James can be reached at TwinFreaks CrossFit, where he is an owner and trainer. James coaches barbell lifting classes and CrossFit classes. Contact him by email at james@twinfreakscrossfit.com or by phone at 720-204-2631.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mile High Sprints

Crap, let me dispense with the excuse and the qualification to the excuse first.

Since Thursday I have had a Paleo cold. A Paleo cold is when you notice your Twinkie eating friends disappear for a week and come back talking about the deadly flu they have had, and then you notice that yes, in fact, you do have a small but still irritating case of the sniffles. On race day I was never able to clear my sinuses to my satisfaction nor could I alleviate a cotton mouth feeling. Talking to other competitors, I found that they thought the climate at the Colorado Athletic Club was hot and dry, so in truth a good part of what I thought was a fever and a sore throat was probably experienced by everyone there.

While a Paleo cold is annoying, it hardly stops one from performing, so I duly set off for the Denver Rowing Club Boathouse. Fortunately I arrived early, so when I realized I was at the wrong location I was able to phone Margaret, Keith G., and Eric for assistance. The CAC is close to the boathouse, and with Eric's navigation skills, I quickly arrived at the right location still early.

I warmed up about twenty minutes before my 2,000m race, and felt horrible as if rowing under a 2:00 split time would be impossible. I'm fully aware that I hate warming up at least as much as anyone and probably even more, so I didn't panic and figured I'd come alive during the race. As I've written, I knew I had already blown my training, and I decided the smart thing to do would be to row a 1:50 split and try to decrease at 1,000 meters.

I got off to a great start, but had trouble backing down to 1:50. I had practiced the start repeatedly and become successful at hitting race pace in 12 if not the recommended 10 strokes, but I found myself way over 10 still rowing a 1:36. I was at least smart enough to know that I was digging myself a hole, and with coxswain Mike D's help I was able to settle at 1:50 before too much damage had been done.

As has tended to happen, I faded badly in the third 500. I recovered at the oar and did a decent job of pushing the final 500, but I had already lost the race by a comfortable margin and finished at 7:28. I thought the worst thing that would happen was that I would PR the 2,000, but I fell well short of that.

Mike D raced immediately after me, and while he did all the work, I'd like to think I gave him that extra impetus which left him with a PR at 7:26.

After Mike was done, I set about recovering for the 500. I slavishly followed VP's recovery regimen which worked so well I'll only share it with the people paying me.

After my horrible 2,000 I was sufficiently angry to destroy the 500 as I thought I would be. My pre-race plan was to row a 1:28 pace and finish with a power 10, but with the fresh memory of my struggle in the 2,000 I lost confidence in myself and decided at the last minute to hold a 1:30 pace with a power 10 finish.

At my level of rowing competence, I can only hold a pace within a three second range, so while a 1:28 would be a 1:27-1:30, the 1:30 is 1:29-132. I did a good job of holding 1:30 for 250 meters, and then I started floating around 1:31. I can't say that I had any rational thought during the race, but I sensed I was fucking up and determined to right myself. At 350 meters I unleashed the power 10 and dipped to a 1:24 split which I was able to hold, and I finished at 1:30.2. In hindsight and looking at the ferocity of the power 10, I think it would have been correct to have tried the 1:28 pace. I believe I would have broken 1:29 at least.

The 500 turned out to be an open event without age divisions, and I finished eleventh of 21. I'll have to wait for official results to be posted, but I suspect my placing would have been high if adjusted for age.

In all, I thought I did the best I could with the 2,000 on that particular day. I'm mad that I lost faith in myself and didn't make a serious attempt at breaking 1:29 in the 500. Still I had a great time. Front Range CrossFit is considering hosting an erg race in fall, and if so I'll be there as well as back at the Mile High Sprints next year. I'm also reasonably sure I'll get on the water this year and try sculling with the Longmont club.

I haven't exactly figured out what a twelve month macro-cycle should be for me, but I know it will include rowing.

As is usual after I compete, I'm hungry. I've learned a lot about how to train rowing, and I'll be back in 2012.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Deloading and Handling Competition

Last week was a scheduled deload, and because I have both a 2,000 meter and a 500 meter erg race Saturday, I'm not lifting shit this week.

The problem with the race is that I have completely fucked up my training. I think I did too much too soon, but whatever the problem is, I can barely stand to look at an erg. I haven't rowed in almost two weeks.

This is clearly not a good situation, but I'll do the best I can with it. I have been remembering that the only real goal of competition is to present yourself prepared to the best of your ability; that's the only part you control. Now physically, I concede, I've already blown that. I simply didn't know how to peak for a race, but I've learned to avoid that mistake next year. It's important to remember that we expect to be competing for years, and it's quite possible that this year will be my best in terms of learning. In an important sense then I've already won, but I'm not done preparing yet.

I made a genius move by suckering Mike D to compete with me. Mike has always been the perfect training partner for me. I know that whatever I'm capable of doing Saturday, Mike will have me doing it.

I'm not sure yet what I will eat Friday and Saturday, but I know that I will know by Thursday night, and it will be exclusively stuff that makes sense. In short Paleo, but I might up the fruit intake Saturday morning.

I am ecstatic to be training jiu-jitsu again, but I won't get on the mat before Sunday. Nonetheless I'll quite likely make it a point to stop by Dark Horse BJJ to soak up the atmosphere. Watching the team train will make me fully commit to doing the best I can.

Likewise I'll be around TFCF at least Thursday for the same reason.

Friday is trickier. I like being alone in the last hours, and I'll just wait and see what I feel like when the time comes.

I usually use the last night to read some really good shit. I've used Beowulf frequently, and I'll probably go back to it again. Reading about the kind of shit Beowulf did always makes me feel ready to take on anything. It helps to steadfastly refuse to believe it's a fictional work, and I am really good at doing that.

I will get on the rower once more to practice the ten-stroke start, to make sure my stroke isn't broken, and to convince myself that I love rowing.

Really I only worry about one thing. Through three or so months of dedicated training I've become a mediocre 2,000 meter rower, and legitimately good by anybody's definition sprinter at 500 meters. The 2,000 comes first Saturday, and I worry that when it really starts to hurt, I'll be tempted to back off and save myself for the 500. My best idea is to try to trick myself into believing I'm only doing the 2,000, but I'll take the precaution of ordering Mike to push my 2,000.

Saturday is a good day to die. Let's do this motherfucker.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1/9-1/13 Training with the Intent of Showing Off

Sunday Press:
45 x enough
110 x 5
125 x 3
1 x 140
1 x 150 and it was now or never to hit a new max so,
1 x (165) not today which pissed me off so,
5 x 1 x 155

Monday Dead Lift
135 x 5
235 x 5
265 x 3
295 x 1
345 x 1 and then
(375) x 2 x 1 which prompted questions on why I jumped fifty and then thirty pounds. Basically I knew 345 was not a problem. I knew 355-365 was not a problem; it was time to try to pick up 375 which I haven't attempted since July when I fried my back. I'm training to hit a PR as soon as March. With that in mind, I'm not interested in taking five pound increments anymore. This was the right way to fail. 400 in March I think, not 350 in January.

Wednesday Bench
45 x 15
135 x 5
160 x 5
180 x 3
200 x 1 Here I could tell it was not a big day, yet I wanted to get some work in so,
225 x 3 x 1

Thursday Squat
45 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 3
245 x 5
280 x 3
315 x 1 bad, bad, bad: the program said 310, but 315 is so easy to load. Horrible discipline, let me plead that I very rarely do this kind of thing. I knew I wanted to hit 330-340 then shut down so,
340 x 2 this was supposed to be a single, but it felt so easy I doubled. I made a real effort to work on my rack, and with my back locked in, this just felt light. This might have been a good day to hit 375 and see if I had still more, but I stayed with the plan of quitting here.

Why such a plan?

Rowing is killing me. I'll take two consecutive deload weeks now heading into the erg race. In February I'll push the lifting hard again.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bench and Squat, 5's week

5's week is relatively light. Nothing really gets pushed, and it's an opportunity to work on technique.

Wednesday Bench:
45 x 15
135 x 5
160 x 5
180 x 5

Thursday Squat:
45 x 5
135 x 5
185 x 3
215 x 5
245 x 5
280 x 5

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sumo Shins & Finally I get Scaling

Sunday Press:

45 x a lot

95 x 5

110 x 5

125 x 5

Monday Dead Lift

Sumo and shoulders above or behind the bar, the Dave Tate "teeter-totter"

135 x 5

200 x 5

235 x 5

265 x 5

resulting in Sumo Shins (above, since I couldn't get it below)
We talk about scaling, and if we're feeling good, we pretend to do it. Intellectually I've understood it for quite some time now, and it's presented clearly and authoritatively here:
Of course, like most guys I don't do it.
I have a clear and concrete goal of rowing a 2000 meter indoor race in 7 minutes or less. The handy C2 online calculator tells me I have to average 302 watts to do that, or in terms I understand better, I have to row 1:45 500m splits. Because I have a definite goal, I know what my power output has to be. I've trained to the point where a 1:45 500 is trivial, and a 3:30 1000 is strenuous, but entirely doable. I have, however, been utterly failing to row a 5:15 1500.
What to do?
302 watts is an inescapable fact of rowing a 7:00 2000. I can't slow down and produce less power. The only variable I can change in my training is volume, or total distance rowed per training session. So, I do less rowing and keep my power output where it has to be.
Hey, I'm scaling.
I think I'm able to do this since I know the exact outcome I'm training for. Too often we do work outs with the idea that we'll use maximal weight, or do the most rounds or repetitions. If you can keep in mind that ultimately power output is the meaningful metric, you'll scale volume or weight, and ultimately get better results.