Wolverine Plan Discussion

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Training

Postby [old] Mike Caviston » September 11th, 2005, 8:50 pm

Since interest has been expressed regarding the Wolverine Plan, this thread is for occasional posts on that topic in an effort to clarify and expand some of my previous comments. For those who have followed the WP from the beginning, much of this information may be repetitive. For others, it will be more information than you want, so stop now. But hopefully for those interested it will help put things in better perspective. I’ll begin with some background about how and why I developed the plan and what its track record has been.<br /><br /><b>HISTORY OF THE WOLVERINE PLAN</b><br /><br />I began rowing in 1979 and being somewhat of a perfectionist was interested from the beginning in maximizing my performance as a rower. In the earlier days quantification of rowing physiology was a little more dubious than it is today, since ergometers were rare instruments and were available only occasionally for testing, let alone training. We didn’t have anything at Michigan during the time I competed, but during various trips to different boathouses (e.g., Jacksonville, Wisconsin, and MIT) I had a few opportunities to take a crack at tests on either Gamut ergs or the new C2 Model As. When not on the water, the bulk of my training involved running (lots of hills and stairs), lifting, and cycling (during the summer). I shifted from competing to coaching in the early 80s, and became responsible for structuring the training of other athletes. Meanwhile, I continued to train and use myself as a guinea pig when developing team workouts. Three things to consider were availability of equipment (few if any ergs available till the late 80s/early 90s); time (club athletes couldn’t or wouldn’t devote that much of it to training); and effectiveness (given the first two realities, what would provide the greatest results?) The basic training template involved a variety of short sessions centered on intervals or moderately long continuous activities at higher intensity. This might translate as six-seven sessions per week ranging from 40-60 minutes each (including warm-up/cool-down). <br /><br />It’s hard to say precisely how effective the training was. Our program was moderately successful (we didn’t suck outright and we didn’t dominate), but so many other factors besides the training program were involved (such as lack of funds and the various things they buy, like equipment and truly professional coaches). My personal motivation for training at that point was simply to stay in shape and set a good example for the troops. I didn’t have any competitive aspirations. But in 1987 I ended up entering my first indoor race through a series of slightly improbable events. The U of M program was taking a number of athletes to the CRASH-B satellite race in Cincinnati, though originally I wasn’t able to go myself. But my plans changed and at the last minute I decided to go and to enter a race myself. Discovering there was a lightweight category and realizing I wasn’t too far over the limit, I starved for a couple days and ran off the last couple pounds the morning of the event and made the competitive weight. I had no knowledge of or interest in ergometer records at that time, and didn’t really know what I was capable of, but 8:00 flat [for 2500m on a Model B] seemed like a nice round number and at least possible based on some of the workouts I had been doing. I struggled a bit in the 4th 500m, but finished in 8:02. To my surprise, I was informed afterwards that that was the fastest any lightweight so far had ever rowed 2500m – in other words, a world record. I was also informed I won a free plane ticket to Boston and the CRASH-Bs the following week. So I went, but it wasn’t a great performance. I certainly didn’t have the technique of making weight down to a science, so that was stressful. And the event itself required heats as well as a final, so two 2500m races within three hours was a bit more of both a physical and mental challenge than I was prepared for. I got 8:06 in the final, good enough for 5th place, while the winning time was 7:57. So my first world record stood for a whole week. I was 27 years old at the time.<br /><br />Over the next 5 years or so, (having purchased my own erg) I was able to train more consistently and with a view towards maximizing my 2500m performance. Since U of M’s spring break often coincides with the weekend of the CRASH-Bs in February, as a coach I was with the team in Tampa, FL on it’s annual training trip and so unable to return to Boston for another crack at a hammer. But on various attempts over that period I pulled 7:57-8 for 2500m, which if memory serves would have been good enough for either first or second place in the Open Lightweight category during that stretch (though meanwhile the world record had been lowered to about 7:51). But I wasn’t getting any faster and it didn’t seem like I would make any major jumps, so from about the age of 32 I stopped training specifically to get faster on the erg. I still used it frequently, and I still trained hard, but I got more involved in alternate activities and stopped doing test pieces on the erg.<br /><br />But I’m the sort who doesn’t really enjoy training as much without some sort of goal or target to shoot for, and running or cycling generally aren’t as readily quantifiable as the erg. So by the time I was 35 or 36 years old, I was thinking about reorganizing my training towards a specific goal involving rowing. During this time I had continued to refine and tweak the training program I was using for the athletes I was coaching, and also making use of information I was getting since I entered the graduate program in Kinesiology at Michigan (I entered in ’89, got my degree in ’93 and began as a teaching assistant in ’94, eventually becoming a Lecturer in ‘96). I had followed results from the WIRC and was aware of what times were competitive in my age bracket, and also in the next (over 40). So I had some specific times to shoot for and just needed a specific plan of attack for achieving my goals. And so began what would eventually be called the Wolverine Plan.<br /><br />Much of the new plan simply incorporated workouts I had been doing for years. I <i>invented</i> 8 x 500m (and its Level 1 variations like 4 x 1K and the 250/500/750/1000/750/500/250 pyramid). We were doing them at Michigan the first week the Model B (and the metric PM1) was released. [If anybody else independently invented those workouts, they are Alfred Russel Wallace while I am Charles Darwin.] I hadn’t done much 4 x 2K (or a similar workout, 5 x 5’), but both were popular with other coaches at Michigan and I had some experience with them so I decided to create the workout category that would eventually be called Level 2. Long, continuous (Level 3) rows had been a staple of my erging workouts and were easy to incorporate. The one workout category that was considerably different from anything I’d done before was the category that would be called Level 4. I’ll talk about that more in a future post. Some aspects that distinguish the WP from other training programs designed for rowing include limiting cross- training, and no real periodization (all types of workouts in similar proportions year-round; no “endurance” phase followed by a “sharpening” phase.) Another characteristic of the WP, which I will discuss more later, is a strong emphasis on mental discipline. My rationale being that I couldn’t realistically train with much more volume, or intensityr, so I had to be even smarter and more productive with the time I had. I created a system, started recording and analyzing scores, experimented with different formats of similar workouts, tried to find the optimum order of different types of workouts, determined how hard I could work and how long I’d need to recover from various workouts, noted how much improvement for various workouts was realistic during a training season, etc., etc. This began in the fall-winter of 1997-1998. I was 36 years old, and in that first training season of the WP my fastest 2K was 6:26. The next year saw 6:24, then 6:21, then 6:20, and finally, in February 2002, during my 40th year on Earth, I set a lifetime PR (and WR in my age group) of 6:18.<br /><br />Any discussion about whether the Wolverine Plan is an effective training program would begin with my own results. Obviously, I’ve been pretty successful (3 hammers and a 2nd at CRASH-B, as well as gold medals at 2 European IRCs and 1 BIRC.) Besides a record and championships won, what impresses me most about my accomplishments (if I can be excused for such an immodest comment) is the fact that I was the fastest I’ve ever been in my life at 40 years old. Bear in mind that I wasn’t some inactive couch potato that finally saw the light, or even some successful athlete coming to rowing from a different sport. I had been training specifically, relentlessly, and successfully for rowing since I was 18 years old. But the WP was effective enough so that even with my background, I was able to keep improving up to the start of my fourth decade. For reference, other senior/master athletes are faster than me relative to the Open standards; Eskild Ebbesen comes to mind as does Lisa Schlenker. Last year at 40 Lisa won the Open Lightweight category at WIRC (my record-setting time in 2002 would have placed 11th in the Open) – but well off her record pace of a few years ago.<br /><br />So the WP has been (and continues to be) successful for me. But so what, I’m just one person, what does that prove? One person might win a championship in spite of their training, not because of it (though in my case you’d have to ignore my careful records of training for the pre- and post-WP years). Has anyone else benefited from the WP? I’ve certainly heard from a number of relative beginners, via e-mail or in person at various indoor events, who have told me they’ve benefited from the Wolverine Plan. But, beginners are pretty easy to help. What about experienced and competitive athletes? You could start by talking to some of my former USIRT teammates such as Joan Van Blom, Luanne Mills, and Mary Perrot (all multiple hammer winners). Also Nancii Bernard, who placed 2nd in 2004 and first in 2005 in the women’s senior category. Michigan alum and former Olympian Steve Warner was coached by me when he got his first CRASH-B medal as a UM freshman (second as a J18LW); Steve went on to win a couple hammers and many more medals in Boston.<br /><br />The greatest opportunity to evaluate the Wolverine Plan would be the 4 seasons I spent as conditioning coach for the U of M women’s team. Women’s rowing became a varsity sport at Michigan in 1996. The test of success of a women’s program is how well it does at the NCAA championship. In its first four years of existence, the women placed 5th as a team at the NCAA championship three straight years (failing to be selected for the regatta in its first year). That is certainly not a record to be ashamed of. But the Michigan head coach, looking to shake things up and get an edge, brought me aboard before the 2000-2001 season to design the overall training plan for the team, to oversee indoor training, and to help the coaches coordinate outdoor training more effectively. Prior to my involvement, the team had trained as many college programs do, with a variety of demanding and grueling workouts but without any particular structure or plan for systematic improvement. Some of the features that I would eventually discourage or eliminate included lots of cross training (track sprinting or Indian-file runs were popular); training paces based on heart rates; and competitive workouts (athletes seated next to one another with the simple goal of beating the other, rather than following a personal season-long progression). Initially, the new program was simply called The Training Plan; it wasn’t till I eventually began posting on this forum and referred to the program that I had to give it a specific name. But whatever it was called, evidence that it worked came pretty quickly and decisively. (A rowing team is the closest thing there is to an actual laboratory for testing training. I’ve worked with hundreds of athletes over the years, with opportunities to try new things, subtle variations, and compare with previous results.) In collegiate rowing each athlete is tested periodically during the season for 6K and 2K performance, and over a four year period lots of data becomes available for individuals as well as team averages and trends. In my first year with the team, every single athlete in the program (with one exception) set PRs at both 6K and 2K. Some did so by quite large amounts, and interestingly some of the biggest gainers had already been the fastest athletes on the team. Two examples were particularly striking. That year Kate Johnson was a senior. Kate was a three-time All-American (and won silver in last year’s Olympic 8) and had entered UM as the most-recruited high school rower in the country. She was extremely talented and among the most dedicated athletes I’ve ever met. But despite all her desire and hard work she hadn’t really improved her 2K time in her three years at Michigan. But by the end of her senior year she had dropped 8 seconds, down to 6:49. Another senior, Bernadette Marten (eventual national team member and gold medal winner in the 8 at the 2002 World Championships, along with Johnson and Michigan alum Kate MacKenzie) also made a big jump. Bernadette had transferred to Michigan from another program and her best 2K to date had been 6:59. By year’s end she had a school-record 6:40. A 19-second drop by a woman who is already sub-7 is pretty dramatic. What benefited these two hard-working athletes most was the structure and organization of the new training plan. <br /><br />Overall, many athletes set new standards for erging at Michigan following the introduction of the Wolverine Plan. As you enter the team’s erg room, practically the first thing you see is a large board that records the names and times of the fastest twenty 2K erg scores in the history of the program. After the program’s eighth year, 17 of the top score had been recorded in the 4-year period since the introduction of the WP. Still, for a college rowing program of Michigan’s stature, the only real measure of success is at the national championship. Did the fast erg scores translate into races won? Many factors contribute to the success of a crew on the water, and it’s hard to say that any one factor was dominant. But Michigan had the same equipment, the same coaches, and probably a tougher schedule (more women’s programs are getting faster every year) – and still managed to finish better than ever before (2nd as a team in 2001). We slipped to 8th in 2002, but that is deceiving, as all teams were separated by small margins and Michigan was actually closer to first on points than in the years when they finished 5th. In 2003 we finished 4th and in 2004 3rd. During those four years, the only teams to score more points than Michigan at the NCAA championship were Brown and Washington. <br /><br />Maybe it was just a coincidence that the team took it up a notch the year I started working with them. Maybe they just had good athletes who worked hard and the training program wasn’t much of a factor. Last year I was let go by the UM women’s program midway through the year. I won’t go into specifics, except to say that the head coach wanted to get back to being more hands-on with the team (it had been an unprecedented move for a head coach to let someone else have so much input in those areas where I was involved), and the athletes had become increasingly dissatisfied with the structure and inflexibility of the WP (they had forgotten what the WP says about negotiating the price of success). They changed the focus of their training more towards variety and what they thought of as stimulation, and away from pre-determined paces or set goals. I doubt if they were satisfied with the ultimate results (lowest finishes ever at the Big 10, Central Regional, and NCAA regattas). Last year’s team probably never had enough depth to be a serious championship contender, but there were high hopes for the first varsity 8. Michigan’s 1V had finished 2nd in the country in 2003 and 3rd in 2004, and five athletes in the 2005 1V had rowed in both those boats, while a sixth had rowed for part of 1 year. So it was a very successful and experienced crew, and beat a number of ranked crews early in the year, but struggled at the end and finished 9th at NCAAs. The major problems I saw with Michigan’s fitness at the end of last season was that they peaked too early, and several experienced athletes failed to improve their erg scores or in some cases finished slower than the year before (many younger athletes did improve, but as I’ve said that’s less impressive when evaluating a training program). Time will tell whether last year was just an aberration, and I wish this year’s team all the success in the world. But I’d be lying if I said I thought their current training was as effective as it can be. <br /><br />Many people who read the forums have heard of the Wolverine Plan but proportionally few really understand it. I have read accounts from or have corresponded with several people who thought they were following the WP but were not (based on faulty second-hand accounts, or by not reading the available information carefully enough). Some people have taken a perverse pleasure in deliberately misrepresenting the WP or my subsequent comments, no matter how many times I correct them. I’ll provide some generic examples in the future. Still other people are happy to rip off the WP and promote its workouts and principles as their own. Well, I don’t have a copyright, so I guess I can’t complain, and the important thing is that people who want it get help with their training. The WP clearly isn’t for everybody, and maybe not for many at all. It takes a lot of physical and mental toughness, and more dedication and discipline than even many so-called serious athletes are willing to invest. Some people think it is very complicated, but it’s actually very simple once you learn the terminology and a few basic rules. It boils down to gradual, systematic progression over time. You don’t have to be fast to start using it, but if you stick with it long enough, you’ll be fast before you’re finished with it.<br /><br />Mike Caviston<br />
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Postby [old] Porkchop » September 12th, 2005, 11:51 am

Mike,<br /><br />Thank you for that very enlightening post (and your other posts, as well). <br /><br />As the father of two female high school rowers, I'm very interested in helping them improve. I've been struggling a bit translating what I have gleaned from the various Wolverine Plan documents and discussions into offseason training advice and plans for them. <br /><br />I, for one, really appreciate the time you have spent in this and other threads making your program comprehensible to us novices.
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Postby [old] JimR » September 12th, 2005, 12:34 pm

Very interesting history Mike!<br /><br />I think I would be one that follows the WP "loosely" but had the daughter setup to be a little closer to the intent of the plan. She is off rowing at college now but I can look back at her high school rowing and note that thanks to the information in the WP she improved more than any other rower in 4 years!<br /><br />The plan works ... sadly it only gives you back what you put into it ;O) My daughter and I have a saying, posted right by the erg in the basement ...<br /><br />If you don't do the hard work, you don't get the fast time.<br /><br />The WP structures the hard work. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts going forward ... and thanks for all the shared knowledge!<br /><br />JimR<br /><br />
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Postby [old] Pete Marston » September 12th, 2005, 5:06 pm

<!--QuoteBegin-Mike Caviston+Sep 12 2005, 12:50 AM--><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td><div class='genmed'><b>QUOTE(Mike Caviston @ Sep 12 2005, 12:50 AM)</b></div></td></tr><tr><td class='quote'><!--QuoteEBegin-->That year Kate Johnson ..... dropped 8 seconds, down to 6:49. Bernadette Marten .... best 2K to date had been 6:59.  By year’s end she had a school-record 6:40.  A 19-second drop by a woman who is already sub-7 is pretty dramatic. <br /><br />Mike Caviston <br /> </td></tr></table><br /><br />Mike,<br /><br />I take it both these women are heavyweights? Both really very good 2k times anyway. I notice that apart from these two (assuming they are both hwt) all the people you mention are lwts? Certainly no hwt men that I noticed reading through.<br /><br />My question is this - if you were to coach a hwt male, would you adapt the Wolverine plan at all, or have them follow it as is? I'm talking big hwt males, people such as Jamie, Pavel, Matthius (apologies for first names, but I'll spell the surnames wrongly). Or would you have them do less level 4 rowing, for example, with something else in it's place?<br /><br />If you wouldn't change it, do you think this is something a lot of hwt male ergers are lacking in their training, the lower rate distance training? Do you think this is holding them back?<br /><br />People I know who row for big clubs like Leander over here, as younger hwts, seem to do a lot of r18 and r20 rowing, and some of their times are amazing. As far as I know Nik Fleming, to name one successful hwt male erger, doesn't do much low rate rowing at all. His distance times are awesome. Maybe he'd have been faster over 2k with more low rate training, who knows.<br /><br />I'm just wondering really whether big hwts men, who are naturally very powerful, don't need the lower rate rowing so much as lighter people, who might have more of a weakness in their stroking power.<br /><br />Pete
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Postby [old] neilb » September 13th, 2005, 7:43 am

Mike,<br /><br />Very interesting background and very informative in helping to put the potential benefits into context.<br /><br />I may well adopt the Wolverine plan after BIRC this year as my training progamme towards 2008 when I will enter the 50+ category.<br /><br />One question at the moment; how did it come to be called "Wolverine". I am familar with the animal of that name (although I don't think we have any here in England) but curious as to how the name came about.<br /><br />Neil B.
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Postby [old] Pete Marston » September 13th, 2005, 7:45 am

Neil - I think all US universities have a name / mascot for their sporting teams, such as Washington State are the Cougars. Michigan I guess are the Wolverines - and I would guess that is the name given to their sporting teams.
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Postby [old] remador » September 13th, 2005, 9:04 am

Mike,<br /><br />Sorry to bother you with a lateral question, but I cannot find any other source to answer it. Do you know how to convert Gamut outputs to C2? For example, a guy who could pull 3500 rotations in 7' in a Gamut ergometer, how many "meters" would he have rowed in a C2 model C?<br /><br />Sorry again, but since I came back to rowing, I could not have an idea of how much I was pulling 15 years ago, yet. <br /><br /><br />Thanks,<br /><br />AM
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Postby [old] FrancoisA » September 13th, 2005, 10:45 am

Mike,<br /><br />Thanks for this informative background, and above all, thanks for making the Wolverine Plan available to the rowing community.<br /><br />I am curious to know if you would modify the WP for people who would like to optimize their 5k and 10k performances.<br /><br />Also, as a weak lwt with good endurance, should I put more emphasis on Level 4 or on Level 1? The fastest pace I have been able to hold for 3 consecutive strokes is 1:36, yet I did the 500m Level 1 last night with an average of 1:40.6 with the last one at 1:39.2.<br /><br />Thanks
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Postby [old] John &#39;SugarBoy&#39; Foy » September 13th, 2005, 12:10 pm

Has anybody written a plan out consisting of wolverine workouts for each day of the week.<br /><br />I have done one for the pete plan.<br /> <br /><a href='http://uk.msnusers.com/CONCEPT2INDOORROWING/Documents/THEPETEPLAN.doc' target='_blank'>http://uk.msnusers.com/CONCEPT2INDOORROWIN...THEPETEPLAN.doc</a> (Click refresh)<br /><br />I am just hoping somebody has done the same thing to save me the trouble of doing it myself <br /><br />John
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Postby [old] bmoore » September 13th, 2005, 3:10 pm

<!--QuoteBegin-John 'SugarBoy' Foy+Sep 13 2005, 12:10 PM--><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td><div class='genmed'><b>QUOTE(John 'SugarBoy' Foy @ Sep 13 2005, 12:10 PM)</b></div></td></tr><tr><td class='quote'><!--QuoteEBegin-->Has anybody written a plan out consisting of wolverine workouts for each day of the week.<br /><br />I have done one for the pete plan.<br /> <br /><a href='http://uk.msnusers.com/CONCEPT2INDOORROWING/Documents/THEPETEPLAN.doc' target='_blank'>http://uk.msnusers.com/CONCEPT2INDOORROWIN...THEPETEPLAN.doc</a> (Click refresh)<br /><br />I am just hoping somebody has done the same thing to save me the trouble of doing it myself     <br /><br />John <br /> </td></tr></table><br /><br />Here's my current training with 10 weekly workouts.<br /><br />M (PM) - Level 1 (Rotate between 3 workouts - 8x500, 4x1k, and 250/500/750/1k/750/500/250 Pyramid)<br />T (AM) - Lift (Legs, Back, Biceps, Abs)<br />T (PM) - Level 4 - 70'<br />W (AM) - Lift (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs)<br />W (PM) - Level 2 (Rotate 5x1.5k, 4x2k, 3k/2.5k/2k Pyramid)<br />Th (PM) - Level 3 (13k - Adding 500 per week and maintaining same pace)<br />F - Off<br />Sa (AM) Lift (Legs, Back, Biceps, Abs)<br />Sa (PM) - Level 3 (15x3')<br />Su (AM) - Lift (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs)<br />Su (PM) - Level 4 - 2x40'<br /><br />I'm in the third week of this buildup phase. Next week, I'll add 2x6k on Monday mornings. Three weeks later, I'll add L4-60' on Thursday mornings. And finally, another three weeks later, I'll add another L4-60' on Friday mornings. This will be 13 workouts - 9 rows & 4 lifts. This will take me through November. I'll follow up the buildup with an 8 week strength/speed phase, before the final 6 week period before the CRASH-Bs. I took the phases from a book called Serious Training for Endurance Athletes.<br /><br />Regards,<br />
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Postby [old] Mike Caviston » September 13th, 2005, 3:50 pm

As I get time, some of the specific topics I hope to address in the near future:<br />1. General Training Concepts (structure, progression, specificity etc.)<br />2. Level 4 (addressing the many myths & misconceptions, plus new charts)<br />3. Levels 1-3 Pacing (benefits of pacing; new charts)<br />4. Warm-Up/Active Recovery<br />5. Overall Training Schedule (generic, plus my personal schedule)<br />6. Off-Season vs. In-Season Training (and the transitions back & forth)<br /><br />Mike Caviston<br />
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Postby [old] JimR » September 13th, 2005, 5:03 pm

<!--QuoteBegin-bmoore+Sep 13 2005, 03:10 PM--><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td><div class='genmed'><b>QUOTE(bmoore @ Sep 13 2005, 03:10 PM)</b></div></td></tr><tr><td class='quote'><!--QuoteEBegin-->I'm in the third week of this buildup phase.  Next week, I'll add 2x6k on Monday mornings.  Three weeks later, I'll add L4-60' on Thursday mornings.  And finally, another three weeks later, I'll add another L4-60' on Friday mornings.  This will be 13 workouts - 9 rows & 4 lifts.  This will take me through November.  I'll follow up the buildup with an 8 week strength/speed phase, before the final 6 week period before the CRASH-Bs.  I took the phases from a book called Serious Training for Endurance Athletes.<br /><br />Regards, <br /> </td></tr></table><br /><br />Interesting to combine the ideas in the WP (steady progression with no "phasing") and the "phases from a book called Serious Training for Endurance Athletes". If you are steadly increasing the workouts (by either going faster or going longer) according to the WP what would you do differently in these last two phases (8 weeks and 6 weeks)?<br /><br />JimR
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Training

Postby [old] bmoore » September 13th, 2005, 10:19 pm

<!--QuoteBegin-JimR+Sep 13 2005, 05:03 PM--><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td><div class='genmed'><b>QUOTE(JimR @ Sep 13 2005, 05:03 PM)</b></div></td></tr><tr><td class='quote'><!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-bmoore+Sep 13 2005, 03:10 PM--><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td><div class='genmed'><b>QUOTE(bmoore @ Sep 13 2005, 03:10 PM)</b></div></td></tr><tr><td class='quote'><!--QuoteEBegin-->I'm in the third week of this buildup phase.  Next week, I'll add 2x6k on Monday mornings.  Three weeks later, I'll add L4-60' on Thursday mornings.  And finally, another three weeks later, I'll add another L4-60' on Friday mornings.  This will be 13 workouts - 9 rows & 4 lifts.  This will take me through November.  I'll follow up the buildup with an 8 week strength/speed phase, before the final 6 week period before the CRASH-Bs.  I took the phases from a book called Serious Training for Endurance Athletes.<br /><br />Regards, <br /> </td></tr></table><br /><br />Interesting to combine the ideas in the WP (steady progression with no "phasing") and the "phases from a book called Serious Training for Endurance Athletes". If you are steadly increasing the workouts (by either going faster or going longer) according to the WP what would you do differently in these last two phases (8 weeks and 6 weeks)?<br /><br />JimR <br /> </td></tr></table><br /><br />I'm building up now because I just added weights. I wanted to give my body a chance to adjust to the new additions before increasing the number of rowing sessions.<br /><br />Some of this will focus around weight lifting, and not the rowing sessions. I anticipate the strength/speed phase to be lower rep, heavier lifting and a strong focus on the level 1 & 2 interval performances. I should have good baselines set for my L4 & L3 paces and would stick to those during this period. Although I'd still add 500m per week to my long L3.<br /><br />In the 6 week taper, I'd lighten up on the weights for the first 4 weeks, and go very light in the last two weeks. I'd probably give myself the full Friday off for the first four weeks, and then take out one of the other morning sessions the last two weeks to get plenty of rest. I think Mike talked about the last week taper in another thread, and would look to that for the last week plan.<br /><br />Since I live in Boston, I may do a light morning row at home the day of the race and then head to the location to watch. Hopefully, I'll be able to catch a warm-up machine within the 30 minutes before the race, and then run a good race. I don't have a time goal for this, I'll just let the training dictate what my time will be.<br /><br />I'm just a rookie at this, but I'm incorporating my time as a personal trainer and as a swimmer in high school and college. It's all very much one day at a time, but I wanted to have this "vision" of how the next 24 weeks would proceed in order to actually show up and run my best possible race, without excuses. It may be 7 minutes, it may be 6:30. We'll see.<br /><br />The most important thing for me was to have a training plan. This plan clicked with my other experience. I'm still learning some of the details, but I'm seeing lots of progress, am not bored, and am not over-worked. My wife loves the changes in my body, and my confidence is very high. (I'm raising capital to start a company, so the confidence thing is very important right now). It's a whole lot better than eating or watching TV late at night and carrying 30 extra pounds around all the time. Now I can be an athlete again.<br /><br />I turn 40 on Friday. I'm very inspired by Mike's progress through the years and that his fastest time ever was at age 40. And that was for someone who held the world record in his 20s! Amazing.<br /><br />Anyway, that's the plan for now.<br />
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Training

Postby [old] bmoore » September 15th, 2005, 12:24 am

<!--QuoteBegin-bmoore+Sep 13 2005, 03:10 PM--><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td><div class='genmed'><b>QUOTE(bmoore @ Sep 13 2005, 03:10 PM)</b></div></td></tr><tr><td class='quote'><!--QuoteEBegin-->Here's my current training with 10 weekly workouts.<br /><br />M (PM) - Level 1 (Rotate between 3 workouts - 8x500, 4x1k, and 250/500/750/1k/750/500/250 Pyramid)<br />T (AM) - Lift (Legs, Back, Biceps, Abs)<br />T (PM) - Level 4 - 70'<br />W (AM) - Lift (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs)<br />W (PM) - Level 2 (Rotate 5x1.5k, 4x2k, 3k/2.5k/2k Pyramid)<br />Th (PM) - Level 3 (13k - Adding 500 per week and maintaining same pace)<br />F - Off<br />Sa (AM) Lift (Legs, Back, Biceps, Abs)<br />Sa (PM) - Level 3 (15x3')<br />Su (AM) - Lift (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs)<br />Su (PM) - Level 4 - 2x40'<br /><br />I'm in the third week of this buildup phase.  Next week, I'll add 2x6k on Monday mornings.  Three weeks later, I'll add L4-60' on Thursday mornings.  And finally, another three weeks later, I'll add another L4-60' on Friday mornings.  This will be 13 workouts - 9 rows & 4 lifts.  This will take me through November.  I'll follow up the buildup with an 8 week strength/speed phase, before the final 6 week period before the CRASH-Bs.  I took the phases from a book called Serious Training for Endurance Athletes.<br /><br />Regards, <br /> </td></tr></table><br /><br />A quick update to this...I'm switching Wednesdays and Thursdays around. This makes my lifting not be on consecutive days, but that's really not a big issue. The big change is to put another day between the L1 & L2 workouts. This extra recovery will make the L2 workouts on Thursday more effective than they would be on Wednesday, only 2 days after an L1 workout.
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Training

Postby [old] Mike Caviston » September 17th, 2005, 9:27 pm

Before diving deeper into specific portions of the Wolverine Plan (Level 4, etc.), I want to spend a little time clarifying my position on several general training concepts. Again, much of this will be repetitive to anyone who has read my previous posts, but I think people will understand the WP a little better if they realize where I am coming from in my understanding of physiology, biomechanics, and even psychology. To begin, I’m always careful to make a distinction between <b>Training </b>as a means of maximizing performance in an athletic event or contest, and <b>Exercise</b> as a means of maintaining overall health & fitness. The WP is a <b>Training</b> Plan, and its primary intent is to allow rowers (indoor and outdoor) to maximize their performance while racing the collegiate & international competitive distance of 2000 meters. As such, the WP requires more commitment, discipline, and effort than a simple Exercise routine (though I know of many non-competitive exercise enthusiasts who have gotten ideas for variety and structure for their workouts from the WP).<br /><br />Training must address the specific physiological and biomechanical demands of the event for which one is training. Rowing requires a high level of performance from both the aerobic and rapid glycolytic metabolic energy pathways, and the appropriate training will be a mixture of workouts of longer duration (e.g., 40-60’) at low-moderate intensity, as well as briefer workouts of higher intensity (approaching and even exceeding race pace). A training plan for rowers will therefore be quite different from plans for athletes in other sports (marathon runners, multi-stage cyclists, track or pool sprinters, etc.) A training plan needs the proper balance between higher and lower intensity workouts. Race-pace training is stressful and fatiguing and requires greater recovery between sessions. Such sessions should only be performed once or twice per week if an athlete hopes to continue developing over an extended period without showing signs of overtraining or staleness. Endurance training, on the other hand, can (and in an idealized plan, should) be performed several times per week. A <b>key point </b>that I reiterate frequently, is that everyone should build their training volume slowly & carefully. But even untrained or unfit individuals have a remarkable capacity for improving endurance, given time. As a frame of reference, in my own training the combined meters of Level 1 & 2 workouts make up <10% of my total training volume; the other categories (warm-up, Level 3, Level 4) make up the other 90+%. For those whose total volume doesn’t approach my own, meters at an intensity that is near 2K pace should still be <20% of the weekly total.<br /><br />I believe the most effective training is holistic when it comes to integrating different training bands throughout the season. I don’t believe in periodizing my training, such as an early season “endurance phase”, and a pre-competition “sharpening” or “interval” phase. Variables such as strength, endurance, speed, and power are interdependent and should be developed simultaneously and in roughly the proportions requires in competition. This makes sense to me based on my understanding of both the biochemistry of energy metabolism in skeletal muscle, as well as the neural control of multi-joint movements such as a rowing stroke. Another point I make regarding effective training is the limited value of cross training. Variety (in the form of activities such as running, swimming, cycling, stairclimbing, etc.) is nice to relieve the monotony of long sessions or to take some of the stress off those overworked muscles and joints, but <b>specificity</b> is necessary to maximize the unique adaptations required for rowing. I like to do 3-4 hours of stationary cycling per week, mostly to cool down from my rowing workouts, but this is supplementary to my regular routine. [I don’t need any more clear proof of the limits of cross training than I received this summer. I had the opportunity to do some traveling and had access to excellent fitness facilities but no erg. For 15 consecutive days, I followed a routine that combined cycling and stairclimbing, performing more than 120’ of work per day, which is more than my normal rowing volume. I mimicked the format and intensities of my normal rowing workouts as well as I could. I made substantial gains on the alternate equipment; I lost weight as a result of the extra calories expended; but when I got back on the erg my rowing performance had declined considerably. It is exactly eight weeks since the end of the trip, and I am only now getting back to the level I had attained before the start of the trip.] Still another key point I address regarding successful training is the need to accurately measure performance. This means keeping detailed records of every session (warm-up, total meters, total time, sub-interval splits, stroke rate, drag factor, notes about temperature & humidity or any other factor that would affect performance). This information is vital if you hope to accurately gauge your progress, isolate the key performance variables, and identify any training errors. I continually look back over records from past years and make judgments like “This went well… this needs to be modified slightly… this didn’t work at all… in order for this to work, I need to _______...” <br /><br />When it comes to assessing performance, or determining the target intensity for workouts, the one variable I use is <b>pace</b>. Not heart rate, not perceived exertion, not lactate levels, or anything else. Indoor rowing is a unique activity in that the environment is about as stable as any in sport. Temperature may vary, but there are no hills and no headwinds to deal with. So for a cyclist, 20mph might require more or less effort depending on the wind & terrain, and an additional index of intensity such as HR might be useful, but on an erg a given pace pretty much tells the story. The C2 monitor gives instant and accurate feedback on every stroke. Why on earth disregard that for something as variable or unstable as HR, which is affected not only by effort but also temperature, hydration, caffeination, body position, emotional state, and God knows what else? The same is true for lactate levels, assuming you have the means of taking and analyzing samples. Many factors besides effort affect lactate values, and many variables besides lactate (e.g., ammonia, potassium, and calcium) are involved in muscle fatigue and vary as a function of intensity. The view of performance as seen through the lens of HR- or lactate-based training is always going to be fuzzy, so it’s actually more accurate as well as simpler to focus on pace (the per-500m split on the erg’s monitor).<br /><br />The major benefit of a Training Plan is to provide structure, and a framework for consistent performance. The plan should include some format for systematic progression over time. A common error among athletes preparing for competition is to jump from workout to workout without any regard for the eventual long-term outcome. They select workouts randomly (or by avoiding the types of workouts they least enjoy), make up their minds about what to do on the spur of the moment, change formats in the middle of a session, do a workout based on somebody else’s challenge, etc. They may have no idea about the appropriate pace for a particular workout, the best strategy for completing the workout, or what pace for the workout is appropriate when pursuing specific goals in competition. It is not enough (though it is certainly crucial) to simply “work hard” day after day. There needs to be a framework for determining how hard is “hard”, and whether the workout serves the specific physiological needs of the athlete, and what the effects will be on subsequent workouts (i.e., leave you so tired and sore you must take time off). Athletes may do well or poorly on a particular workout, but take the results out of the context of a stable routine and incorrectly assume they are in better or worse shape than they are. My goal with the Wolverine plan is to create a consistent, structured, progressive format for improving gradually over time. I have checks and balances for quantifying the relevant variables (pace & stroke rate for each segment of each piece within each workout) to make sure that the appropriate intensity is being reached but not exceeded. I can be confident my gains are real and not an artifact of an artificially accommodating schedule, and I can be reasonably certain I will be able to reach the same level of performance or better in a race. There are alternate means of structuring training; keeping HR within certain bands is one example (though not as effective, in my opinion). Another viable plan has been built around the premise of systematically increasing stroke rate while keeping the distance covered per stroke fixed at 10 meters. Other structured formats are no doubt possible. <br /><br />Progress is the goal of training and my recommendation is to proceed in a slow, steady, fairly linear manner. Avoid trying to gain too much too soon. My analogy is with the fly-and-die approach to a 2K race. Pick a training pace for the season that will let you finish strong, not burn out several weeks before the big race. I quantify my weekly intensity and volume (meters, time, pace, Watts, and Joules for each training band as well as all workouts combined) and plan my workout goals to keep my rates of increase smooth, steady, and appropriate for my current fitness level. The weekly overall intensity increase from week to week averages a little over one tenth of a second per 500m, or just under 1 Watt average power per week. Not very impressive. But over 30 weeks or so, it’s a pretty dramatic improvement. If I add volume, I add it very slowly. Sports physicians recommend no more than a 10% increase in volume from one week to the next, but I keep it at maybe 2-3%, which generally means an increase in overall distance of 500m-1K (Level 3), or 4-6’ of time (Level 4).<br /><br />The Wolverine Plan recommends a fairly high volume of training for optimal results. I work up to 160-180K per week total, though people have made significant improvements with half that distance. The endurance sessions include long, continuous Level 3 rows (I’ve gone as long as 32K), and Level 4 sessions of 60-70’. Many people can’t or won’t row that long continuously, and question whether it is necessary or prudent. I myself haven’t rowed 32K continuously in a few years, but my target for this year is 25K (currently at 23K, taking about 84’). I do 60’ Level 4 rows twice a week, and eventually will extend one of those to 70’. But many people prefer to break longer sessions into shorter segments (e.g., 3 x 20’ or 3 x 5K), and wonder how that fits into the Wolverine Plan. The answer would depend on how serious you are about maximizing your performance and exactly what you hope to accomplish with training. In terms of cardiovascular adaptation, there is probably minimal difference between doing 60 consecutive minutes vs. 3 x 20’, with short (3-5’) breaks, at the same overall intensity. But besides strengthening the heart, another desired training adaptation is to make the skeletal muscles more efficient at extracting oxygen and sparing glycogen. The nature of our muscles’ strategy for dealing with prolonged, steady work is to activate motor units with muscle fibers that are primarily adapted for endurance; relatively speaking, the fibers that are primarily adapted for speed and strength remain unselected. However, in a 2K race ALL fibers will be recruited and I know in that situation I want every single fiber to have as much endurance as possible. If we take breaks every 20’ or so, those fibers most subject to fatigue will probably never get called upon, because it doesn’t take the fatigue-resistant fibers long to rest up. They may be nearly recovered for the next 20’ piece. To activate the most fatigue-susceptible fibers (“fast-twitch”, if you prefer), we must first tire out the fatigue-resistant (“slow-twitch”) fibers – which is going to take longer than 20’. How long? Probably somewhere between 60-90’ of <b>continual</b> activation. So I recommend at least one 60’ session per week – meaning 60’ of continuous, uninterrupted rowing. If you can’t manage that at the start of a training season, that’s fine – just work to progressively bring at least one session to an hour’s length. That might mean starting at 30’ and adding a few minutes per week, or starting at 8K and building to 16K in 500m increments. The Wolverine Plan mentions 4x 10’ Level 4 workouts, and 2 x 6K Level 3 workouts, and some people seize on this as permission to break everything down into shorter segments. Read more closely: 4 x 10’ is an advanced workout for those already doing 2 or more continuous sessions, and the 2 x 6K refers to <i>outdoor</i> training when the body of water doesn’t allow longer rows (I’d prefer a straight 12K).<br /><br /><b>An extremely important aspect of training with the Wolverine Plan</b> is to master the specific skills required to hold the specified rates and paces in the various training bands, and to develop mental skills as well as physical. Unfortunately it is this structure and these strict guidelines that turn many people off from the WP – even though they are what have made the plan so effective. Some have tried to modify the plan by keeping the same general formats but eliminating specific guidelines (e.g., doing Level 4 sequences without guidelines for pace). This is an example of throwing the baby out with the bath water. It turns out that such attention to detail while working hard is at least as important as the work itself. For example, data I collected from the women’s team at Michigan consistently showed that such things as accuracy when performing Level 4 or consistent pacing for interval work were better predictors of who would row in the first boat than were raw 2K scores! Faster rowers (erg and water) tended to have much better “erg skills” than slower rowers. Athletes and coaches both were too quick to dismiss this, rationalizing that some athletes had better skill on the erg <i>because</i> they had better skill on the water, and didn’t prioritize developing skills on the erg. I am not talking about eliminating gross mechanical deficiencies like losing connection on the drive or opening the back too early; I’m talking about things like being able to hold a stable rate and pace for an extended period of time, or being able to shift from one rate to another quickly and accurately. I encourage people not to let themselves be sidetracked by outside stimuli that would reduce concentration. Only listen to music if it doesn’t distract. (It was a source of frustration to me when athletes would be mouthing the lyrics to Eminem during workouts, or asking the cox’n to skip the CD ahead to their favorite track, when they didn’t know what sequence they were supposed to be doing or what stroke rate or split they should be following.) It is my belief that high concentration and overall attention to detail will facilitate optimal neurological as well as physiological improvement. This summer, I happened to read two interesting books that talked about something called the “broken windows” phenomenon. The phenomenon, essentially, is this: when a window is broken in an abandoned building and is not fixed, soon more windows will be broken. The fact that the window wasn’t fixed sends a signal that it’s okay to break more windows. In <i>Freakonomics</i> (Levitt & Dubner), crime statistics in New York City were examined and it was determined that a significant factor in reducing crime rates in the 90s was the policy of focusing police attention on lesser crimes such as turnstile jumpers, public urinators, panhandlers, and so on. Some complained that this was a waste of resources and the cops should be out catching <i>real</i> crooks, but it apparently sent the message that ALL crime would be targeted, and serious crime fell as well. In <i>Dumbing Down Our Kids,</i> Charles Sykes looked at trends in education that lead to poor academic performance, and provided examples where school districts that make student discipline a priority (e.g., dress codes; no chewing gum in class) get better results. All of this really fits well with my priorities when it comes to training. Hard work is essential, but it needs to be focused and directed to lead to the greatest gains. Details like a structured warm-up, a firm goal pace, a specified plan for stroke rate and pace during each portion of the workout, an overall plan for improvement, etc. aren’t just incidental but critical for success. For years I have watched as athletes disregard relatively minor details, until it eventually seems okay to quit during pieces, skip workouts, abandon goals, etc.<br /><br />Finally, for this installment, a reminder that training isn’t supposed to be easy. If it was, it wouldn’t be doing its job. That seems so remarkably obvious, yet in the midst of training athletes frequently look for ways to cut corners or find the path of least resistance or renegotiate the terms for improvement. Is the full warm-up really necessary? I don’t want to row strapless, it’s harder to get my splits. Do I have to do the whole piece? Can’t I take a break? Can I take tomorrow off? If I have to keep changing the rate, I can’t get into a groove. <b>This is hard… </b> <br /><br />There is a Zen saying: “The obstacle is the path”.<br /><br />Mike Caviston<br />
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