00092| 00:20 |01:48.4|45.0|144.0|158.0|06.1
28|00095| 00:21 |01:52.9|42.1|153.0|162.0|06.3
29|00094| 00:21 |01:50.4|43.4|152.0|161.0|06.3
30|00089| 00:19 |01:50.5|45.9|152.0|161.0|05.9
31|04019| 23:10 |02:52.0|20.0|141.0|155.0|08.7

Tuesday: Rate Ladders in a 2x

I had an appointment to have my car serviced this morning and the dealership is out near Lake Quinsigamond in Shrewsbury.  I dropped my friend Joe a note yesterday to find out if he would be interested in taking out a double this morning for a row before I dropped off my car.  He was.  So we met at the lake around 5:45 and took out a nice Vespoli double that we have.

Joe is recovering from a surgical repair of a torn biceps tendon.  He missed all of last season, but this season he is starting to get back to his old form.  We put our names in the draw for the masters double event at the HOCR.  Today was the first time we’ve been out in a double for about 2 years.  We decided to do some rate ladders to work on our timing and try to match up our techniques a bit.


  • Rate Ladders: 4′ @ 18, 3′ @ 20, 2′ @ 22, 1′ @ 24
  • Short rests at the south and north ends of the lake.

Weather:  Cloudy, some light rain, warm around 70F.  Wind was from the south at 3 to 5 mph. (1.8 to 2.2 m/s)  The boat felt a lot heavier rowing south than it did rowing north.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 8.06.12 AM

We started out from just north of the rt 9 bridge and headed south.  The first ladder started at 2 minutes.  We hit the south end of the lake at the end of the r20 section of the second ladder and turned around to finish the r22 and r24 sections.  Rowing north was a treat.  The boat felt light and I felt like our timing was working better.  One challenge we have to work on is that Joe and I seem to want the boat to lean in slightly different directions.  I always feel like the boat is leaning a bit to port.  Another thing to work on is finishes.  I noticed that my finishes were sloppier in a double than in the single, I imagine because the stroke is a bit quicker.

We finished the 3rd ladder about 1000m south of the route 9 bridge and continued into the fourth.  By the time we got to the r24 part of the fourth interval, I felt like we were rowing pretty well together and I called that we would go keep pushing the rate up.  I heard the reaction, I was hoping for from Joe in the bow…”Alright!”.  So, a minute at 26 felt great.  Then up to 28.  This started to be a bit more ragged, but still good fun.  Then finally to 30.  This was pretty nasty rowing, and not really any faster than the r28 bit.  I don’t know about Joe, but I was feeling pretty winded by the time we were into the r30.  We finished the r30 section right before we got to the I290 bridge and paddled it out to the north end of the lake.

There is just about 3K from the north end of the lake to the boathouse.  We decided to do 20 strokes on / 20 strokes off until we had about 500m to go and then finish hard…just in case there was anyone at the boathouse to impress :-).

With about 700m to go, I brought up the rate and with 500m to go we went to full pressure at r28 and I started counting strokes to the finish.

I really enjoyed that.  From a pure training effectiveness perspective, I probably should have kept the intensity a little lower, but I think it was good to work on technique at higher rates, and it was fun.

Looking at the biorow data, the wind would have slowed the pace down about 9 seconds going south and sped us up about 7 seconds going north.

Tomorrow:  Back in the single.  Race prep.  Standing starts, 15 strokes, 1′ rests over and over.




Monday: Steady State r18/r20

Weather:  Sunny and beautiful.  Light wind, around 2mph which was gusty and gained a bit of strength during the session, ending at around 5mph.  It was a headwind going up river and it sure felt a lot heavier rowing that direction.


  • Steady State Rate Ladders
  • alternate 2′ @ 18 / 2′ @ 20
  • 1′ rests at the ends of the river (roughly every 15 minutes)
  • Heart Rate Cap: 155, try to stay well below the cap
  • Technique:  Long reach, clean finishes, good balance

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 12.15.10 PM

I enjoyed the workout.  It was good to have my speedcoach back.  I missed getting pace feedback on a stroke by stroke basis.  My first trip down the river, I was delighted by how light the boat felt.  I was also pretty happy with the pace I was seeing.  When I finally turned around at the Waltham end of the river, I noticed that there was actually a light tailwind helping me along for the first 20 minutes.  Rowing back into it was a very different experience.  I tried to row by effort and allowed the pace to float up.  It was tough to judge because the feel of the stroke was very different, much heavier.

But, it was a very nice workout.  And I managed to keep my HR in the right place and work a lot on finishes and balance.

Lots of split data, now that I have my happy speedcoach back.  The only interesting bit is the totals for r18 and r20.  r18 pace was 2:33, r20 pace was 2:28.  I’d like to see those about 3 seconds faster than that, but when you include the starting, stopping, and head wind, I’m OK with it.


00148_|_01:02_|_3:30.8_|_011___|_10.6_|_13.5_|_117___|_rest meters
01040_|_06:09_|_2:57.3_|_119___|_19.4_|_08.7_|_140___|_cool down
11545_|_58:01_|_2:30.7_|_1109___|_19.1_|_10.4_|_145___|_main set

Just for fun, so you can see the difference between speedcoach and Crewnerd data.  Here is the same session, both plotted on

First is Speedcoach.  I was setup to log data every second stroke.  One key difference is that no data is logged when I am turning, so the rests disappear.  The second is from Crewnerd.



Tomorrow:  A rare midweek row out on Quinsig.  Another low intensity session.  I think this one will be technique oriented.  Probably 2′ SBR, 2′ Alternating, 2′ r20.

Sunday: 6 x 750 / 4′ rest on Quinsig

It was a lovely morning.  Temperature started around 65F and was 75F by the time we finished.  Wind was light from the south, about 2mph with gusts to 5 mph.  It seemed to be strongest during the first 3 intervals (2 with head wind and 1 with tail wind) and then died down.  Very sunny, I was glad I wore a hat.

The plan for today was hard intervals.

  • 6 x 750
  • 4 minute rests
  • standing starts
  • rate:  original plan was to start at 26 and work my way up.  But I changed my plan when I was able to tempt Bob from my club to do the 750s with me.  So, no rate cap.
  • pace:  As close to 2:00 as I could manage without dying
  • technique: Work on getting a clean start, and rowing clean and light.  Try to keep the blades off the water.

When I launched, the HR was working on CrewNerd, but not the Speedcoach.  Then the Crewnerd HR blinked out.  Time for a new battery.

We started with a warmup for about 1500 meters or so.   Some 10 strokes bursts, and then a few practice starts.  Once we were past the narrows, We set up for the first interval.  I setup Crewnerd for the workout.  I guess I must of splashed a bit in my start, because a drop of water strategically hit the crewnerd screen right in the right place to take me to the “Live Tracking” screen.  So, I didn’t have a view of how many meters remained.  Since I was responsible for the interval distance for both me and Bob, I counted out strokes, and when I got to 95, I called it done.  Turns out I stopped about 10 meters short.

Looking at the weather data, it seemed like the wind was very light, but it was hard to get down to target pace.  A 2 mph wind is about 1m/s.  This will add about 3 seconds onto the split.  It felt more like a 6 second adder.

The second interval was unremarkable.  Still the light but pernicious headwind.  And it really hurt!  If the goal of this workout is to provoke the lactate wave, it was certainly doing it’s job.  I felt like I was going to shit myself after this interval.

Now we turned and headed up lake.  By now we had calibrated how much time to leave between us starting so that we would finish just about even.  This ramped up the level of intensity.  The third interval was nice and fast with a bit of tail wind.

The fourth was interrupted at 400m by a gigantic, boat stopping wake.  We picked it back up and did 250m to finish it off after the wake had rolled through.

The fifth and sixth were just damn painful, which was  the point.  To provoke the lactate wave, and push through it.  In each of the last two, the wave hit at about 400m, and I just counted down the strokes to the end.  Each of them took 91 strokes.

From there, we paddled to the north end of the lake, with square blades.  Then we spun, I took my feet out of the shoes and worked on nice clean finishes for the 2500m back to the boathouse.  I was really tired.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.16.20 AM

The whole workout, pace and rate, from the speedcoach.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.10.56 AM

The fifth and sixth intervals.  I need to remember that the pace gets messed up at 10m per point and use strokes for hard workouts.

Tomorrow:  Steady State rate ladders

Saturday: 3 x 20′ / 1′ r L4

Stayed up too late, and decided to sleep instead of heading to the lake.  I’ll row tomorrow instead.  Got up around 9:30 and hopped on the erg.

After yesterday’s very long row, I decided to only do 60 minutes today.  I also decided to stick with a stroke sequence and let my HR do what ever it wanted to do.

I did the following sequence: 2′ @ 16, 2′ @ 17, 2′ @ 18, 2′ @ 19, 2′ @ 20

Power was 10W * stroke rate (so 16spm = 160W)

One interesting thing in the charts is the drive length.  As usual, you can see my drive length increasing over the first 10 minutes.  I think it is cool how it becomes more erratic as I get tired.  I like all the data that you can get out of painsled.

2016-06-25 10.34.09


Started off feeling great.  But I kind of hit the wall in the last 20 minutes.  HR was a lot higher.  I’ve decided to try to do my LIT endurance workouts in a fasted state.  I think the research is pretty clear that it helps keep you metabolizing fats to a higher intensity than if you have eaten recently.  The thing that I am trying to work out now is intensity.

I have the feeling that if I had limited to high end of this workout to 190W, I probably would have maintained a lower heart rate.  It might be better to go back to a constant power level for these workouts.  My suspicion is that there is a fair amount of hysteresis in the crossover between fat and CHO metabolism.  Once you flip the switch to start burning glycogen, that you have to go way down in intensity to flip the switch back to fat.  I think that where I am now, that going above 180W I am flipping the switch.

For now, if I have to do any steady state on the erg, I think I will start doing lactate testing again, and stick to constant power.  Pity.  It is very boring.  But I want to get some unequivocal data on where my base fitness is right now.

Friday: 20K Steady State / Technique

I got home around 11pm and got to bed around 1AM.  There was no way that I was getting up at 5:15 to go rowing.  I did pack my rowing stuff in case I was able to sneak out and go for a row in the afternoon.  It turns that I did.

I was not in the mood for the planned 6 x 750.  I still felt pretty worn down from all the plane flights and jet lag.  Also, I had not been in a boat since the previous Sunday.  Even that didn’t entirely count since it was my chubby boat.  So, I thought it would be a good idea to work on technique.  I went to my go session for working on balance and technique

  • 2′ square blade rowing
  • 2′ alternating square and normal
  • 2′ normal
  • Rate target: 18 to 20
  • Pace target: none
  • HR cap:  < 150  (hopefully a lot under 150 for most of it)

It was beautiful out today.  Around 80F, but with a nice breeze from the ENE around 5mph, with gusts higher.

It was a really nice outing.  Nice and easy.  It’s hard to concentrate for that long, but I had stretches where I felt like my rowing was fluid and natural.  I also had periods where it was just wobbly and awful.

The XGPS160 was acting up badly today.  It froze and I cycled power four times.  Each time, the symptoms were identical.  The pace and distance would stop updating.  I would power it off, power it back on, it would start talking to the iphone again and everything worked fine.

It was also navigating horribly.  Here’s the map of the whole outing.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 10.16.50 PM.png

Some of the lines look a little jagged.  When you zoom in it gets much more apparent that the position it is reporting has a lot of uncertainty to it.

The first map is the leftmost third.  The jaggy line is the beginning of the row.  Look at the sudden jumps in the position.  Further over, notice that the position is just wrong.  It has me rowing through the penisula.

The second picture also has navigation errors showing me rowing into the north bank of the river coming out of the s-turn.  I assure you, I did not.

The third picture is the Moody street basin and you can see the weird results by the bridge.  Also, the lines down the canal are wrong.  The good water is very narrow and I tend to follow it quite consistently, the lines are all over the place.

At this point, I think I am going to be leaving the XGPS160 in my kit bag until I hear something back from the vendor.  With this much error in the position and the impact it has on the instantaneous pace display, which is jumping all over the place, it’s worse than the much slower updates of the internal GPS of the iphone.

Tomorrow:  The promised 6×750.


Thursday: 4 x 20′ / 1′ L4

Tuesday:  Arrived in Munich at 10AM.  Showered, connected by plane to Stuttgart.  Meetings with customer in the afternoon, back to the airport, flew to Paris, connected to Marseille.  Got to my hotel at midnight. No Training

Wednesday:  Decided to sleep in, instead of trying to workout.  Prep sessions all morning, customer meeting in  the afternoon, then back to the airport to fly back to Munich.  Arrived at the airport around 8:30PM, took the s-bahn  to my hotel.  Met with a couple of colleagues at the hotel.  Got  to bed around 1AM. No Training

Thursday:  Up at 7:30AM for a breakfast meeting with a customer.  That finished around 10AM.  My flight leaves around 4:10PM, so finally, I had a window to go to the gym.  I went to the hotel fitness center and saw a meticulously clean Concept2 Model E with a PM4.  Yesss!!!


  • 4 x 20′ / 1′ rest
  • L4 format.  Power target –> 10W x stroke rate (16spm = 160W, etc)
  • HR Cap: 156

I figured with all the flying around, irregular meals and reasonable consumption of beer, that this would be a difficult session.  I was right.

I started slow and within 10 minutes I knew that I would struggle.  Here’s the stroke sequences I did.

  • 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20
  • 16 / 17 / 18 / 19/ 20
  • 3′ @ 16 / 3′ @ 17 / 3′ @ 18 / 1′ @ 19
  • 3′ @ 16 / 3′ @ 17 / 3′ @ 18 / 1′ @ 19
  • 4′ @ 16 / 3′ @ 17 / 2′ @ 18 / 1′ @ 19 (dropped off the target power in this one)
  • 4′ @ 16 / 3′ @ 17 / 2′ @ 18 / 1′ @ 19
  • 10′ @ 16
  • 9′ @ 16 / 1′ @ 20

Very disappointed with what has happened to my aerobic fitness.  But pleased with the gigantic puddles under the erg.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 12.35.23 PM

Tomorrow:  Sprint session in the boat.  6 x 750 / 5′ rest.

Article Review: Optimizing Fat Oxidation Through Exercise and Diet

One of the primary tenets of a polarized training program is to separately train the different energy systems by tailoring the intensity of the specific session.  If you are trying to training the Anaerobic Alactic system, then short sprints with long rests allow the athlete to produce more power in each rep and thereby increase the focus on that energy pathway.  Similarly, when doing low intensity endurance training, the idea is to keep the intensity high enough to elicit a training response, but low enough so that the metabolism of fat predominates.

The most direct way to determine the proper training intensity is to measure blood lactate levels.  This is because the metabolism of fat does not produce pyruvate, which is transformed into lactate, whereas the metabolism of carbohydrate (CHO) does end up producing lactate.  The body can use lactate as a fuel, so at a certain exercise intensity, the amount of lactate produce and consumed is at equilibrium and will stay stable over relatively long exercise sessions (60 to 80 minutes at least).

The problem is that routine measurement lactate is expensive, inconvenient and not continuous.  So it becomes desirable to find other measures that can be roughly correlated with lactate that are easier to measure, and more importantly to continuously monitor during an exercise session.

That brings us to this review paper:

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 4.20.33 PM

The key findings are:

  • Fat metabolism is maximized at a higher percentage of VO2Max for fit people than non fit people.
    • 59% to 64% of VO2Max for trained subjects
    • 47% to 64% of VO2Max for untrained subjects

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 4.41.46 PM.png

  • That the fat metabolism is maximized at different VO2Max percentages for different modes of exercise
    • 58% of VO2Max for walking
    • 64% of VO2Max for bicycling
    • No data about rowing 😦

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 4.41.53 PM

  • That ingesting Carbohydrates immediately before exercise reduces the amount of fat metabolism.
    • At the same percentage of V02Max, fasted subjects nearly doubles the fat metabolism of subjects that consumed CHO before exercise.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 4.42.04 PM

  • Men maximize fat metabolism at a higher percentage of VO2Max than women

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 4.42.11 PM

So, one thing that always trips me up is calibrating myself to VO2Max.  The best rule of thumb that I have read is that VO2Max power on an erg is roughly 2K pace or power.  So, if you can row a 7:00 2K (302W).  If maximizing fat oxidation occurs between 59% and 64% of VO@Max power, then the power range for endurance training would be 179W (2:05.0) to 194W (2:01.7).

Monday: 3 x (6 x 1′ / 1’r) / 5’r

Inside, on the erg.  I originally planned to do it on slides, but I couldn’t get them set up so they were sliding freely.  They kept binding so that I would end up banging against the end while I was warming up, so I took the erg off of them for the rest of the workout.

The plan was

  • 4 x ( 6 x 1′ / 1′ rest ) / 5′ rest
  • Rate target: 30
  • Pace target: 1:40

While I did the workout, I had enough time to think through the plan.  That would be 24 minutes at faster than 2K pace.  Even with the generous rests, that seemed a bit excessive.  Compared to other sprint workouts like a 4 x 1k or 8 x 500, they have about 14 minutes of work.  Anyway, during the first 5 minute rest I decided to stop after 3 sets.  It certainly felt like enough.

I wasn’t all that sure about pace, since I haven’t been doing many sprint sessions on the erg lately, but 1:40 turned out to be a good pick.  I was able to beat it by a bit, but the last set really stung.


I am very happy with that.

Now I am over Germany, about to descend into Munich. I’ll be connecting over to Stuttgart, and then going straight into meetings all day. So no training for Tuesday.  Hopefully, I will be able get a workout in tomorrow morning.