Saturday, 26 January 2013

5km Challenge update: Week 2

Well I've heard nothing from Jeremy so far, I can only assume my last couple of posts have him cowering in fear....either way, I've been plugging on with the task at hand. Still yet to see much evidence of others who have said they'd give the challenge a go. To be honest, I can't blame them. Already this week I've started to find the whole process a bit of a chore!

I've done a couple of things this week to help my training. First was clarifying with Pete (the author of the Pete Plan Lite) the exact nature of some of the sessions. He suggested for an indication of the direction of my training, pushing the last split of the multiple interval sessions. He also clarified that the 4km set I had this week was just 'hard' as opposed to an all out time trial (phew!).

Second I've taken on some advice from some fellow club members and ex-rowers. Dan suggested upping my stroke rate to better maintain power, and Martyn gave me a few hints and tips after the Tri London strength and conditioning session.

So on Monday I did the shorter interval session. 8 x 625m on 1.54 with 1 min rest. Over these shorter intervals I found it relatively easy to maintain 25 strokes per min and could definitely feel the benefit in terms of maintaining the momentum on the fan. I built the intensity over the last interval, but felt like I had a little more left.

8 x 625 on 1.54 with 1 min rest
Full body weights on Tuesday, but went out for a couple of drinks in the evening, which left me pretty lethargic on Wednesday when my second session was planned. I bailed on exercise totally on Wed, and set out to do my 4 x 1350m with 4 mins rest on Thursday. Unfortunately time got away from me so decided to sway in my 4km hard session instead. I wasn't entirely sure on how quick to go to get 'hard' but went for 1.56 (again at 25s/m). I did find it a little harder to maintain this stroke rate over a longer interval. Perhaps it was the speed I was aiming for was too low for that stroke rate. Whatever the case, there is still work to be done to really embed a slightly higher stroke rate.

500m wu and cd - 4km hard (aiming for 1.56)

With a long run planned today (Saturday), and a weights session still to do from Thursday, I planned a double session on Friday. I did weights in the morning, aiming to do the remaining 4 x 1350 session in the afternoon. Unsurprisingly I quite tired after the weights, but dragged myself back to the gym and got on with it. I hit the first 3 splits well, and surprised myself a little bit with the 4th interval. Despite my legs being quite toasted from deadlifts and squats in the morning, I felt like I was just getting into it. It ended up being one of those really feel good/confidence booster sessions, just what I needed after a bit more of an apathetic week with regards to the challenge. Only 10 more to go! uggghh.

4 x 1350m on 1.54 with 4 min rest
Next week is my final week on 1.54/500m pacing....and will then decide what to take that down two for the 2nd three week block of the programme. I hope to post a little bit about how I incorporate both music and recovery into my training over the next few weeks too, as this reads back about as dull as the sessions themselves!

Friday, 18 January 2013

5km Challenge update: Week1 (Help me Rowers!)

So, for those that care (which will be few, if any) I've done my first week of ergo sessions, as part of the 5km challenge I've got going on with Jay and a few others. As I mentioned before I only wanted to do three sessions a week, and even squeezing one in last week, with adequate rest, I can see that it will require quite a lot of discipline to hit every session.

I managed to find a pretty simple training plan online for free called the Pete Plan blog which is 3 sessions a week for 12 weeks. As an idea its posted in below but do check out his plan! Hopefully I will be able to adhere to it pretty stringently and let you know if it works. FYI I have donated to his PayPal, even though I am a scroungy student at heart. :-) That said, the donation is not entirely selfless - being the scrounger that I am, now I've chipped in some cash - I feel like I need to make it worthwhile.

The Pete Plan Lite 2007! Thanks!
So I logged my 5km baseline test on Wednesday the 9th and using the momentum of the novelty of the challenge ahead, I got straight into my first session on the Friday. I did a full body weights session on the Thursday. I did a long 3 hour run on Sat. I'm hoping that this longer running will be the only endurance session I need each week. As much as I love a challenge, I'd much prefer to run for 3 hours than grind out 10k+ on an ergo. There are limits to my stupidity. Monday and Wednesday this week were weights and I did another ergo on Tuesday and today. I took a rest day on Thursday as after the weights, I was quite tired, woke up really groggy even after 10.5 hours sleep and my HRV IThlete score was way down. I'll do a post about how I track recovery later.

Training so far...

As an idea the programme works in 3 week cycles. As you can see, for each session (1 short, 1 medium and 1 longer interval session each week) the reps get longer each week over 3 weeks then reset. The aim is to hit a split, and maintain it for the 3 weeks. The next three weeks, you reduce the split, and repeat. Simples.

Having managed my 5km piece with an average 1.55.1 per 500m I decided to aim for anything under 1.54.0 for the first week's set of sessions. That said on reading in a bit more detail about the sessions, I don't think that the different sessions necessarily need to be the same split. So for example in Week 1, I'm not sure the 2km intervals are necessarily supposed to hit the same splits as the 500m intervals. If anyone has any advice on this it would be much appreciated. That said, I've done them all on sub 1.54 and today I did manage 3 x 2km with the 3 min rest under that too, so I feel confident I can continue to hit at least 1.54 for the sessions in weeks 2 and 3. Any rowers out there. What should I do the two shorter interval sets on, or just keep it the same?

Hopefully I can take 1 second off each 3 week cycle. But am aware of the greatly diminishing law of returns. Is this wildly optimistic? If (BIG IF) I can hold that for 5km, I'll end up with an 18.30 split which I think is reasonable. Time will tell? If I'm under 75kg by then any idea what a good time would be? Rowers out there?

Going forward the plan is to do the sessions Mon, Wed and Fri. With 3x full body weights sessions spread across the week, and a long run at the weekend. I also fully intend to keep up my POWERbreathe sessions - 30 breaths twice a day until week 8. Then I'll shift to some functional work specifically for rowing. I can already feel it helping! We will see how it goes!

So a few of you out there have hinted at taking up the challenge yourselves, which is nice to hear. Jay has been keeping his training top secret thus far. I however am aiming to mercilessly crush him with relentless consistency ;-). I want him to see me coming!

Here are the session readouts, just to prove I'm doing it. I always do a 500m warm up and 500m cool down (easy), with rollering and stretching (plus some glute activation work pre set.) I did miss the first and last split on my 8 x 500s which is annoying, as it was more due to rowing related retardedness than an inability to hit the splits!

8 x 500m - 1 min rest
4 x 1200m - 4 min rest
3 x 2000m - 3 min rest

I'd love to hear how you are all getting on! Any help or advice is welcome!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A New Challenge (and a really bad idea?)

So my friend Jeremy, who I participated in Polar Challenge 2011 with, has a new challenge on the horizon - and that its to race around Britain in a boat. Check out the team and their plans here. Unsurprisingly, considering the scale of the task, and his previous rowing experience (none), he has been focused and hitting the gym with dedication and consistency. He often he posts up snapshots of the readout for 60 or 90+ minute rows. While I now think nothing really of a 60 or 90 minute run on trail as something that is difficult, the idea of spending it indoors on an ergo couldn't be more off-putting. I haven't sat on an ergo since 2003, and even then I didn't enjoy it. When I saw the tweets and posts of his efforts, envy was not something I felt.

I would consider myself a goal-oriented individual. I like having goals, I respond well to them, and I certainly enjoy achieving them. That said, the most rewarding ones are not easy. At the moment, physically speaking, although I have a few goals based on hitting certain strength standards and a few races/challenges on the trails scattered over the next year, I have been somewhat lacking in inspiration. Nothing really seems to appeal.

Taking a look at some year totals. It is relatively clear that I've managed to put in some consistent work. (I've only used Movescount since March 2011 so there is some overlap here but it gives a reasonable indication of a rolling 12 month average in March 2012 and now. Excluding the weight training, I think the averages from the year before should be similar too.)

March 2011 - March 2012

Jan 2012 - Jan 2013

Now I've pondered this for a while, and came to the conclusion that until I find something that REALLY grabs me, I should just do something. I also felt I needed to shake things up. I wanted something that was difficult, and something that would be good for me. I don't know why I thought of indoor rowing, but here goes.

So at the moment, it is me vs Jay. The challenge is a 5km ergos. We clocked one this week, and have 12 weeks to improve our times by the most. So starting next week, we have 12 weeks to boost our time. The 'winner' is the one that improves the most. At some point in the first week of April, (if I make it that far) we will both put in another 5km effort.

Now the challenge isn't perfect, Jay has been rowing for a couple of months now, and so within 12 weeks might find it harder to improve. That said, relative to me, he probably still has some gains in his general aerobic capacity to be made. Despite its imperfections, it is a challenge that matches us both.

It will push me mentally, but will also give Jay some added motivation, albeit extrinsic motivation. As we are both in it together it will boost relatedness on the task. We should improve, therefore fostering a sense of competence, and there is certainly NO ONE that is making me do this and so it ticks the autonomy box too. On top of all this, its direct relevance to Jay's circum-GB row, adds meaning (for Jay). For me, the meaning derives mostly from the sense that I can help out a friend. Its also bit of curiosity - Have I still 'got it?' - namely, is my general apathy toward tasks that once appealed a sign of a deeper change? It should also definitely add noticeable boost to my threshold fitness, so mental jiggery-pokery aside, should serve to benefit my wider athletic goals.

Jay's first attempt - 08/01/2013

My first attempt - 09/01/13

Having posted my initial 5km effort this morning, I am even more intrigued by the task ahead. As I walked to the gym I was not looking forward to the effort. My fears were quickly realised as I definitely didn't enjoy it. I also massively regretted doing no threshold/Vo2 work over the last couple of months. I think JFK had it right though when he said that we choose to do these things...

...not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

I will do no more than 3 sessions a week as I wish to work on my other goals concurrently, but won't disallow Jay from doing more should he so wish.  Hopefully I can use my training nouse and experience to 'out-improve' him, but at the end of the day, it is a challenge with an outcome that is beneficial and positive for both of us. That said,  I'll certainly be dusting off the old POWERbreathe. Game face on!!

I tweeted about the challenge before I did my session this morning and a club member commented on the task:

It reminded me of an interview I read about Morgan Spurlock who on recalling when he came up with the idea for "Super Size Me" a friend had commented:

"that sounds like a really great, bad idea!"

If this goes anything like I remember the film, it could be an interesting 12 weeks. Hopefully it won't involve vomiting, the general onset of organ failure or any other long term risks to our health!