Rowing out of Lockdown

The Bad and Ugly

On March 31, I blogged about the COVID-19 pandemic situation where I live. Here is an update.

This first graph shows the number of people tested positively on COVID-19 in the Czech Republic. It’s evident that the curve is bending.

This chart shows newly positively tested per day. Testing capacity has ramped up to 8000 per day (was 5000 a month ago). Soon, even those without symptoms will be able to pay and get tested (those with symptoms have tests covered by the health insurance).

This last chart shows the cumulative number of positively tested and the  day-to-day percentage growth (solid black line) and you can see how this number keeps falling. It hovers around 1% currently.

On March 31, we were in full lockdown. Since then, the government is following a step plan to slowly relax the measures. So far, none of the relaxations have brought back a wild growth of the virus. Here is how we are relaxing (note that this is not a complete list, and there are certain rules and precautions, so don’t rely on this information and get your information directly from government sources).

On April 20, with certain hygienic precautions:

  • Students can visit universities for individual activities. Students in the final year are allowed to take part in group activities up to 5 people.
  • Handworkers with their own workshops are allowed to open
  • Farmers markets, other markets open
  • Car dealers open
  • Professional athletes allowed to train outside in small groups without public
  • Weddings up to 10 people

On April 24, among others:

  • Up to 10 people can gather in public places but have to respect a 2 meters distance
  • Religious services with a maximum of 15 participants
  • Sport and exercise on outdoor sports facilities, in parks, in nature, in small groups

On April 27, among others:

  • Shops up to 5000 square meters (except indoor malls)
  • Gyms and fitness centers (with special measures)
  • Libraries, zoos (only outdoor), botanic gardens
  • More study activities for university students

And most other activities will start up fully on May 11th. All with a 2 meters distancing, availability of disinfectant and wearing of face masks. Hotels, swimming pools, etc may follow on May 25th. Schools are opening more slowly.

So I have been called a “lucky bastard” for living in an early opening country. Our local health care system seems to have mastered the first wave brilliantly (he wrote, thinking of 241 deaths). The big question is when the subsequent waves will hit, and how strong they will be.

Part of the ugly is that it is estimated that about 30% of restaurants and hotels will not survive. Tourism and travel is a badly hit sector. The government has put in place measures to ease the situation, but getting a compensation goes with huge bureaucratic obstacles and many people still have to see their money.

The Good

The good is exercising. Here is the Planned vs Executed verdict:

That looks good up to the week starting on April 13, then it starts to deteriorate. So what was done?

On April 13th, I did a technique row (working on better tap down) in my new single. Here’s a video from the second half of the row:

If you’re interested in the video analysis, it can be found here and here . This new functionality (on since December 2019 is still in development, but it’s great fun to see your rowing metrics next to the video.

On April 15, I tried to do a “10K push” row on the erg:

I thought I was doing well, but I crumbled when it started to bite. I only have one excuse. There is “quite a lot going on” at work, and that shows when you try to do a harder row in between meetings.

The next day, I decided to let the pain machine in the shed and went for a long, slow run:

It was great. Here is one of the pictures I took at one of the lookout points:

Selfie guy was one of the many mountain bikers in the forest. To be honest, I am still a bit reluctant to go on the bike. I perceive the risk of a crash too high.

On April 18, I did a 6x750m row on the water, in my single:

Workout Summary - media/183a1fe59b-20200418-112629o.csv
Workout Details

Pretty happy with the achieved pace and power levels.

On April 19th, my birthday, I went out in the double for 10 kilometers. A nice slow row, with some technique exercises.

On April 21, I put the ergometer on the terrace and sat down to row a Half Marathon. I am happy to report that I managed to follow my race plan quite closely. I went out a bit faster than planned, and didn’t speed up as much as I hoped in the second half, thus averaging exactly what I wanted to average.

Part of a Stuck At Home Rowing Club challenge, I had to take  a monitor photo of the half marathon:

A day later, I rowed a workout by Eric Murray. These were the instructions:

6 sets of 6minutes. 90s break.
2 minute segments;
1- 18,20,22
Then +2 start each one from there so the last is;


Keep focus. Look for the acceleration and commitment to the ratings and the pressure to get the speed.

Go for it!

It was not easy and I had to take some extra rest before attacking the final interval, and then I still didn’t complete it without the wheels coming off. Well, at least I did it!

On Thursday the 23rd I did a glorious steady state row in my single. I rowed up to the castle and did rate ladders.

On Friday, I did a short outdoor body weight session on the terrace. It was good, but I was already pretty busy. I was part of a team participating in the “EUvsVirus” hackathon. We developed a secure, trusted app for remote teaching. On Friday, I was busy finding education experts to become part of the team (which I succeeded in). Saturday and Sunday were a marathon of web calls and work on the app. I did however go for walks, and even a run on Saturday. Walking and running are great to calm down when the grey cells are firing at full fire power.

So, what did we achieve? Here’s our video report:

You can read the details here.

On Monday, I had to work, but I decided to work only a few hours, taking time off to relax, read the paper, and do a nice hike in the forest.

On Tuesday, I went out in the single in the morning. Breaking glass. The water was perfectly flat. A great day to do some technique work:

I am still working on tap down and use Wash as a parameter that measures if I am doing it right. I want to keep the Wash value under 14 degrees, and when I tap down well, I am easily able to hold 10-11 degrees.

As you can see, the 28 April row was indeed one of the better ones.

On Wednesday, I had no time to do any workout, and on Thursday, I just managed a 40 minute steady state row between meetings, on the erg.

On Friday, May 1st, I had the first gym session in 8 weeks. I realized I hadn’t done indoor training since the start of the lock-down. Working out in the gym was weird, wearing a face mask, and disinfecting everything after every station. So overall, 8 weeks of just doing bodyweight workouts has kept my strength in relatively good shape. My bench press has deteriorated, as has my squat. But my deadlift, pulldown, seated row are good as they were. Happy with that.

Today was time for another round of “Fun with Eric Murray”. It was a 3x10min/2min row, with the 10 minutes rowed as 18-20-22-24-26 SPM, rating up every 2 minutes for the first interval. The second interval starts at 20SPM and rates up to 28SPM and the final interval starts at 22 SPM and ends at 30 SPM. I was curious to see if I would finish the workout.

It turned out it wasn’t too bad. I did this in the single, and there were lots of other single scullers on the lake, so that added to the fun. I was also able to find a nice rhythm, avoiding a too heavy catch, and keeping everything dynamic and playful. There were some waves from the launches, but other than that it was great rowing weather.

I was also lucky enough to row into a group of junior single scullers as I was going into 26SPM in the final interval, passing them while rating up to 28SPM and rowing the final 4 minutes being chased by five 18 year olds in singles.

I am sure they weren’t chasing me really, but it helped me to imagine they were. And I am proud to report that I outrowed them. Must be the new boat. 🙂

And here are the numbers:

Workout Summary - media/a3d2028e66-20200502-092418o.csv
Workout Details

Happy with that. In the final 30 SPM my technique was falling apart, and I am not surprised I was actually faster in the 28SPM interval.

Tomorrow, I am planning a row in the double with Romana.