Wednesday: November CTC

After my cortisone injection yesterday morning, my knee felt better almost immediately.  I think the combination of getting the excess fluid out of the joint, and the anti-inflammatory effect of the steroid made things a lot better.  There is still a lot of instability in the joint.  I have a vicious clicking if I fully flex and although the pain is much reduced, I still notice that my joint has two modes of operation; good and not so good.

Needless to say, I want to avoid the not so good mode of operation.  And as far as I can tell that is done by avoiding  fully flexing my knee.

Yesterday evening, I went and had an MRI done of the joint.  That was a new experience for me.  The imaging center (Metrowest MRI) was prompt, professional and friendly. They did 4 image sequences.  Each took about 4 to 5 minutes, during which I was instructed to keep my knee perfectly still while the machine banged and buzzed.  I looked at the pictures, which were very clear, but I don’t know enough about knees to figure out if there is anything good or bad going on.

This morning, I was pain free and so I headed off to workout in the morning.

The Plan:

  • 20 minute warmup on the stationary bike
  • If I was pain free, try some erging
    • 1k at 2:00
    • 1k at 1:55
    • 1k as hard as I could tolerate for the CTC
  • Strength training

Here is heart rate data for the bike warmup and the 3 intervals on the erg

Here’s the details on the erg stuff.  I was concerned about bending my knee too far so I put a bandaid on the rail at a point before my knee would click.  This provided enough of a bump when the seat rollers hit it that I was reminded to keep my strokes shorter.  Over the intervals, I was able to modify my recovery timing so that I would be fully rocked over before I hit the bump.  This enabled me to get a bit longer drive.  On the last interval, I pushed past the bandaid with no significant pain.  That was heartening.


I was interested in looking at my drive length.


So, for the first interval, I was pulling about a 1.3m stroke.  For the second, around 1.35m.  For the final interval, it was about 1.4m.   Compare that to the 8x750m workout that I did last week.

bokeh_plot (69).png

For this workout, I was maintaining over 1.4m for all but the last interval.  It looks like I had gone back to just about my full stroke in the final rep.

A couple of other interesting plots.

The left shows the peak and average force.  This shows a very consistent increase in both peak and average.  The right is the drive time.  You can see that the drive time was slowing down as my drive length increased.  I was surprised by this since the pace on the last rep was much faster.

After that, I went and changed my shirt and did a few strength exercises

Chin ups
unassisted x5
red band assist 3 sets of 4 reps

standing dumbell press
2×25 10
2×30 2 sets of 10 reps

Bent over barbell rows
45 x 10
95 x 10 x 3 sets

dumbell bench press
2×30 x 10
2×35 x 10 x 2

Tomorrow:  Slow HM (limit compression)

Tuesday: 60′ stationary bike

My knee continues to be mysterious and painful.  The joint has two modes of operation.  The first mode is entirely normal.  No pain, no weakness, nothing.  The second mode is extremely painful.  It limits the range of motion (I can’t fully extend it).  I have trouble bearing weight on my leg.  Going between the two modes is a bit erratic, but I am getting the hang of it.  The best way to transition from pain free to painful is to fully flex.  Adding in radial movement of my foot while flexed seems to encourage the transition.  Getting from painful to pain free is more hit and miss.  Sometimes, if I put steady pressure to extend it fully, my leg, which stops at about 10 degrees from fully extended, will slowly finishes extending and the pain will diminish.  Other times, if I get off my feet and put my leg up for 15 minutes it will get back into working order.  Last night it hurt when I went to sleep, and was fine when I woke this morning.

I had an appointment with the orthopedist today.  I was pain free walking in and thinking he might pat me on my head and send me on my way.  I was wrong.  He grabbed my leg, pushed to full flexion, he and I felt the click in the joint as it flexed and it hurt like hell when he extended the leg again.  He did some more manipulations of the joint to see which motions hurt and which did not.  Then he sent me for x-rays.

The x-rays confirmed the first part of his diagnosis.  Osteo-Arthritis.  There is the potential that there is additionally a tear in the meniscus cartilage.  That will be checked by getting an MRI this evening.

This same doctor treated me 5 years ago for arthritis in my left knee.  Back then, my knee was very sore and swollen.  He treated that knee with a cortisone injection and I decided to limit the amount of running I was doing.  I was running up to 5 times per week then and rowing much less.  The treated and training change worked completely… until recently.

This season, I started noticing problems with my right knee.  Generally the problems happened when I was doing something like putting my oars in the boat and getting into a deep crouch.  My knee would lock or I’d get a sharp pain.  But extending the leg would fix the problem, and I would go on with a normal rowing session.  Other times, in an erg session, I would notice my joint clicking during the first few strokes, but by either limiting the amount of compression at the catch, or just by warming up, it would go away.  This was not painful at all, just annoying and a little scary.  Then things seemed to get much worse after my pants removal incident on Thanksgiving.  Now the pain would not go away and was much more intense.

Anyway, the reason that I am writing this all down is because I am trying to process all of this.  Essentially, there is no doubt that I have Arthritis in the joint, but if there is a serious tear, getting it fixed will probably make my knee work a lot better.  But if the tear is minor, or there is not tear, then the prognosis is not very good.  I will likely have to figure out how to live with my knee giving out on a regular basis.  I have no idea what impact that will have on rowing and, frankly, that’s bumming me out.

I guess I just don’t think about that until I know more.

For training today, I was back on the stationary bike.  I just set it to resistance of 10 and did 2 x 30 minute intervals.  I tried to pedal hard enough to keep me right at the boundary between UT2 and UT1.



No pain from biking.  Just a gathering gloom in my soul.

Tomorrow: 40 minutes on the bike plus strength training.

Monday: Easing back into it

I had not exercised since Wednesday of last week.  This morning, I am back at work and I decided that I need to get back in the gym and see what I can do that wouldn’t screw up my knee.

I wore a elastic brace on my knee mostly to remind me to not do anything stupid.

First up, 40 minutes on the stationary bike.  Rolling hills program.  Level 12 for the first 20 minutes, then I got bored and increased it to 13.  That was a bit better.



I’m gonna need to work a bit harder than that.

Then onto some strength work.

Chin ups
5 unassisted
4 x 3 (red band)

Good mornings
45 x 10
65 x 10
85 x 10 x 3

Barbell Rows
45 x 10
65 x 10
85 x 10 x 3

Standing Dumbell Press
2×25 x 10
2×30 x 10 x 3

Lat Pull Down (My shoulder hurt when I did these with a wide grip.  I’ll do it with a pull up grip next time)

Dumbell bench press
2×25 x 10
2×30 x 10 x 3

This was a pretty good session.  My knee was fine with pedaling.  And by going reasonably light in the strength exercises, I didn’t do any damage there either.

Tomorrow:  I have an appointment with the Orthopedist at 10:30 tomorrow morning.  I will probably do 40 minutes on the Stationary bike in the morning, and some core work.



Knee Injury

Time to time, when I start an erg session, I get a popping sensation in my right knee at the catch.  It isn’t painful, although it is noticeable and a bit alarming.  I never really gave it much thought.

Then on Thanksgiving night, when I was getting ready for bed, I was pulling my leg out of my pants and I had my right leg flexed.  I gave my foot a bit of a wiggle to get it free from the pant leg and I got this enormous shooting pain along the side of my leg, radiating from my knee.  It was very painful to bear any weight on my leg and couldn’t straighten it all the way out.   I struggled through the rest of my bedtime routine, took some ibuprofen and tried to find a comfortable position.

The next morning, it was far better.  It was stiff and did not want to be flexed, but I was able to walk on it.  I took a quick trip to the drugstore and bought a knee brace.  I thought I would stabilize it and it would get better.  That lasted through breakfast.  At the end of breakfast, I bent my leg under me to get up and I got the shooting pain again, and again it was very tough to bear weight on it.  Resting it for a couple hours (in the car on the way back from Vermont) let it relax and become pain free again.

Until bedtime, when I twinged it again, which set me up for a relatively restless night and it was quite painful this morning.

I’m planning to call the orthopedist on Monday, until then, I think I’ll be taking it easy.

I’m very unhappy.

Wednesday: 8 x 750 buried in a half marathon

First thing in the morning, fasted.  It was the only time I had to get any training in today.  All my kids are coming home (with a couple of significant others) for Thanksgiving and the rest of the day is a blur of driving, baking and talking.  It might be one of my favorite days of the year.

Today’s challenge was to massage a sprint workout into a half marathon.  I want to stick to a polarized workout plan, and I also want to keep working on the Crazy Bear Challenge.  So here is today’s workout plan:

  • Fletcher warmup.  20 minutes, usually comes in just over 5000m.  This gets me to ~16070m.
  • paddle until I get to 15750
  • 8 x 750m/750m rest.  so, 15×750 is 11250 (leaving off the last rest), which takes me down to 4500m
  • paddle down to 4000m
  • happy ending cool down.  1000m at 2:00, then 2:05, then 2:10, then 2:15

It worked out fine.  I didn’t lose any intervals or miss any transitions.  The cool down was a bit long, but I was entertained by the fact that I could aim for exactly 1:30:00 by a coincidence.  This kept me very focused as I tried to keep the projected finish 10 seconds ahead during the 2:10 and right on 1:30:00 during the 2:15 bit.

The intervals themselves were perfectly miserable.  I would have expected to be able to do these below 1:45.  But my legs were completely trashed from my strength session last night.  They felt empty at the beginning and were burning in the second half of each interval.  I really felt like I was working with a lot less power today.

But, I’m pretty happy that I stuck it out.  I experimented with different stroke rates and ended up feeling most comfortable at 26/27 and I worked to lengthen my stroke after the first three intervals.  You can see that in the drive length plot.


Heart rate was not that high, but I was pushing about as hard as I could.  The rests were nice and long.

A few metrics.  First the drive length.  On the left, showing it versus time, on the right versus stroke rate.  You can see the change in the fourth interval when I settled into a longer stroke at r26.  You can also see that the drive length is definitely getting shorter with higher stroke rates.  Interesting because it gets longer from 18 up to about 24spm.

Here is the work per stroke.  The notable thing here is the increased stroke power in the fourth interval when I consciously pulled down the rate.  It’s also interesting (at least to me) that the work per stroke is pretty constant versus stroke rate through this range of rates.

Finally, here is a view of peak and average force, and the ratio of these values.  It seems logical that the higher the ratio, the more efficient the stroke.  But I gotta say, there is really no trend in the intervals or relationship with stroke rate across this workout.

And finally, just because I like the way it looks.  Here’s the power versus stroke rate.


Here are the splits:

Workout Summary - media/20161123-205340-sled_2016-11-23T08-50-06ZEST.strokes.csv
Workout Details

Tomorrow:  Thanksgiving.  I’m giving thanks by taking a rest day!

Tuesday PM: Strength

Squat (could potentially go up in weight, but I think I will shift to Deadlifts for a couple weeks)
45 x10
135 x6
185 x6 x6 x7
Chin ups (pleased to squeeze out another rep unassisted, felt stronger)
unassisted x4
Red band x6 x4 x4
Cleans (new exercise, at 145, I couldn’t hold form, so I backed off.  Still felt the burn in my quads in the last set.  I need to tape myself doing these and make sure my back is right)
Bar x6
95 x6
145 fail
115 x6 x6 x6
AB rollouts x8 x8 x8  (holy moly these hurt a lot!)
Push-up x10 x10 x10 (my thumb joint has been hurting when I did pushups, so today I tried them on some twisty handle pad things.  The pushups felt harder because my hands could rotate, but it didn’t hurt my thumbs)
Tomorrow:  I think I will try to pack an sprinty workout into a HM.  I’m sick of all this slow stuff.  So, it will be a 5097m warmup, then 8 x 750 with 750 rest (12K) and a 4K cool down.

Tuesday AM: Awful L4 HM

I suspect that I am still feeling the effects of the HM on Sunday night.  This morning was another horrific session.

The plan:

  • Half Marathon
  • L4 format
  • power: 10W x stroke rate
  • HR Cap: 155
  • rate plan:
    • start slow (16spm), and ramp up over first 10 minutes
    • Then 7 x (1000m @ 18, 750m @ 19, 500m @ 20, 250m @ 21)
  • 250m paddle every 5000m

Today the plan lasted only through the first 5000m.  Then I needed to retreat to low rates to keep below the HR cap.  It was slow and miserable work.

After Sander pointed out the higher drag factor (138) from the hard HM I did at home on Sunday, and the struggles I had yesterday at 118, I thought maybe a little higher drag factor would be better.  I moved the level up one to give a drag factor of 128.  It made no difference.  There are so many variables, it’s hard to figure out what the problem is.

  • Different erg
  • warmer at work (68f vs 55f)
  • shirt at work, no shirt at home
  • morning for work, afternoon at home
  • insufficient recovery from hard hm on Sunday

I will just gut through this and then enjoy my day off on Thursday.


This afternoon, I will do a strength session.

Tomorrow morning I’ll do another low and slow HM at home.


Monday: Slow Slog HM

I was shattered the rest of the night yesterday evening.  I felt absolutely empty.  I felt very tired and I was in bed by 10:15, but I slept a bit fitfully.  I have a pain in my shoulder blade which must be related to something in my neck because I get shooting pains when I turn my head especially to the right.  This is causing me some troubles when I turn over in bed.

I woke up at 5:15 feeling sore and tired.  I got to work and I was on the erg by about 6:30.

The plan:

  • Half Marathon
  • L4 format
  • power: 10W x stroke rate
  • rate plan:
    • Start slow at 16spm, get up to working rate over the first 10 minutes
    • Then 7 x
      • 1000m @ 18
      • 750m @ 19
      • 500m @ 20
      • 250m @21
  • HR Cap 155

The plan ended up lasting through the first 7500m minutes.  After that, I was approaching the cap, and feeling pretty crappy.  I did 2500 minutes at 17 to finish the block, and then rowed the last 10000m at 18.  Even with this reduced load, I was still pushing up to the cap at the end.  I have had rows where I felt like I was gliding along effortlessly, this was NOT one of those rows.  It was slow and nasty work.



Workout Summary - media/20161121-135125-sled_2016-11-21T06-42-50ZEST.strokes.csv
Workout Details
02|02500|10:28.1|02:05.6|177.0|17.3|128.4|140.0|13.8 - slow start
03|02500|10:07.5|02:01.5|195.6|19.2|144.1|150.0|12.8 - target 190W
04|02500|10:06.4|02:01.3|195.8|19.2|142.7|155.0|12.9 - target 190W
05|02500|10:27.3|02:05.5|177.4|17.3|147.4|155.0|13.8 - target 170W
06|02500|10:17.6|02:03.5|185.3|18.5|144.5|150.0|13.1 - target 180W
07|02500|10:20.2|02:04.0|183.4|18.2|152.4|154.0|13.3 - target 180W
08|02500|10:19.2|02:03.8|183.9|18.4|147.9|154.0|13.1 - target 180W
09|02500|10:21.2|02:04.2|182.6|18.1|154.7|158.0|13.3 - target 180W

Tomorrow:  AM:  HM L4, PM: strength

Hard Half Marathon

Continuing with the Crazy Bear Challenge.  Today was a bit spicier.


  • Half Marathon
  • Free Rate
  • Pace: 1:57.5
  • No HR Cap

Last weekend, I did a 1:58.5 and I was sure I could do better.  I was thinking I’d aim to slice a second off the pace.  I didn’t bother to warmup, I just sat on the machine and started going.  I settled in at 1:55 and even though I was worried that I’d burn out, I just kept going and let the pace bleed off and the rate creep up over the row.  I was never in any serious distress, but I sure felt pretty awful after I finished.

End result: 1:21:38.8 (1:56.1)

That’s good enough to be ranked 14 of 474 on the concept2 rankings of 50-60 hwts.  So, I’m pretty happy with that.

It was a hard row, about an hour above AT.  The last 4 minutes in AN.  I might be able to squeeze a bit more out with a slower start, but I’m not sure.  I’m still a ways off of my PB (1:19:55.4), that’s a 1:53.6 pace.  Maybe after 25 more HMs?


Workout Summary - media/20161120-222121-sled_2016-11-20T15-12-43ZEST.strokes.csv
Workout Details

With the tools on, I can get a good look at how I traded rate for power as the row went on.  You can see my weakest part, from about 7k down to 2k, where my strokes got shorter and the work per stroke went down.

Tomorrow:  HM L4.  Interested to see how much oomph I have after this workout.

Saturday: Last row of the season?

It was beautiful out today.  Clear skies and sunny.  Upper 30s at the start, rising to around 45F by the time we finished.  A light wind from the north was a gentle tail wind heading downlake and a head wind heading up lake.  Enough to effect the pace a bit, but not enough to stir up any chop.  I can’t imagine a better day for rowing.

I was in my single and Joe, Heri, Leanne and Pam were in the quad.  I had a simple training plan.

  • Stay with the quad.

All I really wanted to do was row, and I was enjoying the company.  They were going easy sometimes and then doing some power pieces. I just try to match pace with them.  We headed downlake first, at a reasonably hard steady state pace for me.  Then a bit easier heading up lake, although with the head wind, it felt almost as hard.

After the narrows, I could hear when Joe would call for a 10 or a 20 and I would increase the pressure to stay even with them.  We took a brief break just north of the Route 9 bridge, and then continued to the north end of the lake.  From the QRA boathouse, the quad picked up the rate and I matched to them.

We took another break and started to head home.  Joe said that they were going to take it easy until 2/3 of the way home, and then do a hard 500m piece.  Rowing downlake, I got a bit ahead of them and then slowed to a paddle around the start of the 500.  I saw them take up the rate and I waited until they were about a length behind me and I did the same.  Because they were at speed and I was still accelerating, they pulled a little bit ahead of me by the time I was about 20 strokes into it.  I pushed up the rate and I started to claw them back so we were even at 40 strokes.  We finished around stroke 55 for me, and I was maybe a quarter length up on them.  It was fun doing it side by side like that.

Then an easy paddle back to the dock.  After we landed, I took off my rigger and packed my boat into the back of the boathouse for the winter.  😦

Screen Shot 2016-11-19 at 10.42.21 AM.png


Workout Summary - media/20161119-152227-79032o.csv
Workout Details

I did some quick analysis of the row. Looking at pace versus stroke rate.  These two plots show tail wind and head wind difference.  Tail wind is on the left.  Head wind is on the right.

Finally, here is a view of the last 500m piece.  You can see my rate and pace increasing at the beginning.


Tomorrow:  L3 half marathon.  Aiming to do a bit better than the 1:23:33 from last week.