Marathon Training – Korean Style

I’m in Seoul, staying at the JW Marriott.  The hotel has a fantastic fitness club, it has tons of treadmills, stair climbers (some with real stairs), banks of those machines with straps that vigorously vibrate your muscles, machines that you stand on that wiggle to and fro, and the famous electric horse.  But no rowing machine.

The training plan called for this session…

M1 4 x 15′ / 4′ 6′ @ 5KP, 9′ @ MP 92.5% (172)

Often when I travel, I just use the fitness center and do maintenance type aerobic training.  But since I’m on the road a lot, and I have less than a month to my race, I thought it would be better to try to replicate the HR response of this workout, even if it wouldn’t be on a rowing machine.

Here’s the HR response of this workout in a boat.  I was pretty happy with this workout at the time.

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So, on a treadmill, the objective would be to get my HR up into the TR zone reasoably quickly during the 6′ portion of the piece, and then slow down enough so that my HR settled into the high UT1 or LT range.

On the treadmill, I decided to set the incline to a 5% grade.  This would hopefully allow me to work my lungs harder and put less strain on my knees.  During the first interval I did the fast bit at 10km/h, and the slow bit at 7km/h.  In the subsequent intervals, I slowed down by about 0.5km/h for each one to try to fine tune my HR.

It was pretty hard work.  The gym was a reasonable temperature, but quite humid.  The treadmill was drenched by the end, and so was I.


It took a little while for my HR to climb in the first interval, but after that, I think it worked out pretty well.  I certainly was praying for the end of each 6′ piece and the time was crawling.

During the rests, I set the incline to zero and walked at about 5km/h.

Tomorrow:  I will attempt to adapt this workout

M2 3 x 20′ / 2′ MP, 10KP, HMP 90.0% (167)

To the elliptical trainer.

The goal is to have it look like this…

myimage (73)

Monday: 4×15’/4′ (9′ @ 5kp, 6′ @ mp) – Some days suck

We got home last night after 11pm, and I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight.  So I decided to sleep until 7 and do my planned workout on the erg instead of getting up at 5:15 to do it on the water.

I had a 90 minute window in my schedule from 11 to 12:30, so I dashed off to the gym to get it done.

The plan..

M1 4 x 15′ / 4′ 9′ @ 5KP, 6′ @ MP 92.5% (172)

Power targets

  • 5kp –> 225 to 240W (stretch goal 250 today)
  • mp –> 180 to 195W (stretch goal 200 today)

I thought it was OK during the first interval, but by the time I was a couple minutes into the second interval, I knew I was in deep, deep trouble.  I hung on to hit targets in the second interval, and then reset my target for the next one to be 240/190.

This turned out to be too little too late.  I blew up about halfway through the 9′ piece.  In the past, I have pushed this harder and gone into the anaerobic zone, but that seemed pretty dumb, and I was really in some distress.

I handled down for a few seconds then tried to spin back up at around 225 watts.  That didn’t work out so good.  I handled down again, and decided to just finish the rest of the 9′ piece at a marathon power.

This left me with some thinking to do during the 4 minute rest.  I thought about packing it in, but that seemed to be the coward’s way out.  I knew that I wouldn’t make it through the 9′ piece at any “reasonable” power.  I came up with a brilliant plan.  I would row at 225W until my HR went above the 172 bpm cap.  Then I would drop down to marathon power and finish the 9′ and the following 6′ at that power.

It was highly unpleasant, but it worked.

myimage (61)

Workout Summary - media/20170619-204125-sled_2017-06-19T10-54-44ZEDT.strokes.csv
Workout Details


M2 3 x 30′ / 3′ MP, 10KP, MP 90.0% (167)

Hopefully on the water.  This might be a bit of challenge because it’s a 90 minute workout.

Power targets

  • 10kp: 184 to 197W
  • mp: 158-171W

Friday: 3 x 20′ (7′ @ 5kp, 13′ @ mp)

Weather:  Cloudy, mid 60s, light wind, 2-5mph from the south.  There were some stronger gusts towards the end of the workout.  This was a headwind going up river.


M1 3 x 20′ / 5′ 7′ @ 5KP, 13′ @ MP 92.5% (172)
  • Target power:
    • 5kp: 197-210W
    • mp: 158-171
  • modifications:
    • 20′ intervals are 6 minutes too long for the river, so I planned to just turn where required.  I didn’t add any additional time to the intervals since my HR really doesn’t go down much in the turn

I felt a bit tired when I got up.  This was the fourth session in a row, although one day was only 40 minutes.

I decided to stick with the plan and just ease up if necessary.  It ended up not being necessary.

myimage (55)

Workout Summary - media/20170616-145439-Greg Smith 20170616 0629amo.csv
Workout Details
01|01613|07:00.0|02:10.2|213.4|24.9|158.8|167.0|09.2 -5kp
02|01169|05:30.0|02:21.1|176.8|19.9|158.4|166.0|10.7 -mp->turn
03|01363|06:49.8|02:30.4|167.3|19.6|157.3|162.0|10.2 -mp
04|01057|04:60.0|02:22.0|215.4|24.3|160.4|168.0|08.7 -5kp->turn
05|00349|01:31.8|02:11.6|199.3|23.9|165.1|168.0|09.5 -5kp
06|02353|11:16.2|02:23.7|165.6|19.6|162.3|168.0|10.6 -mp->turn
07|00192|00:54.0|02:20.4|181.1|21.3|161.8|164.0|10.0 -mp
08|01461|07:00.0|02:23.8|200.5|24.2|165.7|173.0|08.6 -5kp
09|02475|12:42.0|02:34.0|166.6|20.7|167.9|173.0|09.4 -mp

This was my first row with a new pair of oars.  I bought a pair of smoothie2, vortex edge skinnies so that I could leave my fat2s down at the cape with my open water boat.

Here are a few metrics plots from this workout.

  • Drive length and effective length consistent and a bit longer than prior workouts
  • Lots of variation in WPS and power. Does that mean I need to work on consistency?
  • Power and WPS for the r24 (5kp) chunk of the row. (plotted by excluding all strokes lower than r22 and all strokes with WPS below 450)
  • Power and WPS for the r20 part of the row. (plotted by excluding all strokes higher than r22, and rest strokes, and all strokes with WPS below 450)

I was very pleased with the workout, and the new oars.  More about that later.

Today I am taking a rest day.  Tomorrow, I am planning a long open water row, weather permitting.

Tuesday: 4×15’/4′ (7′ @ 5kp, 8′ @ mp)

Monday:  I was tired and sore in the morning after my 3 hour row on Sunday.  I took an unplanned rest day.

Tuesday:  Hot!  75F at 6am.  Humid.  Light breeze, which increased from nothing to about 5mph over the course of the workout.  This was a cross/head wind coming up river.


  • 4 x 15′ intervals
    • 7′ at 5kp
    • 8′ at mp
  • 4 minute rests
  • Target power
    • 5kp: 197-210W
    • mp: 158-171W
  • Modifications:
    • To fit river length, shorten the 8′ intervals as needed

This was a good workout.  I was on the edge of failure in the last interval and the interval power came down in each rep, but I maintained good effective length throughout.

myimage (46)

So, I should have spent 28 minutes at or above 5kp.  Total was 26:20.

Interval detail shows that I missed the power targets (barely) in the last interval.  I think these are a bit harsh because the power is dramatically under reported in the turns to port.  (toward the oarlock side)  The power is over reported on turns to starboard, but I don’t think it’s as drastic.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Workout Summary - media/20170613-135530-Greg Smith 20170613 0639amo.csv
Workout Details

After the last 7 minute piece at 5kp, I “handled down” for a moment and then started back up again.  I kinda pushed the end of that bit really hard.

A few metrics for fun.

  • Power in the MP intervals.  Reasonably consistent, except for the handle down at the beginning of the fourth one.
  • Power in the 5kp intervals, shows a slow fade as I fatigue
  • Power and WPS vs stroke rate.  Shows a consistent WPS between r20 and r24.  Also shows a bit tighter grouping of stroke rate at the higher rate too.
  • Drive length and effective length are both reasonably consistent across the whole row.  I was really focused on that today and I think it was a good thing to do.

I was really spent after the last piece.  I consumed an entire 1 liter bottle of water during the row.  For the cool down, I rowed with feet out about 1km back to the dock.  Maybe it was just fatigue and oxygen deprivation, but I felt like my finishes were beautiful!

Tomorrow: I have an appointment at 7 tomorrow morning, so i will have try to squeeze in an erg session sometime during the day.

M2 4 x 20′ / 2′ MP, 10KP, HMP, MP 90.0% (167)


Monday: 4 x 15′ / 4′ (6′ @ 5kp, 9′ @ mp) – cut short due to time

Weather:  Lousy.  Low 50sF.  Steady rain.

I decided that it would be best to do my session inside, so I drove to work and headed to the fitness center.


  • 4×15′ / 4′ rest
  • 6′ at 5kp, 9′ at mp
    • 5kp target: 250W
    • mp target: 203W

I was very happy with how this workout went when I did it last weekend, and I was a little worried that it was a fluke.  Today would test the theory by trying to hold the same power.

To make a long story short.  It was fine.  Roughly the same HR response, Basically the same RPE.  I ran out of time after the last 6 minute segment, so I dug deep and pushed hard through the end of that segment.  I paddled for a couple minutes into the last interval to cool down.

I have to say that I like being able to stop a workout without finishing it.  In the rowpro days, I would have lost all my precious data if I had done that.

One other side note.  I have done about 5 or 6 sessions with the polar H7 and the PM5 on 3 different ergs and I haven’t had any issues with hangups or crashes.  I might give painsled another try with the H7.  I think my problems were related to the Tickr.

Otherwise, not much to report.

myimage (36)

Here is the workout compared to the one two weekends ago.

I’m heading to the airport in the afternoon for a quick trip to San Jose.  I will be coming back on the Tuesday night red eye.

Tomorrow:  rest day.

Thursday: 4 x 15′ / 4′ (6′ @ 5kp, ~9′ @ mp)

Wednesday: Rest Day


Weather:  Beautiful.  We had a line of thunderstorms blow through last night and this morning was cool and dry.  There was a little bit of a breeze, which was generally a headwind heading up stream.


M1 4 x 15′ / 4′ 6′ @ 5KP, 9′ @ MP 92.5% (172)

Power Targets:

  • 5kp: 197 – 210
  • mp: 158 – 171

This session needed to be modified slightly.  From end to end, the river takes 13 to 14 minutes to row.  I had two alternatives.  One was to turn and finish.  The other was to cut the mp section short when I ran out of river.  I decided to just cut them short.

myimage (25)

Workout Summary - media/20170601-134451-Greg Smith 20170601 0644amo.csv
Workout Details
01|01407|06:00.0|02:07.9|239.5|26.8|160.4|168.0|08.7 - w/ curr & wind
02|01386|06:43.2|02:25.4|171.9|18.6|153.9|168.0|11.1 - w/ curr & wind
03|01317|06:00.0|02:16.7|223.5|25.8|166.7|173.0|08.5 - against
04|01509|07:52.8|02:36.7|160.8|19.0|159.6|172.0|10.1 - against
05|01345|06:00.0|02:13.8|226.9|25.7|166.7|172.0|08.7 - with
06|01467|07:13.2|02:27.7|154.6|18.9|159.9|172.0|10.7 - with
07|01277|06:00.0|02:21.0|211.8|25.7|167.2|175.0|08.3 - against
08|01598|08:18.0|02:35.8|169.7|19.5|164.3|175.0|09.9 - against

So, the average power for the 5kp sections was 225W vs the 197-210 range, so a bit on the high side.  And the mp sections average was 164.25W vs the 158 to 171W, right in the band.  You can see at the end of the last interval where I started trying to chase the split going into the head wind and the narrowest part of the river with the most current.

Ideally, the power pie would be 24 minutes in 5kp, 36 minutes in mp.  You can see that basically all the 5kp target was rowed in a higher band.  The mp rowing was all over the map.

The stroke metrics were somewhat illuminating (to me).

Tomorrow:  steady state, technique focused, HR cap at 150.

Saturday: 4 x 15 / 4′ (6’@5kp, 9’@mp)

We got to bed late on Friday night, and I was feeling lazy on Saturday morning, so I postponed my maiden voyage of Kanangra to Sunday.  The weather was going to be better as well.  Instead, I went out to the lumber yard to get wood to build a proper boat rack, and then I built a proper boat rack.

2017-05-27 13.50.26

Space for two coastal boats.  The old broken Alden Star on top and the New Maas Aero on the bottom.  I think I might swap that next weekend.  Getting the boat off the bottom rack is a bit of a tricky maneuver.

Anyway, by about 6pm, I was ready for an erg session.  Another session from the Marathon Plan.

M1 4 x 15′ / 4′ 6′ @ 5KP, 9′ @ MP 92.5% (172)

So, for target powers, I wanted to kick it up a notch.  Last week I did this with 9′ at 5kp and  6′ at mp, and this would obviously be easier at the same pace.  That session was 235W and 201W.  So today, I decided to aim at 250W and 203W.

myimage (16)

So, I did it and it was hard!

Workout Summary - media/Import_29819180.csv
Workout Details

Pleased with the steadiness of this effort, even when it got hard.


Tuesday: 4 x 15’/4′ (9’@5kp,6’@mp)

Monday:  I felt very tired Sunday night and I decided that I would benefit from a rest day, so I took on.  I slept in instead.

Tuesday:  I was on my way to row.  The sky was grey and it was cool and drizzly.  I have gotten into the habit of stopping at a highway rest stop that is near where I launch to go to the bathroom.  Before doing this routinely, I have had a number of sessions ruined by a urgent need to go to the bathroom.  This morning was one of those mornings, I could just tell.  I made an executive decision.  I drove right past the boathouse and continued on to work.  I would do the session on the erg instead in the fitness center at work.

This worked out just fine.  I was able to go to the bathroom and  then exercise with a clear conscience (and empty…).

The plan

  • 4 – 15 minute intervals with 4 minute rests
  • Each interval
    • 9 minutes at 5k power (225 to 240W)
    • 6 minutes at marathon power (180-195W)
  • Heart rate limit at 172

It was another great workout.  These rest days are kind of magic!

myimage (3)

Compare this workout to the same one done at the end of January.  The HR response today was crazy low.  The first chart is power and you can see I used a higher Marathon Power, and even pushed the 5k power in the last rep.

Tomorrow is a monster session.

M2 3 x 30′ / 3′ MP, 10KP, MP 90.0% (167)

Hopefully, I can do this one on the water.

  • Power Targets:  MP -> 155 to 165W, 10KP –> 180 to 190W
  • Adaptations.  The first 30 minutes I will start right off the dock and it will take me down to the dam and halfway back to the start.  Then I will paddle the rest of the way to the start of the good rowing section, then I will do down and back.  Then a 3 minute paddle downstream, then back to the dam and back home.  About 2 hours on the water.


Tuesday: 4×15’/4′ (7′ @ 5KP, 8′ @ MP) Marathon Training OTW

Weather:  Lovely.  Sunny.  Temperature was around 60F.  There was a moderate 5-10mph breeze from the WNW.  This was a cross/tail wind heading down river and the cross/head wind going upriver.  (But since I was going to row to power, that didn’t matter!)

Plan:  This was the first time I would be doing one of the Fletcher Marathon Plan sessions on water.  I figured I would need to be a little flexible to make it work.

  • 4 x 15′ / 4′ rest
  • In each 15′ interval
    • 7′ @ 5KP (which is 220 to 235W on the erg)
    • 8′ @ MP (which is 180 to 195W)

As for adaptations.

  • I have about 3000m of river that I can row at high pressure.  This takes me a little bit less than 15 minutes.  I decided to keep the 7′ at 5KP and then just stop short of 8′ if I ran out of river.  This would be more of problem downstream than upstream, both because of current and also the headwind.
  • Power:  I decided to try to row to my erg power specs.  I suspected that this would be really hard, and it was.  After I rowed, I listened to a great podcast about rowing with power meters which said the average difference between erg and OTW powers was in the range of 13% to 16%.  Interesting tidbit.  If I had know that, the targets would have been substantially reduced.

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 8.26.07 AM

  • Rate:  I have somewhat arbitrarily decided to match rate to these powers as follows
    • 5KP: 24-26
    • 10KP: 22-24
    • HMP: 20-22
    • MP: 19-21

So, how’d did it go?  It was a really tough, but awesome workout.  I dug very deep to get it done and I definitely faded in the later reps, but I stayed focused and got it done.  From a TRIMP perspective, it was the hardest workout I’ve done since the end of January (HR based TRIMP of 195)


Here’s the interval summary from rowsandall

Workout Summary - media/20170516-135626-SpdCoach 2182533 20170516 0639amo.csv
Workout Details
01|01613|07:00.0|02:10.2|224.6|24.3|164.0|170.0|09.5 - 255-240W
02|01258|05:51.0|02:19.5|190.8|20.1|165.0|170.0|10.7 - 180-195W

So, I tried hard, but I couldn’t hit the erg based targets.  But I was ahead of the 15% derated targets.  For now, I will aim at the top end of the OTW target range.

I’m using the impeller on the speedcoach to try to avoid stream effects on the live pace display.  I’ve tried to calibrate the impeller input, but based on a comparison of the speedcoach and GPS data today, I think my cal factor might be a bit slow.

Workout Summary - media/20170517-123357-87478o.csv
Workout Details

I compared the paces.


So, based on this data, I think my impeller is reading about 4.5 seconds slow.

This row gave me a treasure trove of data to look at the state of my rowing technique.  Here is a gallery of the plots that I did.

  • Power and pace vs stroke rate:  pace is bimodal due to headwind.  Power is not.  Pretty wide spread because of the way I started faster and faded
  • Effective length vs stroke rate:  Slightly longer at r24 than at r20.  This is pretty consistent with what I’ve read in Kleshnev and other places
  • Wash:  Wash got a little bit worse as I got more tired, but I think it is pretty good.  I guess my finishes are in OK shape.
  • Slip:  Lower slip values at r24.  This is where the better length is coming from.  I am attacking the catch with more enthusiasm at the higher stroke rate.  Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  I need to figure out if it is resulting in a more fficient generation of boat speed relative to the effort (power).  That will be a longer term project.
  • Catch:  consistent.  A little degradation in the last interval.  Certainly more variation from stroke to stroke.
  • Finish:  Better and more consistent at r24.  You can see how I was really struggling at the beginning of each of the r20 sections.  I dug a deep hole with the higher power segments, and when I gear shifted I struggled to take full strokes.
  • Effective length vs time:  You can see the effect of me gasping for breath at the beginning of the MP sections, especially in the later intervals
  • Work per stroke vs time:   I filtered the data to do two plots.  One for r24 and the other for r20. Very clear reduction in r24 WPS over the workout.  I was rowing to lower power and slightly higher rate.   This is physiological, not technique.  In the r20 sections, you can see me digging out of the lactate hole through each of them and finishing stronger.


Now I am flying out to LAX.  I will take today as a rest day.  Tomorrow morning, I have two possible plans.  If I stay over I’m planning to visit Crossfit Anaerobic in Irvine and do this session…

M2 4 x 20′ / 2′ MP, 10KP, HMP, MP 90.0% (167)

I might take the red eye home.  If I do that, I have my rowing gear in my car and my plan would be to stop and row on my way home from the airport.  The plan would then be to do a version of this OTW.  Each section would probably be closer to 15 minutes.

Thursday: 4 x (6′ @ 5KP, 9′ @ MP)/5′ rest – A terrific workout!

In San Diego at Crossfit DelMar.

The plan was to start getting back into formal marathon training.  I’ll admit I was a little worried about how it would go.  I went to be reasonably early and slept OK.  I felt pretty good in the morning.


  • 6′ @ 5KP (255-240W)
  • 9′ @ MP (180-195W)
  • 5′ rest (it was supposed to be 4′ but I remembered it wrong)
  • repeat 4 times

I don’t even understand why this workout felt so good.  It didn’t feel easy, but my heart rate was nice and low and there was no doubt about being able to handle it.  I was able to increment up the power as I went through the repeats.



Tomorrow:  I’m taking the red eye home tonight.  I’m planning to go for a easy technique row on my way home from the airport.  Probably a lot of SBR maybe a bit of bungee rowing.