Friday: Sublime Rate Ladders

Perhaps a gross overstatement, but I feel like today was a bit of break through.

The weather started perfect, but a gusty, but persistent breeze sprung up about halfway through.  This was mostly a cross wind, but depending on the bends of the river sometimes slowed me down quite a bit.

The plan was

  • 4 x 12′ rate ladders
    • 6′ @ 18
    • 4′ @ 24
    • 2′ @ 28
  • 6 minutes rest between

I decided to use the rests to do some KOM drills, and even tried a couple of slow motion starts.

The whole way as I drove to the river I kept telling myself to focus on technique instead of pace or power in this session.  Make sure that in the r24 and r28 sections, I rowed with light pressure and good form.  All of this self talk seemed to make an impression because for once, I actually seemed to follow it.

And the results were awesome.  For brief moments today, I got the feeling of effortless speed.  Sometimes it was during the r18 section when I eased in the catch more gently.  Sometimes it was during the r24 section, though rarely because a lot of those were through the s-turn and it’s hard to reach a sublime state when you are putting all your pressure on one oar.  And a few times, for a few strokes it happened at r28.

These fleeting moments made the whole row a delightful puzzle to solve.  As soon as I noticed that feeling of flow, invariably the next stroke would feel like mud.  Then I would be thinking through how to recapture it.  I am certain it is related to how I take the catch, but balance during recovery is a huge part of it too.  All I am hoping is that I can feel it again, and then extend it over more strokes.

To put this in some context.  I can remember this feeling from a couple of seasons ago, maybe it was even three seasons ago.  I am sure I never felt it last year.  Looking back, it seems like I spent the whole season fighting the boat.  I’d forgotten what this feels like.

A few details about the row.  Each piece was 12 minutes long.  The good section of the river is about 14 minutes of rowing, so that worked out very well.  I only needed to make one adjustment on the fly.  When I was doing the third piece, I was approaching the stone bridge when it was time to shift from r24 to r28.  I decided to extend the r24 by a minute and do the full 2 minutes at r28 after the bridge in open water.  Take that as an indication of how I was feeling.  I don’t know that I have ever willingly extended an interval before.

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My problems with my oarlock are unimproved.  Hopefully a HW swap will fix things up.  NK is sending me a replacement to try.

Looking at the heart rate is another indication of goodness.  I was up touching the anaerobic zone at the end of the 3rd and fourth intervals, and I fought no demons.  I was far from comfortable, but I was able to purposely focus on technique during the last ten strokes of each of the pieces.

Tomorrow:  Aerobic gardening!


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