Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On-line training: Lesson Learned and Lenten sacrifice

Anyone who followed the old Rational Fitness blog will recall my fondness for having others program my training.  I believe that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well and therefore one should strive for optimal results.  Of course, the first ingredient is showing up.  The second ingredient is doing the right thing when you get there.  It is a lot easier for me to negotiate both of these hurdles if I know what I will be doing ahead of time.  As far as training for rowing I have worked with Xeno Muller and I have also utilized the Rojabo program.  I have done well with both.  Xeno is really good at video analysis of the stroke and also programming.  I rowed my best ever 2k race on the erg (6:36.9) while working with him.  I was 39 at the time and about 75 kg.  Being a vertically impaired (5'8") old man, I was pretty pleased with that result.  Xeno has a great website and blog and always has good informative posts.  He isn't excactly cheap but he knows the sport and he has the olympic medals to prove it.  Check out his blog here.  

I also use a Dutch website called Rojabo for my training.  To use this you run 2 tests on your erg and it will spit out a program.  It requires you to periodically redo the tests to guage your progress.  Once you do the tests, in addition to generating your next few weeks of training it will tell you your predicted result and also your potential optimal result.  Based on my last test it told me I had the potential to row 6:17.  Very flattering.  But my next question was, then why the heck did I get a 6:40.5 at my race the other week.  I am leaving oceans of time unaccounted for.  I emailed Bo from Rojabo to figure out what the deal was.  The Danish rowers are well know for having some of the fastest lightweight rowers anywhere.  Their training appears to be briefer and more intense compared to the way training is done by others.  Apparently most of these guys do other things besides rowing, they have jobs or go to school just like the rest of us.  There is no arguing with their results.  For a recent example check out Henrik Stephansen who just recently set the lightweight world record (again) on the 2k erg.  The guy goes sub 6 as a lightweight!  The scary thing is, if you check out Xeno's site, Xeno thinks there are still issues with his technique that if addressed could make him even faster!  Have a look....

Anyway in my emails with Bo I was informed that even in practice at capped rates (say a piece that calls for 20 strokes per min) these guys are always in little competitions with each other.  The program gives you a good idea where you should be at a given stroke rate so you have some parameters.  And herein lies the lesson that I perhaps have been failing to incorporate in spite of what so many people have probably been trying to tell me over the years.  If you are at a capped rate, or any rate, make every stroke count.  There should be no such thing as garbage time and I think that is where people get led astray particularly with those Concept 2 challenges where you try to log the most meters etc.  Long steady state is good but make that count too with technique drills etc.  Xeno is big on that.  If you have an interest in Rojabo, the website is www.rojabo.com.  You can try it for a month for free. 

Since it is lent and I don't want to offend the new Pope, whoever that's going to be, I have to give something up.  I am giving up wasting time with rowing garbage meters.  

Here is an interesting little aside... I repeated the power test on three different ergs (it is a 6 min test and you cover the monitor so you can't see your splits.  1 min at 20 spm x2 then 1 min each at 22, 24,26,28 spm.  Once thats done you have your splits for each of those ratings.  I tested on the c2 static, c2 dynamic and rowperfect indoor sculler.  If you set the boat in the rowperfect as a 4 and the weight at 94 kg You will in theory generate numbers almost dead on with the static c2 for the same effort.  Here are the /500 m splits all are 20-20-22-24-26-28 spm respectively.

Rowperfect:  1:51-1:51-1:49-1:47-1:44-1:40  
C2 static:  1:53-1:54-1:50-1:48-1:45-1:42
C2 dynamic 1:59-1:58-1:56-1:52-1:49-1:47

In order to convert for the rowperfect I used time splits as the monitor does not store watts in memory furthermore for any given pace the watts are higher on the rowperfect as it also accounts in its calculation for work done against the internal bungee whereas the C2 monitors do not account for this.  I used the "ultimate erg calculator" available here to make those calculations.  It is interesting that with the C2 dynamic the amount of work done at a given pace is less.  Perhaps the explanation is that is quite easy to rate higher with any dynamic machine, particularly with the Concept 2 variant because the footstretcher and handle weigh next to nothing and changing direction is almost effortless therefore maybe 23 -24 spm equates on that equates to 20 spm on the static.  You engage so instantly at the catch on the rowperfect that this does not seem to be an issue.  I suppose this is more than anyone wanted or needed to know but hopefully it is of interest to someone.

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