Crossfit Endurance: Concept2 vs. on-water meters

Many of the Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance workouts specify that you are to keep track of the meters or calories you row as a scoring method, so that you can compare similar WODs over time to gauge progress.  This works very well on the Concept2 ergometer indoors, as you can calibrate different machines to have the same drag factor, and get a very accurate apples-to-apples comparison.

The method is a lot tougher and less relevant on the water, where you have variables such as wind, water currents, steering, and even setting/resetting the StrokeCoach between pieces.  It’s as if someone were changing the damper setting on the Concept2 between each interval, or if you were running on a track that was moving in 2 dimensions as you were running on it. 

Also, the measurement of meters on short pieces is not as accurate because you are using an impeller mounted on the outside of the hull, and numerous forces can act on that to throw the measurement off by a few percent.  On a 1- or 2-minute piece that can make a big difference.

Having been on the water only a few times this spring here in New Jersey, I’ve tried two of the Crossfit Endurance WODs – 8 and 6 2-minute pieces with 1 minute rest.

The results were:

Interval 8 x 2 minutes 6 x 2 minutes
1 469 meters 469 meters
2 465 441
3 464 464
4 456 471
5 454 451
6 456 481
7 448
8 441
Total 3653 2777
Average 456.6 462.8


These are low results overall both because of conditions and because it’s early in the season and my technique is not where it will be later, however it’s easy to see that there is a lot more variability between intervals, so the usual “foul” rules aren’t going to work.

My thinking is that the best approach is to tally the total meters for the “work” intervals of a WOD and use that for comparison the next time you do it, or to track the average meters, which would let you compare  performance over time with WODs that use the same work intervals, even if the WODs are different.  The “foul” threshold should probably be 10%, although on a very windy day that could be a challenge too.  It may be a good idea over time to throw out the highest and lowest intervals for calculating the average, to eliminate those pieces where you have to steer around a log or you catch a great gust of tailwind.

I’d appreciate others’ thoughts on this subject.


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