Working the Base Rating

I haven’t been doing a lot of CrossFit lately as I’ve been spending a lot of intensive time on the water doing race rehearsal in preparation for a 1K and a 2K race next Saturday on the Cooper River in New Jersey.  I have maintained core strength via squats and core work however.  While I have taken a mostly unscientific view of training up until now, I put on a new SpeedCoach impeller, tuned my rigging, and have been paying a lot of attention to the split times on my rehearsal pieces, especially because weather conditions have been ideal for benchmarking.

Because I have entered both the Masters and Open single races at the Catch the Cooper regatta, I’ve been thinking about strategies for both, although admittedly I have not been training for the 2K distance on the water.  One thing I have been focused on however is technical efficiency that will let me get the most out of my base rating.  Base rating represents the bulk of the strokes in the race between the start and the sprint, and is hugely important in the 2K as it comprises 75-80% of the race. 

There are many small tweaks that can help you get the most out of each base rating stroke on the water that are not really applicable on the Concept2 and can only be rehearsed in a boat, such as:

  • Transferring your body weight synergistically with the run of the boat.
  • Balancing quick acceleration at the catch with the maximum acceleration possible given the speed of the boat and water conditions to swing with the boat instead of against it.
  • Working the subtleties of the catch to pick up the speed of the boat and accelerate it.
  • Focusing on finishing square out of the water and rolling the blade vs. feathering too quickly, which typically gives a cleaner finish and a 1-2 second improvement in 500m splits.
  • Varying the stroke length slightly depending on wind conditions.

These are probably unfamiliar to most CrossFitters, but are quite challenging.  I have gone to bed neurologically tired each night, similar to that deep tiredness that comes from a snatch WOD where you have to put together so many small movements into a single explosive lift.

In Masters rowing and in most CrossFit WODs, there is a lot of focus on going out strong and sprinting as quickly as possible to the finish.  I am hoping that, much like in Fight Gone Bad or the Filthy Fifty where you have to have a strategy and ration your energy to make sure you don’t burn out too early, a focus on base rating will allow me to expend most of my energy during the body of the race by being efficient and strong, allowing for a shorter and more concentrated sprint.  This will be a new strategy for me, as I am typically a very fast starter but sometimes get carried away and burn out.

At the risk of giving away too much info the competition, here are the baseline speeds that I have settled on this week in the single scull (90kg Hudson racing single):

  • Start:  1:39-1:41 splits at 36-38 SPM.
  • Base:  1:47-1:50 splits at 30-31 SPM.
  • Sprint:  1:43-1:45 splits at 34-36 SPM.

I am hoping to row somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:45 for 1K and 7:30 for 2K assuming relatively calm conditions.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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