Sunday: 75′ Aerobic Threshold Test

Second Royle Row Test.

Day 2: 75-Minute Row:

This test measures your aerobic threshold. Row for 75 minutes, at the end, record your average watts. Also note in your data the average 500-meter split, total distance rowed, and stroke rate for future reference. Suggested stroke rate between 18-24. Aim for a pace that you can maintain for the duration. This is equivalent to your best steady state pace. Do not stop during the test. You may want to set a water bottle close by if you need to drink during the 75 minutes.

I got up around 9 and was on the rower by 9:30.  I dutifully set the drag factor for 130.  My critical power curves predicted that I should be able to hold around 190W (2:02.5).  Pride, and the knowledge that my PB for a half marathon was at 1:53.6 pace caused me to target something a bit better.  I decided to start at a 1:58 pace and see how things went.

I held the 1:58 through the first 25 minutes.  By then, my HR was edging up close to 160 and I had another 50 minutes of rowing to go.  I decided to ease up to 1:59.  I held that basically to the halfway point.  At halfway, I eased further to a 2:00 target and just kept counting strokes.  I was hovering between 22 and 23 SPM, so I would count strokes in 5 minute chunks.  It was between 111 and 113 strokes in each one.

At 55 minutes, I was getting really ragged.   My stroke rate was bouncing around a bit more and I was having trouble staying focused.  I started seeing a lot of 2:01s and 2:02s on the screen, but I was getting close enough to the end to know that I wasn’t going to give up.  I just kept counting strokes.  Once I got to 10 minutes to go, I felt confident enough to start pushing back to my target, and with five minutes to go, I knew I was going to be able to finish with a bit of a kick.

40 minutes in TR and AN.  I was totally destroyed when I finished.  I am bummed out about how far I am from my best at these long distances, but I’m happy to have made with a sub-2:00 pace at least.

          Workout Summary - media/20171029-161526-sled_2017-10-29T09-40-16ZEDT.strokes.csv
Workout Details

Tomorrow:  Rest Day.  Then on Tuesday is the 1K test.


Saturday: Peak Power Test

Friday:  I slept in.  I needed the sleep.  Rest Day

Saturday:  Down on the Cape.  Time to start the RoyleRow fitness tests.

Day 1: 10-Second Peak Power Test:

Peak Power is measured with a 10s erg test. On a CII set the drag factor to 200. The high drag factor is necessary to provide adequate resistance so that you can hit a true peak power. Lower drag factors do not provide enough resistance and you will get lower peak power numbers. Warm up by paddling easy for 5-10 minutes. At the end of your warm up come to a full stop and let the fly wheel stop. Set your monitor so that you can see the watts for each stroke. From a stop row as hard and as fast as possible for 10 seconds, recording the highest power you see on any stroke. There is no rate cap but you must row as close to full slide as possible right from the first stroke, do not use a racing start. Rest for 3-5 minutes and repeat again. There is a slight learning effect when you first do this test so you might want to do it 2-3 times to get a true peak power score.

I started with a Fletcher warmup.


          Workout Summary - media/20171028-1410300o.csv
Workout Details

That was invigorating.  No on to the main event.  I set the damper on 10, which yieldeda DF of 196.  I guess I should clean out my machine.  The PM5 has a minimum interval time of 20 seconds.  So I set up for 20 second intervals with 3 minute rests.  Then I would row the first 10 seconds of the interval hard and then paddle it out.

I exported the CSV to go look for the peak power.  It was in the fourth interval, 721W.  I rowed at about 44 spm, peaking up above 45.

Then I did a 2K cool down, which didn’t record right on painsled for some reason.

Tomorrow:  75′ aerobic threshold test.

Tuesday PM: Starting Strength

I’m adding 2 strength training sessions per week to my OTW training plan.  From what I have read in a couple of places (Fast after Fifty by Joe Friel, and Rowing Stronger by Will Ruth), I am becoming more convinced that adding strength training is an important way to prevent injuries, and get faster, at least for sprints.  I have also spent some time reading the strength training chapter in Rowing Faster, authored by Ed McNeely.

Both the Daly book and the McNeely chapter divide strength training into 3 main phases.  Hypertrophy, Strength and Power.  Each one has a slightly different combination of volume, intensity, reps per set and number of sets.  The intensity for each exercise is set as a percentage of 1RM (1 Rep Max).  So the job yesterday was to figure out what that number is for the main lifts.

So, the main lifts I will be doing are Squats, Front Squats, Deadlifts, Power Cleans, Good Mornings, Bench Press, Strict press, and either seated or bench rows.  In addition, I will be doing pull ups, chin ups and some core work.  Each session will include 2 main lifts, plus either pull ups or chin ups, and core work.

Instead of pushing all the way to a “real” 1 rep max test, I decided to play it a bit safer and use a calculated method where you try to get to a weight where you can do somewhere between 1 and 10 reps.  It’s more accurate if you have less than 5 reps.

Then you use this formula to estimate your 1RM.  (Source: wikipedia)

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 11.08.09 AM

Here’s my results from yesterday.


So, I haven’t done the exercise for Good Mornings, strict press or the rows.  I will probably just wing it with them when they come up in rotation.

The basic plan is 2 sessions per week.  One on Monday or Tuesday and the other on Thursday or Friday.  Each session will have 2 major lifts plus assistance exercises.  Some example workouts…

  • Back Squat, Power Cleans, Pull ups, ab roll outs
  • Deadlift, Front Squat, chin ups, planks
  • Back Squat, Bench press, seated rows, ab rolls outs
  • Deadlift, Good mornings, Press, chin ups



Autumn Test Results

So, with the 6K test I did yesterday, I completed my first thorough fitness assessment.  The tests that I did were:

  • 2 speed lactate test
  • 1 minute peak power test
  • 2K test
  • 6K test


11-10 2-speed

The 2-speed test doesn’t tell anything now.  It is something that can be repeated easily to measure progress over time.

For the other tests:

test results

The first take away from these tests is that I have a bigger gap between aerobic threshold and VO2Max.  Basically, this means that my 2K is faster than “should” be based on my aerobic threshold power.  I’m guessing that this means that my lactate tolerance is higher than some and allows me to overachieve on the 2K.  The diagnosis is that I should build a better aerobic base.

The second take away is that the ratio between my V02Max (2K power) and my anaerobic threshold (6K power), is very small.  In terms of pace, my 2K pace was 1:42.6.  My 6K pace was 1:47.5.  That’s a difference of 4.9 seconds.  In general, for heavyweights, the rule of thumb is 5 seconds slower pace when you double the distance (Paul’s law).  If you plug in my 6K pace, the predicted 2K pace is 1:39.5, about 3 splits faster!  So, the take away from this for me is that my 2K is pretty damn slow.

Now consider the VO2Max to 30 sec avg power.  My ratio is much higher than the “Ideal”, essentially meaning that my peak power is low relative to my VO2Max.  So, even though my 2K is slow, if I was to use peak power as a predictor it should be slower still!  This again points to me leaning more heavily on lactate tolerance than anaerobic power to get through the 2K distance

In essence, none of this should be surprising.  I designed a training plan to focus on head racing.  I wanted to optimize my performance at the 5K to 6K distance, and it looks like that is what happened.  In retrospect, I would have done better if I had been able to maintain and build my aerobic base, but the deficits in peak power are entirely expected and entirely fine with me.

So, how do these results impact my training plan?  Honestly, not much.  I already suspected that my aerobic base was weak from the lame ass 2.0mmol steady powers that I could hold, and I baked a higher amount of endurance into the plan for that reason.  I also had baked in a training block with a lot of peak power work in the last month before 2K competition since I know that those gains are temporary and tough to maintain without killing my aerobic base.

The interesting part of this (at least to me) is to see what happens when I do the test block after the Crash-Bs to see if what I’m planning to do actually works.  The other thing that the testing gives me is a clue about what to do next summer to get ready for head racing season.  My thought now is to replace one high intensity session per week with more endurance training.  I’ll have to think some more in terms of a block periodization strategy.



Friday: 2K Test


  1. On slides
  2. 20 minute warmup with power 20s at race pace
  3. 2K test
    1. Time target: 6:48
    2. Pacing: Flat pacing at 1:42
    3. Rate: 32 to 34
  4. 20 minute cool down

2k Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.27.10 AM

6:50.4…Not terrible, but not as good as I could have done.  I had a little breakdown around 800 meters.  I was fully prepared for “the wave”.  When I do more speed work, I get used to the crisis moment that hits around then.  Kind of a combination pain, chills, nausea, drowning feeling that passes over the course of about 10 strokes.  Anyway, it hit me hard today and I paused before I really knew what was going on.  I started going again almost immediately and finished without any more drama.  Kind of a lame and it definitely cost me about 3 or 4 seconds off the time.

But as a marker for the start of the indoor season, it isn’t so bad.  I ranked it for fun and it’s 18 out 778 in my age group (97th %-ile).  I think with a month or so of base work, and then a couple months of sharpening, taking 3 seconds off my splits is entirely feasible.  I’d like to build a plan to be within striking distance of my 2K PB by the crash-bs.

Tomorrow:  3×20’/1′ steady state at 190W.

Wednesday: 1 Minute Power Test

So, I know that I was supposed to do a light day today, but looking at my work schedule, it didn’t look so good for a power test tomorrow.  I also felt pretty fresh.  I didn’t need to dig all that terribly deep for the 2 speed test.  Finally, thinking about the 2K test, the idea of keeping up the intensity seemed to more closely mimic the kind of taper I like to do.

The challenge was the PM on the erg.  I was doing this at work and it is a older model C with an old style PM.  The kind that you can’t hook up to rowpro.  So, I pulled my PM3 off of my erg at home with the idea of swapping it onto the erg at work for the day.  I was stymied by the fact that the mounting bracket has been changed between PM models and the new one would not fit on the old bracket.  Bummer.

So, I ended up setting my iphone on a upturned trashcan, leaning against a small dumbell and aiming at the PM.  Then I laboriously transcribed the power reading from each stroke into excel.  If you want to watch some really boring videos, I posted them to youtube.

Why are there two, you ask?  Well, there’s a story behind that.  Not much of a story, but a story nonetheless.

I did a nice gentle 20 minute warmup, and then got myself psyched up for the test.  Apparently I did not get myself psyched up nearly enough, because I blew up big time 32 seconds into the test.  I took the go all out advice to heart and I just totally lost it round the 30 second mark.  I was on slides, so I was cranking at close to 50 SPM.  I was rowing mostly with my eyes closed, and then opened them after about 25 strokes.  When I saw I had only made it halfway, I suffered a bout of acute despondency and dropped the handle.  Pity, it would have been a good test if I had the guts to keep going.  As it was, I set a new PR for peak power.  770W vs my old mark of 701W.  I also maintained with 10% of that value for 25 seconds, which shows that my “Anaerobic alactic critical duration” is reasonable.  “Rowing Faster” says you want to be able to hold that for longer than 20 seconds.  Of course for the other measures, average power and “Anaerobic lactic critical duration” were not measurable from this failed test.

I took a few minutes to get my head together and tried again.  This time, I made it less than 20 seconds into the test and I didn’t bother to transcribe the results.

I had a chat with myself, and decided to make yet another attempt, even though I knew that the test results would not be fully valid.  At least I would be able to get a completed test to score.  Maybe I’ll loop back to this in a week or so.

The last attempt was fine.  I definitely paced myself too much.  I certainly had a lot less power in the initial burst.  This one peaked at 726W.  AACD was 18 seconds.  ALCD was 60 seconds.  Average Power for the minute was 606W.  Maybe I was dogging it, but I was fairly shattered after I finished and the long 20 minute cool down was a struggle even at a 2:10 pace.

To summarize:

  • Peak Power: Target – 837W to 1023W, Actual: 770W
  • Average Power: Target – 674W to 814W, Actual: 606W

So, basically horrible compared to the benchmarks.  By the way, I don’t know too many guys my age with a low pull of 1:12.  Frankly, I don’t that many guys with a low pull of 1:12, so I am not sure how realistic these targets are.

The important thing is that it gives me something to compare against in future tests.  I will feel better if I redo the test in a week and get a complete first shot test done.

Here are my curves

power test

Here’s the HR plot for the whole disaster.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 8.54.40 AM

Tomorrow:  40 minute steady state sometime during the day.  Then 2K trial on Friday.

Tuesday: 2-speed test

Test Protocol documented in yesterday’s post here

Done on my erg at home (static) with RowPro.

The 2-speed test is a 2 x 1000m with 15 minutes of rest between intervals.  The first interval is to be done roughly at LT pace, basically a 6K kind of pace.  For me right now, around 1:50 or so.  The second at V02Max pacing, basically 2K pace.  That would be around 1:42, but faster is better.  It’s supposed to be close to all out over the 1K distance.

I started with a 20 minute warmup.  I’ve been starting off more slowly lately and I like the change.  I used to do a Fletcher warmup, at the prescribed paces, but that starts at something like a 2:05 for me and then gets quite fast and frankly takes a lot of effort.  Now I start at 2:15, and then gradually pick up the pace and then do a few bursts at target pace or faster.  Then finish slowly.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 11.36.38 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 11.36.25 AM

–_|_04853_|_20:00.0_|_02:03.6_|_185.2_|_19.9_|_138.9_|_ 67.3% _|_12.2_|_09.3
Workout Details

01_|_00895_|_04:00.0_|_02:14.1_|_145.3_|_17.0_|_111.9_|_ 48.1% _|_13.2_|_08.5
02_|_00930_|_04:00.0_|_02:09.0_|_163.0_|_18.5_|_124.6_|_ 57.2% _|_12.6_|_08.8
03_|_00988_|_04:00.0_|_02:01.4_|_195.6_|_19.8_|_137.1_|_ 66.0% _|_12.5_|_09.9
04_|_01584_|_06:00.0_|_01:53.7_|_238.4_|_23.7_|_159.0_|_ 81.6% _|_11.2_|_10.1
05_|_00232_|_01:00.0_|_02:09.2_|_162.1_|_17.0_|_150.4_|_ 75.4% _|_13.7_|_09.5
06_|_00224_|_01:00.0_|_02:14.2_|_144.8_|_18.0_|_138.4_|_ 66.9% _|_12.4_|_08.0

Then into the main event.  I set up Rowpro for variable intervals so that I wouldn’t have an extra 15 minute rest after my last interval.  I it up as follows

  • Variable Intervals (Distance, no rest)
  • 1000m Hard
  • 900s stop (you put the time in the distance box, don’t ask me why, but it works)
  • 1000m V. Hard

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 11.52.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 11.52.37 AM

Workout Summary – Nov 10, 2015
–_|_02000_|_06:58.4_|_01:44.6_|_305.8_|_27.4_|_157.2_|_ 80.3% _|_10.5_|_11.2
Workout Details

01_|_01000_|_03:38.7_|_01:49.3_|_267.8_|_25.0_|_152.2_|_ 76.8% _|_11.0_|_10.7
02_|_01000_|_03:19.7_|_01:39.9_|_351.4_|_30.0_|_161.9_|_ 83.6% _|_10.0_|_11.7

Lactate readings were taken at 1′ and 3′ after each interval.  The readings were:

  • Post LT Interval: 1′ – 5.6mmol/l, 3′ – 4.5mmol/l
  • Post VO2Max Interval: 1′ – 10.7mmol/l, 3′ – 10.7mmol/l

This results in the following chart:

11-10 2-speed

Future tests will show changes in aerobic fitness through displacement in the x-axis.  Changes in anaerobic fitness will show in changes in the slope of the line.

After that, I did a 2K happy ending, starting at 1:50 and slowing down by 5 seconds each 250m.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.04.15 PM

So, that’s that.  I was happy that I could hold sub-1:40 for the second 1K.  I think that bodes well for being able to do something around 1:43 or better for the 2K test.

The rest of the test week is as follows

  • Wednesday: easy day: 40′ steady state
  • Thursday: 1 minute power test, then probably the November CTC
  • Friday: easy day: 40′ steady state
  • Saturday: 2K Test
  • Sunday: Easy day: 40′ steady state
  • Monday: 6K Test

End of Season Fitness Testing

The purpose of this testing period is to determine current fitness, balance of aerobic versus anaerobic capability.  The findings will be used to set priorities for my winter training plan.

My intention is to repeat this same set of tests at the beginning of each major training period to allow me to track long term trends in fitness and witness the ravages of aging quantitatively.

There are 4 specific tests.  These tests are to be done in this specific order.  Only one test will be done in a training session.  A light day of 40 minutes of steady state rowing (<2.0mmol/l lactate power) between each test day.

  1. 2- speed lactate test
  2. Anaerobic Fitness Test
  3. 2K Test
  4. 6K Test

Detailed Descriptions

  1.  2 Speed Lactate Test.

(source:  The Science of Winning, Jan Olbrecht.  Original Source:  Mader A. and H. Heck: A theory of the metabolic origin of “anaerobic threshold”. Int. J. Sports Med. 7, 45-65, 1986)

The Science of Winning is a book about training for competitive swimming.  Since spint rowing events are similar duration to longer swimming events, a lot of the training principles are almost directly applicable.  The 2 speed test is presented as a way to assess the balance of aerobic and anaerobic capability in a swimmer by completing the same test distance twice.  After a thorough warm up, the first trial is done at a submaximal pace, and then after a long rest (15 minutes, active rest) a second time as fast as the distance can be completed.  The test can be done on different distances.  In the book, it was presented with 100m, 200m and 400m distances.  For reference, the time to swim 100m is about a minute, so rowing equivalents would be 250m, 500m, and 1000m.  I believe that I will complete the test at 1000m to align better with the longer rowing competitive distances.

After each trial, a lactate reading at 1 minute and 3 minutes post exercise.  The book recommends testing at 5 min, 7 min, etc after the last trial until the lactate level starts to fall to try to get a more accurate idea of what the peak lactate level is.  Here is the graphic from the book.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 10.30.09 AM

The two readings are then plotted as power versus lactate and line drawn between the two points.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 10.30.31 AM

The position of the line along the x-axis provides information about aerobic fitness.  The slope of the line can be used to understand the balance of aerobic to anaerobic power.  I do not expect to get much out of the first test beyond establishing a baseline for future testing.

The thing I like about this test is that it is not as susceptible to judgement as other tests (like the Rojabo test).  Basically, since you are measuring both power and lactate, even if there is minor variation in how hard you try, the line will still give a good idea of how your fitness has changed.

So, the specific guidelines for the test:

  1.  15′ minute warmup including 5 x 10 stroke bursts at test power
  2. Trial #1:  1000m, 6K pace (~1:50)
  3. 15′ rest:  at least 10 minutes active, with lactate tests at 1′ and 3′  (record max lactate and avg power)
  4. Trial #2: 1000m 2K pace (~1:42 ish)
  5. Cool down: 10′ with lactate tests at 1′, 3′, 5′ (record max lactate and avg power)
2. Anaerobic Power Test

(Source: Rowing Faster, 2nd Ed., Chapter 6)

This is a modified version of the Wingate test.  It’s pretty simple.  Row as hard as you can for 60 seconds.  That’s it.  The key to the test is what happens in the 60 seconds.

The instructions are:

  1.  Set the erg to maximum drag factor.
  2. Setup a way to record the power for each stroke, either take a video of the monitor to review afterward, or use rowPro.
  3. Do a 10 minute steady state warmup
  4. Set the monitor for 1 minute intervals with 1 minute rest.
  5. Paddle through the first minute and the first 50 seconds of the rest.
  6. In the last 10 seconds of the rest, crank up the power so you can hit the beginning of the test period going full blast
  7. Row as hard as you can with good form.  Rate up as much as you like, as long as you are taking full strokes.  Do not pace yourself.  The objective is to pull as many watts as you can on each stroke.
  8. As you continue through the minute, your power output will begin to fade.  This is expected and is precisely what the point of the test is.
  9. After you finish, throw up in a nearby trash can, cool down and then get working on data analysis.

If you do it right, you end up with a graph that looks like this…

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 1.43.38 PM

Here is what you try to get from the curve

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.12.31 PM

Here is Table 6.3

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.14.29 PM

So, for me as a heavyweight man, at 52 years of age.  The target peak power is

  • (1 – 22 * 0.3%) * 1000W = 934W (Holy smokes!  That’s a 1:12 pace.  My all time best Low Pull is 1:19.0 (710W), so I expect to fall way short of that benchmark.

As with the 2 speed test.  The main idea here is to get a baseline that I can use to compare to in the future.  Development of anaerobic power is best left to the last phase  pre-competition, unless there is a lot of strength training to be done.  So, I would likely rerun this test about a month prior to competition and then again at the beginning of the competition taper to hopefully see some improvement.

3.  2K Test

Not a lot to it.  Sit down, warm up.  Row 2K.  Record the time.  Used as a proxy for VO2Max power.

4.  6K Test

Same idea.  Used as a proxy to determine Anaerobic Threshold power

Interpreting the test results

In the same chapter of Rowing Faster, they provide the following guidelines for interpreting the test results.  All of these are in terms of power.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 2.27.14 PM

If the ratios are different, then the amount of effort put into the lower areas should be increased in the training balance.