Gosh, Erg Tests Hurt.

The training week began with a planned 1k test Friday morning. You’d think with all that lead time, I’d have a testing strategy mapped out. Hahaha.

Why I couldn’t wrap my head around a 1k when a 2k is so painful, I don’t know. An awareness of struggling sprinting skills? The short duration of the test? The uncertainty around what I thought I could do? For some reason, this test weighed heavily on my mind. I had crazy rowing dreams all week.

I struggled to create a plan until early this morning, half-asleep and stumbling around in the dim lighting. That’s when I realized to stop overthinking. Keep it simple. Follow the same tactic as a 2k, but use stroke counts instead of meters.

So this morning, I slipped on the lucky unicorn unisuit and came up with the strategy : 5 strokes to pry and accelerate, 10 strokes to build momentum, 25 to relax, 25 for technique, 25 to persist, continue to push through the pain until 250 to go. Then 10’s, building intensity with each 10. Base rate 32-34. The mantra: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how fast you can go. That means your speed is limitless.”

1K test proof

I’m only smiling because I took this photo three hours after the test. I forgot to take the shot with full results  until my second workout of the day.

Music: “Row, Row” by Zeal & Ardor, fast forwarding to final minute to set screen, prepare, and begin, followed by “Superbeast” by Rob Zombie for the duration.

Some chick sat down on the erg next to me as I programmed the screen.

I grabbed the handle. “Row, row, row you fool!” Two deep breaths. Go.

The Test

Half. Half. Lengthen. Press. Press.

Accelerate. 1. 2…

Out of the corner of my eye, the woman does a double-take.

The first 15 strokes flew by. My eyes were glued on the rate, brain on the sequence, body on moving and breathing. A quick glance and I saw 200 meters were down. “That was fast.”

“Shift. Relax.” From around 44, I breathe the stroke rate down. I’m thinking about powering through the drive. Eyes stuck to the screen find the right pace. The watts jump around and I struggle to shift into the right stroke rhythm, like I had earlier in the week. I count. My quads are issuing a protest. Isn’t it a bit early, guys?

Second 25. Technique. Shift focus to the drive speed. Glance down at erg data displayed on phone. Accelerating through, relax. The stroke rate is trending down. Unacceptable. Bring it back to base. Consistency eludes me: up on the rate, down on the drive speed, drive speed up, watts waver. Quads burning. Suck it up. A glance to meters, and the thought, “I should be further!” This sucks! An earbud pops out. Whoops, forgot to tuck in the wireless. “Overcome the distraction!” Focus!

The girl stops rowing and leaves.

Third 25. Persist. Stay on the drive speed. Stay with the watts. Stay above 32. Relax the recovery. My 2k test felt easier than this. Persist. Fight the pain. Temporary. Persist. Rate up. 23…24…25. Okay, 4 strokes to 250. Persist. Come on. Persist.

250. Go. Drive off that footplate. 1… 2… 3… Push. Fast legs. Fire fast. Fire fast. Quads are tired. Ignore. Drive harder. No giving up.

150. Dig in! No giving up! Go! Dig in! Push it down now! Faster! Go for 300 watts! Come on! 300! No! 300! Again! Again!

Numbers tick down fast once you pass 100 meters. 98654321


Breathe. Row and breathe.

The Results

You know the Alicia Keys song, “Girl on fire?” That’s initially how I felt. This 1k brought out every workout leading to Friday, and this was not an easy week.  The last 2k felt easier than this 1k.

1k Test Results

What I see during erg tests…big fat numbers don’t lie.

My first glance at the total time, I thought, “well, that’s okay.” Just that. I test “blind” with the main screen on the large font display showing watts. My phone lays above the handle rest displaying the other data, but I try to avoid glancing down. I thought my average spilt was more like 1:53, which I’d been pulling earlier in the week during an extended speed workout. That disappointed me, because I should’ve been faster.

I couldn’t dwell on the results too much at the time. I have to home by a certain time in the mornings, and I was running late. I rowed just enough to stop gasping and move the lactic acid, took my proof video, and left.

When I got home, I even told Alan about my time, “eh, it was all right.” He reacted more positively than I did. Once I had the ability actually look at the numbers and reflect, I realized it wasn’t as horrible as I thought. The spilt was faster. The final time was on target with my goal.

This 1k test, perhaps more than the others, revealed areas to improve. Distraction and lack of mental focus came into play in the middle. Reflecting on the experience, I tried fixing too much about technique and numbers in the middle. A 1k isn’t long enough to dwell on the perfection of every stroke, you have to let go a bit and trust in your training. That negatively impacted my performance.

I’d like to drive my base pace down a little more and find some consistency. Continuing with my training plan will help reach this goal, and I have ideas for tweaking.

About camckenna

I write; I row.
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