When Crossfit doesn’t help you…

So that’s a provocative title for a guy that advocates Crossfit training for rowing, huh?  What I mean is that in shorter summer races (1K-2K), there is the possibility that a stronger, fitter person with less than optimal technique can beat an efficient rower who is less fit.  This year I’ve missed most of the summer racing season due to business and travel obligations, and am really looking forward to the fall as my “season” for 2011.  In the longer fall races (5K-11K), the less efficient rower will get clobbered.  You can gut it out for 100 strokes, but you can’t for 600 strokes.  Often in Crossfit we get very excited about the WODs and the Games, and sometimes forget about taking the time to “train your sport” if Crossfit itself is not your primary sport.

This is where the Crossfit Endurance paradigm works really well.  They have changed the programming recently to focus more on longer intervals, and have increased the focus on sport-specific training as part of the overall program.  I think this is right on.

Today, with the first whiff of fall in the air, I did the CFE WOD in my racing single.  4 x 2K rowing pieces, but I did them at head race intensity, capping the ratings at 26-28 and trying to maximize technique and efficiency.  My old coaches at Undine Barge Club used to talk about “getting a couple more inches of run out of every stroke,” which translates into several boat lengths over the course of a 5K race.  That was my mantra, and it felt good to focus on my sport, specifically, instead of just trying to maximize intensity regardless of modality, which is how I approach most Crossfit workouts.

The result was telling in terms of its consistency:  7:47 downstream, 8:41 upstream, 7:44 downstream, 8:41 upstream.  I was glad that the later pieces were a little faster even though I was tired, because I believe I worked out better efficiency on every stroke.  If, using the old paradigm, I gained 1 inch per stroke over an average of 8 minutes at 28 spm, that translates into approximately 20 feet / 1 boat length, or 3 seconds.  So the math worked out pretty well !


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