First Coastal Row of the Season

Last post was on May 24th. Things have been pretty hectic since then.

Monday – May 25 – 6 Darts games

I love the dart game. It’s a great way to get good meters in at a low intensity and focus on something other than the measly watts I need to stick to in these workouts.

I also am always trying to beat the impossibly high scores that Sander manages to post. No luck yet. Todays scores were:

  • 14510,14575,14525,14400,14375,14675

That last on was an all time high score for me. I was pretty pumped to keep all my scores above 14000.

I was also really happy with the Heart Rate drift, only 2.28%

Tuesday – May 26 – 2 x 30′ / 5′ with bumps (Coastal)

The weather report for Tuesday was looking really great, so I loaded up my boat the night before. The tide was a bit dicey. I needed to row before work and the tide was falling. Low tide was right around when I wanted to get back to the beach. I was hoping I would get stranded on my way back. (I didn’t)

To make things even more interesting, I decided to do the sprint workout from the Stuck At Home Rowing Club. I love this workout. Two 30 minute pieces at a nice lazy pace, but even 5 minutes, you do a hard minute at a higher rate. On the erg, I would aim for r30. In a coastal boat, I was going to play it by ear.

You can see the effect of the tidal currents in the pace map. The first three bumps were done on the way out to my favorite buoy. Then I turned north and rowed against the ebbing tide toward the inner harbor. Then I turned back south and rode the tide back toward the red buoy. Finally I turned and did 2 bumps going northeast, and then the last one heading back toward the beach.

That was really fun! Great conditions.

Wednesday – May 27 – Rest day

Busy work day, and I was due for a break. I had trained 10 days prior.

Work comes first

I love my job.  It is challenging and rewarding.  I’m an engineer and my company is involved in the semiconductor industry.  We supply equipment that is used to test semiconductor devices before they are put into the products that everyone uses every day.  Mobile Phones, computers, cars, trucks, robots, pacemakers, hearing aids, cell phone base stations, network routers.  The electronic guts of all of those products go across machines that make sure that they will work right.

Having a hard job, that I love means that I have to be realistic about my training objectives and plans.  My job got a lot harder a couple of years ago, and as a result, I have raced a lot less and my training load has gone down.

This chart from the Concept2 Online Logbook tells the tale.

Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 10.11.25 AM

My total training meters have been about 25% lower in the past 3 seasons than it was for the prior 6.  In a sport where “Miles make champions”, and generally “more is more”, that makes a big difference in terms of performance.

Even more impactful than the reduction in volume is irregular training.  If I was able to guarantee 6 sessions a week, but had limits of time per session, I could design a plan and make good progress.  But the way my life works right now, that is not possible.  This past week was an excellent example of what I mean.

Last Sunday, I had, what turned out to be an epic row.  I had planned it as a normal endurance session.  A coastal row exploring the salt marshes in Wellfleet.  And the first half was like that.  But in the second half, I was confronted by choppy water, and then a head wind that piled on a bit more intensity.  I was really worn out by the time I finished.

I was OK with that because I knew what kind of week I was going to have.

Monday:  First day back from vacation.  During vacation, I adjusted to waking up around 8 to 9am every day.  I didn’t think I could rewind all the way to 5:15 on my first day back.  I elected to sleep in.  Looking at my schedule, I could have probably squeezed in a workout, but I was tired and sore from the Sunday row.

Tuesday:  Up at 4:00AM to catch a 6:00AM flight to Austin Texas for a customer meeting.  We got ready in the office in the morning and through lunch.  The meeting was in the afternoon, with a dinner that followed.  I got to my hotel at 9:30PM and fell asleep almost instantly.

Wednesday: Up at 4:00AM to catch a 6:00AM flight home.  Went straight to the office on arrival in Boston.  Had meetings all day, a team dinner after work, and then headed back to the office to host a “Global Town Meeting”.  We have employees all around the world and we are experimenting with using audio and video technology to enable live meetings for the whole organization.  The meeting was at 9pm so that our team in Asia could attend in work hours.  I got home around 11pm, and I was honestly pretty amped up from the meeting.

Thursday:  I slept until 7:00AM and then headed to work.  I had meetings scheduled from 9:30 to 5:00pm, and then I had a business dinner that lasted until around 9:30PM.  On Thursday night, I managed to get to bed by around 11:00.

Friday:  I had a very important internal review meeting at 9:00 where I was the primary presenter.  I really needed to practice my presentation, so I got up at 5:15AM, headed to work and spent the time from around 6:30am to 9:00 working on speaker notes and dry running my stuff.  The meeting went well, and was over by 11:30.  I felt a lot more relaxed and worked through my other meetings in the afternoon.  I left around 6pm.

So there’s five days.  Every day but Monday was more than 12 hours of work and no time for training.    Missing a day or two is no big deal, but 5 days probably erases multiple weeks of gains.

I need to do some research to figure out the best way to deal with this kind of thing.  Maybe some extremely short, HIIT sessions for days when I can’t afford a full workout?  Since I’m on the road again this week.  I guess I’ll give it a try.

As I rolled into the weekend, I was very eager to get back into some training.  I really missed it.  I knew I would be disappointed by my performance, but I tried to be matyure about it.  Just do a couple of nice endurance sessions, get back in the groove.

Saturday – 8/24/2019:  3 x 20’/2′ Endurance with Humon.

I felt great at first, but my HR climbed and I felt really tired by the middle.  I did really enjoy the 1 minute bumps I did during my first 20 minutes though.

        Workout Summary - media/20190824-2045570o.csv
Workout Details

Sunday – 8/25/2019 – 3 x 20′  / 2′ with 1′ bumps at r24

I had fun with the bumps, so I decided to do it again.  Today, I tried to hit r24 and 220W for each of the bursts.  I was really feeling the strain by the last 20′ piece, but I was having a good time with it.

        Workout Summary - media/20190825-2125560o.csv
Workout Details

Now it’s Monday morning, and guess where I am?  I was up at 4:00AM to get to airport for a 6:00AM flight to LA.  I am in Orange County today.  San Diego tomorrow morning.  Driving up to north of LA Tuesday afternoon.  Flying to Chicago on Wednesday night, and then flying home to Boston on Thursday night.  I guess I’ll put that HIIT theory to the test this week!


45′ with bumps…Tired today.

I’ve been playing around with HRV4Training.  It’s a fun app that uses the camera on your phone to optically measure your HR first thing in  the morning.  I had previously tried using another app (ithlete) which worked with the Polar H7, but I really hated putting on a strap first thing in the morning and the results never seemed to correlate with how I actually felt.

With HRV4Training, taking the measurement is easy, but it took some practice.  You need to rest the phone on your finger, but not press too hard.  You need to maintain consistent pressure and not move around.  It also helps to breath nice and steady.  What I do when I wake up now is this.

  • Grab my phone
  • Sit at the kitchen table
  • Wait a minute to let my HR come down to resting rates
  • start up HRV4Training and rest the phone on my finger with my forearm flat on the table
  • push the start measurement button and watch the heart beats march across the screen.  Concentrate on taking even deep breaths.  The measurement lasts a minute.

So, I’ve been doing this for the past couple weeks and today, HRV4Training told me that I should probably take it easy.  My Heart Rate Variability was lower than it should have been.  Of course I ignored it and went ahead with my planned session

  • 45′
  • Cat VI: Pace – 2:06-2:11, Rate – 18
  • Every 5 minutes power20 at r32
    (I actually do 40 seconds, which is about 21 or 22 strokes)

I’m not sure what the intended training effect of this session is, but if I really hammer the power20s, it makes rowing at a 2:06 pace a much more taxing experience than normal.  The first 20 always feels good.  The second one hurts.  By the third you are watching the time tick down to 40 seconds before the 5′ mark, hoping the seconds would last longer.  By the time I am in the last few, I am really feeling the lactate burst after the power20.  I think I’ve done this workout 4 times now.  Once on the Dynamic, once in taiwan and two other times.  This one seemed to to hurt more than others.  My HR took longer to drop and I was working hard to try to get the rate up.

On the plus side, it’s mercifully short.  I also had some interruptions.  In the first 5 minutes I discovered that I had forgotten to strap in, which is kinda important to get up to a r32.  Then I got a work text that I wanted to check.  Then in the 5th, I got a phone call which I answered, found out it was a robocall and hung up.  The stop in the eighth was pure lack of will.  It just seemed so hard to hold a 2:10 pace at that moment.

          Workout Summary - media/20171215-1535300o.csv
Workout Details
00|00984|04:20.0|02:12.1|174.2|17.3|125.8|140.0|13.1 - straps!
08|00938|04:20.0|02:18.5|178.2|17.8|163.3|172.0|12.2 - phone call
14|00980|04:20.0|02:12.7|154.4|18.4|165.5|175.0|12.3 - wimped out

After that, I went to the dentist.  I have a cracked tooth and they were prepping it to be fitted with a crown.  I’m not sure, but I think I cracked my tooth when I tried to loosen a wing nut with my mouth since I didn’t have a wrench handy.  Gotta say, despite all the drilling and poking it was a lot more relaxing than the bumps session.

Tomorrow:  Well, I messed up.  I knew that I needed to redo my 75′ test tomorrow, but I missed the little note in the training plan that I was supposed to take Friday as a rest day before it.  So, I guess I will take a rest day tomorrow and do the 75′ test on Sunday.

Friday: 45 minutes with bumps

I flew back from Dallas last night and got home around 12:30am.  I slept in to about 7:30, and eventually made my way to work.

Around 12:30 I headed to the gym and discovered to my horror that the noon time fitness class was using the rower!  So, I did my Physio homework while I waited for them to finish up.  That there was some really ugly rowing, all with the damper set to 10.  Why do people subject themselves to that kind of abuse?

Around 1:00 I was able to hop on and do my planned session:

  • 45′ continuous with bumps
  • Cat VI (rate: 18, pace 2:06)
  • Every 5 minutes 20 stroke burst at r32+

The only modification was to change the 20 stroke burst to be a 40 second burst.  This worked out to 21 to 24 strokes depending on how well I rated up.

I thoroughly enjoyed this workout, although when you really sprint your guts out for the bump, it’s really hard to focus on holding the split when you slow back down.  The first 30 seconds, I find very unpleasant.

          Workout Summary - media/20171201-1840300o.csv
Workout Details

So, compare this to a very similar workout on the dynamic.  In that workout, I did take 2 1′ breaks and I also did some pause drills during the slow parts.  That explains why my HR ended up going higher today.  The rate is quite similar.  The power is where things are remarkably different.  I was putting up 100 more watts in the bursts today.  And I was working on technique.  I was really concentrating on getting my hands away fast and holding my knees down when I rated up.


Tomorrow:  The weather looks good so I am going to go rowing.  Tough workout though.   6 x (5′ @ 28, 5′ @ 18).  I can’t wait!

2 x 5K with bumps

I am doing my best to try to keep exercising as parts of my life go a bit out of control.  I decided on a very simple idea of just doing 10k a day.  Depending on the day, it might be hard or easy, but 10K takes around 40 minutes and I can get in and out of the gym in just about an hour.

I’ve done hard 10Ks, push 10Ks, L4 10Ks.  Today, I thought I would do a bumps workout.  I remember in the good old days of the concept2 UK site, that all of the 10SMPS folks would do these 8Ks with bumps.  They looked like misery.  Basically you row at about your steady state pace, and then every so many meters, you increase the pace to something faster (like 2K pace) for 100m (or 200m, or 250m, or whatever), then return to the steady state pace afterwards.

I thought it would be an way to get some faster rowing into the 10K format.  SO here was my plan for today.

  • 10K
  • 20 x ( 400m @ 2:00, 100m @ 1:45)
  • Free rate
  • Strapped in
  • No HR cap

Since this was a first attempt, I had no idea if this would be too hard or too easy.  It turned out to be too hard.  It didn’t help that I over-achieved on the sprinty bits.

I made halfway through, and I knew that I was in trouble.  I had decided that I would slow down the steady state, or drop out some of the fast bits.  That’s when the PM5 decided that it had gone just about far enough on this set of batteries and threw a persistent error.

The good news is that Painsled behaved perfectly!  When I looked later, the whole thing was safely on my iphone and it even handled the ignominious finish without any troubles.

I went to my gym bag, found a couple batteries (always prepared!) and changed them out in the PM5.  Then, with trepidation, I set up another 5K for more bumps action.

I only made it a couple of bumps into this one when I found that I couldn’t hold the 2:00 pace anymore.  My HR was sky high and wasn’t dropping much at all between bumps.  I skipped one bump and then rowed the steady state slower, between 2:05 and 2:10 generally, but slower right after the bump.

First 5K


Workout Summary - media/20161219-175842-sled_2016-12-19T11-48-29ZEST.strokes.csv
Workout Details

Second 5K


Workout Summary - media/20161219-2055100o.csv
Workout Details

So, next time I do this workout, I think keeping the slow bits at 2:05 might be a better idea.