July CTC – Sprinting? What’s sprinting?

In an effort to get back to basics, I have been thinking about getting away from fancy training plans and just get back to doing the Wolverine Plan.  It was my mainstay for the run up to my first CRASH-Bs and it has the advantage of simplicity and flexibility.

My life is too hectic to try to implement meso-cycle based training, and while I might tailor my sessions a bit to focus on head race distance instead of 2K performance, doing the basic WP would probably get me in much better shape.

Over the past 6 months I have been trying to follow the Eddie Fletcher Marathon Training Plan.  I haven’t been very successful with it, but that is not the plan’s fault.  My lack of success is directly related to not having enough time to do the sessions, and having travel disrupt the progressions built into the plan.  Nevertheless, my endurance is much better than my sprinting ability right now.  It’s been a long time since I pulled any sessions at a pace faster than 1:50.

So, today was going to be a shock to the system.  At least I had the advantage of going in with very low expectations.

Here’s the CTC definition.

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I added a 2K warmup (with some power10s at 1:45 or faster), and a 2k cooldown at 2:15 pace.

Warmup:  The 1:45s were hard!  And I had a lot of trouble getting the rating up.  I haven’t really had my stroke rate much above 25 for the last 6 months.  It showed.


The into the main event.  I decided to target a 1:45 pace.  Mainly because I had no idea what else to do.  That proved a little too spicy in the 1000m piece, but otherwise it was a fine target.  Based on the HR data, I didn’t phone this one in.  I was working at very close to my limits.

My total time added up to 13:53.1 (1:44.1 pace), which puts me in Free Spirits Boat 3 and at 127 of 370 entries.  The last guy in Boat 2 is significantly ahead of me in the rankings (13:38.7, 1:42.3 pace), so that is not a good motivation to take another shot at this.  The other is that I probably won’t see another erg until I’m back in Boston.  Notice how horribly low the stroke rate is.  I guess sprinting is something you need to actually train for.  Who knew?

I was pretty shattered at the end of it, and I dialed up a 2k cool down.  I was originally thinking that I would do a happy ending cool down with 500m at 2:00, then 500m at 2:05, 500m at 2:10 and 500m At 2:15, but I got the feeling I might pass out or throw up during the first 20 strokes at 2:00 pace, so I backed off and just tried to hit exactly 9:00 for the whole thing.  I missed by 0.4sec.  Another thing I’m out of practice at, I guess!


Here’s the HR data for the whole workout.  That’s a whole lotta red!  Nearly 6 minutes of it.



I still felt a bit funny after the cool down.  I went to my room, and lay down for about 30 minutes.  After that I was feeling much better and was ready to start my day.

Tonight I fly to Taiwan.  I’m there for a day, then fly on Saturday to Macau.  My plan is to do a 60 minute endurance session tomorrow morning at the hotel.


Tuesday: Another shot at the February CTC

Sunday:  Flew home from Korea via Detriot.  21 hours door to door.  Didn’t sleep at all and was wedged into a coach seat the whole way.  Arrived home at 3pm.  No training.

Monday:  Slept in to try to make up for the lost night of sleep.  No training

Tuesday:  Woke up at 5:15am and felt pretty tired.  Dragged myself to work and after an hour of email, went down to the gym.  The goal for the day was to make another attempt at the February Cross Team Challenge and get all the rowing data onto rowsandall so we could try out some cool new team functionality.

But, I have to admit that I was not feeling too good about doing a hard workout.

I set up a 10 minute warmup.  I rowed a minute nice and gently, then I worked as 30 seconds on / 30 seconds off.  For the Ons, I did a rate ladder starting at 20spm, and going up by 2 spm in each one until I got up to 30 spm.  I’m sure the data would have looked really cool.  But, we’ll never know because painsled hung again about 6 minutes into the row and stopped storing data.  😦


I felt a bit better as I went along, but I was still not optimistic about the session.  I bailed on using painsled and reverted to using ergdata, and got myself setup.

Last time I did the CTC, I did it at 24 spm.  This time I figured somewhere between 26 and 28.  As for splits, I was thinking I wanted to improve on the 1:49.1 pace in Taiwan, so maybe around 1:47.

As soon as I started the first interval, I settled into a much faster pace.  I was worried that I would flame out in the later reps, but I just went with it anyway.


Workout Summary - media/Import_28998017.csv
Workout Details

After the second rep, I decided to try to aim at 1:45.  I managed to stay under it except for the 7th rep, where I struggled a bit.  Not a full blown crisis, but I coasted in the last few strokes to give myself a bit of a longer rest.

This was a big improvement and I’m very pleased with it.

Tomorrow:  2 x 40′ / 4′ rest






Friday: February CTC (@ r24)

I was pressed for time this morning, but I wanted to get a workout in.  I mean realy, how often do I get to stay at a hotel with a real erg?  It’s too good to pass up.

So, I thought I would try out the February CTC, but do it with a rate restriction.  The rests are so short that I wasn’t sure how to pace it.

I decided to try to target 1:50 at r24.

It worked out OK.




Pretty tough workout.  I can probably shave a couple seconds by rating up.  Next shot, I’ll do at r26.

Tonight I fly off to Korea for a day.  I will hopefully get a workout in tomorrow morning.  Something tame and endurance oriented.


January CTC : 4 x 4′ / 4′ rest

Well, if I wanted to test how far my sprint fitness has declined, this would be a good way to do it.  Also, it would be a good way to see how well my knee works for full pressure rowing.

I figured that it would be a stretch to do this session with an average pace of 1:45.  To try to make myself a little less obsessive about the pace, I did the challenge with the watts screen up.  1:45 is just about 300W, but somehow, I figured I would do a better job backing off if I wasn’t looking at the pace sliding away.

I set up the session as a simple time interval session.  I used the first 4 minutes as a warmup with 4 power 10s close to my target pace.  Then 3 minutes of paddling.  I let the flywheel stop completely before the first interval to stay legal.

The plan was to try to hold 10W per stroke, but I found that I was having trouble getting my rating up above 28, even with the power above 300W.  I just went with it, but it sure felt like hard work.  I finished the first interval 303 watts (1:44.6).  I felt pretty toasted, but I recovered pretty well in the rest period.

I figured I should probably back off the 300w target a bit, but I set out in the second interval at 300W, but I needed to back off a bit in the second half and I ended up at 297W (1:45.6).  This one really stung and I was desperately counting down the strokes to the end.

For the third interval, I targeted 280W and I hoped that would be enough slack.  This one started pretty well, but I sure felt it in the last minute.  I beat the 280w, but just barely with 283W (1:47.3).

The last interval was going to be very difficult.  I decided to back off some more to 260W and see how it went.  I really wanted to just make it through without putting the handle down.  I did, 262W (1:50.0).

I did a progressive cool down, and then paddled enough meters to tick over 10km.

The summary graph shows that I was pushing this one close to the edge.  My max recorded HR is 185 and I matched that the last interval.


This workout shows how using power is a better way to manage intensity for hard workouts.  HR lags power in shorter intervals, so here, you can see that I was pushing anaerobic power levels for about 14 minutes, which was the whole workout execpt for when I faded in the middle of the last interval.  By HR, it only shows 6:38.

This workout provides a good example of how the stroke based statistics of rowsandall can have errors that have a pretty big impact on shorter intervals.  I parsed the workout data to select just the 4 work intervals, and the summary data from there was.

Workout Summary - media/20170108-2130110o.csv
Workout Details
01|01146|04:00.0|01:44.8|302.8|27.3|165.1|176.0|10.5 - +2m
02|01130|04:00.0|01:46.2|297.0|27.2|169.7|181.0|10.4 - -6m
03|01113|04:00.0|01:47.8|283.3|27.5|171.9|184.0|10.1 - -5m
04|01084|04:00.0|01:50.7|262.5|26.4|172.4|184.0|10.3 - -6m

This is close enough for analysis purposes, and to provide a good definition of work and rest strokes, but for challenges, you definitely want to use the PM directly.

Tomorrow:  10 min warmup, 40 min steady state, 10 min cool down


Wednesday: November CTC

After my cortisone injection yesterday morning, my knee felt better almost immediately.  I think the combination of getting the excess fluid out of the joint, and the anti-inflammatory effect of the steroid made things a lot better.  There is still a lot of instability in the joint.  I have a vicious clicking if I fully flex and although the pain is much reduced, I still notice that my joint has two modes of operation; good and not so good.

Needless to say, I want to avoid the not so good mode of operation.  And as far as I can tell that is done by avoiding  fully flexing my knee.

Yesterday evening, I went and had an MRI done of the joint.  That was a new experience for me.  The imaging center (Metrowest MRI) was prompt, professional and friendly. They did 4 image sequences.  Each took about 4 to 5 minutes, during which I was instructed to keep my knee perfectly still while the machine banged and buzzed.  I looked at the pictures, which were very clear, but I don’t know enough about knees to figure out if there is anything good or bad going on.

This morning, I was pain free and so I headed off to workout in the morning.

The Plan:

  • 20 minute warmup on the stationary bike
  • If I was pain free, try some erging
    • 1k at 2:00
    • 1k at 1:55
    • 1k as hard as I could tolerate for the CTC
  • Strength training

Here is heart rate data for the bike warmup and the 3 intervals on the erg

Here’s the details on the erg stuff.  I was concerned about bending my knee too far so I put a bandaid on the rail at a point before my knee would click.  This provided enough of a bump when the seat rollers hit it that I was reminded to keep my strokes shorter.  Over the intervals, I was able to modify my recovery timing so that I would be fully rocked over before I hit the bump.  This enabled me to get a bit longer drive.  On the last interval, I pushed past the bandaid with no significant pain.  That was heartening.


I was interested in looking at my drive length.


So, for the first interval, I was pulling about a 1.3m stroke.  For the second, around 1.35m.  For the final interval, it was about 1.4m.   Compare that to the 8x750m workout that I did last week.

bokeh_plot (69).png

For this workout, I was maintaining over 1.4m for all but the last interval.  It looks like I had gone back to just about my full stroke in the final rep.

A couple of other interesting plots.

The left shows the peak and average force.  This shows a very consistent increase in both peak and average.  The right is the drive time.  You can see that the drive time was slowing down as my drive length increased.  I was surprised by this since the pace on the last rep was much faster.

After that, I went and changed my shirt and did a few strength exercises

Chin ups
unassisted x5
red band assist 3 sets of 4 reps

standing dumbell press
2×25 10
2×30 2 sets of 10 reps

Bent over barbell rows
45 x 10
95 x 10 x 3 sets

dumbell bench press
2×30 x 10
2×35 x 10 x 2

Tomorrow:  Slow HM (limit compression)

Tuesday: September CTC – 10′

I prepared for anything this morning.  I dressed for rowing outside, and packed my sneakers to do an erg session in case the weather was no good.  Turns out the weather was awful.  Chilly with a steady, light rain and a blustery wind.  So, I drove straight to work with the intention to do the September CTC.

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First, a Fletcher warmup.

Then the main event!  I targeted a 1:48 pace.  This turned out to be pretty close to a maximum effort.  I backed off a little with 3 minutes to go because I felt like I was losing it.  I let it slide to a 1:50 pace until there was a minute and a half to go and then picked it back up again for the last 40 strokes.

After a bit of gasping, I set up for a quick 2K cool down.  I was aiming for 9:00.0.  I missed it by 0.2

Tomorrow:  Training plan calls for a steady state OTW session.  Who am I to argue.


Wednesday: August CTC

I was out late on Tuesday night for a work related dinner, so I decided to sleep in on Wednesday instead of rowing in the morning.  When I got home, I had a little time, so I decided  to give the August CTC a try.  This one is a sprinter’s dream.

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 11.30.42 AM

I started with a 2K warmup, including some 10 stroke blasts.

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Then I took a bit of time, got some water and setup the challenge as a variable interval workout.  I separated each piece with 5 minutes of rest, starting with the longest and going shorter in each successive piece.  In the rests, I did about 3 minutes of this paddling, and the last 2 minutes, I toweled off, grabbed a drink of water and let the flywheel come to a complete stop.

It was a fun session. It was challenge to get the start right and I didn’t get it right on the 300 and 200 and was staring at a very slow AVG split that took a while to get down to where I wanted it.  The 400 and the 100 were much better.  I knew I needed to rate up to make this work, but I haven’t practiced at high rates at all, so that felt a bit weird.

Despite those excuses, I had a blast doing it.  The 5 minute rests were plenty long and the pieces were short enough that I felt like I could go all out.

I used ergdata for the session.  This was sync’ed to the concept2 site, and then I exported the CSV data and massaged it with excel.

I like the power chart.  It makes me happy to see over 600W, even if it’s only for about 10 strokes.  The rate chart shows how my rate was tending to trail off during the pieces.  The pace chart is at the bottom.

I was using the wahoo tckr which let me hook up to the PM5 with ANT+ and to my phone with BTLE.  I used my phone to record HR through the warmup, the whole CTC session and a 2K cooldown.  This was done using the wahoo fitness app, and exported as a CSV file and analyzed with Excel to get time in HR zone data.


The sprint times were  plugged into the little online calculator and that spit out 5:50.6, which puts me currently in 91st place.  Looking at the names and times in the list, I really should be aiming at 10 to 15 seconds faster, but that seems like a lot of work!  So I think I stick with this score.




Thurs: No Training, Fri: No Training, Saturday: CTC, Sunday: Yard Work

Well, you make your choices and you own them.  This week was quarterly business review week at work, and it’s a big week to prepare our status from the prior quarter and present it to executive management.  There is also a lot of activity to get ready for our earnings call.  Anyway, this quarter it meant early starts to the work day and late nights and no time for training.

Wednesday:  I was at work until around 8pm, got home around 9

Thursday:  I had meetings starting at 9, but I had to do some prep for them so I was at my desk at 7.  No time to go rowing, or even hit the gym at work.  Meetings were back to back from 9am to 7pm.

Friday:  My meetings started at 8am, and again I had prep work to do before, so I was at my desk at 7.  I had meetings most of the morning, then more prep, then a big review from 2 to about 6pm.  I got home after 7.  And I was totally exahausted.  I don;t think I had gotten more than 5 hours sleep any night of the week so far.  I decided there was no way I could get up early to row out at Quinsig.  I conked out around 11, and slept until around 9am.  It was bliss!

Saturday:  I had a another busy day.  We had our work family day at an amusement park about an hour away from home and I needed to do some shopping for a trip to China and Japan.  But I desperately wanted to get some training in.  I decided to do the July CTC as soon as I got out of bed.

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It’s always a guessing game to do these sessions when I am not erging regularly.  This looked a lot like a Wolverine L2 session, like the waterfall (3K/2.5K/2K), and I can usually hold about a <1:50 pace for sessions like that, so I thought I would go for that as my pace.

I warmed up with rate ladder 18/20/22/24/26 over the planned 2813m distance, and then paddled a bit in the 4 minute rest.  I let the flywheel completely stop so my first rep of the CTC would be legal.

I took off at my 1:50 pace and very soon realized that it was way too aggressive.  I started to bleed off speed about half way through the rep and by the time I finished, I had let the average pace creep up to 1:51.

I knew even that was too spicy and I set out on rep #2 targeting 1:52.  Again, it was too much for me and I slowed in the middle.

The last rep, I figured i was toast.  I started off trying to hold the 1:52.6 from the last rep, but it was not working out very well.  I saw lots of 1:55s and some 1:56s in the middle, but with a bit less than 2K to go, I found a bit of energy (and pride) and started to bear down.  The split came back in line and I was seeing 1:54s and 1:53s.  Then I started seeing 1:52s.  With 1000m left, I was counting down strokes.  My avg pace was still above 1:54, but I was seeing it come down.  As Rocket Roy describes it, the “red mist” descended and I sudenly thought I might be able to equal my previous rep.  Turns out I missed it 3 tenths of a second.  I dug my way out of a really deep hole.

I did a quick cool down and then had some breakfast.

2016-07-23 10.42.06.jpg


The rest of the day was a blur.  Shopping, off to the picnic, back from the picnic, laundry and packing.

Sunday:  I had to leave for the airport around 11am, and I really needed to get some yard work done before I took off.  There were trees to be pruned, and a bunch of shrubs and hedges that needed trimming.  I was hoping to dispatch it quickly and do an hour on the erg, but it took nearly 3 hours and I finished with barely enough time for a shower before I had to head off to the airport.

Now I am in a plane somewhere over canada, near mackenzie bay.  I am on my way to Shanghai for some customer meetings on tuesday.  Wednesday, I fly over to our plant in Kumamoto Japan.  Our building was essentially destroyed by the recent earthquakes and the folks we have working for us there have been doing an amazing job improvising, finding space, and supporting our local customers.  I’m visiting to see the damage and review our reconstruction plans.  I fly home during the day on Friday.

In other words.  More cross training this week.


Saturday: June CTC – 30R24

Friday:  “Rest Day”.  Flew to San Diego in the morning, and back on the red eye.  I arrived at 7:00AM.  Drove home and slept until around 10:30.

A little after 2, after doing some domestic chores, I found time for an erg session.  The month is passing and I hadn’t made an attempt at the Cross Team Challenge.

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I started with a 2K warmup, with 3 bursts of 20 strokes each near my target pace and rate.

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Then it was onto the main event.  I felt like an 8K target was about right.  Maybe a bit aggressive since I haven’t been doing much erging and very hard distance work, but I would have felt bad doing less.

I turned out to be doable.  I was a bit fast through the first half, and I needed to bleed off a bit of pace to keep from blowing up in the second.  It was very close to a maximal effort.

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2016-06-18 15.30.23

I took 721 strokes exactly, according to the painsled file.

Then a 2K cool down

Mission accomplished.

Tomorrow:  Steady State OTW