Finding Max in the Racing Single

This week I began transitioning into 5k race training in the single on the water.  One of the go-to workouts is stringing together a set of short intervals into a single long piece, and this happens to coincide with the CrossFit Endurance single-sport mainsite WOD for this week as well.

The type of workout I am targeting is roughly 250m on, 1’ off.  This can be executed in a variety of forms:

  • 1’ on, 1’ off
  • 250m on, 1’ off
  • 30 strokes on, 20 strokes off
  • etc.

I repeat this between 10 and 30 intervals depending on target intensity and workout duration.  In order to be able to do the power strokes with quality, I decided to start off trying to find max speed in the single and then using that to gauge intensity for the short interval workouts in the future.  This is also called “Lactic Acid Tolerance – low intensity” work – meaning that you are building lactate on each interval but you have equal rest to dissipate it so that it accumulates slowly, allowing you to maintain near max intensity for each interval.

One thing to remember is that there is a difference between max intensity and max speed.  You can row with poor technique and reach max physical intensity, but still not move the boat at max speed.  In rowing you want the two “maxes” to correlate.  One way to get them to do so is to progressively work on different technical elements in the first 10 or so intervals.  For example:

Intervals 1-2:  1:50 pace, 30 spm.  Groove in the basic stroke.

Intervals 3-4:  1:48 pace, focus on length.

Intervals 5-6:  1:45-1:46 pace, focus on rolling from the balls of the feet at the catch to the heels during the mid-drive.

Intervals 7-8:  1:42-1:44 pace, focus on keeping the pressure on the last couple of inches at the finish and rolling the blade out square.

Intervals 9-10:  1:38-1:40 pace, focus on keeping all of the above technical elements at a much higher rating (36-38).

I’ve followed this sequence for a couple of workouts and right now I’m confident that my max speed / max intensity combination is 1:38 pace at 36-38 spm.  Using this as the baseline I can ensure I am maintaining the correct intensity during the intervals of a longer workout while also maximizing boat speed.

Hope this is helpful in your training.

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