Winter Training: Rinse, Repeat

This year’s winter training felt more like a slog than other years. As I write, I’m definitely growing tired of early morning grinding on the rowing machine. I see sunny, blue skies. It’s just cold–very cold. 30F with a feels like 21F. I’m not hardy enough for that kind of rowing.

So how have the first two months of the year gone with training?

Updating the Torture Cave

We finally had our basement waterproofed and re-finished over the last two months. It meant moving the rowing machine up and down the basement stairs a few times–first to avoid the dust from jackhammering concrete, the second so I could keep working out.

The good news is the basement is much warmer now that it’s insulated and has flooring. Still comfortable for rowing, but no longer freezing as I lay out to stretch.

Laying the new floor


I’ve thrown in a few tests over this time period.

The first I call a “2:00 Challenge.” Essentially, it’s hold a 2:00 spilt for as long as possible. My first attempt went miserably and I threw in the towel just after 2k. The second attempt I set a time goal (ten minutes) and that went better. Still a miserable challenge, but I met the target. The plan is to keep adding one minute until hopefully, one day, I sustain it for 20:00.

I did a rate-capped 6k. I thought I did okay until I looked up my 6k from last year. I was about 12 seconds slower. Room for improvement.

And today, I ended the training cycle with a new 20:00 test. I made improvement over the December test, but not as much as I would’ve liked. Of course, it gets harder to drop seconds and grow watts as the numbers go up. I also used a different strategy today. The good part was my spilts were more consistent across the entire piece and bringing it up at the end was more challenging.

Sweat fest post-test

I still want to do that 7-stroke peak power test that was circulating in January, but I haven’t had time.

Training Challenges

It appears my anaerobic capacity is improving, but that my training needs more distance work if I’m going to be ready for fall. I can’t figure out how to work that in to my life.

Session at the boathouse on volunteer day. Great view.

I struggled at different points in this training cycle during my distance work to hit my target spilts. My tests say “easy” should be a specific watt and spilt range, but when I’d row, my perceived effort made those spilts feel challenging.

Now I’m having this internal debate regarding what is the right thing to do. A coach shared his group’s training plan with me in February and was way more aggressive than what I’ve been doing. Should I push the envelope harder? Should I swap an anaerobic row for a distance row? Should I focus on adding meters?

I also backed my training plan up a week. Starting a new plan at the start of the month was too much on my plate. First of the month also means new lesson plans for Caelan and doing my finances for work. I opted to spread it out by moving my training cycle back a week.

Speaking of work, I’ve been slammed in January and February. I think I have a better handle on it now, but it definitely impact my sleep, recovery, and just trying to get all the work in.

Good things that happened

Crossfit Training

I started with Crossfit in October. The challenge and change up in training has been appreciated. It’s clearly showed how horribly weak my upper body is compared to my lower body. There are some weight workouts where I grab two bars, one for lower body and one for upper body, because if I scaled to my weakest movement the other movements wouldn’t be challenged at all. Example: Power Clean at 75, but then deadlift at 75? No way.

But, my upper strength is definitely improving. One workout, I did 5 x 3 strict pull-ups with no accommodations. The best I’d ever done before was 12, as a 4 x 3, and that was at least two years ago.

I accomplished my first rope climb on a skill day. First attempt at doing it. Two weeks later I did it five times during a workout.

I ran 6 x 400, or 1-1/2 miles. My knee didn’t start bothering me until the last 200 of the last 400.

In the last few weeks, there have been some days where I can do the workout as prescribed, or very close to it.

It’s appealed to my competitive nature. I know you’re not supposed to compare yourself to other people, but I can’t help it when I look across the box and see I’m ahead of another chick. What usually happens is just like my racing–everyone starts the MetCon super fast and hard. Meanwhile, I’m just a pace machine, knocking it out slowly but surely. They fade, I’m still chugging along, and then finish first.

I will be curious to see how all this translates to the boat.

I’m also getting the itch to do some more rowing-specific weight training.

The Boat

Oh, yeah, I got a new boat.

A Fluidesign 2020 BlueMax, aqua with white, and she is pretty.

Technically I got her in November, but she was scratched in transport, so I sent her back to Canada to get fixed over the winter. She arrived back in February between snow storms.

She’s currently sitting my backyard, just waiting for warmer days and ice-free waters. It’s torture, having this new, sleek shell sitting outside my window and not being able to take her for her first row.

I’ll give the full picture when I finally get to take her for a spin.

The annoying thing that happened was during our run of snow storm after storm, the squirrels decided to tear up my boat cover for nest scraps. I am NOT pleased about that. It looks even worse now than in this photo.

It is now covered with a sheet that I spray with a natural squirrel repellent. The weather’s also warmed and snow melted, so the squirrels haven’t been as desperate for warmth.

Coached Rowing

I volunteered to tackle coached rowing programs for GCRA. Now I’m waiting for feedback on my plan from the board, but I’m very excited about it and its potential to bring in some fantastic workshops.


We set a goal to learn to ski this winter. Season’s nearly over but we got in a lesson! We are going to acquire equipment throughout the year and I plan to start cross-country skiing next year. I just wanted to learn how to stop first!

The Corona 5

I mentioned before that I put on some pounds over the course of the year. Like lots of people, the weight gain coincided with the pandemic. I really struggled with this one–it seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it off.

I committed hard at the start of the year. I went back to deep tracking everything I ate, and trying to make better choices. The good news is I’ve burned off five of the corona pounds since I started. I plan on taking off three more before it’s all said and done.

Spring Training Ahead

Better days are around the corner and I can’t wait! Partially because I’m ready to try out my new shell. Partially because I can’t wait to be back on the water and fall in love with the sport all over again.

We are planning to go to Florida soon and hopefully I’ll get some water time in then.

About camckenna

I write; I row.
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