Friday: 2 x 400 strokes @ 25 – Coastal

Time for another hard session. More head race prep.  Generally I want to do a single hard distance piece for the third hard workout of the week, but since I was rowing close to low tide, my course selections were a bit restricted.  I also didn’t feel particularly ambitious today.

I decided to row out to my favorite buoy to warmup.  Then row from there up to the entrance of Wellfleet harbor.  Take a bit of a breather and then row back to the buoy.

I figured it would be roughly 2 x 20′ pieces.

As it turned out, I pushed myself way too hard in the first piece and I called it quits after about 400 strokes.  I was still about 500m short of the harbor entrance, but I was gassed and my form was falling apart.  I stopped had a drink, caught my breath, got the boat turned around and then went for interval number two.

In this interval, I made a concerted effort to lighten up my stroke and just work on maintain good form, getting my oars off the waves on recovery and staying forward during the initial part of the drive.  You can see from the HR plot that I was going a lot easier in the second rep.  My intent was row back to the red buoy, but I got to 400 strokes and I was having trouble spotting it while I was rowing.  I decided to call it finished at that point.  Once I had stopped, I looked around and I still couldn’t find it.  I started rowing for home, and after a hundred meters or so, I saw the buoy off my starboard bow.  My course setting from the harbor was pretty terrible, I was way west of the buoy.

I had a long row home to cool down, and experiment with good form with the wind on my beam, and then on my bow.  There wasn’t much chop because the wind was from the SE and I was in the lee of the island.  I tried to be careful rowing back to the beach because of the low tide, but I misjudged the channel slightly and I ended up having to get out to drag my boat for about thirty feet back to the deeper water.  You can see that as a little jog on the map right near the beach.

Screen Shot 2019-08-16 at 9.21.43 PM

       Workout Summary - media/20190817-0031030o.csv
Workout Details
01|02366|12:03.0|02:32.8|000.0|19.5|141.5|152.0|10.1 - out to the buoy
02|02937|15:54.0|02:42.4|000.0|25.0|168.7|180.0|07.4 - into tide, with wind
03|02907|14:31.0|02:29.8|000.0|25.3|168.0|177.0|07.9 - into wind, with tide

I’m pretty happy with the session.  I’d be happier if I had taken each interval out to 20 minutes, but I’ve gotten 3 good hard sessions in this week.  It’s a good setup for fall training.


Saturday: Hard Distance – 5.5K

Weather:  Stunningly beautiful.  Clear skies.  mid 70s.  Nearly flat calm when we started.  At the very end, during the row back to the dock, the wind picked up from the North.  By the time we were off the water, it was about 7mph.


  • 2 x 5.5K
  • 5′ rest
  • rate target: 24
  • pace target: 2:15 to 2:20

There is a big waterskiing competition at the lake today and tomorrow, so we started a half hour earlier to try to avoid the traffic.  I headed north on the lake first and slowly built a bit of pace.  About halfway up the lake someone in a single turned in behind me.  They kept looking over their shoulder and slowly ratcheting up the rate.  I wasn’t sure what they were intending, but but it seemed like he had put a target on me.  Of course, I wanted to stay ahead of them, so I ended up being very warmed up by the time I got to the end of the lake.

I had a drink of water and hung out for a little while, getting myself psyched up for a good hard row.  This would be the first head race simulation of the season and would help set a marker for me to use for training over the next month or so.  It couldn’t have been a better day for it.  The wind and water would be giving me no excuses and the power boats were not out yet in any kind of numbers.

During head racing season, I will be doing these pieces at about 28 spm.  But I need to work my way up to that.  Today, I was looking to hold about 24 spm.  As it turned out, even that was a tough ask.  I was finding myself settling at a 23 and my HR was pretty high.  I think I have to row a bit lighter if I want to get efficient at a higher rate.

The row was entirely uneventful.  I passed three or four singles as I made my way down lake.  I wore a hat with a mirror today and although it wasn’t hugely useful, it wasn’t terribly distracting either.  That is another project for me this summer.  To get used to using a mirror for head races.  I counted strokes.  100 strokes would take me about 900m or so.  So I figured that 600 strokes would take me the 5500m.  I was kind of worried after the first 100 strokes.  I felt pretty tired and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to complete the piece.  Luckily, during the second 100 I had a single in my sights and chased him down.  That was distracting enough that I was able to manage my breathing and ease up just enough to be sustainable.  The third block of 100 strokes took me through the route 9 bridge, and coming out that, I spotted another single, which helped keep me on task as I passed him.  The fourth set of 100 got me just about to the narrows.  I was really feeling it at this point, but the end was getting a lot closer.  I got past the islands, and into the part that always feels incredibly long.  There is a stretch of open water from the last island to the mouth of the south cove.  I hit 500 strokes about at the island, just another 100 to go.   This stretch gave me a good chance to use the mirror to aim at the point at the entrance of the cove.  I have to get used to using this thing when I am tired.  This was my first chance and it worked out.  I nailed the line and passed nice and close to the point

I had 30 strokes to go when I passed and it was time to push a little bit harder to the end.  There wasn’t much to draw on though, I was tapped out.  It felt great to see Crewnerd count up past 5500m, and I coasted to stop.  There was no way that I had another piece like that in me today.  I decided to just do some easy technical rowing to finish out the day.  I had a bit of wait before some of the other folks arrived in the cove, and I was happy enough to just sit in the sun drink my water.  I ultimately paddled up lake to intercept them and came back down lake with them.  I paddled up lake with Bob.  As we came out of the cove, the wind picked up pretty suddenly and made it a bit of a slog to get back to the dock.

If I want to do 2 of these pieces, which I do during this endurance block, then I have to use a more conservative pace target, like 2:20 to 2:25.

myimage (42).png

Workout Summary - media/20160716-161035-2016-07-16-0635.CSV
Workout Details
01|02265| 12:38 |02:47.3|16.8|141.0|163.0|10.7
02|05533| 25:21 |02:17.4|23.3|170.0|183.0|09.4
03|05267| 32:05 |03:02.3|19.0|142.0|162.0|08.7

So, a 2:17 pace at 23 spm.  I’m OK with that.  Last year, my best head race was a 2:13.9 pace at 27 spm.  I think with some decent training and losing some weight, I’m be at that pace or better by race time.

Tomorrow:  Technical session on Quinsig.  Start with some bungee rowing, then 500m blocks of SBR, alternating SBR/feathered and feathered.


Sunday: Hard 5.8km on Quinsigamond

We got tho the lake this morning and the fog was so thick that you could not see the opposite shore 500m away.  We don’t launch under those conditions.  A pity too because there was no wind and the water was oily smooth.  We waited about 30 minutes and it started to clear.  There was still very little wind, and it was quite cool, maybe around 40F.  The water was fabulous!  The featured image is at 8:30, right when I was finishing my main piece.

The plan for today was another head race simulation.  My last before the racing starts next weekend up in Lowell.


  1. 5.5km hard
  2. rate: r28
  3. pace: better than 2:12.7 (my previous best pace)
  4. As always work on good reach at the catch, smooth drive and early finish.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 12.00.43 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 12.00.26 PM


05800_|_25:33_|_2:12.2_|_674___|_26.4_|_08.6_|_168___|_Main set
02780_|_15:00_|_2:41.9_|_301___|_20.1_|_09.2_|_138___|_rest meters

In the warmup to the south end of the lake, I tried to keep the intensity low.  I was rowing with another guy in a single and we basically matched pace.  As I got closer to the end, I cranked up to target pace and just got loose and ready for the piece.  I was pressed for time after our fog delay, so I took a minimal rest, drank a little water and set off on the main piece.

Less than 500m into the piece, I was hit by a massive wake from a waterskiing boat.  It stopped me dead in the water for a couple of strokes.  But, I got back in the groove and was pleased to see that I could hold under a 2:10 without going crazy.  It felt like a nice pressure. About 400m later, I was hit with another wake.  This one was smaller and I could keep rowing through it, but at half slide and with blades on the water.

Over the next 1500m, I started to feel the effects of my fast start, and the splits started to climb into the 2:10 to 2:15 range.  I just focused on mechanics. Reach far and finish clean.  Reach far and finish clean.  This got me to the narrows where I was waked one more time.  Again not so bad, but it cost me a few strokes at full pressure.

From there to the bridge was pretty painful.  I was hurting and just trying to keep it together.  There was a stretch where I was struggling with a cross chop from the wakes bouncing off the shore lines and coming back in unpredictable ways.  At steady state pressure these would have been no big deal, but I was tired enough that they really made it hard to stay in a smooth rhythm.  I was glad to get under the bridge and know that I had about 2K left.

I lifted the rate after the bridge.  I wasn’t hitting the target rate in the south end of the lake, but now I was.  I was also desperately counting strokes, trying to make sure that I didn’t get ahead of myself and trying to stay in the moment, just focusing on mechanics and technique.  I hit all the milestones at the right stroke counts and I knew that I would finish up right at about 700 strokes for the whole piece.  I started a final push with about 400m to go and finished with a 2:00 split on  the speedcoach.

I was gassed.  I panted for a half a minute then paddled up to the top of the lake.  I had a drink, took my feet out and then paddled back toward our dock.  I did about 1000m of steady rowing, then 500m of slow roll ups, then 500m of square blades and that was about it.

Even with the 3 wakings, I managed to beat my previous best pace by half a second (2:12.2 vs 2:12.7).  Excluding the one big wake, the pace was 2:10.8.  Even better, the average HR for this piece was 168 versus 176 for the piece where I did 2:12.7.  I’m happy with that and I think I’ll have a beer.

Tomorrow: Steady State.  Training plan calls for rate ladders.  I plan to do them

1000 @ 16, 1000 @ 18, rest of the distance @ 20

I will also row with a HR cap at 150.

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.

Sunday: Hard Distance on Quinsig

Cloudy, cool (60F), very light breeze from the east.  This was a light cross wind and not a factor.


  1.  Long warmup, keep HR reasonable low
  2. Head race simulation, 5K from bottom of lake to the QRA docks (rate target: 26, Pace target: faster than 2:15)
  3. feet out cool down

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 11.08.23 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 11.08.37 AM

03880_|_4940_|_21:51_|_2:12.7_|_561___|_25.7_|_08.8_|_176___|_4.9km hard
08820_|_2640_|_14:12_|_2:41.3_|_271___|_19.1_|_09.7_|_140___|_cool down feet out

04940_|_21:51_|_2:12.7_|_561___|_25.7_|_08.8_|_176___|_Main set
00180_|_01:01_|_2:49.4_|_015___|_14.8_|_12.0_|_123___|_rest meters
02640_|_14:12_|_2:41.3_|_271___|_19.1_|_09.7_|_140___|_cool down

I was lucky today in so many ways.  First, the water was perfect.  Second, the temperature was perfect.  Third, I was training with a mixed double.  They said that they were going to be aiming at 2:20 splits, so I gave the 40 second head start and then gave chase.  I caught up with them a bit north of the route 9 bridge, and we were side by side for about 1000m.  I pushed really hard in the first 2000m and I was pretty gassed, but I didn’t want to let them go.  With about 1000m left, I started pushing harder again and got a couple of boatlengths ahead of them by the end.

It was really good that I was chasing them.  If I was on my own, I think I would have bailed at the bridge.  The last 2000m were a real challenge.   My HR was above 95% HRR the whole second half of the row.

After we finished, we rowed up to the top of the lake, and did a few drills and had a drink.  Then we had a nice gentle row with feet out back to the docks at Regatta Point.

I’m very happy with the time, a 2:12.7 pace.  I don’t think I’ve come anywhere near that before, even in times with a tail wind.  Flat water makes a huge difference.

Tomorrow:  Back on my little stretch of the Charles River.  The plan calls for

Rate Ladder 4 x (1000 @ 18, 1000 @ 20, 500 @ 22, 250 @ 24) / 2′ rest

I think I might shift the rates down by 2 and row with a hard cap at 150, based on the lactate results from Saturday.

Saturday: 5.5km Threshold on Quinsig

Since I had my boat on my car from my Charles River adventure, I decided to bring it out to Worcester to do my weekly hard distance piece in my own boat.  I think I will do it again this week.  It was much better rowing in my own boat.  And just as importantly, it takes away one set of excuses for going slow.

The plan was:

  1. Warmup: 3.5km of bungee rowing  working on stroke sequence
  2. 5.5km at r26.  Aim at better than 2:15 pace.
  3. drills and stuff back to the dock.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.17.08 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 10.17.22 PM

The bungee row was great.  I took it pretty easy and just tried to work on not opening my back early.  There were various interruptions, but it was a nice change in warmup routine.

Then I turned and got myself ready for the piece.  I was aiming at keeping the pace between 2:10 and 2:15.  And this actually felt pretty good through the first 1000m or so.  Then, I got hit by the first wake.  As I recovered from the wake, the pace on the speedcoach did not budge.  Weeds!  I just maintained the stroke rate and tried to ignore the erroneous pace readings.  After about 15 or so strokes, the pace popped back to a reasonable number.

I was starting to feel a bit overcooked, so I eased up the pressure a little bit as I approached the narrows.  Right after the narrows, I was hit by two wakes in reasonably close succession.  At this point I was about 500m from the Rt 9 Bridge, so I just tried to settle into a sustainable pace and rate.  This hovered around 2:15.  Sometimes a bit slower, sometimes a bit faster.  Generally dependent upon the water state.  There was a bit of slop from all the boats and even though it wasn’t seriously disruptie, it kept me from getting really good balance.

I passed under the bridge and at that point I know there is a bit more than 2k left to go, so I tried to up the pressure a bit.  My HR started to creep up to the top of my TR band, but I didn’t feel like I was in much distress.  Around 1000m left to go, I got waked again.  This time was closer and bigger than the others and it took a couple strokes to try to get back on track.  Now, I was past the Gazebo and getting closer to the Donahue Rowing Center, and since I knew there would be people there, I had some motivation to try to look better than I felt.  I tried to row clean and hard and the pace sped up a little bit as I approached the rt 290 bridge.  Last Saturday, I stopped at the bridge.  Today, I wanted to push a bit further, so I rowed under the bridge plus another 40 strokes.  That put me close enough to the north end of the lake that I needed to check it down to keep from running into the docks.

Including all disruptions, including the weeds, my pace was 2:19.8.  But if you cut out the weed section, the avg pace was 2:14.7, including being waked 4 times.  I want to be much better than that, but I’m pleased with making some progress.

After that I did a bit of feet out rowing, and then strapped back in and did 500m of square blades, then 500m of slow roll ups, then 500m of square, then to finish it all off, I did 500m of r28 full pressure rowing.  It felt very good.  Well balanced, good stroke mechanics.

A good day on the water.

03500_|_1440_|_06:17_|_2:11.0_|_165___|_26.2_|_08.7_|_159___|_start of piece
05060_|_4040_|_18:19_|_2:16.1_|_478___|_26.1_|_08.5_|_174___|_rest of piece
09100_|_2400_|_14:54_|_3:06.4_|_261___|_17.5_|_09.2_|_132___|_feet out, sbr, sru
11540_|_0440_|_01:51_|_2:06.1_|_051___|_27.6_|_08.6_|_163___|_500m hard
11980_|_0180_|_01:17_|_3:34.4_|_021___|_16.3_|_08.6_|_135___|_back to dock

05480_|_24:37_|_2:14.7_|_643___|_26.1_|_08.5_|_170___|_Main set
02520_|_16:23_|_3:15.1_|_298___|_18.2_|_08.5_|_135___|_rest meters
00440_|_01:51_|_2:06.1_|_051___|_27.6_|_08.6_|_163___|_500m @ r28
00180_|_01:17_|_3:34.4_|_021___|_16.3_|_08.6_|_135___|_cool down

Saturday: 5.4km Threshold Piece

Sunny, cool ~ 60F, wind from the NE about 8mph with gusts to 10.  This was a head wind for the main piece.  It also kicked up a bit of chop, especially at the south end of long fetches.  The only parts where the water was pretty good was directly south of the narrows, the 250m of so south of the rt 9 bridge, and then the last 500m or so before the rt 290 bridge.  There was still a head wind, but at least the water was flat.


The plan was a hard 5.5km at 26 spm.  I was torn between doing the piece with a tail wind or a head wind.  I asked the other folks which way they wanted to go and they all wanted to go south first.  Head wind, then.

I took it easy during the warm up, started with a pick drill, including some legs only.  This was pretty important to get used to the feel of the club boat I was using.  Then just easy steady state with 2 1′ minute chunks at r26 and full pressure.

I turned and psyched myself up.  I knew that my pace would be slow with the chop and the head wind, but I wasn’t sure how slow.  I decided to try to keep my HR around 170 until I had less than 1000m left and then crank it up.  I also wanted to try to focus on keeping the rate up at 26.  I tend to slow the rate down in a head wind.  I guess the pace was less important to me than trying to manage the conditions.

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 6.40.00 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 6.39.42 PM

|Dist_|Time_|_Pace__|_SPM__|avg HR|max HR|DPS_|Remarks
|00253|05:31|10:54.0| 23.0 | 096 | 106 |02.0|drills
|03302|17:08|02:35.7| 20.2 | 141 | 162 |09.5|warm up
|00193|04:29|11:35.3| 19.7 | 108 | 135 |02.2|rest
|05388|27:31|02:33.2| 26.3 | 170 | 180 |07.4|5.4km Threshold (head wind)
|01359|12:41|04:40.0| 21.9 | 134 | 179 |04.9|rest
|01819|09:54|02:43.3| 23.0 | 154 | 166 |08.0|feet out

5388_____|_27:31____|_2:33.2_|_170_|_26.3_|_7.4_|_Main set
1819_____|_09:54____|_2:43.3_|_154_|_23.0_|_8.0_|_Cool down
1552_____|_17:10____|_5:31.8_|_127_|_21.3_|_4.2_|_rest meters

So, it was pretty damn slow.  2:33 pace.  Based on the biorow graphs, I guess that’s about a 2:15 with no wind.  It sure was hard work, and it took a long time!  I’m not happy with the pace, but it was good practice and I hit the right training zone.

After I finished, I tooled around a bit until the other boats got up to the end of the lake.  Then I popped my feet out of my shoes and started to head back to the boat house with the tail wind.

As I passed back out under the rt 290 bridge, 2 singles started a rate limited piece right behind me and one of them was gaining.  He was rowing about r24 or so, I matched his rate and started to push the pace a bit to keep ahead of him.  This went on for most of the way back to the dock until they stopped and turned around.  I guess I really don’t like getting passed.

Tomorrow:  Off to Tanglewood for the day.  No training.