April Rowing, Gains Be Showing

After a rollercoaster winter training, I finally had a whole month that went according to plan! Hurray!

I wrote a four-week training schedule with 35 total sessions. I managed to accomplish 77% of them. When I had to sacrifice, weightlifting went first because the goal was to work my cardio base.

The Training PlanApril rowing training

April training, sweat is raining

What I used last year wasn’t working. I removed the flexibility from the schedule; no workout choices. If it said 3x20mx2r, that’s what I had to do.

I also used a chart from the Coaching Manual to create personalized target zones for each workout. The top end was based on February’s 2k test and the bottom my goal 5k time of 20 minutes. The ranges were expressed in watts.

Week 1

By Day 3, my weaknesses became apparent, and Days 4-5 confirmed my suspicion. My endurance needs improvement and the anaerobic threshold, or the “middle ground,” the 24-28 spm stuff, is seriously out of order. Low rate and power, solid; short and high; solid. Target ranges during a 4x6mx4r at a 24-26? Fuhgetaboutit.

The workouts sucked, but I felt good knowing where I stood. I struggled to hit target watts minimum on 3 of 5 workouts.

Week 2

I lost four days this week due to travel. I tentatively wrote “body weight/ elliptical” on two days, but I was too busy to fit this in. #familyfirst

Visit with Grandma

The 3x5kx3r when I came back…that was humbling.

I hit target minimum 1 of 3 workouts.

Week 3

Theme was “move the needle.” Even when I failed to hit target watts range, the objective was to try. Always be a work in progress.

On the 3x20mx3r I wrote, “Very gassed, but showed improvement. *need endurance

On the 20x 20s x 40sr: “Fun!”

I hit watt target minimum 1 of 5 workouts. Was close on one workout.

Week 4

Started with three hard days, ended with one easy day the 5k test to end the month.

Again, notes hit the word, “endurance! Need endurance!”

I hit target watt range 1 of 4 workouts.

The 5k test

It’s test time!

Remember: no one is making me do this. Technically, it’s sprint season.

I pondered the best strategy for a couple of days. The problem is I’ve only done 5/6k test four times that I can remember. The last one was over a year-and-half ago. I don’t have a good strategy for me. I made an educated guess how to break up the test.

By week 4 I knew hitting the 20 minute mark was unlikely at this time. I was hoping to be close, somewhere between 20:00-20:30. I settled on shooting for a 2:02 average spilt.

Morning of, I got nervous. Like, I’m about to race nervous. Logically I knew no one cared about this but me. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to be better. And when I don’t have an idea of what I can do, it increases my anxiety.

That’s why scheduling and sticking by these tests are important. It’s nerves training, and a way to measure progress. A learning opportunity, I told myself as I slipped on the lucky unicorn unisuit. To learn how to endurance test and learn where I’m at in my training.

I used my 2k warm up routine, and added two more songs to my 2k playlist to make it 23 minutes long. Just in case.

Warmed up, screen ready, I slapped my thighs. This moment is procrastination at its best. There’s no reason not to begin, but I don’t want to. I’m putting off something that’s about to hurt.

And it hurt. The first 1k was right on the 2:02. I decided to focus on target spilt and a nice pace rather than stroke rate. It was relaxed and easy. I reminded myself to not get excited, it’s still a long way to go.

1500k in, the first pangs of fatigue. Actually, it hurt more than I anticipated.

And it all goes downhill…literally…

The whole test went downhill from there. Every stroke became a battle. By halfway, it stopped being about a 2:02, or 192 watts. It became a battle to not give up.

And, oh, did I want to give up. The idea of quitting, seriously quitting, came up lots. 2k to go, legs hurt, back hurt. No ability to go up in rate. Just survival.

1k to go. The most miserable 1k ever. Time slowing down…why aren’t those meters ticking away faster?

Last 500. I want to stop! Let’s quit! No. It’s just 500. Don’t give in now. Finish the damn test. Push harder. I declare war! The erg is winning this battle. What is this idea of more power?

Last 100 meters. Counting every burning stroke, forcing the rate faster.

It’s over. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Worst test experience ever. I remember the 5k being bad, but nothing like this. It drained my soul.

The final result: 20:40.8, 2:04.0, 183w.

The worst rowing fitness test I’ve ever done.

It’s a PR, (by 27 seconds) but not one I’m happy about. I wanted to be faster. If it had been 20:30, I would have been satisfied. I do feel that the result is an accurate reflection of my current ability. My legs burned after, and I definitely was gassed the rest of the day. I did feel under hydrated early in the test, but I don’t think that would have gained me time.

I did learn:

  • Steady pace is the way to go. I experimented with some lower rate/higher power and up rate/less power. It didn’t work. Once I’m locked in, stay locked in.
  • I really liked setting the monitor to show 500m spilts. When the going got tough 2k in, I was able to tell myself, “Don’t let the spilt watts drop under 180.” It’s how I survived the middle. You can do anything for 500 meters.
  • Still need to work on endurance
  • Keep working on the AT
  • More power would be nice, but there’s time to gain it.

Moving forward into May

I’m creating a similar system for next month, but now with an accurate target watt range. The top end will be the 20 minute 5k goal and my existing 20:40 is the bottom.

I still haven’t been on the water; hoping that changes tomorrow!

May is a little less crazy, but life happens. I’m brainstorming ways to fit in weightlifting without sacrificing too much else in my schedule. I’d always love more time: more time to stretch, for yoga, for on-the-water sessions, for lifting.

Just doing what I can with the time I have. Always moving the needle, a little at a time.

About camckenna

I write; I row.
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