Weight Loss

I weighed myself this morning for the first time in many months.  As I suspected, I’m way to heavy.  205 pounds.  Time to do something about it.  No crazy diets, just trying to monitor my weight and moderate how much I am eating.  I’ll weigh myself daily and keep updating this post with where I am.  My goal is to be at 190 for my first head race in September.

  • July 16: 205
  • July 17: 204
  • July 18: 204 (rest day)
  • July 19: 206
  • July 20: 204
  • July 21:  204
  • July 22: 206
  • July 23: 202 (post workout)
  • July 24: 207 (arghh)
  • Trip to Asia
  • Aug 2: 202
  • Aug 3: 202

Saturday: Hard Distance – 5.5K

Weather:  Stunningly beautiful.  Clear skies.  mid 70s.  Nearly flat calm when we started.  At the very end, during the row back to the dock, the wind picked up from the North.  By the time we were off the water, it was about 7mph.


  • 2 x 5.5K
  • 5′ rest
  • rate target: 24
  • pace target: 2:15 to 2:20

There is a big waterskiing competition at the lake today and tomorrow, so we started a half hour earlier to try to avoid the traffic.  I headed north on the lake first and slowly built a bit of pace.  About halfway up the lake someone in a single turned in behind me.  They kept looking over their shoulder and slowly ratcheting up the rate.  I wasn’t sure what they were intending, but but it seemed like he had put a target on me.  Of course, I wanted to stay ahead of them, so I ended up being very warmed up by the time I got to the end of the lake.

I had a drink of water and hung out for a little while, getting myself psyched up for a good hard row.  This would be the first head race simulation of the season and would help set a marker for me to use for training over the next month or so.  It couldn’t have been a better day for it.  The wind and water would be giving me no excuses and the power boats were not out yet in any kind of numbers.

During head racing season, I will be doing these pieces at about 28 spm.  But I need to work my way up to that.  Today, I was looking to hold about 24 spm.  As it turned out, even that was a tough ask.  I was finding myself settling at a 23 and my HR was pretty high.  I think I have to row a bit lighter if I want to get efficient at a higher rate.

The row was entirely uneventful.  I passed three or four singles as I made my way down lake.  I wore a hat with a mirror today and although it wasn’t hugely useful, it wasn’t terribly distracting either.  That is another project for me this summer.  To get used to using a mirror for head races.  I counted strokes.  100 strokes would take me about 900m or so.  So I figured that 600 strokes would take me the 5500m.  I was kind of worried after the first 100 strokes.  I felt pretty tired and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to complete the piece.  Luckily, during the second 100 I had a single in my sights and chased him down.  That was distracting enough that I was able to manage my breathing and ease up just enough to be sustainable.  The third block of 100 strokes took me through the route 9 bridge, and coming out that, I spotted another single, which helped keep me on task as I passed him.  The fourth set of 100 got me just about to the narrows.  I was really feeling it at this point, but the end was getting a lot closer.  I got past the islands, and into the part that always feels incredibly long.  There is a stretch of open water from the last island to the mouth of the south cove.  I hit 500 strokes about at the island, just another 100 to go.   This stretch gave me a good chance to use the mirror to aim at the point at the entrance of the cove.  I have to get used to using this thing when I am tired.  This was my first chance and it worked out.  I nailed the line and passed nice and close to the point

I had 30 strokes to go when I passed and it was time to push a little bit harder to the end.  There wasn’t much to draw on though, I was tapped out.  It felt great to see Crewnerd count up past 5500m, and I coasted to stop.  There was no way that I had another piece like that in me today.  I decided to just do some easy technical rowing to finish out the day.  I had a bit of wait before some of the other folks arrived in the cove, and I was happy enough to just sit in the sun drink my water.  I ultimately paddled up lake to intercept them and came back down lake with them.  I paddled up lake with Bob.  As we came out of the cove, the wind picked up pretty suddenly and made it a bit of a slog to get back to the dock.

If I want to do 2 of these pieces, which I do during this endurance block, then I have to use a more conservative pace target, like 2:20 to 2:25.

myimage (42).png

Workout Summary - media/20160716-161035-2016-07-16-0635.CSV
Workout Details
01|02265| 12:38 |02:47.3|16.8|141.0|163.0|10.7
02|05533| 25:21 |02:17.4|23.3|170.0|183.0|09.4
03|05267| 32:05 |03:02.3|19.0|142.0|162.0|08.7

So, a 2:17 pace at 23 spm.  I’m OK with that.  Last year, my best head race was a 2:13.9 pace at 27 spm.  I think with some decent training and losing some weight, I’m be at that pace or better by race time.

Tomorrow:  Technical session on Quinsig.  Start with some bungee rowing, then 500m blocks of SBR, alternating SBR/feathered and feathered.


Friday: 3 x 20′ / 1:30 rest w/ lactate

Thursday:  As expected, no time to train.  I took the redeye home from San Jose.  I was not able to get any reasonable sleep on the plane.  Highly unpleasant.

Friday:  I arrived in Boston at 6am.  Then drove home.  Almost immediately, I turned around and drove my wife to the airport.  She is off to visit my daughter in St. Louis.  I was home again by around 11 am.  My eyelids were drooping severely but I managed to stay awake to attend a work conference call at noon.  After that, I took a 3 hour nap.  My intent was to get up around 4, head out to Lake Quinsigamond and do a long and easy technique session.  But, when I was packing my things, I got a text from a friend of mine telling me that there was a wakeboarding competition going on and the whole lake was a really treacherous place to be.  Time to go with Plan B.

Plan B

  • 4 x 20′
  • 1:30 rest
  • Power target: 10W x stroke rate
  • HR cap: around 150
  • Lactate target: 2.0

It was massively hot and humid.  Around 95F and 70% RH.  Rowing at 190 watts felt pretty easy for the first 10 minutes.  Then the room warmed up, I started sweating, and it started to feel like a lot of work.  By the end of the first 20 minutes, my HR was still OK, only around 144, but my RPE was really high.  I was breathing hard, and my first lactate reading was 3.3mmol/l.  Way too high.

So, my intent was to dial it back to 170W from 190W and just take it easy.  After the rest, and a big drink of water, I started again.  It felt like really hard work, and I seriously considered just bagging the whole thing.  I even coasted to a stop about 2 minutes into it, but I thought better of it and decided that I should at least finish this 20′ piece.  I felt a lot more comfortable at 170W, but it was still a pretty sweaty affair.  After this one, I tested out a 2.8mmol/l.  Still too high.  But my RPE was right on.  My breathing was easy, and my ending HR was again around 145.

Well, I had come this far.  I had another drink, and decided to just paddle through one more 20′ piece.  This one I started off thinking I’d target 150W, but ended up pushing that up to 160.  Still very slow.  After this, my lactates were 2.6mmol/l.  RPE right on target, but HR had climbed up to be close to 150 by the end.

myimage (39)

The session seems to add some weight to a few thoughts that I have been pondering.

  1. My aerobic fitness is not so good right now.  I need more low intensity minutes working on my ability to metabolize fat.  My high lactate numbers show that I am crossing over to CHO respiration at pretty low levels.
  2. The effect of heat and humidity on endurance training is pretty profound.  I think it could as much as 10 or 20 watts impact in terms of what power you can hold and maintain a <2.0mmol/l lactate.
  3. I haven’t seen any research to back this up, but I feel like there is some hysteresis in the crossover between fat and CHO metabolism.  Something like this.  I feel like I have to go way down in power to “shut off” CHO metabolism once it has been started.  I think this is another reason why some folks have found lower ultimate lactate readings if they start with a few minutes at a very low warmup power before they slowly increase to their target.


I think this is fascinating because it brings a physiological angle into a age old debate around how to do HR capped training.  The question that I have seen asked over and over again is this…If you are training to a specific HR cap, is it better to start faster than what you think you can hold for the whole piece, and then start to bleed off pace once you are in the training HR zone and approaching the cap, or is it better to hold a constant training power and adjust that power so that you are around the cap at the very end of the workout?

I have seen recommendations about this from very credible people that are entirely opposite of each other.  One conclusion that one might draw from that is doesn’t matter much in terms of training effect.  But, on an individual basis, if you are trying to specifically train fat burning endurance, it probably makes a lot more sense to slowly build power, or hold it constant  versus bleeding off pace.  Anyway, its food for thought.