Training challenged me this week.
At first I thought my problem was physical capacity. Early in the week I had a workout with short intervals and a low target spilt. I simply could not get my spilt down to the target. Not a little bit, but four seconds slower. A lifetime at a finish line. I went home down in the dumps, wondering if it was just an off day or a failure in my training plan.
The next day I rowed a “throwback” workout, a 3 x 20 low rate changing every 2 minutes. A “throwback” is where I’ve picked a workout from around this time last year, when I’d started rowing again but hadn’t committed to FISA. The whole point of including these throwbacks was to remind me I’ve made fitness gains. To walk away feeling empowered and strong.
Of course the spilt numbers were faster. Where last year I’d started strong and faded each piece (even noting on the third, “gassed! Whew!”), this time I rowed consistently through each 20 minutes. Still, I wondered. Is this drastically faster? I train with a higher drag factor now. What if I rowed the same drag as last year? Would I still have the same improved spilt time? Probably not, likely a little slower average spilt than what I achieves. Conclusion: those gains were small. Again, depressed.
The following day I had my least favorite, but most important day: anaerobic threshold! This was a series of 8 minute pieces at a fairly uptempo stroke rate with a target spilt and generous rest. Again, I struggled to get close to the target spilt. The first one I wrote off as partial warm-up. The second, I could not excuse. The third I told myself had to commit to that spilt. No options, no excuses. Suck it up, buttercup.
And guess what? I made the target average spilt.
That workout made me wonder if my inability to achieve the goal lies is not physical capability, but a head game. Am I wussing out on my workouts? Have I built a mental wall preventing me from hitting these target numbers?
We all have good days and bad days. With FISA looming, this is my last tough training cycle. So each week the workouts are purposefully taxing limits. But I should be able to hit the target work based on my test results. This string of underperformed workouts creates doubt.
It’s not just the erg. Saturday I rowed my tugboat. After a 5k scouting row around this lovely reservoir, I rowed a few 500m pieces at race pace. My fat banana boat is meant for racing breakers, not slicing pristine mountain water. Naturally the times will be slower, but I had an expectation. First piece, every time I glanced at my stroke rate app I saw decent numbers. 2:13. 2:11. 2:15. 2:09. But when I stopped so assess the whole piece, the app showed a much slower average spilt. This happened every 500 meter piece. 2:20. 2:22. 2:24. 2:20. I didn’t get it.
And it’s not just the numbers. The way I felt? Horrible. Uncontrolled. Rushed. Taxed. Like just getting the 2:20 was ten times harder than a 1:55 erg piece. I sat on the lake between pieces doubting. Wondering, “How am I going to do this alone for 1000 meters if I feel this gassed?”
I looked at the stroke breakdown later. I’m not completely bonkers. I was hitting the lower spilts, for 5-10 strokes, followed by a slow down. I varied the plan each piece, so I could test what worked best. I counted each stroke to see where in my race plan I’m failing. It didn’t make sense. Again, I wonder if my weakness is all in my head? Do I need to tell myself to shut up and tough it out?
I thought I had been doing well building a positive voice and breaking down my mental barriers, but after the training week I’ve had, doubt is knocking.
The upcoming week’s training plan is physically tougher than last.