Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

General discussion on Training. How to get better on your erg, how to use your erg to get better at another sport, or anything else about improving your abilities.
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ausrwr
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Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by ausrwr » April 28th, 2010, 11:35 am

OK, aharmer suggested a new training thread. Let me be the first to start.
The ranger thread's just personal abuse. I don't mind that, I actually find it quite fun, but it's serving no purpose as a training thread.

So, a new thread.

Ground rule:
No bullshit.

Anything is up for grabs in this thread, as long as you can validate it or discuss it.

What I'd like to cover in this thread is people's philosophies and experiences in training:
  • What's led you to these thoughts?
    Is there any scientific validation to them?
    Objectively, are they worthy of replication?
    What have been the results, good and bad?
    What have you learned from coaches?
    What have you learned from yourself?
All are welcome, but if I'm driving this thread (and I do intend to) I reserve the right to bucket anyone who downrates anyone's thoughts on the basis that they're not a WR holder or anyone who can't hold a discussion on the subject that they are prepared to back up with factual examples (or even experiential).

I'll put what I can into it. There's not a massive theory behind it, just ten years of training and not quite making it. I'm not an expert, far from it, but if I can help, or most especially learn from others, bring it on.

Fundamentally, erging and rowing are stupid sports. You sit on your arse, go backwards, and end up in the same place hot and sweaty. What do we get out of the journey? Hopefully fitness, challenging our limits, a better understanding of ourselves, and friends who we'll have for the rest of our life.
Rich Cureton. 7:02 at BIRC. But "much better than that now". Yeah, right.

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mikvan52
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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by mikvan52 » April 28th, 2010, 12:18 pm

Why not lead off with one yourself?
You seem to have come from a great racing background. Did you find any secrets to success based on taking a purposeful approach to managing workload from day to day?

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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by jliddil » April 28th, 2010, 12:27 pm

So let's be a little more exact. Training for what? "Racing" either online (Rowpro) or in venues at 2K? PBs regardless of distance/time of the event? As a way to work the mental demons out of our bodies?

Me? I'm trying to do 15,000 meters in an hour.

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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by bloomp » April 28th, 2010, 1:11 pm

jliddil wrote:So let's be a little more exact. Training for what? "Racing" either online (Rowpro) or in venues at 2K? PBs regardless of distance/time of the event? As a way to work the mental demons out of our bodies?

Me? I'm trying to do 15,000 meters in an hour.

JD
Honestly everyone is training for some race. An athlete is one example, but someone else could be training to increase their fitness. How do you tell that besides a slimmer waist? A better 2k/5k/10k...

I train because I love this sport and without rowing I wouldn't have a clue what to do with myself. And I figure I might as well train hard and focus on my endurance because that's where my fitness has been lacking all my life. Plus, I'm getting sorta good at it.

To directly answer a question - I've learned a little from my coaches training wise and a lot technique-wise. In high school, I was never taught how to train for any distance and the frustration from pulling 2k after 2k and not getting any better made me want to improve. My idiot coaches then are unfortunately not making much better training decisions for their rowers (6x500 at 2k-10 on 2' rest. Right, that's really possible). My college coach is better, but I've still learned the most from people I discuss with here and reading about what other coaches have their teams do (WP, Vespoli Coaching series). But without the technique work and discipline that HS got me, I never would have the drive to keep going. Or maybe they just light the right fire.

One thing that annoys me is the thought that prevails among coaches (and some athletes) that hard intervals is the only way to make gains in a sport. It works for a while, but you'll either burn out or hit a peak that you can't improve from. Interval training is great but not everything.
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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by Nosmo » April 28th, 2010, 2:18 pm

bloomp wrote:In high school, I was never taught how to train for any distance and the frustration from pulling 2k after 2k and not getting any better made me want to improve. My idiot coaches then are unfortunately not making much better training decisions for their rowers
I recall MC talking about how the Michigan athletes didn't make year to year improvements before the WP, so it is very common mistake. In HS and college it is easy to focus on the current season to the neglect of long term progress. The seasons are kind of set up that way and when not in season many coaches just can't supervise what the rowers do.

Although your coaches didn't teach you how to train they taught you discipline and technique. They probably also taught you or your teammates a lot of other things (perhaps responsibility, confidence, teamwork, cooperation with people you may otherwise hate, trust). Everyone has their blind spots. They don't sound like idiots to me.

A few weeks ago I helped at a local junior race. There differences in coaching style was obvious. The coach from the "rich" big club with overambitious parents that draws from many prep schools over a wide area, was micromanaging his rowers, yelling at the coxwains and rowers and being very pushy with everyone in getting his boats on and off the water.

The coaches from the local public HS were no where to be seen. The kids launched the boats, raced and got them back washed and into the boat house without supervision. These coaches primary concern was teaching. Winning was secondary (although they did win most of the races despite a much smaller and more poorly funded program) I know who I'd want my kid to be coached by.

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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by bloomp » April 28th, 2010, 2:54 pm

Nosmo wrote:
bloomp wrote:In high school, I was never taught how to train for any distance and the frustration from pulling 2k after 2k and not getting any better made me want to improve. My idiot coaches then are unfortunately not making much better training decisions for their rowers
A few weeks ago I helped at a local junior race. There differences in coaching style was obvious. The coach from the "rich" big club with overambitious parents that draws from many prep schools over a wide area, was micromanaging his rowers, yelling at the coxwains and rowers and being very pushy with everyone in getting his boats on and off the water.

The coaches from the local public HS were no where to be seen. The kids launched the boats, raced and got them back washed and into the boat house without supervision. These coaches primary concern was teaching. Winning was secondary (although they did win most of the races despite a much smaller and more poorly funded program) I know who I'd want my kid to be coached by.
From my own coaching experience, I've seen the same. We took our novice 8s to a regatta on Sunday. I was that coach trying my best to get everything going. But then again, it was all novice so it took a little more effort than usual - especially when one boat won a race and had to get back to the line immediately. We had been waiting to hotseat another 8 into it, but then had to borrow a boat from the hosting team which broke as soon as we placed it in the water. So I had to replace the damn oarlock while it was still at the dock.

I visited another Connecticut HS yesterday (recruiting!) and saw again a huge amount of responsibility in these kids. They got off the bus, got oars and launches out immediately and then chatted/waited for lineups. Not that things got done quickly once they started talking, but it's true that the teaching perspective works better.

To clarify, I meant my coaches were clueless from the training perspective. But now that I'm dealing with 60+ kids, I can see how difficult the situation is. But you do have to balance the teaching perspective with a coaching style that gives the kids what they want - competition and the chance to win. If you don't set them up right, they'll never be able to deliver in a race.
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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by Nosmo » April 28th, 2010, 3:18 pm

bloomp wrote:To clarify, I meant my coaches were clueless from the training perspective.
I do know what meant, but wanted to (mildly) take you to task for calling them idiots. I used to think my college coach was not very good. 30 years later I believe he was much better then I thought.

Good for you for coaching, great way to give back. I'm sure you will also learn a lot.

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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by jliddil » April 28th, 2010, 3:46 pm

bloomp wrote: Honestly everyone is training for some race. An athlete is one example, but someone else could be training to increase their fitness. How do you tell that besides a slimmer waist? A better 2k/5k/10k...
So in this context we are referring to training in a similar vain the practice are we not?

One part of this is discipline and independence. In the coaching examples it seems the coaches the are perceived as "better" are those that guide the person and at the same time let me learn by doing and providing feedback to the athlete. It is then in the athletes best interest to listen to the feedback and incorporate it into their training/practice. Control freaks whether coaches, managers etc don't let people grow and find their limits. The athlete (or any worker) who is arrogant, can't except feedback and feels they are perfect are not likely to truly succeed in the long term. I've seen it over and over in the work place and my own exercise and "training". People who won't take feedback and also don't listen their own body when it says enough is enough.

For me some of the training that has helped me improve the most was getting Rowpro and really having others to push me and my limits. I've done more red line work than I ever imagined I was capable of. Comes from my long history of LSD. (long slow distance) running, not window pane or blotter. :wink:

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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by gregsmith01748 » April 28th, 2010, 4:03 pm

I am really pleased to see this new thread. I could use help to define reasonable objectives and compare notes.

I have been erg'ing for about 6 months now, so compared to most on the forum I am pretty new at this. Over that period, I went from just sitting down and rowing and seeing how I did, to recording progress and wanting to get better. Within a couple of months, I had "discovered" the interactive 2K training plan on the UK site, and followed that for about a month. Then I looked into the Wolverine plan, decided it was too hard core (and I could never get my head around the low rate workouts, not that I gave it a real effort). Now I am following the Pete plan, and I am finding it to be a very good fit.

Over the past 6 months, I'm really happy with how things have gone. My time for 2K has gone from 8:00 to 7:07 (if I get it below 7:00, I think I'll go to the CRASH-Bs, just for fun). When I started, I couldn't get through a 10K and now I've gotten to t he point where I can do a Half Marathon with 2:01 splits. The improvements are getting tougher to achieve, and the amount of time I am spending rowing has definitely increased. I am now doing 6 or so workouts a week, between 40 and 60 minutes of actual rowing time per session.

I have few questions that I would like to get feedback on.

1. When using the Pete plan, you alternate between long endurance rows and more intense interval and medium distance stuff. I am substituting long runs for some of the long runs, just to spice it up. The aerobic benefit seems to be about the same, based on what my heart rate is doing. Does anyone have any opinion of how this would impact the effectiveness of the training plan?

2. How close to maximum heart rate should I be pushing myself when doing short intervals? Is there a strong benefit to going beyond say 95% of maximum heart rate? Is there any real research on this?

3. I'm curious about how other folks set training objectives. I mean that I am wondering how much improvement I can expect given a certain time commitment, body mass, and age. Can one infer future improvement from the rate of change in the past?

I'd welcome all opinions.

Thanks
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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by bloomp » April 28th, 2010, 4:21 pm

gregsmith01748 wrote: 1. When using the Pete plan, you alternate between long endurance rows and more intense interval and medium distance stuff. I am substituting long runs for some of the long runs, just to spice it up. The aerobic benefit seems to be about the same, based on what my heart rate is doing. Does anyone have any opinion of how this would impact the effectiveness of the training plan?

2. How close to maximum heart rate should I be pushing myself when doing short intervals? Is there a strong benefit to going beyond say 95% of maximum heart rate? Is there any real research on this?

3. I'm curious about how other folks set training objectives. I mean that I am wondering how much improvement I can expect given a certain time commitment, body mass, and age. Can one infer future improvement from the rate of change in the past?
1. If you've read the WP, go back and read the first two paragraphs again. Specificity. If you want to get faster on the erg, you have to train with the erg. Running may make you fitter but I guarantee it will not contribute to a faster 2k. At least if you do a 10k run instead of a 10k erg. The muscle use/stimulus is very different. Rowing is the only endurance sport to require both legs to work at the same time, and requires upper and lower body muscle mass. Running uses one leg at a time and provides limited stimulus to the upper body. It also does not encourage the growth of muscles in the same manner erging does.

2. Your HR on intervals needs to be 95%-100% of 2k effort. This could be compared to 95%-100% of VO2 max If you don't know your VO2 max, just get it to the point where you maintain the same hard pace over the intervals but the HR plateaus. Look at my training post yesterday for an example.

Also note: "Interval training at above 100% VO2 max will not provide additional stimulus for improving maximal aerobic capacity, or lactate threshold, and may hurt.

There is substantial research to indicate that there is little or no difference in the impact on maximal oxygen consumption among exercise intensities ranging from 80 to 100% of VO2 max. At intensities above 100%, the stimulus for improving maximal oxygen consumption is actually reduced, due to dramatically decreased training volume, and the inhibiting effect of lactic acidosis on cellular oxygen utilization.

During work within the 75-100% intensity range, improved exercise tolerance should be compensated for by increasing distance or time, not intensity. This increased tolerance for exercise at a given submaximal intensity is indicative of skeletal muscle adaptations."

From http://home.hia.no/~stephens/interval.htm

3. It is easy (again, read the above link) to increase fitness very fast at the start. You'll see a jump of your VO2 max within the first 2 weeks of training, and it can be a huge jump if you include a lot of intervals. As for weight loss, that can be continued over a period of time, but once you hit your goal weight it's easy to maintain it and just become more fit. Your goals have to be tailored to you, which means your rate of change is also unique.
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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by mikvan52 » April 28th, 2010, 4:40 pm

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2. How close to maximum heart rate should I be pushing myself when doing short intervals? Is there a strong benefit to going beyond say 95% of maximum heart rate? Is there any real research on this?

3. I'm curious about how other folks set training objectives. I mean that I am wondering how much improvement I can expect given a certain time commitment, body mass, and age. Can one infer future improvement from the rate of change in the past?
Just coming from Hopkington gives you a head start, I’d say (Boston Marathon reference)

Question #2:
Once you’ve established a Max HR. There is no problem in getting up there if you are aerobically fit. If someone is only a month or two into a training program from being sedentary, I believe MaxHR should be delayed until you can erg 3-4 days a week for at least 30’ a session w/o feeling like you are wearing yourself down.

After that: Many coaches (myself included) believe that 10 percent or less of your training time should be spent above 90 %.
As to the “above 95%”… why not? Racers need to get comfortable w/the discomfort to succeed against those of similar aptitude.

I think you’ll find though that short intervals do not get you up above 95%. If they do then you probably aren’t as aerobically fit as you “should” be. “Should” is in quotes… It’s just that I’d prescribe longer 80-85% HR intervals for those whose HR spikes really fast.

Age does make a difference IMHO.
This leads into your Q#3:

Question 3:

Training objectives are set somewhat arbitrarily if you look across the board.
Everyone improves faster earlier than they do later. Intermediate goals w/reasonable and increasing lengths of time for achievement works best.
Sadly, No one can tell you that if you improved from an 8’ 2k to a 7’ 2k in one year if you will ever row a 6:30 2k.
Serious athletes often go get tested in a human performance lab and find out their VO2 max and Anaerobic Threshold.
(Watch-out, the truth can be sobering. :wink: .. especially for older athletes)

The body of data in the rankings over the years is very telling.
I would suggest slowly working up through percentiles at various distances. Get (say) 75% at 2k while also trying for a 75% ranking at 5k.
Do not avoid either speed (500m) or distance (10k and beyond) if a truly major goal is to be your best at 2k. Naturally, many athletes recognize that they aren’t “middle distance” types an eschew 2k altogether… Clearly, one should train differently for a marathon than 1k… if you want to max out…

You can get lots of clues about this from reading signature stats from people here or researching active people your own age and weight from the rankings..

Good Luck! :D
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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by Citroen » April 28th, 2010, 4:46 pm

ausrwr wrote: Ground rule:
No bullshit.
If you get any BS then flag the posting and a moderator can deal with it.
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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by mikvan52 » April 28th, 2010, 5:14 pm

Following up on the above 95% question.

Some athletes have a hard time getting there (95% of max HR) no matter what.
(Then there's the HRR question... but we won't go there now)
Let me use myself as an example. I have a hard time reaching 95% HR unless the interval is long

Example:
If you can decipher what happened in the following workout:

6 x 1 min hard / 1 min off..... 2 sets

http://concept2.co.uk/forum/blog.php?u=7679&b=70916

My max hr is 163 bpm.... but look: I was killing myself and was in "handle down" condition... Still I wasn't above 155 bpm (95%) and this is on the last stroke mind you... it's not a average.

Btw: 1:37 pace is (in reality 2k 500 pace minus 4-5 seconds)

Perhaps muscle fiber profile has something to do with it (?)
I'm a very slow twitch type who's been redlining for 2 or 3 years.
If I'm a 1:30.2 500m guy who still can get to around 16,000m for an hour, I think most would agree. There's not a whole lot of room for improvement for a 160 lb guy who will be 58 in August.

I would like some people who have more data for early middle age athletes (or younger) to take up the slack here. What I've just said doesn't really apply to them... (I don't really know)
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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by KevJGK » April 28th, 2010, 6:10 pm

Just to echo the “nice new thread” sentiment.

During my modest 3 and a bit years of erging I have absorbed as much training advice from this and the UK forum as I can process although my appetite is far from satisfied.

For 18 months I have been obsessed with a 6 sessions per week WP type training plan. However, from a purely subjective point of view, and talking as somebody with fairly average athletic ability, I have arrived at a few conclusions of my own which concur with much of what I read.

The main one is that continuous high intensity training is counter productive. My tendency up until BIRC was to push every session whether intervals, L3 or even L4 to the limit. The result was that although I got a little faster occasionally, the cost was a constant feeling of tiredness with inevitable unplanned rest days due to fatigue. Gradually it dawned on me that if I felt better after a rest then maybe I would feel better overall if I eased back a bit.

Since BIRC I have resolved to incorporate more easy sessions into my 6 weekly routine which appears to be paying dividends. I no longer feel fatigued, my 10k type sessions are getting faster but feeling easier and my interval sessions are at last years pace but at lower HR levels and feeling less stressful.

I suppose I am stating the obvious but it took me a long time to realise that going easier (for me) can be more productive in the long run.

Of course the proof will be a 06:50 at BIRC this year.
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500m 01:33.5 Jun 2010 - 2K 06:59.5 Nov 2009 - 5K 19:08.4 Jan 2011

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Re: Training Musings and Training Philosophies Thread: Q&A

Post by NavigationHazard » April 28th, 2010, 6:34 pm

With respect to HR as a training aid: IMO it's just that. A training aid. HR is an imperfect proxy for intensity. Generally speaking it's an artifact of how hard you're working. However depending on what you're doing, it also can be a highly misleading reflection of what's actually going on at the business end of your body.

HR is particularly problematic on short hard high-rate intervals. For one thing, various buffering systems mitigate the initial demand on your cardiopulmonary system. You'll dip into stored phosphocreatine for the first couple of strokes, while the other energy pathways are coming into play. You'll also draw on oxygen bonded to a rechargeable substance called myoglobin, which can furnish the skeletal muscles with anywhere from 20-45 seconds' worth of oxygen while the cardiopulmonary system is ramping up. Finally, even when the heart and lungs are 'on line' their response tends to lag behind demand -- there are chemical and perhaps also neurological signal delays built into human physiology. As a result, HR on short hard high-rate intervals often actually peaks up to 5 seconds or more after handle down.

On low-rate/high power intervals, HR can be problematic for a different reason. Suppose your drive duration is 0.7 seconds. At 20 strokes/minute a full stroke cycle takes 3.0 seconds. Even if you're oomphing like hell on the drives, you're going to get 2.3 seconds every stroke to recover. This recovery tends to mitigate the cardiopulmonary demand and hold down HR. Or to put it in C2 terms, it's quite easy at low rates to work your leg muscles at threshold intensity (or maybe even higher) but never come near what otherwise would be a threshold-associated HR. @Kevin - you may have run into this if you've consistently tried to stonk WP level 3 and 4 workouts (which aren't at all predicated on HR, but need to be understood in proper relation to reference pace if you're to get the intensity right).

To further complicate things, HR response is sensitive to hydration levels, hormonal cycles, sleep cycles, ambient conditions including temperature and humidity, posture, level of training (it will tend to drop for a given pace/rate/duration the fitter you are) and probably a few more things I've forgotten.

Does that mean that HR is useless as a training tool? IMO not at all (others can and probably will disagree). But I do think you need to be careful 1) not to be a slave to it and 2) willing to put in some time to work out well what it indicates in the context of your individual physiology and your individual training regimen. IMO prescriptions like 'spend X time at (say) 90% HR' need to be understood as general recommendations subject to individual adjustment....
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