Erging away

On the ergThe March Madness rowing challenge I did last month got me on a rowing schedule that feels pretty good to me, & don’t want to give up. So, on most days, I’m getting from 5000 to 6000 meters in, usually split between a morning workout & an evening workout (including the high intensity intervals portion of my TT workouts). Fridays I’m reserving as “break from rowing” days, & on those days instead I’m doing more dancing & walking. Sundays are big rowing days: on those days, at least this month, I’m doing 10K meters in preparation for the half-marathon I’m going to try for in the latter half of the month (another Concept 2 challenge).

My rowing has gotten noticeably stronger. I seem finally to have gotten the trick of getting really fast speeds, if only for brief bursts: to really kick off with my feet on the drive, then follow through with a full, strong pull on the handle (the erg version of oars). I’ve gotten as fast as 2:02.0/500m for three or four strokes, & can actually sustain speeds of 2:08.0 or 2:09.0/500m for up to a full minute when doing intervals. It’s not sustainable for longer rows — my legs get tired really fast — but its perfect for high intensity intervals.

In her beginner-level training program for women, personal trainer Krista Scott-Dixon has described the alternating high intensity/low intensity of intervals like this: “High intensity should be a maximal or near-maximal effort like a crazy guy with an axe is chasing you. Low intensity is about the equivalent of walking as if a 105 year old guy with an axe is shuffling after you using a walker while dragging an oxygen tank.” That’s pretty much how it is for me — I go so hard for the one or two minutes of high intensity that by the time I arrive at the two-minute low intensity “rest” portion that my current workouts call for, I have no choice but to row as feebly as that guy with the walker & oxygen tank, because I’ve wiped myself out. Until I catch my breath, my heart slows down, & then after a minute & a half or so I can row at a nice moderate rate again — for about 30 seconds, until the next manic near-maximal interval is upon me. Wow, it’s hard. But afterwards, when I’m all done with my intervals & my cooldown row — & especially after my shower! — I feel great.

My longer rows are progressing, too. Yesterday morning’s 30-minute row of 5934 meters (ave. speed 2:31.7/500m) got me exactly 300 meters more than my next best 30-minute row, just a month ago (2:39.7/500m). Compare either of those with my very first 30-minute row (actually, 30:37.3) on October 13 last year: just 4,695 meters (average speed 3:15.7/500m). Last Sunday’s 10K was three minutes faster than the previous Sunday’s.

My recovery is a lot better too. As in, even when wiped out after a hard effort, a few minutes later I feel pretty darn good, like I could do it all over again. (But I don’t!) This might have somewhat to do with my dietary changes — I figured out last week that I wasn’t eating quite enough calories, but now that I fixed that, I have more energy for the workouts I’m doing, & am not quite so exhausted afterwards. Maybe also my sleep: I’ve been making efforts to get enough sleep every night (which habitually I don’t). But I think it’s also that I’m simply getting stronger. It feels pretty good. It’ll be interesting to see where I’ll be a month from now, or two. Especially now that I’ve got that trick of kicking off at the start of the drive: my legs will get stronger, & when they do, look out.

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