Cherishing routine – 3/10 to 3/12

I got back from California last Tuesday night and since then, I’ve trained every day.  It’s been so nice being able to go to bed at an OK time, drive to work, get my session in and then do my job.  I have to cherish this, because I’m heading out to China, next Monday morning.

Sunday – 3/10 – 15 x 3’/1′ L3 on slides

I worked hard in the waterfall session on Sunday, but I wanted to get in my 3rd “hard” workout of the week.  I felt like I didn’t have the fortitude to hold up in a long continuous piece like a 10K, so I opted for one of my favorite short interval/short rest sessions from the Wolverine Plan.  This workout tends to be bit faster than other L3 workouts, and it gets pretty intense in the last 5 reps, but having the 1 minute breaks makes it pretty manageable.  Even if you blow a rep, you have a chance for redemption coming right up.  So, I think it gives a similar physical training effect, but is a lot less taxing mentally.

I haven’t done enough middle distance work on slide to have a great idea about pacing, but I don’t like it when I do less than 800m per rep (1:52.5), so I used that as my goal.

I fell short of 800m on reps 11, 12, 13 and 14.  Average distance per rep was 806m.  Average pace was 1:51.7.

It was quite a workout.  Over 30 minutes in TR and a nice little touch of red at the end.

Monday – 11 March – 3 x 18’/2′ L4 (static)

My ass was dragging on Monday morning.  But, I was hoping to do a nice long 4 x 18′ session.  I ended up stopping after 3 reps because I was feeling pretty worn out.

       Workout Summary - media/20190311-1235390o.csv
Workout Details

Tuesday – 12 March – Pyramid L1

I felt like I had been hit by a truck this morning when my alarm went off.  I barely dragged myself out of bed.  But today is L1 day and L1 day must be respected!

The schedule called for the pyramid.  Last time, I managed a 1:42 pace, so this time the goal was to try to hold 1:42 until the last two reps and then go faster.  It didn’t end up turning out that way.

I started with a 2k warmup.

I think I need a longer warmup.

Then it was time to program the session into the PM.  It made me think that Concept2 should offer a more expensive, fancier PM that would make this easier.  I would buy one in a heartbeat and get the gym to upgrade.  Actually, if they just added the ability to download programmable workouts from ergdata, that would work too.  It was a lot of button pressing.

Here’s how it went.

  • 250.  (1:41.2 split) Felt good, but I was a bit worried that it started to bite with about 10 strokes left.
  • 500 (1:41.3) Ooo.  That was a bit more work than I had hoped.
  • 750 (1:41.4) I struggled through the last 250.
  • 1000 (1:46.5).  I held a 1:41 split through the first 250m, and when it started to bite, I chickened out.  I wasn’t in distress yet, but my thighs were burning and my breathing was a bit ragged.  I was counting strokes, but I went out too hard and didn’t manage pace very well.  Anyway, I basically stopped rowing for about 2 seconds and then started up again.  By that time, the average split was around 1:55.  I held about a 1:45 pace and watched the average slowly come down.  Then with about 250m left to go I pushed harder.  Not my best work.
  • 750 (1:40.7).  I was kinda mad at myself, I didn’t want to blow another rep.  I rowed this one carefully through the first 500m and then emptied the tanks in the last 250.  I coasted into the last stroke feeling really gassed.
  • 500 (1:38.1).  Now we’re getting into “fun time”.  I consciously tried to rate up and hold the split under 1:40.  This was pretty much OK through 300m, but the last 200 were very close to the edge.
  • 250 (1:33.4).  All out.  I used to do this one well below 1:30.  Sucks to suck.

I need to harden up and stop bailing on reps like this.  It’s a bad habit.


14 – 3′ Intervals On Lake Quinsigamond

Lovely morning.  I got to the lake at 5:35 and it was still pitch black out. There was just a hint of a breeze from no particular direction.  It was a bit chilly, around 40F and the stars were bright in the sky.

The Plan:  In the run up to HOCR, I am trying to make the most of the limited time left.  I am way behind my desired plan due to travel and then my back injury, but the progress I can make is limited by the amount of recovery that I need.  The basic of the plan is 3 hard sessions a week and 3 easy endurance session. The easy sessions are HR capped at 155 and 60 to 80 minutes.  The hard sessions are all targeted at head race paced rowing.  One is hard distance, basically a head race simulation.  Two is long intervals, basically L2 workouts.   Three is short interval/short rest.  The third type was what was on the menu today.

  • The basic workout on the erg is 15 x 3′ / 1′
  • On the water, I need more time than a minute to get the boat turned at the ends of the lake, so I planned to take an extra couple of minutes to turn the boat and get a quick drink.
  • rate target: 24-26
  • pace target:  better than 2:20, hopefully around 2:15
  • HR limit: none

I got up extra early so that I could do my dreaded core routine and go to the bathroom before I went to the lake.  My hope is that the core routine will help get me a little warmed up before I get in the boat and help me avoid aggravating my lower back.

The workout was tough, but awesome.  The water was nice and flat.  There was a bit of a head wind coming into the cove at the south end of the lake.  Then the wind died, but returned as a head wind again as after I got north of the Rt 9 bridge.

In my best intervals, I was starting to feel the boat “snap” when I got into my back swing.  My finishes were a lot cleaner today than on Saturday, mostly because the water was flatter, but I’ll take it.  I felt much calmer in the boat.  It was visually confusing to row with it so dark.  There really wasn’t much light until I was halfway back up the lake going north, about 30 minutes into the row.  I am also having a bit of trouble with this boat wanting to drift around to the port unless I am extremely vigilant about keeping a point to steer from and bear down on my port foot in each stroke.  Tough to tell if it’s the boat or me.

I ended up doing 14 intervals.  4 down lake to the south end.  The first one I started at 22spm and gradually increased to 25.  The rest were between 24 and 25.  Then I turned and did 7 intervals up lake to the north end, then 3 more coming back to the boat house.  I was tired by then and decided that 14 was enough for this morning.


        Workout Summary - media/20171002-130422-Greg Smith 20171002 0545amo.csv
Workout Details

Tomorrow:  Steady State, 80 minutes, on quinsig.  HR limit 155.  I might do the technical SBR/alternating/r20 session.  I need to work on my technique.


15 x 3′ / 1′ Static

I felt tired at 5:15 so I rolled over and slept 2 more hours.  I’m glad I did.

I headed to the gym at lunch and sat down on the new erg.  And my HR strap didn’t link up to either the PM5 or the phone.  I popped out the battery and it was wet.  Uh Oh.  I put in a new battery.  Still no life. I think the seal must have gone and sweat has gotten into it.

I pulled out my old wahoo tickr and put a new battery in this one.  I had stopped using this one because it seemed to have a problem following fast HR changes, like you see in interval sessions (like today’s workout).  This one linked up right away, and I got going with the workout using painsled.

The plan:

  • 15 x 3′ / 1′ rests
  • Pace: 1:54
  • Rate: 26
  • Technique: knees together, limit layback
  • HR limit: none


So the sensor still has issues.  Glad it wasn’t my imagination.

So, targets met.  Tired now.

Tomorrow:  80 minutes of endurance training.  20 minutes treadmill, 3 x 20′ on the erg.

Monday: 15 x 3′ / 1′ Rest (Open Water L3)

Weather:  I launched in the late afternoon.  There was a light wind from the southwest which was kicking up some chop.

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  • L3: 15 x 3′ / 1′ rest
  • Stroke rate: 25 spm
  • pace:  Good question
  • Heart rate:  Maximize time in Threshold.



        Workout Summary - media/20170815-210759-Greg Smith 20170814 0356pmo.csv
Workout Details

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I launched from the bottom of our stairs.  This was a bit of a challenge, but I managed to get both oars in, and backed away from the steps without flipping. I warmed up rowing up toward Wellfleet.  When I turned around, I noticd just how bumpy it was.  The head wind was a bit annoying too.  I decided to row into the lee of the Island and do the intervals back and forth there.  I could do 3 intervals in a dog leg around the island, and only the end of the last interval would be exposed to the chop.

This workout is one of my very favorites.  You end up digging deeper and deeper as the intervals keep going.  By the time you get to the tenth interval, you tend to start them with very light pressure.  In that way, it’s good head race practice where you want to use a reasonably high stroke rate and light, consistent pressure.

Even in the lee of the island, it was a lot easier rowing with the wind that against it.  I noticed it most when I was rowing into Loagy Bay.

When I finished, I was totally spent.  I was trembling.  It was pretty awesome.

Today: A rest day!  Finally, I feel like I deserve a rest day instead of being forced into it by circumstances.



My favorite L3 and a morning run

Saturday:  I briefly debated going rowing on Saturday morning, but between a forecast for rain, and the need for sleep, I decided against it.  It was a good decision.  I slept 10 hours and woke up feeling good!  My wife and I had some errands to do, and we had a late lunch.  By the time I had digested lunch and finished some grocery shopping, it was around 7pm before I got around to working out.

I wanted to do a workout with a bit more intensity, so I opted for my favorite wolverine plan L3 workout.

  • 15 x 3′ / 1′ rest
  • Target pace: 1:55

I have managed to do this workout sub-1:50 when I am in really good shape.  I am not in really good shape.  I am also not sure how well I do on faster workouts on the dynamic rower.  Anyway, it was a target.

It started off OK, but by the time I got deep into the workout, I realized that I had started too fast.  The wheels started to come off after the 10th interval and I just did the best I could the rest of the way.  No handle downs, or form breaks, just slower and slower splits.


PM version of power

PM version of pace, considerably more generous than the interval summary below.

Workout Summary - media/20170423-0010230o.csv
Workout Details

That was really hard!  Glad I did it though.

Sunday: Up around 8 after a good nights sleep.  Felt a bit stiff and sore from the workout the evening before, but I wanted to get a quick workout in before I hopped a plane to go to Seoul.  I wasn’t really in the mood for an erg workout, and it was a nice day out, so I decided to go for a run.  Nothing fast or fancy.

I did a loop that was about 7km.  It took about 37 minutes.  It’s been a long time since I’ve run outside.  It felt very awkward at first, but I settled in after a few minutes.  My knees started to complain a bit after about 4km, and the irresistible lure of home home made me speed up a bit at the end.  My legs are nice and sore now.

I don’t think my knees could hold up to running on a regular basis, but I think I should try to do it a couple times a month.  I really enjoy it and it’s great cross training.



Now I’m over northern Canada somewhere, with 8 hours or so until I get to Tokyo.  I change planes and continue to Seoul.

I get in at 10:30PM local time.  I will try to grab a short workout before I leave the hotel at 8am on Tuesday morning.


Thursday: 15 x 3’/1′ off the red eye

I landed in Boston at 6:30am.  I was on the erg by 8am.  I managed to get some sleep, but my expectations for the session were pretty low.


  • 15 x 3’/1′
  • Rate: 25-28
  • Pace: 1:52 or better

I did this session in September (described here).  The jump up was an average pace of 1:50.7, and over 9 minutes spent in the anaerobic HR band.  It was brutal.  Today, I was way more the way that I started, and basically negative split the workout.  The end result was an average split of 1:49.9, and zero time spend in the AN band.

I think the improvement comes from both a more intelligent pacing strategy for the workout, and improved aerobic fitness since mid-September.

The plots and pictures below include 1 warmup rep and 1 cool down rep that are excluded from the pace calculations.

Here is the split summary from  It looks like the way that painsled reports data, it can mess up short intervals by a few meters, so it is different from the PM picture.

Workout Summary - media/20161103-135324-sled_2016-11-03T08-06-32ZEDT.strokes.csv
Workout Details

This session provides another opportunity to explore some of the stroke metric analysis you can do on

First, here is a view of the stroke metrics versus time.


You can see the warmup and cooldown reps.  The other thing that you can just begin to see is that I got all the pace improvement in the last couple of reps by increasing rate, not force.  The best place to see that is in the drv and rcv time plot, where you can see the recovery time decreasing, but the peak and average force are quite consistent with the prior reps.  You can also see how my drive length increased and my avg force decreased a bit over the first few reps.  Let’s dig a bit deeper into those parameters.

First, lets look at drive length over time and also versus stroke rate.  I’ve used the controls on the site to exclude all rest strokes and all strokes below 23 spm, which screen out the warmup and cool down.

So, there is definitely a strong time dependence to my drive length.  I start short, get longer as the workout continues, and only shorten up again at the end when I start to push pace much harder.  The relationship between drive length and stroke rate is very weak.

Next, lets look at peak and average force.

There is little change in these parameters over time or stroke rate.  The area that I want to understand better is the spread of the peak power.  I wonder if I am wasting energy by having an inconsistent stroke.

Tomorrow:  4 x 20′ / 1′ L4


Wednesday: 15 x 3′ / 1′ rest at Crossfit Anaerobic

I’m here in lovely Orange County, so I dropped in on my favorite Crossfit box.  It’s about half a mile from my hotel, and the walk/jog to and from there makes a good warmup/cooldown.  The place is always hopping, and the people are very nice.  I just go get an erg from the long line of well maintained model d’s that they have along the wall, set it up so I can watch all the people doing their Crossfit thing and do my session.

Today’s session is the last high intensity session before the race this Saturday, and boy was it a doozy.  Here’s the plan:

  • 15 x 3′
  • 1′ rest
  • pace target: 1:52 (Actually 800m per interval was what I wanted to beat in each interval)
  • rate target: 26
  • No HR Cap

This is a classic Wolverine Plan “L3” workout.  The rests are not long enough to come close to fully recover, so you dig yourself in deeper and deeper as the workout progresses.

I attacked this session with vigor.  Maybe a bit too much vigor.  I was able to hold my pace below 1:50 for the first 7 intervals.  But I was in deep trouble by then.  I backed off a bit, but came close to blowing up in the 11th, about 1 minute into it.  I took a few strokes around 2:00, and then slowly brought the pace back down to around 1:54.  I rowed the next couple of intervals more conservatively, but I was running on fumes by the time I got to #14.  I purposely sandbagged that one so that I would have a chance on the last one, which I very much wanted to be ahead of target.  It was.  I was shaking all over and it took me a good couple of minutes before I could get off the erg.  This was a very good workout.



Add in another 10 minutes of LIT for the warmup.  So, 45′ of HIT and 45′ of LIT.  And a whopping 9 minutes of anaerobic.  Ouch.

Tomorrow:  Steady State Session.  4 x 20’/1′ rest at 185W.

Thursday: 10 x 3′ / 1′ rest – Not my best work

The original plan was for 15 reps at 1:50.  I pushed through the first 10 reps a little bit ahead of target, but I was digging deeper than I wanted to right from the start.  I wasn’t feeling all that great, I was have some digestion issues and frankly, I was in a pretty crappy mood as well.  Anyway, it all added together and I had an “aw screw this” moment after the 10th rep.  I took an extra minute of rest and then tried to get back on track.  But less than a minute into the 11th rep, I gave up on it.

So, I’m disappointed in myself for bailing instead of finishing the session at a slower pace.   But, it’s just a single workout and I was pretty obviously working hard.  Tomorrow is another day.  I was physically shattered afterward.  I sat on a bench in the locker room for about 10 minutes with a towel over my head waiting to feel better.

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Tomorrow:  4 x 20′ / 1′ rest Lazy Man’s L4.

Saturday:  10K threshold.  I should be able to beat my PB.  My PB is 36:33, which is a 1:49.7.  Using the Free Spirits Pace Predictor and plugging in my HM and 60′ results, I get a predicted time of 36:23 (1:49.2 pace).  So, it will be close, but possible.  It also predicts that I could do 8325m for 30′, which would also be a nice improvement over my current 8266m PB.  I guess that could be a project for next week.

This week is also the final week of my Long Threshold mesocycle.  Next week I move to the long interval mesocycle, mainly at 6K pace or faster for the HIT workouts.  So far, the plan is working.  My long distance times have never been better.  I should really try to find the time and grit to do a FM.  I’d probably do pretty well on that too.


Thursday: 14 x 3′ / 1′ rest varying rates

I’ve noticed that I seem to do better off of slides for middle distance pieces.  For endurance sessions, at the same training power, I seem to have about the same HR and lactate.   And for sprints, I think I actually do a bit better on slides because I can rate up much higher.  But for the middle distances, I am having trouble finding a nice efficient stroke rate.  Basically, I have trouble getting into the groove.

So, today, I decided to do a bit of an experiment.  I replaced a planned 2 x 30′ threshold session with a 15 x 3′ / 1′ workout.  I’ve been doing this workout for a while.  It is one of the “L3” workouts from the Wolverine Plan.  And the pace for it comes around the pace for a 30 min TT.  I thought that this would be a good session to experiment with different rates on slides.

So, I decided that I would try to aim for a pace faster than 1:55, and start at 23 spm.  Then I would click up the stroke rate by 1 spm for each interval.  I decided to play it by ear in terms of how high I would push the rate, and then I could come back down the other side.

I did a couple of 3′ segments at a slower pace as a warmup and then went into the main set. At 23 SPM, I settled in at 1:53 and it didn’t sting too bad.  As I increased stroke rate, it was hard to avoid going faster.  I could tell that I was pushing the pace unsustainably fast as the rate increased.  The format of the workout gave me a chance to try to out some changes in stroke dynamics.

As I got to the higher rates, I needed to concentrate on having really fast hands on the recovery.  If I did that, then I could take the drive a bit slower and maintain the pace.  But it was really murder on my arms.  By the tenth rep, I found it hard to keep my arms out with good form while I paddled in the rests.

From today’s experiment, it looks like for a 30′ Threshold, on slides, I should be rating between 28 and 30.  But I rarely rate that high either in a boat or on an erg.  I need to practice at these rates more often to make it work.

And through this experiment, I think I am starting to get an idea about the root cause of why my boat speed is not as good as my static erg speed.  I have deeply ingrained muscle memory to pause at the finish.

It’s gotten a bit better over time, but I do not flow smoothly from the drive through the finish to the recovery.  Instead I pause, then from a stop, I accelerate through the recovery to the catch, and then hit the catch hard.  I am beginning to think that getting to the point where my middle distances are better on slides than on static might unlock some boat speed.

So, back to the workout.  I pushed all the way up to 33, and started back down.  I did the 32 spm segment which was my 12 interval, but I was toast after that.  I felt barely recovered at the end of the minute rest, and blew up a minute into the 31 spm rep.  I paddled that one out.  Then did two more reps at 31 and 30 spm and decided that I had done enough damage for today.  I did a quick 3 minute cool down and headed off to the showers.

And because it was that kind of a morning, I discovered that I had forgotten my towel at home and needed to dry off after my shower using paper towels.

Temp: 70f, Humidity 55%

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I think I’ll do a slow 30 minutes tonight to try to facilitate recovery and a 4 x 20′ tomorrow morning.

Thursday: 10×3’/1′ rest on the erg

Weather forecast was for rain, wind, and chance of thunderstorms.  So, even though the temperature was back in the high 50s, I decided to stay inside on the erg.  I did the workout on slides.

The OTW plan was for 4 x ( 3 x 3′ / 1′ paddle) / 2′ turn.  This was adapted from an erg workout 15×3’/1′ rest, so I decided to do that.  The problem coming back to the erg is always figuring out a good pace.

Today I guesses wrong and paid the price.  I decided to try to hit 1:50 or better, and ended up faster than 1:49 through 10 intervals, but I was totally done by that point and HD’ed in the 11th interval.  Once that happened, I basically gave up on the workout.  Looking in my old notebook, I saw that my fastest ever for this workout was 1:48.5, so I was a bit too ambitious with my pacing.  1:52 would have been a much better choice.

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I have trouble getting upset about this workout.  I did 30 minutes at head race pace and pushed it pretty hard.  I hate to bail on a workout, but trying to get 15 good reps in would have been an epic battle, probably without much additional training benefit.