Oct 7 2018
Here’s a (shortened) video of my head race in Hradiste. It’s cool to have the Empower oarlock data integrated in the video.
Oct 7 2018
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Head Race Day! I was up early, far too early. The town of Uherske Hradiště is an hour drive east of Brno and our race wouldn’t start until 2pm. We left Brno at 9:30 after picking up my club mate (and competitor) Eduard. The early departure time was to allow Romana to coach one of her Junior girls.
Arriving in Babice, at the place of the start of this 6km race, we found sunny weather, fair temperatures and a nasty head wind. The race is down stream on the river Morava, but the river was low because of the draught and there was very little flow. Actually, it would be wiser to stick to the middle of the river to avoid rowing into shallow parts. Still, a head wind blowing against the stream could potentially lead to some chop.
I contemplated setting the sculls a bit lighter, but then thought through the consequences and decided to not do it.
The race went pretty well. I started off and settled on my target 230W, not worrying about the stroke rate too much. I knew the stroke rate would be a bit lower in the head wind, and focused on hitting the power and work per stroke target. I also counted series of 30 strokes, 10 strokes focus on sitting straight at the catch, 10 strokes on legs, 10 strokes on back swing.
The course has a few turns and it was always a surprise what the wind would do after the next turn. At one point, about 1600m into the race, the wind really kicked up some waves. I hit a wave with the bottom of my right blade and nearly capsized. It stopped me for one stroke, then I continued to struggle into the head wind. I had no pace information on my SpeedCoach, and kept trying to hit my power targets, but in the middle 2km, the roughest bit, this was pretty hard.
I was rowing away from the guy behind me (David Ulc) and catching up on someone in front of me, but I wasn’t sure if that was Tomas Zeman or Andrej Hudec. Only at the finish line I found out that Tomas had taken over Andrej very early in the race.
I was worried most about Tomas Zeman and my double buddy Kazimir Nedoba. In the sprint season, Kazi had been faster, but he is fast mostly in direct confrontations and has difficulty rowing in the loneliness of a head race with 1 minute start intervals. Tomas, I had beaten him numerous times in a direct 1k confrontation, but he’s a big guy, a fire fighter, and the “indestructible man” body type. I feared that he could be fast into the head wind.
The first 4km went by pretty fast. The only annoying thing was that my left oarlock started squeaking quite a lot. The fifth 1000m interval started to hurt and the final 1000m hurt a lot.
I had missed all the kilometer markers, but I didn’t really had to look for them, having reset the SpeedCoach just before the start and showing distance rowed in the bottom left bit of the screen. I also saw the first houses of Hradiste, the water got calmer, and I knew it was time to rate up.
The final 500m were really painful but I wouldn’t let myself rate down. I knew it could be a close finish between me and the other contestants, so I wanted to get out as much speed as possible.
I collapsed at the finish line, chatted with Andrej a bit, then did a 2km cooling down row.
Meeting the other Masters rowers in the boat area, we all decided to go for a quick beer before loading our boats on the trailers. On the way to the club house we stopped to look at the results:
Second place for me, “only” ten seconds behind Tomas. Looking at the 2k and 4k times, it is also clear that I lost most in the middle 2k and made up for that in the final 2k.
We had our beer and then we received our prizes in a mini ceremony. I got a nice medal, a T-shirt, and some sweets. Tomas got a cup and a bottle of home made Slivovice. Oh, and we all got kisses from Mrs Tomastikova, the charming club president of Moravia Rowing club.
Here are the race charts. The overview chart and a few comparisons with a year ago. To do justice to the comparison, you have to know that a year ago the river was high and flowing fast. This year, I spent 4 minutes longer on the course.
I have a race video which is uploading to YouTube right now. I will post a separate blog post with the video.
Sep 23 2018
The plan was to row another hard 6k, but when I arrived at the lake … it started to rain.
The rain didn’t change my plans, but what I saw on the lake did. There was a sailing regatta going on in the south half of the lake, and I didn’t feel like rowing my 6k at speed straight through their regatta. It was also slightly choppy, so going to the cover of the gorge seemed a good idea. I was actually looking forward to a little change of scenery.
So I did. I also changed the workout to a 4x”10min”/”5min” threshold intervals session. The work and rest interval durations are just for guidance, because the plan was to row from the end of the twisty part to the castle (intervals 1 and 4) and from the big turn after the castle to the bridge in Veverská Bítýška (intervals 2 and 3). I have indicated the start and end lines of these stretches in the map below (the black stripes):
I estimated the stretches to be roughly 10 minute intervals with the exact duration depending on the wind, and I would take the rest duration as the time needed to drink a bit and paddle to the start of the next interval, respectively turn the boat.
Workout Summary - media/df_20180923-124012.csv
01|02329|10:23.1|02:13.8|232.8|25.2|162.8|173.0|08.9 - tailwind
03|01912|08:54.3|02:19.7|227.4|26.9|170.3|180.0|08.0 - headwind
The interval summaries are created with my “patented” automatic summary generator for OTW rows. You can see it thought I was taking a few strokes rest in the middle of the second interval, splitting a almost 9 minute interval in two pieces of a bit over 4 minutes. There is quite a sharp turn in the middle of that stretch, and with the power meter on the left oarlock that leads to a temporary reduction in power. The world is not perfect.
I was really happy with the session. I was able to hold my target power (230W) for all intervals. The summary does show a lower average power for the fourth interval, but that one had two large left turns. I also enjoyed rowing fast in the narrower part of our rowing water, and having a different view, including the unfamiliar sound of the reeds blowing in the wind.
Well, looking at what the Empower Oarlock tells me, all sessions were pretty good except the final one, where it got sloppy. It is natural to row a bit shorter drive length in headwind, but I am worried about the values for Wash:
That’s the red dots in the right-most picture. I was recording the row with the RowP app as well, so let’s look if we can see anything in those in-stroke data. Here’s the first interval (“good”):
The left chart is the seat acceleration and the right chart is boat speed and acceleration. I am showing the average curve for the entire interval, as well as two shorter samples from the start and the end of the row.
Here’s how the final interval (the bad one) looks:
Now tell me if you can see a difference? It’s extremely subtle, but here is what I note:
It’s too early to draw conclusions, but I am getting less and less convinced of the merits of trying to accelerate the seat into the catch on the recovery.
This workout marks the end of a training week, and it is probably the last session in my single before the 6k head race of early October. I am going on a long business trip. Here’s how I did this week:
Funny how I underestimated how hard the threshold sessions would be. Especially today’s one seems to have been a brutal one (and I didn’t record the last 1000m because of a full SpeedCoach memory).
I have recently improved the training planning part of the rowsandall.com site, and I can now do summaries for micro cycles (weeks) and meso cycles (groups of three weeks in my case):
The pink card on the left is the plan vs actual for the three weeks. The light blue cards on the right are the individual weeks. I plan the rowing sessions by rScore, which is a score taking into account intensity and duration of the workout. I do actually plan cross trainings by time. You can see that I am getting better adhering to my plan but I am training harder than I planned, except for the first week of this training plan.
Sep 22 2018
A nice technique row in the double with Romana. The weather was nice with very flat water when we launched. The only issue was low visibility because somebody was burning leaves or grass on the other side of the lake, and the smoke cloud covered a large part of the lake.
We rowed up to Rokle, and then back to Sirka through the middle of the lake and through the smoke cloud. Then we turned at Sirka and rowed back. When we were about 1km from Sirka, we saw the fire brigade rushing towards the lake. I thought somebody had called them because of the guy creating the smoke cloud.
A little later, the rescue service and the police sped across the lake in their speed boats. I started wondering. They sped to an area in front of Lodni Sporty rowing club, but then they moved to the beach around the 1km mark, roughly where we were rowing when we first saw the fire brigade.
A few minutes later, a helicopter arrived at the scene. We continued our technical/steady state row to Rokle and then turned. The beach at the 1km mark was now full of police, ambulance, fire brigade, and the two speed boats. At that time we thought it was a drill.
Not true. We were witnessing desperate attempts to save someone’s live.
According to the news, a person of about 65 years of age was playing with a remote controlled model airplane. The plane fell into the water, and he decided to swim for it. Which cost him his life. Difficult to guess what happened, but a few meters below the surface, the water is not exactly warm.
Of course we didn’t know anything about that when we were rowing, and we were quite happy with the pace achieved at a relatively light pressure. Did I mention the water was quiet and mirror flat?
I nice weights workout in the gym. I found a free hour in the afternoon and did a thorough weights session. Increased the weights on some of the exercises.
A 2km swim followed by a hot tub. We went to Kurim, where they have a 25m pool. I prefer a 50m pool, but this was a nice workout. The water was nice. It was good to be swimming again, and I got a very good workout.
Sep 20 2018
Wednesday, another 6k effort on the program. I am doing a lot of them in the prep for the Uherske Hradiste regatta, and I am doing a lot of them now because I on Monday I will go on a nearly 2 week lasting business trip.
I had little hope of a good performance this Wednesday afternoon. I had slept well but short, and it has been busy at work. Also, I ate some crappy food on Wednesday afternoon (too salty) and I felt it. So I agreed with myself to not to fuss about it and just treat this as a good threshold training. I also decided to not watch the in-boat monitors (NK SpeedCoach, RowP) too much during the row and row on feel.
I arrived at the start in Rokle simultaneously with a group of Juniors in a pair, double and a single, and our head coach in a launch. They set off ahead of me, and I followed. In the first part I had to pass the guy in the single and then I got in the launch’s wake. Luckily, they stopped to do starts practices at the start of the 2k course, so at that point, about five minutes into the row, I was able to pass all of them and just had to deal with the head wind.
Interestingly, it all worked out great. I was super conscious of not pushing too hard and didn’t fuss when the power values were below 210W. I had a tiny crisis with 2k to go but was able to delay the “counting strokes to distract me” until 1k to go. The final bit of the 6k was into a turn, so the low power is artificial.
I actually didn’t know until after the shower that it had been a quite good row. My workouts were syncing during the shower, and after that, Rowsandall.com sent me a nice email.
Pretty nice! Perhaps I should program those notifications to be sent a little more often.
And here are some details of Wednesday’s row:
Basically, you are looking at Work per Stroke, average drive force and Wash fade away as I get tired and rate up to keep the pace.
Here are some stats:
Workout Summary - media/20180919-1630480o.csv
00|00500|02:18.4|02:18.4|219.4|24.2|159.1|174.0|09.0 -- head wind
05|00500|02:35.7|02:35.7|199.6|24.0|181.2|184.0|08.0 -- including turn
06|00500|02:10.6|02:10.6|208.2|25.5|180.4|183.0|09.0 -- tail wind
10|00500|02:07.2|02:07.2|223.4|27.7|185.6|187.0|08.5 -- pushing for virtual race
In interval #10 above, I was also pushing for the virtual finish line of the virtual race on rowsandall.com:
I am just racing myself here, but managed to improve by 30 seconds. Next time, I should do the turn a bit earlier. I think I rowed about three strokes beyond the entry into the “turn polygon”.
Sep 17 2018
Another Steady State row in the single. It was beautiful weather. No wind at all. Mirror flat water. Great day to do rate ladders and work on technique.
Paying attention to pace at constant stroke rate I noticed significant speed improvements when focusing on sitting up straight on the catch and making sure I don’t open up the back too early. However, it’s difficult in the boat to check whether the speed gains are because I row at higher Work per Stroke (average drive force, stroke length) when focusing on this or whether I am improving boat efficiency. The following chart seems to suggest it’s primarily a power/length/force thing:
If I look at a measure for efficiency and do the statistics, I find a small positive correlation with:
I also find a small negative correlation with:
I find no correlation whatsoever, i.e. pure random behavior on:
It may be that I am pretty constant in drive length, catch and finish angle, but I do think that the stats point towards one thing and that is ramping up the force too fast at the catch. Look at the correlations. Larger slip, lower average and peak force and work per stroke point to a most efficient stroke when I am not pushing too hard. The odd one out here is the peak force angle.
I also used the Quiske pod to measure seat speed and try to correlate that to efficiency. I recorded three full lake lengths, and from each stretch I selected strokes at 20, 22 and 24spm. Here are the charts:
Stroke Rate 20:
Stroke Rate 22:
Stroke Rate 24:
I am glad my strokes are so consistent and all curves look nearly identical, but it doesn’t help with the analysis. Only at 20spm there is a clear difference between the red curve and the two others. The red curve has
In this chart, in particular the recovery in the blue curve seems inefficient. I am hesitant to look at the boat speeds as I haven’t correlated it to average power yet. I am conscious though that this blue curve corresponds to the first Rokle – Sirka stretch, where I was most fanatical in trying to be slow around the finish (doing a “Drew”). One has to bear in mind though that all this was done at low boat speeds and low stroke rates. At full 1k sprint speed and 35spm the recovery dynamics looks totally different, and both boat drag and seat acceleration are much higher. Still, I am sceptical.
Sep 16 2018
Saturday – rest day. Watched some Rowing Worlds finals on the live stream. Exciting racing!
On Sunday, I watched the rest of the A finals. Incredible performance by the Norwegian single sculler. Synek a good second place. Mason at behind. Interesting. I think it says a lot about tapering and peaking for form.
After lunch, I headed to the lake for a 6k effort.
Not a story to be proud of. I started at Rokle and rowed towards Sirka. A few minutes in, I got hit by a pretty strong head wind. A few minutes later, the wind stopped again.
The water was nice and flat and apart from having to watch other traffic carefully to avoid bumping into pedalos, sailing boats and people relaxing on electric rental boats, the first 3k went by without any drama. I turned and found it hard to keep hitting my 211W target power.
Then, about 20 minutes in, it started to be really hard. In the chart you can see that that coincides with the end of a long stretch in red heart rate values. I decided to slightly ease up on power, but that didn’t seem to help much. With about 1200m to go, I stopped again, paddled for 200m and then finished the final 1k at target pace.
The average normalized power for the workout is 210W, so that is not so bad. Not sure if I am tired or overtrained or both. Anyway, I need to repeat this 6k coming week.
I did set up an online race featuring a slightly shorter course than the 6k here. I managed the course in 25:16 including the 200m of paddling.
I useed the RowP app again to measure boat acceleration. All curves except the red one were measured with head wind. The red curve represents a few strokes just before handing down.
I had the Quiske Pod under the seat, but due to some server error I can get the seat speed graph only for one segment:
Not sure what this chart means. I’ll need to collect more data.