3 x 5K at r20 (155 cap)

It’s time to get serious about marathon training.  To do that, I need to rebuild my base aerobic fitness, and do some of the initial tests to set a baseline for paces.

I strongly believe that aerobic work is most effective when you limit the intensity and build duration, so this week I am going to focus on 60 to 80 minute sessions.  Then next week, I will do some baseline tests.  I am not in the mood to do lactate testing right now, so I am going to try to use strict HR limits for these sessions.  I’m going to row the sessions below 80% HRR (157).  It is probably even better to row them below 75% HRR (150), but that is just so disappointingly slow.

The other thing that I am going to work on is a lighter stroke.  I have been pursuing the 10W per stroke as a goal for a while and I think I am in a bit of rut.  When I rate up, I can’t seem to modulate power very well.  So, I think I will try to stick with r20 for the sessions this week and adjust pace by just adjusting the pressure at that rate.

So, that meant that the plan for today was:

  • 3 x 5000m
  • 1′ rests
  • initial power target ~ 180-190W
  • rate : 20 spm
  • HR cap: 155

Based on the criteria, the session went pretty well.  Of course, I wish that I was able to sustain higher power versus the cap, but that will take some time to come.  I found that I enjoyed the sensation of rowing with a “fluffier” stroke.


The summary stats are a bit off compared to the PM.  It shows how much  the pace can vary just from a few more or less meters.

Workout Summary - media/20170109-154820-sled_2017-01-09T07-28-01ZEST.strokes.csv
Workout Details

A few more geeky metrics.  Here’s an plot that you can use for HR drift.  From Joe Friel’s book “Total Heart Rate Training”,

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 11.30.36 AM.png

So, let’s consider the first 5k as warmup time and compute drift from the second to the third interval.

183.6W/151.2bpm – 174.4/153.6bpm = 1.214 – 1.135 = 0.079 / 1.214 = 6.5% drift

Ideally, I would like to see drift well below 5% for aerobic sessions.


I checked drive length and it looks OK.  I see that characteristic where my drive length increases over the first 10 minutes as I loosen up.


Since I was working on keeping the stroke the same as I eased off the pressure, I was looking for a vertical line in the work per stroke graph.  That’s what I got.


And since I eased up from 10W per stroke, I expected the peak and average power to be lower than early sessions.  Here it is compared to Saturday’s aerobic session done at 10W per stroke.  Peak force was down by about 2.5%, average force was down by 6.5%.

Tomorrow: 4 x 20′ at r20, HR limit of 150 (let’s see if I can do it!)


Saturday: 5K PB

I was out late with a customer late on Thursday night, and so I decided to sleep in and take rest day Friday.  I was due.  I had worked out 7 days straight prior to Friday.

Saturday’s objective was a 5K threshold piece.  I really wanted to go for a good time, maybe even a PB, but my workouts during the week had been disappointingly difficult.  Nonetheless, with a rest day, and doing the row in the afternoon instead of first thing, I thought I might give it a shot.

My previous PB was 17:46.1 (1:46.6 pace) set in 2014, during my magical first experience with lactate based training.

Today, I did a 2K warmup.  Nothing fancy, but I did do it strapless.  Makes strapping in feel good.  As soon as I finished and setup my 5k piece, rowpro decided to crash.  Getting it back involved rebooting the PC, so I did another 500m or so to keep warm while the hard disk grinded away.

I started rowpro again with the PC isolated from the network and all was well.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 7.17.18 PM.png

Workout Summary – Jan 09, 2016
–_|_02000_|_07:42.1_|_01:55.5_|_227.1_|_20.8_|_162.0_|_ 83.7% _|_12.5_|_10.9

Into the main event.  I decided to set out at a 1:46 pace and evaluate at the end of each 1000m split.  In the first 1000m, I tried to get comfortable with a stroke rate.  I tried to rate up and row a little lighter around 500, but my splits dropped too much and I knew I would torch myself, so I dropped it back.  Through 1000m, I felt OK, but not that OK, I decided to let the split drift up to 1:47, and counted out the next 100 strokes.  At 2000m, I was started hurt pretty bad, but I decided to keep trying to hold the 1:47 for the next 100 strokes.  That was a long 100 strokes!

There were two real crisis points in the row.  The first was around 3000m when I saw my HR cross over to the anaerobic zone.  I have held my HR up in the red for 2000 meters before, but it is something that is really nasty to experience, and I needed to do a gut check to see if I was willing to go there.  I gave myself permission to let the splits drift up to 1:48 and if I didn’t get the PB, that would be OK.  I did want to stay as far under 18 minutes as I could, though.  Another very long 100 stroke counted out (well actually, each 1000m was about 96 strokes).

When I got to 4000, my average split had drifted up to 1:46.7.  I will often lose hope when I slip behind my target, but today, I just plugged along.  I drifted even further up seeing more 1:48s.  By the time I got to 500 left, my average was up to 1:46.8.  I tried to rate up to start sprinting, but I almos instantly regretted it and almost stopped.  I saw one stroke at 1:50, and then one at 1:56, and I got myself back under control and just tried to hold the 1:48s.  When I got down to 200m left, I did start to sprint while I counted down the last 20 strokes.  I held 1:40 splits for 100m, and really cranked up for the last ten strokes sprinting it home at 1:36.

All this I figured out after the fact because I had my eyes closed for just about the whole last 200m.  When I opened them, I had 10m left, and my avg split was down to 1:46.5.  As I pulled the last stroke, it flipped to a 1:46.4.  I was done, and I had a new PB, 17:44.3, a 1.8 second improvement over the one from just about 2 years ago (17:46.1).

Tough row.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 7.19.38 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-09 at 7.19.18 PM

Workout Summary – Jan 09, 2016
–_|_05000_|_17:44.3_|_01:46.4_|_290.3_|_27.1_|_184.0_|_ 99.3% _|_10.4_|_10.7
Workout Details
01_|_00500_|_01:45.5_|_01:45.5_|_298.0_|_26.7_|_159.0_|_ 81.6% _|_10.6_|_11.1
02_|_00500_|_01:45.7_|_01:45.7_|_296.7_|_26.7_|_166.0_|_ 86.5% _|_10.6_|_11.1
03_|_00500_|_01:46.9_|_01:46.9_|_286.4_|_26.4_|_168.0_|_ 87.9% _|_10.6_|_10.9
04_|_00500_|_01:46.6_|_01:46.6_|_288.7_|_27.0_|_172.0_|_ 90.8% _|_10.4_|_10.7
05_|_00500_|_01:47.1_|_01:47.1_|_285.2_|_26.9_|_175.0_|_ 92.9% _|_10.4_|_10.6
06_|_00500_|_01:46.9_|_01:46.9_|_286.2_|_26.9_|_177.0_|_ 94.3% _|_10.4_|_10.6
07_|_00500_|_01:47.3_|_01:47.3_|_283.6_|_27.4_|_179.0_|_ 95.7% _|_10.2_|_10.3
08_|_00500_|_01:47.5_|_01:47.5_|_281.4_|_26.8_|_180.0_|_ 96.5% _|_10.4_|_10.5
09_|_00500_|_01:47.3_|_01:47.3_|_282.9_|_26.8_|_181.0_|_ 97.2% _|_10.4_|_10.5
10_|_00500_|_01:43.4_|_01:43.4_|_316.5_|_29.0_|_184.0_|_ 99.3% _|_10.0_|_10.9

After that, I did what felt like the world’s longest cool down.  Another 5K, starting at 1:55 and slowing down by 3 seconds every 500m.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 7.18.03 PM.png

Workout Summary – Jan 09, 2016
–_|_05000_|_21:18.3_|_02:07.8_|_167.5_|_18.9_|_163.0_|_ 84.4% _|_12.4_|_08.9

Tomorrow:  4 x 20′ / 1′ rest L4

Tuesday AM: 30r22, PM: 2 x 5k threshold

Discovered that I had an 8 am meeting, so I needed to cut this morning’s workout short.  I just did a 30r22.  I am really beginning to feel the increase in volume.  It was hard work this morning.

Temp: 68F, Humidity: 41%

12-1Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 9.04.42 AM

Then after work, I headed down to the gym to do my proper session.  The plan was for 4 x 5K / 5′ rest.  It occurred to me that this would take a lot of time.  Figure 19 minutes for each 5K, so that’s 76 minutes, plus 20 minutes of rest, plus a warm up and cool down.  That’s like 2 hours!

So the first change was cutting back the rests to 2 minutes.  I was also pretty sure that I would cut off this little adventure after 3 reps instead of 4.  Who the hell designed this workout anyway? (oh yeah, that’s me.)

I decided to target a 1:55 split.  I did a quick 1000m warmup speeding up from 2:10 to 2:05, 2:00, and 1:55 in 250m chunks.

Then it was into the first rep.  I had trouble hitting 1:55.  It was like trying to stay on a balance beam.  I would end up at 1:53 or 1:57.  Of course I decided to stick with 1:53.  By the time I got through 4000m, I knew that I was in deep trouble for the next rep.

I sure was!  I started off trying to ht 1:55 again, but within the first 2000m, I gave up the ghost.  I slowed down to 2:00, then sped back up, then kind of settled around a 1:57 pace and miserably ground out the rest of the meters.  It was awful.

After that I was done.  I did a cool down in the last 5K.  Starting at 1:55 for the first 1000m, then slowing down to 2:00, then 2:05.  It wasn’t until I was rowing at 2:10 pace that my HR started to come back down to a normal kind of rate.

12-1 bScreen Shot 2015-12-01 at 6.20.54 PM

What went wrong?

  1. Too aggressive pace, should be 1:56 or slower
  2. Slides.  I think I am less efficient on slides for middle distance work. I either need to slow down and work out the kinks or get the erg off the slides.
  3. Big volume increase with 4 sessions in the past 48 hours.
  4. Probably pushing the 30r22 too fast.  They are meant to be low intensity recovery sessions.  I’ll do them at 180W.

Tomorrow:  30r22 at 180W in the morning, 3 x 20′ at 185W in the afternoon


Saturday: 5K hard on Lake Quinsigamond

Weather:  below 30F, but bright sunshine and nice flat water.  A slight breeze from the NW, which was a cross/head wind for the hard piece


  1. 5km
  2. Rate:  First 2k at 24, then 2k at 26, then the rest at 28
  3. Pace:  Faster than 2:15
  4. Video from the side to record the state of things at the end of this season and figure out what to work on next year.

Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 5.50.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-31 at 5.50.24 PM

04000_|_5200_|_23:06_|_2:13.2_|_604___|_26.2_|_08.6_|_171___|_5K hard

Very hard work.  At first, I was doing great, even at r24.  But after about 1K, I started to feel it bite.  I was working hard when I did the rate shift to 26 spm and didn’t get much pace out of it.  By the tie I rate shifted to 28, I was in survival mode and couldn’t really squeeze much more out.

Videos coming in a while, as soon as they finish loading and I figure out what they say.

Tomorrow:  4 x 20′ / 1′ rest

Sunday: Head Race Simulation – Hard 5K on Quinsig

Cloudy, wind NE at 7-10mph.  This was a cross/head wind for the 5K piece.  It also kicked up some nasty chop for most of the row.  On the plus side, I wasn’t waked during the piece, only during the warmup.  Very sporting of them really.


  1.  5K hard
  2. rate: r28
  3. pace: better than last weekend’s 2:12.7
  4. HR:  There is no cap on race simulations.
  5. Technique:  Work on really reaching for the catch and keeping my finishes clean and avoid too much layback.

As I got my boat in the water, a couple guys from the club at the north end of the lake came by and asked  me if I wanted to do a race piece with them.  Damn right I did!  We rowed steady state down to the south end of the lake.  I tried to keep my HR basically in UT2 the whole way down, but finished with about 500m of head race pace just to get comfortable with the rate.

Then we turned, and futzed around a bit.  I asked the guy I was going to row with what his target pace was.  He said 2:15 in flat water, which seemed about right to me. I didn’t want the pressure of starting off side by side, so he let me go and he started right behind me.  It seemed like we were pretty even in pace, but over the first 1000m I started to put a little distance between us.  The wind was gusty and flukey, and the except in the lee of the islands, annoyingly choppy.

By the 2K mark, I was up about 30 seconds or so, and the row was basically pushing a bit faster when I got some flat water and slogging along when it was choppy or I got a bit gust of wind.  I was a lot slower than last weekend, but I think with the conditions, and the lower HR, this was actually a better row.

I ended up about a minute ahead of the guy I was rowing with.  It sure is easier to keep pushing hard when someone is chasing you!  I really wanted to stop or slow down around the rt 9 bridge, but pride kept me going.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 6.42.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 6.42.22 PM

04000_|_5000_|_22:45_|_2:16.5_|_585___|_25.7_|_08.5_|_169___|_5K piece

1000m splits for the 5K.  Pretty flat paced.


After that, I did some square blades, some feet out and rowed with a quad from my club back to the dock.  Very good outing.

Saturday: 5K Hard – Season Best

This morning I headed out to the boathouse in Worcester to meet up with some of the folks from my club.  There are serious deliberations going on to merge the masters sculling club and masters sweep club.  There is ample history making the process delicate.  But it would be great if we could combine forces and get more boats out on the water every day.

A bit later, after I got home, I headed off to the erg to do my weekly hard distance row.  I started off with my normal 20′ steady state piece, with a lactate test.  My heart rate was delightfully low, and I felt fantastic.  I also did a great job holding 185W after the first 5 minutes.  But my lactate reading was a 2.2.  I was expecting something closer to 1.5.  Weird.  Maybe it was a bad measurement.  Who knows.

186.7W, 19.0SPM, 137.1BPM, 2.2mmol/l


Workout Summary – Apr 04, 2015
–_|_04866_|_20:00.0_|_02:03.3_|_186.7_|_19.0_|_131.8_|_ 62.3% _|_12.8_|_09.9
Workout Details

01_|_01225_|_05:00.0_|_02:02.5_|_190.5_|_19.6_|_122.0_|_ 55.3% _|_12.5_|_09.7
02_|_01214_|_05:00.0_|_02:03.6_|_185.5_|_18.8_|_133.1_|_ 63.2% _|_12.9_|_09.9
03_|_01214_|_05:00.0_|_02:03.6_|_185.5_|_18.6_|_135.5_|_ 64.9% _|_13.1_|_10.0
04_|_01214_|_05:00.0_|_02:03.6_|_185.5_|_18.8_|_137.1_|_ 66.0% _|_12.9_|_09.9

Then I freshed up a bit, and setup my 5K.  My target pace was 1:48.  Honestly, I wanted to be a bit faster than that, since I held a 1:48 for the 6K last weekend.  the other objective was to try to keep the rate up.  I wanted to hold 28spm for this session.

It was a tough row, but not as bad as the 6K.  I managed a 17:49.6, which makes this the second fastest 5K I have ever done, about 3 seconds off my PB from last year.  I didn’t check the number before, but even if I had, I’m not sure I could have sprinted early enough to shave another 4 seconds off my time.  In any case, I am THRILLED to be that close to my time from last year.  I was in my best shape ever last season, and I finally feel like I am on the track toward those kinds of times.

In terms of rate, I had a bit of a sag in the middle, but averaged about 27.5.  So, I still need to work on it.  I feel very sluggish trying to rate up when I am not on slides now.  I guess that’s a good trade off if my OTW rowing improves.

2015-04-04_16-33-09 2015-04-04_16-33-30

Workout Summary – Apr 04, 2015
–_|_05000_|_17:49.6_|_01:47.0_|_286.0_|_27.5_|_168.8_|_ 88.5% _|_10.2_|_10.4
Workout Details

01_|_01000_|_03:32.6_|_01:46.3_|_291.5_|_27.4_|_148.4_|_ 74.0% _|_10.3_|_10.6
02_|_01000_|_03:33.1_|_01:46.6_|_289.2_|_27.6_|_167.3_|_ 87.4% _|_10.2_|_10.5
03_|_01000_|_03:35.8_|_01:47.9_|_278.6_|_27.0_|_171.6_|_ 90.5% _|_10.3_|_10.3
04_|_01000_|_03:34.1_|_01:47.1_|_285.3_|_28.0_|_176.7_|_ 94.1% _|_10.0_|_10.2
05_|_01000_|_03:34.0_|_01:47.0_|_285.6_|_27.8_|_179.8_|_ 96.3% _|_10.1_|_10.3

I was pretty much destroyed at the end.

I did a long 5K cooldown.  Starting at 2:00 pace and slowing down by 5 seconds after each 1K.  By the time I finished, my HR was below UT2 range and I felt much better.


Tomorrow: rest day!