The rest of my testing

Sunday – Oct 21: 10″ peak power test

Started with a Fletcher warm up, as one does.

Then I got myself ready for a wild ride.  Damper up to 10, feet strapped in tight, crank some good tunes and get ready for action.

I set the erg for 1′ work and 2 minute rest intervals.  I only rowed hard for the first 10 to 15 seconds of each interval.

Well, that’s not very satisfying.  Here’s the pace, power and rate as different charts

The point of a peak power test is to see the maximum power (or lowest split) that you can get over a 10 second blast.  The test protocol is defined here.

I did 5 sprints with the erg on the floor, which is the test standard, and then 2 sprints with the erg on slides, which is a f&*^ing blast!

I discovered something interesting with this test.  Under some circumstances, painsled does not log every single stroke. Here’s the data…


The last column is the stroke count and there is no data for stroke 1,2,3,4,7,9.  So that means that the data that I have is somewhat unreliable.

What I saw on the monitor was a minimum split of 1:18 on most of the static reps.  I saw one pull with a 1:17.   That is 1 split off my all time best low pull.  I took the highest wattage of any of the recorded strokes and that was 1:17.8 or 742W.

On slides, I saw 1:12 on the monitor in both reps, that’s a whopping 923W.  Of course I could rate up to about 60 spm on slides which helped out a bit.  Needless to say, the static results are the ones that will be used for planning training.

Monday, Oct 22 – 1K test

I hate Monday’s.  I never get enough sleep, and I am working out first thing in the morning, usually after working out in the afternoon the day before.  This Monday was no exception.  But I really wanted to get this set of fitness tests behind me.

What was left?  The 1K test.  The soul of simplicity.  Row 1000m as fast as I can.  Use the average power as a proxy for my VO2max wattage.

To begin, the ritual fletcher warmup must be completed.

Apparently, Monday morning’s don’t suck.  I was a bit faster, with much better HR response than on Sunday.  Buoyed with new confidence, a strapped in for 3 minutes of hell (the first 15 seconds aren’t really so bad).

Actually, the first 250m was just fine.  I set out with a goal of matching my test from last year.  This was an average split of 1:39.4.  I guess I was pretty juiced because my average pace was a 1:37.6 over the first 250.  In the second 250, I started to really feel the burn and I dialed it back, just a hint to 1:38.6.  When I crossed the 500m mark, I was in respiratory distress, but I found I could tweak the rate up just a little and calm my breathing down.

Around 700m, my legs were burning, but with only 30 or so strokes to go, I closed my eyes and counted to 10.  I opened my eyes and I there was about 210m to go.  I did it again.  120m to go.  And the splits were getting better, not worse.  I counted down the last ten, and then there were two strokes to go.  Done.  3:15.2.  Boom.  Fastest 1k that Ive done since my 3:10.5 PB back in 2014.

I did a slow 2k to cool down.  I had a nasty erg cough the rest of the day, but it was totally worth it.  I ranked it on the C2 logbook.  19th out of 403 for the men’s 50-59 heavies.  3rd best for USA.

So that concluded the fitness tests.  The results…

Screen Shot 2018-10-28 at 3.19.35 PM.png

Compared to a year ago.

  • Peak power:  +21W
  • 1000m: +20W
  • 20′ test: +15W
  • 75′ test: +13W

I’ll be trying to figure out what that means for winter training with Marlene over the next couple of weeks, but looking at the numbers, my strongest performance was at 1000m.  Since my focus is head racing, I will need to work on aerobic capacity, and lactate threshold.



More Power! – Peak Power Session


  • PT Suite
  • 10 minute warmup with 5 stroke power bursts at nominal drag factor
  • 10 x 10sec / 1′ rest peak power training on max drag
  • 2 x 20′ / 1′ Cat VI (r18-r20, 2:03 to 2:08, HR cap at 155)

I did my PT exercises.  My back was a bit sore from the kettlebell swings I did yesterday, but it loosened up nicely.

The warmup was uneventful.  I tried to work on getting the rate up nice and high, but I wasn’t too successful.  But I managed to work up the beginning of a sweat, so mission accomplished.

For the Main set, I tied my shoes extra tight, moved the foot stretcher up one hole, and cranked the damper to 10.  Then I programmed the PM to 20 second intervals with 50 second rests.  That’s as close as I can get to the desired setup with the constraints of the PM5.  SO, I rowed the first 10 seconds of each interval hard, and then eased up for 10 seconds, and then let the flywheel coast down during the 50 second rest.

The protocol is to do a rep, see what power you manage to get, and then do reps until you reach 10, or your power drops below 90% of the your initial value.

Today, I saw no real drop off, which I suspect means that I am not trying hard enough.

Here’s the summary plot.  I think the only useful information on it is the drag factor.  187, maybe it’s time to clean the erg?

It is way more instructive to look at this on a flex plot.


So you can see all the reps have peak power between 675 and 710W.  710W is 1:19.0.  My all time best low pull on a static erg was back in 2015 at 1:16.9 (769W).

It is telling that my best power was achieved in the last two reps.  You can see how many reps it took me to get the rate up to near 45 SPM.  the early reps I was trying too hard to just over power each stroke.  By the end, I was more focused on getting my ass back to the catch.

You can see this in the work per stroke, which is actually declining as the power is going up.


What I found really fascinating was comparing this workout to the same session done on the Concept2 Dynamic.  I did this a couple weeks ago.

First is a comparison of the power.  I was able to achieve much higher peak power on the dynamic, maxing out at 795W.  What’s up with that?


The short answer is that you can rate up like crazy on a dynamic erg.  I was consistently able to rate between 55 and 60 spm, versus the 40 to 45 spm on the static erg.


Take a peek at the work per stroke on the prior workout.  It is really consistent and 200 joules lower than what I was pulling on the static erg.


You can see this in the peak force too.  On the dynamic, I pulling around 1100N.  On the static, peak force was around 1400.

What the hell does all of that mean?  I guess it depends on what you are trying to accomplish with the session.  If the point of the session is to get as many reps at the highest possible handle force, then it make more sense to do the session on the static erg.  If the point is to work on neuromuscular coordination to be able to effectively apply force at high rates, the dynamic is a better choices.  If you are trying to impress your friends with insanely fast splits, definitely go with the dynamic!

This is a very interesting session  to highlight the differences between unique erg types.  I think I’d like to do this session on the Oartec and the C2 on slides to see what happens.  I think they will probably fall in the middle between these two extremes.

After that, I did the 2 x 20′ Cat VI.  Apparently there wasn’t much left in my legs or body, because it was massively hard work.  my HR shot up to the limit very quickly and so I rated up to 20 and lightened up the pace to try to hold my HR right at 155.  It was an extremely long 41 minutes.

Tomorrow:  The forecast is for temperatures of 31F and freezing rain, so I’m going rowing!  I’m going to meet my friend Joe to take out the double for my first outing of the season.  I will also pick up my boat so I can get it back down to the Charles on Thursday morning.

The planned session should be a bit of fun.  I think Joe will enjoy it.

  • Nice long warmup, working on technique from the boat house to the south cove.
  • 3 x 1500m / 1′ rest (This should take up from the south cove to the north end of the lake)
    • r24
  • 3 x 500m / 2′ rest (This will take us from the north end of the lake to the boat house)
    • r28

I have a lot of organizing to do tonight to get all my goodies packed and charged.


Snow Day: Peak Power

I was working from home yesterday.  We had a massive snow storm.  About 17″ in Hopkinton.

Here’s the snow totals for the area.

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 6.36.34 AM

Despite the snow, I had a full schedule.  I was on calls constantly from 9 am to 4:30pm.  Then I had a bit of a break, then on the phone again from 6pm to 7:30.

During the break I had enough to squeeze in an abbreviated workout.

The planned session:

  • Easy warm up 5-10’
  • Peak Power Test
    • Set your erg on watts. Set drag factor at 200. Then test your 10-second peak power.
    • Note your peak watts then subtract 10%, write that number down so you know what to aim for the workout
  • Peak Power Training:
    • 1 set of 10 x 10-seconds, 1’ rest between.
    • Repeat 10-second all out sprints, full slide with 1’ rest between. Each sprint should begin from a start position at the top of the slide.. Secure the handle during the 1’ rest so the flywheel slows down.
    • If the peak watts falls below 90% of your peak power value for two 10- second sprints stop the set..
  • Session: 2 x 20’ / 1’
    • Rating/Pace: Cat VI; target SR 18-20, regular drag factor (Pace: 2:03 to 2:08)

Because of time constraints, I used the first sprint as my peak power test benchmark.  I also did not have time for the 2×20 afterward, so I just did a 10 minute cool down.

Here’s the whole thing.  During the warmup, I did 4 little 5 stroke bursts with the wheel spinning.  During the peak power session, I let the wheel stop between each and set the drag to max (DF = 171, I guess I need to do a little cleaning).

I had set up the session as 100m/1′ intervals.  100m takes about 13 strokes at these rates.  For the first couple of intervals, I held the power through the full 100m.  After that, I trailed off after 10 seconds because I wanted to retain  the intent of the workout.  It was basically 10 or 11 strokes.  I ended up at about 55 strokes per minute, and I wasn’t shortening the stroke much.  For the bursts my drive length was 1.21m vs 1.29m when rowing with full power at r24.

The peak power session was a bit strange to do on the dynamic.  I was expecting it to be terrible.  I’ve had trouble with interval sessions on the dynamic and I’ve struggle to rate up.  But with the drag set to max and such a short interval, I could really hammer it.  The load comes on so fast at the catch compared to the static erg that I was able to get higher power than I have seen in years.

My all time low pull split was 1:16.9, which is 770W.  My first burst peaked at 786W (1:16.6).  So I guess I have a new low pull PB. The first interval is also a clear PB for my fastest 100m ever.  I don’t remember the display, but my old mark was 17.6 seconds and I think both the first and second were faster than that.

I guess I have found the one thing that the dynamic is good for.

Here’s a plot of the peak power bursts plotted versus strokes


You can see that the power really didn’t fade all that much.  I guess that means that I should have been able to get a higher peak power initially.  Here it is plotted against the 10% limit.


I’m interested to try the same session on slides and on a static machine to get a comparison.

Today:  A bit tougher session

  • 3 x 1500m / 1’
    • Rating: Cat IV pace; target SR 23-24 (Pace: 1:52)
  • 3 x 500m / 2’ easy
    • Rating: Cat II pace: target SR 28-30 (Pace: 1:45)
  • Notes: Stay on the target paces, no faster, no slower.


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.

Wednesday: 3×20 L4 plus Peak Power


  • 3×20 L4
    • 6 x 10′ : (1’@21, 3’@20, 3’@19, 3’@18)
    • 10W / stroke (so 18spm => 180W, etc)
    • 1′ rests
  • Peak Power Training
    • 15 x 10″ / 1′ rest
    • target > 700W peak in each rep.

This morning I was at crossfit anaerobic.  A gleaming, large box just four tenths of a mile away from my hotel.  I walked there in about 10 minutes.  I met Kim who took my twenty bucks and pointed me to the ergs.  I was tucked away from the class so I didn’t have the nice visual distraction for most of my workout.  The erg was smooth as silk, and clean enough to give me a drag factor of 200 when set to 10 for the peak power stuff.

I had another customer dinner and another big steak last night.  But I am ashamed to admit, when I got back to the hotel around 10, I felt a little hungry.  Luckily, there was nothing to snack on.  This morning, other than a little dehydration, I felt fine.

The 3×20 was uneventful.  I was listening to “Hamilton” (the musical) and with the rate changes, the time passed quickly and easily.  HR was right around the UT2/UT1 border for the whole row, and continued to drop nicely during the 180W bits, just the way I wanted it to.

2016-01-27 07.13.02

After that, I had a quick drink, toweled off, pushed the damper up to 10 and programmed the erg for 1’10” intervals with no rest.  This is peak power training and the goal was to do a standing start and about 8 hard strokes over 10 seconds.  I was trying to get over 230W on my first pull and over 700W for my peak stroke.  I managed to get over 700W for almost all of the sprints, and topped out around 720W.  I didn’t fade much through the workout.  The first pull was more erratic.  If I hit it just right, I would pull a 235 to 240W first stroke.  But if I overcompressed, or open my back early in the first stroke, I would fall down to 220 or below.

I am enjoying these sessions. I’m worrying that I am doing them wrong since I don’t seem to fade as much as the instructions say I should, but I don’t think I can pull much harder!

Here’s the HR plot for everything, including my walk to the gym.  I like the way the sprints look at the end.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.03.33 AM


Wednesday: Steady State + Pk Power


  • 3×20′
    • L4 format
    • 1′ rests
    • 10 – 10′ segments
  • Peak power
    • 10 x 10″ sprints
    • 1′ rests
    • Try to hit 700W

L4 Format


2016-01-20 08.29.54

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 3.59.08 PM

HR was a bit higher than I would have liked, but I felt good.  I didn’t bother with a lactate test.  I suspect t would have been right around a 2.0.

Then into peak power.  Today, I decided to do only 10 (versus 15 on Monday).  I’m still feeling my way along on these.  I hit better power today throughout compared to Monday.  (~680W vs ~640W).  Still lower than what I could hit by rating way up on slides.  I saw no significant decline in power across the 10 sprints.  I guess I’m not hitting them hard enough yet.  I’m getting a bit higher on rate, which is good practice.


After that, I did a quick 1K cool down and called it a day.

Tomorrow:  6 x 750 / 4′ rest.  Pace target: 1:42

Monday: 3 x 20′ L4 + PkPwr Sprints

Very little sleep last night.  Felt awful this morning.  Let myself start slow in the L4.


2016-01-18 08.35.28

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 2.17.42 PM

After I finished my hour, I transitioned over to start doing a variation of the Peak Power Training from Ed McNeely.  The session that Ed describes it to do 10 second sprints all out with 1 minute rests, and when your peak power in a sprint falls more than 10% below your best power, then you take a 5 minute rest and resume the 10 sec sprint and 1 minute rest sets with the same stoppage rule.

It’s been a while since I did my peak power test, and when I did it, it was on slides, so I didn’t have a stable baseline to measure my 10% drop from.   As hard as I tried today, I could not break through 700W for my peak power, but on slides in November, I was above 750W on a few strokes.

It was challenge to setup the 10 second sprints, since the shortest interval time you can program on a PM is 20 seconds.  I eventually did it as a “just row” with 10 second sprints and 50 second rests.  Next time I will set it up as 1:10 intervals.

I was also not seeing much in the way of a declining output power over the intervals, so I guess I was not trying hard enough.  I was also getting much better at them as I went along.  I got my first stroke power from around 180 to above 250, and felt a lot smoother in the later reps.  I’ll push the envelope more next time.

If nothing else, it was fun.  Laying down 15 sprints with peak splits faster than 1:25 was a nice change from grinding out long hard intervals.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 2.18.29 PM

Tomorrow:  A classic, the 4 x 1000 / 5′ rest.  I will start this conservatively at 1:45 pace and see how things go.