Friday: 5×500 – Still not my usual self


  1. 8×500
  2. rate > 30
  3. Pace <2:00

It did not work out that way.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 9.57.29 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 9.56.55 AM

04500_|_0500_|_01:57_|_1:57.0_|_062___|_31.8_|_08.1_|_166___|_Interval #1
05500_|_0500_|_01:57_|_1:56.8_|_062___|_31.8_|_08.1_|_165___|_Interval #2
06500_|_0500_|_01:57_|_1:57.2_|_061___|_31.2_|_08.2_|_165___|_Interval #3
07500_|_0500_|_01:59_|_1:59.4_|_063___|_31.7_|_07.9_|_162___|_Interval #4
08500_|_0500_|_01:58_|_1:58.2_|_062___|_31.5_|_08.1_|_165___|_Interval #5
09000_|_2640_|_14:54_|_2:49.2_|_298___|_20.0_|_08.9_|_144___|_cool down

02500_|_09:49_|_1:57.7_|_310___|_31.6_|_08.1_|_165___|_Main set
02000_|_14:52_|_3:43.1_|_231___|_15.5_|_08.7_|_134___|_rest meters
02640_|_14:54_|_2:49.2_|_298___|_20.0_|_08.9_|_144___|_cool down

Warmup:  King of the mountain, Top quarter, arms only, arms and body, half slide, legs only (about 30 strokes of that).  Then into the Rojabo style warmup 10 at 20, 10 off, 20 at 22, 20 off, 30 at 24, 30 off, 20 at 26, 20 off, 20 at 28, 30 off (to get under the bridge), 20 at 30, 20 off, 20 at max rate (34 ish).

Then I turned around, had a drink and tried to get myself psyched up.  I did all the intervals with standing starts to get more start practice.  I had in my mind that I would look at each interval as a 10 stroke start, 2 sets of 20 strokes at race pace, then 10 strokes of sprint at the end.  The first attempted interval, I nailed the start and the first 10 strokes.  Then I pushed into the first 20 stroke set. At the end of that set, the interval had started to bite, and I wimped out.  I wasn’t in distress.  It was more of a decision that I didn’t want enough to push hard.  So, I coasted to a stop.  I tried again, with the same result.

I paddled about 500m to get me past the Prospect street bridge, and decided on a new plan.  I would do the start ad settle to my race pace faster, after only 5 strokes.  Then I would focus on keeping my rate above 30 and trying to take nice clean strokes.  I would do my very best to ignore the pace and let it happen.  I would count up to 60 strokes and then look to see how much distance I had left. I would not try to sprint the end.  The training objective was to focus on improving my technique while rowing above 30 SPM.

This seemed to work pretty well.  I counted out the strokes of the interval and I seemed to be able to maintain a pace between 1:57 and 1:59 at r31 with reasonably good form.  I did not feel rushed and my catches were pretty clean.  The RIM analytics show some real issues to be worked out though.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.17.15 AM

I’m OK with the profile of the drive.  At that rate, it seems most folks show some degree of the two bump phenomenon.  But you can see the bump at the finish.  I should try to clean that up.  And you can see that I am accelerating the boat as I recover up the slide.  That means that when I hit the end of the slide, I am checking the boat at the catch.  More stuff to work on.

After that happy interval, I paddled around the s-turn and set up for #2.  Basically the same deal.  Here are two strokes, one at the beginning and one at the end of the interval.  See how the first drive hump is more pronounced at the end?  I assume that is fatigue hurting my technique.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.28.08 AM

Interval #3 was fine.  Basically the same as #2.  But I could feel the fatigue settling into my legs.

Interval #4 was a struggle.  I eased up after the start and cruised through it not pushing quite as hard.  This shows in the acceleration curves.  More consistent from beginning and end of this one.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.32.36 AM

Interval #5 was awful.  I wanted to keep the pace somewhat reasonable, but my legs were starting to feel really tired.  I tightened up and started rowing pretty badly.  I was feeling like I was going to blow up around the 40th stroke, and I looked at the speedcoach and saw that my HR was only around 172.  I know that I can row for about 15 minutes with my HR that high, so I basically told myself to harden the F**K up and row twenty more strokes and row them clean.  You can see it in the strokes.  This plot has a stroke from the beginning, one when I was panicking (stroke rate 34, but going slower), and then one in the last 10, where I got myself back in line.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.38.23 AM

I was gassed at the end of interval #5, but I tried to get myself pumped up for #6.  I made it about 20 strokes before I bailed.  That was basically it for me.  I was toast.  I did 5 practice starts, and then rowed with feet out back to the dock.

I like the pace of the intervals.  1:57.7 is pretty fast for me, even if it was only 5.  I don’t like my mental state.  I have to get myself to a place where I slow down instead of quitting.  It’s a hard thing to do when I need to work on technique at high rates.

Tomorrow:  Quick, easy row on Quinsig and then hosting Learn to Row day at the club.

Tuesday: 12 x 500 rate pyramid – good results

Conditions:  55F, overcast with drizzle, wind North 3-6mph This was a head wind for the odd number intervals (downriver)


  1. 12 x 500m
  2. 500m paddle rest plus time to turn around and take a drink. About 4 minutes between intervals
  3. rate: 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22
  4. pace:  As fast as I can go without puking
  5. Technique:  Focus on clean, early finishes.  Minimize layback.  Try to avoid opening my back early in the drive.

I started with King of the Mountain, and then a couple of sets of Top Quarter.  Then arms only, arms and back.  Then a bit of legs only and a 20 stroke burst at 24.  Then a light paddle to get 1000m on the Speedcoach.  Basically a very short warmup, only about 6 minutes.  I figured it was OK because I was starting at r22 and would be completely warmed up by the time I got to the higher rate intervals.

The wind was light, but noticeable when I was rowing downriver.  The boat just felt a bit heavier and a couple seconds slower on pace.  I felt much more comfortable at all the rates than last time.  Even the r32 was better, but still nothing to write home about.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.01.12 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.02.02 AM

I did a very similar workout on April 29th.  That time I did 10×500, starting at r24 up to r32, and back down again.  The conditions were a little bit better (less wind).  Here is a graphical comparison of the paces that I was able to hold at the same rates for the two workouts.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 12.11.14 PM

Basically, 1 to 5 seconds faster for every rep.  Boo-ya!

Tonight I am taking the red eye to London and then connecting to Munich.  I spend Wednesday and Thursday in Germany and fly home on Thursday night.  I will probably end up taking Wednesday off, maybe sneaking in an erg session on Thursday, and then rowing again on Friday.  No more high intensity until the weekend.

Wednesday: 10×500 / 500r (r24 to r32, r32 to r24)

Conditions:  Cool, not much wind.  Very nice

Plan:  Last time I did 500s, I was out of control.  I pushed them way too hard and ended up bailing out early.  Today, I decided to do them as a rate ladder, so that only 2 of the 10 would be all out at r32.  It was a far better session.

  1. 10×500
  2. 500m rest, paddled at about a 3′ pace, so it ended up around a 3’30” rest
  3. rate: r24, r26,r28,r30,r32,r32,r30,r28,r26,r24
  4. work on maintaining the same basic stroke as the rate increases.  Try to avoid going too deep at the catch.

It was a great workout.  I really enjoyed it.  I had one interval, where I thought I had sufficient space to get around a four coming up river toward me, but I chickened out of the rep with 100m to go because the cox was screaming loudly and incomprehensibly.  Turned out she wasn’t screaming at me!

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2015-04-29 08.31.20


04580_|_28:22_|_3:05.8_|_499___|_17.6_|_09.2_|_150___|_rest meters
01880_|_11:13_|_2:58.9_|_214___|_19.1_|_08.8_|_143___|_cool down


I went straight from the river to the airport to fly down to Austin, TX.  I changed in my car and showered at the airline club.  Best way to start a travel day, ever!

Some less than impressive 500m intervals

Some days your head is just not in the game.  Today was one of those days.

I can’t blame the weather.  It was about 40F, clear with a light easterly breeze (<5mph)

The plan was:

  1. 8x500m / 500m rest
  2. Pace target: 2:00 to 2:05
  3. Rate target: >30
  4. focus on rowing with an erect posture and avoiding too much lean back.

Within this disaster of a workout, there were actually a couple of good things that happened.

First, the warmup went very well.  Sounds stupid, but the warmup that I do is essentially a rate ladder and I felt like I was in control and rowing really well in each one of the bursts.

Second, I was able to row in control at a higher rate than I have been able to before, at or above about 32 SPM for all the intervals.  Last season, I had a lot of trouble with setting the boat and generating power at rates higher than 30SPM.  I want to be able to work on that, and get to the point where I can race sprints at a 33 or 34 and head races around 28.

But those were just two tiny pearls in giant rotten oyster of a workout.  When the going got tough, about half way through each of the intervals, I just had an overwhelming desire to quit.  I ended up quitting on two intervals.  In two of the other intervals, I was waked by the launch out with the Brandeis Crew.  I was reasonably happy with the first 2 intervals, but even they have an annoying fade in the second half.

After 5 intervals, I decided to give up, so I did one more and called it a day.

I’m going to have to come back to this one next week.  I will probably extend out to 10 intervals and set a stroke rate target for each one.  (26,26,28,28,30,30,32,32,34,34)

2015-04-22_14-51-03 2015-04-22_14-50-36

05650_|_0500_|_01:58_|_1:57.9_|_065___|_33.1_|_07.7_|_166___|_Interval #1
06500_|_0500_|_01:59_|_1:59.4_|_065___|_32.7_|_07.7_|_167___|_Interval #2
07500_|_0280_|_01:08_|_2:01.6_|_036___|_31.7_|_07.8_|_161___|_Interval #3 (fail)
08000_|_0500_|_02:02_|_2:02.4_|_065___|_31.9_|_07.7_|_163___|_Interval #4
09000_|_0180_|_00:44_|_2:02.2_|_022___|_30.0_|_08.2_|_159___|_Interval #5 (fail)
09500_|_0500_|_02:04_|_2:04.1_|_066___|_31.9_|_07.6_|_169___|_Interval #6
10000_|_1360_|_07:23_|_2:42.8_|_154___|_20.9_|_08.8_|_152___|_cool down

02460_|_09:56_|_2:01.1_|_319___|_32.1_|_07.7_|_165___|_Main set
01890_|_12:01_|_3:10.8_|_220___|_18.3_|_08.6_|_148___|_rest meters
01360_|_07:23_|_2:42.8_|_154___|_20.9_|_08.8_|_152___|_cool down

I got even more bummed out about this workout when I looked at my training journal for last June and saw that I did a 10×500/500r workout with an avg pace of 1:58.8 and 30.7SPM.

I have some work to do to get back there.

Tomorrow:  14K Steady State