Friday 2x750m on choppy water: Good learning

Thursday’s training was a late evening session. Friday’s training had to be an early morning session. I don’t like to do it that way, especially two high rate workouts after another, but there was no other way. Friday afternoon to Monday I will be without a car, which despite the perfect public transport in Brno makes everything more complicated, our rowing club being 2km of hiking from the nearest tram stop and my work being on the other side of town (23km from the rowing club).

So I rolled out of bed at 5:30 and drove to the rowing club.

Very cold conditions compared to a few days ago. 10 degrees C and mist on the water. Cross wind and chop. Interesting to see mist and chop and wind at the same time, but it truly happened. Should’ve taken a picture of it. Also interesting about our lake is how light wind from certain directions can create seriously choppy conditions. We only have flat water with zero wind. Anyway, about 15 minutes into the session, the mist disappeared and the wind strengthened.

The plan: 2x750m / 12 min rest (1) 34spm, (2) 37spm.

The real plan: As the training schedule is written with double/quad in mind, I have to lower the stroke rates of the high rates sessions when I do them in the single. So I decided to row at 32spm and 34spm, and row them “as the first 750m of a 1km race”. I also decided to focus on achieving that rate by focusing on technique rather than trying to achieve a certain pace. Rate and technique over pace. With the chop and crosswind, splits wouldn’t be fast anyway.

3km warming up with some high rate bursts and a practice start. Had to reset CrewNerd after 2km because it stopped measuring distance. The reset fixed that, luckily.

First 750m with race start, then settle down to 32spm and count strokes to 80. The first half was slightly calmer than the second half, during which I had a couple of instances where my blade hit a wave and I was slightly off balance. The good old lactate rush was also present at the party. End result was 2:47 (1:51.6 pace) at 31.9spm (38max) according to CrewNerd.

To be honest I didn’t feel much like doing another one.

Detail of first 750m
Detail of first 750m

Twelve minutes of rest and I had to decide. Either I continued down the lake to the finish, turn around and would do the second 750m in even more choppy conditions. The alternative was to turn immediately and row to the narrow north end of the lake and do the higher rate interval in calmer water. Calm, flat water certainly helps to achieve 34psm and is easier when you’re tired (or, said differently, gives more flattering splits), so that was a very attractive option. On the other hand, doing the high rate interval in very choppy water would probably be better in terms of race preparation for next week. Trebon lake has a similar chop-sensivity as ours. So I chose the first option. During the rest I had time to think about a way to survive the second 750m. I played with the thought of reducing it to a 500m and avoid the dreaded lactate rush. Or to row 500m and then just paddle it out.

But all that didn’t feel all right, so I had to really find a way to survive. This is what I came up with:

Race start + ten strokes, then

10 strokes focus on clean tap down in the chop, then

10 strokes focus the high rate recovery (speed but calm on the slide), then

10 strokes focus on a light catch, not too strong on the legs in the first part of the catch, then

10 strokes focus on a good back swing, then back to

10 strokes tap down, 10 strokes rate, 5 strokes light catch, 5 strokes back swing, 5 strokes tap-down, five strokes high rate

I did exactly that and it did wonders. I ignored the stroke rate and pace on CrewNerd and focused on these things. The conditions were much more choppy than in the first interval and I thought I was going slower, but when I finished, I found myself looking at 2:48 (1:52.1 pace), 32.8spm (37 max). Not bad pace in cross-wind and being tired.

Detail of second 750m
Detail of second 750m

The stats:

|Start|Stop_|Dist_|Time_|Pace__|_SPM__|avg HR|max HR|DPS|Remarks
|00000|00808|00808|04:58|03:04.4| 19.0 | 141 | 170 |08.6|warming up (part of)
|00808|01057|00249|00:55|01:50.2| 31.3 | 156 | 175 |08.7|250m
|01057|01306|00249|00:55|01:50.4| 31.1 | 177 | 178 |08.7|250m
|01306|01555|00249|00:57|01:54.6| 31.2 | 178 | 179 |08.4|250m
|01555|03852|02297|14:21|03:07.5| 18.5 | 145 | 178 |08.7|rest
|03852|04101|00250|00:52|01:44.2| 33.2 | 160 | 176 |08.7|250m
|04101|04350|00249|00:57|01:54.6| 32.1 | 178 | 179 |08.2|250m
|04350|04600|00251|00:59|01:57.7| 31.3 | 179 | 180 |08.1|250m
|04600|05895|01295|08:37|03:19.6| 18.6 | 141 | 179 |08.1|cooling down


|172|31.7|8.5|Main set
|141|18.6|8.1|Cool down
|145|18.5|8.7|rest meters

Rowed the cooling down in victory mood. This has been a very useful, educational session. I knew the lesson but apparently had to live through it today to reinforce it:

  • Thou shalt focus on thy technique to go faster. Nothing else.
  • In the race, thou shalt not focus on how far the competition is ahead of thee, but thou shalt focus on rowing faster thyself
  • Thou shalt give thyself something to focus on, and the lactate bite will hurt less

It’s the reason we have coxes, right? In uncoxed disciplines, there needs to be a voice in your head reminding you of it.

HR and stroke rate
HR and stroke rate
HR and pace
HR and pace
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