Tough week…spotty training

Last Friday was a wonderful workout.  The joy that I got out of it carried me  through a much less enjoyable set of days and activities since.

Saturday:  Yardwork.

I was spreading mulch.  I was curious about how hard this work is, so I wore a heart rate monitor.  Here are the stats.

  • Duration:  5:07:56
  • Average HR: 97, Max HR 125 (so below UT2)
  • Calories: 2619

So, I guess you could think of it as a long lazy bike ride.  But that’s not quite right because there is a strength component to it.  Basically shovel work, pushing a wheelbarrow and a lot of squatting, bending and raking.

It really knocked me out.  I was useless all night I was so tired.

Sunday:  Yardwork

I did the bulk of it on Saturday, but there was one more flower bed to do, and then moving the excess mulch and some other tidying up.  It was easier work and it only took about two hours.  I didn’t bother with the HR monitor.

Monday:  80 minutes of speed play

I wish I could remember more about this session, but I can’t.  From the data, it looks like it was a pretty nice session, I wish I could remember enjoying it.  Oarlock still acting up.

Tuesday:  30r22 on the erg

So, the original plan was 2 x 30′ @ r22 on the water.  I got up at 5:15, drove to the river, and as I always do, I double checked my work schedule to see when I needed  to be in the office so that I could make sure that I got back to the dock in  time.  When I looked, to my horror, I saw that I had a dentist appointment back near my house at 7:30am.  So, I drove home, took a shower, and went to the dentist instead of rowing.

It left me in a foul mood all day long.  Add in the fact that I needed to deal with unpleasant HR related work matters and by the afternoon, I was a quivering wreck.  I snuck off to the fitness center.  If everything went right, I had just enough time to do my 2×30 on the erg and make it to my next meeting.

Everything did not go right, and when I finished the first rep, I saw that I didn’t have enough time to do another 30 minutes.  This blew my momentum and instead doing 15 or 20 minutes, I just walked away.

The 30 minutes that I did were nice and hard though.  I felt much better afterward.

Workout Summary - media/20180515-1930250o.csv
Workout Details

Wednesday: Unintentional rest day

I intended to go do my speed session in the morning, but I slept terribly.  When my alarm went off, I rolled over and slept two more hours.

I thought I might be able to go to the gym, or maybe even head down to the river in the afternoon, but work conspired to keep me busy all day long.

Thursday:  60 minutes of steady state (ish) rowing

I had two missions this morning.  The first was 60 minutes of rowing.  The other was to replace my empower oarlock.  I’ve been trying to troubleshoot the dropped power values with NK for a couple of weeks.  They finally came to the conclusion that the problem was interesting enough that they wanted the specimen in the lab.  They sent me a unit to swap it out, and a label to return the prodigal oarlock to them.

It took a lot more time than I expected because I had trouble getting through the calibration.  I would try it and it would take me through the steps and then curtly imform me that “Calibration Failed”.  Ultimately, I diagnosed the problem.  The oarlock senses angle by having a magnet assembly on the oarlock pin, and the oarlock is supposed to freely rotate above that.  What happened to me is that the length of the pin was just a hair shorter than the height of the oarlock, magnet assembly and 3 spacers.  The pin was shifting slightly when the oarlock swung.  Ultimately, I sanded about 1/16″ off one of the spacers, and then I could crank down  the pin bolt and the oarlock would swing nice and freely.  Viola, calibration passed.

Then, after wasting some more time finding a restroom, I headed out for a row.  I had just enough time for 60 minutes or rowing, but I wasn’t in the mood for speedplay today.  I decided to just work on trying to row well.

I tried.  Sometimes, I succeeded.  Often, I did not.  But it was totally absorbing.

And I ran into a tree!  I was just starting.  I left the dock, rowed into the turn.  I cut close to the north bank coming into the last bit of the turn, and I usually swing wide while I build some speed into the straight bit.  I alway look over my port shoulder because I can see the whole straight bit without turning too much.  What I missed by doing that was a huge tree that had fallen into the river on the east bank.  I saw it about 5 strokes later and checked down hard.  I managed to take all the speed off the boat and gently coasted into a tangle of the upper branches.

It took me a little bit to calm down and then I backed my way out of the mess and swung around it.

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 4.57.46 PM.png

The rest of the row was quite uneventful.

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 4.56.56 PM

Workout Summary - media/20180517-1845250o.csv
Workout Details
00|00584|02:54.0|02:28.9|126.5|16.9|097.3|115.0|11.9 - to the tree!
01|03335|15:51.0|02:22.6|132.8|18.4|141.7|151.0|11.4 - After the tree
02|02167|11:18.0|02:36.5|126.2|17.5|146.4|155.0|11.0 - up from the dam
03|00278|01:13.0|02:11.1|199.4|30.5|165.4|172.0|07.5 - fast minute
04|00284|01:29.0|02:36.5|120.4|17.4|141.7|153.0|11.0 - technique stuff
05|01439|07:15.0|02:31.1|119.4|18.4|140.9|155.0|10.8 - technique stuff
06|01504|08:18.0|02:45.6|117.3|17.7|138.3|149.0|10.3 - technique stuff
07|00870|04:52.7|02:48.2|118.2|18.2|143.5|152.0|09.8 - Back to the dock

I wanted to do some higher rate rowing just to see if the oarlock missed a beat.  I did a hard minute and it worked great. The data is not glitchy at all!

After that, I shifted gears.  I decided to do 2 minute intervals with 2 minutes of square blade rowing, 2 minutes of slow roll up and 2 minutes of r20.  This was awesome practice, especially the slow roll up.  This really allowed me to focus on the first part of the recovery and get my arms out and body angle right, and then slowly square the blades as I went from body over to the catch.  A few strokes were perfect.  Just a few.  But the feeling was extraordinary.  Finish cleanly, keep the blades off the water, cleanly square the blades in a smooth movement, and drop them in for the next stroke.  Imagine if I could do that for all my strokes!

Tomorrow:  I am still feeling pretty tapped out, so I think I will do a speedplay session instead of one of the more intense workouts.





Wed – Sun: A lot more rowing!

What a delight to have 5 days of rowing in a row!  I was in town for the whole week this week and even though I had a busy work schedule, I managed to row every morning.  I didn’t get much sleep, and I froze my ass off, but it was totally worth it!

Tuesday: 2 x 30′ (already posted about this one.  It was pretty tough work)

Wednesday: 3 x (1′ + 1′ + 2′) – a delightfully short sprint oriented workout

Thursday: 60′ of speed play…I got rained and snowed on

Friday: 65′ of speed play…Nice morning, but still damn cold.

Saturday: 4 x 12′ rate ladders on Lake Quinsigamond

Sunday:  Off to Taiwan.

The details:

Wednesday: 3 x (1′ + 1′ + 2′)

Here are my coach’s instructions….

  • 3 sets of: 1’ on, 3’ active rest, 1’ on , 3’ active rest 2’ on, 5’ active rest
  • Rest between: Continuous, no rest between sets. Complete one set and then repeat the series. The active rest is relaxed, low intensity, easy rowing. Stop only briefly to rehydrate.
  • Rating /pace: Race effort, 1k pace (your best right now)

Notes: The emphasis is on high quality work and stroke efficiency. This speed workout aims to keep the lactic acid levels low by allowing enough recovery between pieces for it to clear. Do not cut the rest short. Feel fully recovered and psychologically ready to do the next piece. If the quality starts to drop dramatically, stop the workout.

Training effect: Cat II, repetitions, race pace technique.

Pretty clear instructions and it’s nice to have the notes to know what to focus on.

I did not need to cut the workout short, but I did suffer a bit in the sprints that were going into the head wind.  I adjusted the active rest between sprints as necessary to have the right amount of straight river in front of me when I started each sprint.

There is a huge difference in pace due to wind and current.  The first three were all downstream and wind aided.  The next three were all upstream and into a building headwind.  The third set I did two downstream and then did the last 2′ piece into the current and wind.  I struggled with the cross/head wind in the last one.

Workout Summary - media/20180418-1415260o.csv
Workout Details

I basically aimed to get the power above 300 and keep it there.

Thursday: 60′ of speed play

A unique experience for me.  It was cold and grey when I got to the dock.  I had brought stuff so I could do the session inside because there was rain in the forecast, but when I arrived, it was not raining.  So I decided to give it a go.  I’ve done this session on the erg, but not yet in the boat and I was looking forward to it.


  • 60’ with speed play
  • Rest: n/a only to rehydrate
  • Rating/Pace: Cat VI; target SR 18-20.
  • Once every 10 minutes take the stroke rate up to 28 spm for 20 strokes.

I modified the time between power 20s based on the river.  I wanted to get two 20s into each direction that I row, so it was a little less than 10 minutes between them.

The wind was pretty strong and it started raining during my first trip down the river as I emerged from the s-turn.  By the time I turned at the dam it was raining steadily.  By the time I had gone back upstream, it was a “wintery mix”.  Then it was all snow.

Workout Summary - media/20180419-1300370o.csv
Workout Details

 Friday: 65′ of speed play

Friday is an optional rest day, or I can do another speed play session like Thursday’s.  Since I knew I had travel coming up, I wanted to get as much time on the water as I could.

The weather was even colder than Thursday, around 32F.  But at least it was dry and the sun came out.  The temperature was in the 40s by the time I finished.

I felt much better in this workout than the one on Thursday.  Better, more consistent power in the bursts.


Workout Summary - media/20180420-1350290o.csv
Workout Details

Saturday: 4 x 12′ rate ladders on Lake Quinsigamond

Saturday was a big day for our little club.  We were going to christen our new lightweight double.  We have some very good women rowers and they have been using a mid-heavyweight double which is way less than ideal for them.  We picked this boat up used from Saugatuck and had it repainted locally (fire engine red!).

I brought my boat out.  Today was going to be ideal for a few purposes.  I wanted to see my rowing friends.  I wanted to have a nice long lake for this workout.  And since Saturday mornings are a lot less time compressed, I figure it would be a good time to do some side video with the rigging changes to see if it looks any different.

Marlene had suggested that I move further to stern, and I had moved the footplate a cm last week.  On Saturday, I moved it another cm to the stern.  It felt fine during the row.

I started out with some king of the mountain.  I was really tight and tippy on Saturday, maybe it was having an audience as everyone else was getting ready to row.  Anyway, I have to do this drill more because I suck at it!

Then it was time for the planned workout.

  • 4 x 12’
  • Rest between: 6’
  • Rating/Pace:
    • 6’ @ Cat VI; target 18-20
    • 4’ @ Cat IV; target SR 24
    • 2’ @ Cat III; target SR 28.

The first ladder heading down lake was delightful.  The water was smooth and the wind was light.  I felt strong and fast.  But by the end of the 12′, I was pretty gassed.  I think I pushed a bit too hard.

The next one was uplake and into a building headwind.  That was less fun.  Notice in the plot a transient right at 25 minutes?  That’s were I ran into a “No Wake Zone” bouy.  I noticed it right before I hit it, so I had enough time to brace and avoid flipping, but not far enough to stop or turn.  It freaked me out a bit.

Then back down lake again and finally another one uplake.  by this time I was worn out and the lake was pretty choppy.  The wind was from the northwest as near as I could tell, so coming down lake I was sheltered by the western shore.  Going uplake along the eastern side of the lake, I was exposed to the wind and chop.

I was totally spent the rest of the day.


Once I get settled in Taiwan, I’ll post the videos.

Tuesday: 2 x 30′ at r22 OTW

On the water in my single.  On the upper charles in Newton.  The temp was in the low 40s and there was a reasonably strong breeze blowing from the west.  This was a headwind heading up river.

The river was incredibly high after the big storm this weekend.  The current was noticeably strong, especially at narrow points in the river.

I adjusted inboard to 85cm.  I liked the extra room that it gave me at the finish, and increased my finish angle a few degrees.  It did feel a bit heavier.  I’m wondering if I will have issues rating up.  I think I will try to move the foot stretcher another cm to stern to give me a bit more angle at the catch.


  • 2 x 30’
  • Rest between: n/a only to rehydrate
  • Rating/Pace: Cat V pace; target SR 22.

Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 7.50.00 PM.png

The pace variations is almost entirely driven by the wind and current.  The fastest pace was in the little stretch right after the stone bridge for both downstream segments.

This was pretty hard work.


  • 3 x (1’ on / 3’ active rest + 1’ on / 3’ active rest + 2’ on / 5’ active rest)
  • Complete one set and then repeat the series.
  • The active rest is relaxed, low intensity, easy rowing.
  • Stop only briefly to rehydrate.
  • Rating /pace: Race effort, 1k pace (your best right now)  – I will target r28 to r30, basically like the fast parts of the speed play.

Catch Angle Analysis from video

Yesterday, I got a buddy of mine to take video of me as I rowed under a convenient bridge so I could get a better idea of what my catch angle it.  Here are the videos

From the second video, I grabbed a frame and drew some angles:

catch angle meas

This makes it look like my catch angle is about 45 degrees.  I’m not an expert, but references that I have seen say that I should be trying to get to a catch angle closer to 65 degrees.  This measurement is not all that accurate, but I think that I should probably do some experimentation with decreasing my span.  The only problem is that I have already cranked my oars down as short as they can go and I will need to decrease inboard when I reduce span.  (Maybe it’s time to buy some shorter oars?)

Track bite fix for Fluidesign 1x

On my single, I have developed a good set of track bites. The seat tracks are as far to the bow as I can get them and my calves land on top of the ends of the slides. There is just enough of an edge between the slide and the cap that I get a pretty good sore from it.

Picture of tracks before fix

The coiled up cable is the speedcoach HR sensor cable. The sensor was directly beneath the deck that the track was on.

I fashioned 2 covers for the ends of the slides from a leather chafing guard kit. I cut the leather to length. It was pre-punched to enable the edge to be sewn. It is secured using the same bolt and wingnut that secures the track to the deck. It took 30 minutes total to craft and install.

With the fix installed
Close up

The seat will roll all the way to the front stops on top of the leather. I rowed with it this way from July through the end of the season in November with no further track bite troubles. The leather would get wet, but remained soft and pliable. I highly recommend this to other fluid owners.