Implementing CrossFit Endurance Short Intervals on the Water

Sometimes it’s tough to figure out how to implement short interval workouts on the water where you do not have the controlled timing environment that you do on the Concept2.  This is especially tough with some of the CrossFit Endurance short interval WODs that mix distance and time.  The SpeedCoach is not really set up to handle and measure short intervals – it takes too long to manually reset between intervals, and since the start/stop is controlled by an impeller, the start/stop motion is not precise.

Rather than stress out about this, or fumble around with the buttons during limited rest intervals when your heart rate is through the roof, the easiest method is often just to count strokes.  Yes, count strokes.  It’s simple, it keeps you very focused on executing each stroke well, and it keeps your intervals consistent regardless of wind/water conditions.  It works quite well up to about 500m.

In the single, a simple way to implement short intervals is as follows – it is not a precise translation of the WOD, but it is close and it is “internally consistent” in terms of being able to implement consistent intervals in a boat, assuming an average stroke rate of 30:

  • 125 m = 15 strokes
  • 250m = 30 strokes
  • 500m = 60 strokes

For rest intervals of “equal time,” I do 2/3 of the stroke count at light pressure at about a rating of 20.

So to implement the CFE “Short Tosh” WOD of 125m-250m-500m with rest time equal to the work time, I would do:

  • 15 strokes on / 10 strokes off
  • 30 strokes on / 20 strokes off
  • 60 strokes on / 40 strokes off

If you are doing the intervals at a higher average rating or in a bigger boat, then I would shave about 10-15% off of the “rest” strokes.  For example, if I were doing the “work” intervals at a rating of 35, or in a double scull, I would probably do:

  • 15 strokes on / 8 strokes off
  • 30 strokes on / 15 strokes off
  • 60 strokes on / 35 strokes off

Try it – the cool thing is that counting makes you focus on the quality of every single one of those 60 strokes in the 500m interval, trying to get the most out of it.


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