Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rowing solo or with friends

Last night I joined the masters for the Monday night workout. I need to remember when making training plans that I will also be erging...5 minutes at 24 almost did me in!

It was interesting to me how the intensity of my workout changes when rowing in a group. I can get the work done...sitting alone with the tv in the attic...I do the workouts, mostly as written and the meters add up just the same. I really pushed last night. It felt great. I wouldn't have worked nearly that hard by myself.

If you have an opportunity to erg in a group TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT! The same holds true if you are running, biking, swimming. You get more out of the experience if you workout with friends. Even once or twice a week will keep you inspired and fresh.

Tracy, Sharon and I are heading to Portland, Oregon on Wednesday for the US Rowing convention...just about the time the freezing rain is supposed to reach KC, yeah for us!

Sharon is taking the Level One coaching education series and I will attend most of the advanced level series. I will spend a very long day in the Youth Advisory Committee meeting...yawn. We always return home with new ideas and energy and perhaps I can help solve some of the issues we are struggling with in youth rowing in the US.

I would also imagine we will do some dining and exploring.

I know we will spend some time each morning on the ergs that Concept 2 provides for the convention.

Total meters 49441

Go fast.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rock Chalk Jayhawk and the relationship between heart rate and stroke rate

Well...the difficulty in being a Jayhawk is the swing of emotions. Quite a game although it doesn't completely take the sting out of the Oral Roberts incident.
I'll admit that I only made it through the 1st half but I taped it and when my alarm went off this morning I turned it on and watched the last five minutes and the overtime. Even before coffee.
I wanted to talk a bit more about training...no worries, much shorter than the last training blog.
When I was training competitively we trained exclusively by heart rate. My coaches never, well almost never, coached stroke rate. The difference was that we all had heart rate monitors and were required to wear them at all practices. When our coaches posted workouts they would give heart rate zones where I give stroke rate.
Training by stroke rate is a much less specific plan. I would prefer to us heart rate but I know that you all don;t have HR monitors.
I try to pick rates that should create a specific effort that will take to the heart rate zone I'd like you to be in for the given workout.
Lower stroke rates will should give you heart rates in your utilization zone...teaching your body how to use the oxygen moving in your blood. Higher stroke rates should give you heart rates in your Transportation zone...strengthening your heart and your oxygen transportation system.
Simple, right?
Go fast.
PS 21598 meters as of yesterday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A boring scientific explaination of why we do what we do

Here is some information from US Rowing Coaching education. (see, I really do pay attention when you send me there)

I have finished the workouts for next week and there is both transportation and utilization work. I thought you might like to know what that means.

Physiology for the Not-Too-Scientific, Part I
(this was not written by me but I have edited it for easier reading)

First, we need to understand the aerobic process and how it works in the sport of rowing. Imagine a rowing race. Approximately 80% of the energy required for a 2,000 meter race will come from the aerobic process – the process which uses oxygen to produce energy. Only 20% will come from the anaerobic process, which produces energy without oxygen. So, the aerobic process is the one we are most interested in, and the one in which we can make the most improvement with proper training. If we can develop our aerobic potential, then we can worry about the anaerobic.

In a rowing race, we have two “engines” at our disposal. The aerobic process is the big engine – the diesel. It’s very efficient and economical, but it takes time to start. So, in order to be competitive in a race and start quite fast, we have to switch to a different engine – a smaller, high evolution engine which is not too economical, and can operate for only a short period of time. Why? Because it produces a by-product – lactic acid. Accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles creates stiffness, decreases the ability to perform, and limits the possibility of using the big engine later on.

The race begins. We have to start quickly, so we start the smaller engine – the anaerobic engine – and let it run for about two minutes, while the bigger engine is warming up. After two minutes, the big engine – the aerobic engine – is taking over, and we begin to cruise on diesel. Coming to the end of the race, we want to speed up for that last push, so we switch to the small engine again – just for a short period of time.

Our goal, then, is to increase our aerobic efficiency. There are two components of the aerobic process. Transportation or the ability to get oxygen to the muscle cells to produce energy, and utilization, or the ability to use oxygen in the process which creates energy in the muscle cells. It is very difficult to balance these two systems, especially in training. And there is also considerable controversy among physiologists about which part is more important to the athlete. Both, however, are extremely important to rowers.

The transportation system is really rather simple. We know that the air which we are breathing contains between 20-21% oxygen. Oxygen in the lungs goes to red blood cells (hemoglobin), which is transferred through the veins, to the muscles. The most important component in the entire transportation system is the heart. And, because the heart is a muscle, it can be developed and trained. All of our transportation training methods have the goal of increasing the volume of blood the heart is able to pump with each beat. If you are a well-trained athlete, your heart will be able to pump more blood, bringing more oxygen to the muscles with the same maximum heart rate.

If we want to strengthen the heart, we have to design special workouts. The stimulation has to be quite strong or we won’t notice any progress. In order to develop increased efficiency, stimulations must be very close to maximum – 90-05% of maximum – so that we can push our aerobic limit higher and higher. Translating this to heart rate, it is approximately the maximum heart rate to maximum minus 10 beats. The rule of thumb is figuring maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. I don’t recommend that people get too involved in stopping to check their heart rates every few minutes. Most people know when they’re close to their maximum output.

How long? Remember that it takes from 90 to 120 seconds to activate the aerobic processes – to “warm up” the big engine. If we use two-minute pieces, then we will be using all of our time for warm up. If we use three minutes, the first two are wasted warming up and then only one minute is used to push the heart. That’s why the classic time is five minutes. As long as the heart rate is kept within the maximum range, we can use anywhere from four to 12 minutes, but five is one of the most efficient. It was for this purpose that we also use pyramid types of pieces as well, where intensity can build gradually and we can avoid an extremely intense first two minutes.

In summary, to increase our aerobic capacity, we must increase the amount of oxygen we’re able to get to the muscles. To do that, we need to train the heart by stimulating it to 90-95% of its maximum. Two workouts especially designed to develop the transportation system are long intervals of four to 12 minutes at high intensity, followed by five to eight minutes of active rest, and short intervals of 20-45 seconds, followed by a brief active rest period (e.g. 20 strokes on, 5 off).

Once an effective transportation system gets the oxygen to the muscles, it is the job of the muscle cells to use the oxygen as efficiently as possible. That process is called utilization.
The goal of any training program is to address both components of the aerobic process – transportation, or the ability to get oxygen from the lungs to the muscle cells, and utilization, or the ability to efficiently use oxygen in the process which creates energy in the muscle cells.

In Part I, we discussed the transportation system and how workouts can be specifically designed to strengthen the heart and therefore bring more oxygen to the muscles. Now we want to address the second component – utilization. Our goal is to deliver as much oxygen as possible to the muscles. Once there, we want the muscles to be able to convert, or utilize, the available oxygen at maximum efficiency.

We accomplish this in two ways.
Improve capilarization – The large tubes are the muscle fibers; the small white cylinders are capillaries.
Capillaries are basically extensions of the arteries. So, since the arteries carry the blood to the muscles, the more capillaries surrounding the muscles, the more oxygen available for them. On the left side you have an untrained person – he has three to four active capillaries around each muscle fiber. He actually has more capillaries, but his regular day-to-day activities require that he only activate three to four. Well-trained athletes will probably require more capillaries, and that is why utilization workouts are so important.

Improve oxidation potential in the muscle cells.
Oxidative potential is improved by increasing the number and size of the mitochondria – “power plants” of the muscle cells – and by increasing the quantity of oxidative enzymes.
Both goals can be achieved by low and medium intensity long-distance workouts. Because we are talking about the muscle system, and very peripheral areas, we have to focus on a very specific group of muscles – the muscles used in the rowing motion. It is highly recommended that utilization workouts be specific rowing motion workouts

This goal can be achieved by low and medium intensity long-distance workouts.
Low Intensity - 60-80 minutes; heart rate 140-160 bpm (65-75% of maximum heart rate); stroke rate 18-24 spm.
Medium Intensity - 45-60 minutes; heart rate 160-175 bpm (70-80% of maximum heart rate); stroke rate 20-26 spm.

These workouts can be done in many different ways, alternating stroke rate and time.
For instance, try 60 minutes of continuous rowing alternating; 4 minutes at 18; 3 minutes at 20; 2 minutes at 22; then 1 minute at 21. These are great workouts for learning rhythm, feeling the boat and improving rowing technique if the rowing stroke is executed correctly.

So...if you made it through this you may understand why we do what we do when we do it...maybe not.

24 hours to go

I'm ready are you?
I had to move the couch into the dining room and set up the table in the living room to make space for everyone but I think it's going to work. I've got 9 chairs if we use a few from the garage. 9 plates, 9 napkins, 9 wine glasses. I hope only 9 people show up!
The sweet potatoes are baked and in the frig ready to be scooped out. The white potatoes are peeled and in water in the frig ready to be boiled and smashed. Tom is chilling.
I dusted, swept, cleaned the bathroom, put clean sheets on the bed upstairs for my worthless brother.
The plan is to get home in the morning, turn on the oven, bake some bananas (for a sweet potato dish), give Tom a bath, stuff him, put him in to roast, upstairs for 45 minutes of erging, shower, have a glass of wine, make the wild rice stuffing, sweet potatoes, have a glass of wine, set the table, have a glass of wine, feed everyone, clean up, have a glass of wine, fall exhausted into bed.
Happy Thanksgiving!
Don't forget to erg tomorrow.
A quick but not complete list of those participating in the Challenge:
Donna R
Ed R
Let me know who else is sharing in the fun!
I think we'll plan to get together for a 100,000 meter happy hour.
Go fast.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

4 days and counting


Holiday Challenge 2006
Looking for a little extra motivation to row this holiday season? Our Annual Online Holiday Challenge starts on Thanksgiving Day!
4 days...4 days until the Challenge begins. It's also 4 days until Thanksgiving. Both bring me some measure of anxiety. Obviously for different reasons.
The Challenge
Donna and I have done the Challenge...4 or 5 years now. Maybe as many as six. For then non-rower the Challenge is 200,000 meters on a Concept 2 rowing ergometer between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Works out to be about 45 minutes per day.
One year Donna brought her erg to my fire station on Thanksgiving Day and we did our 1st 10,000 together on the back ramp. One year we erged on Thanksgiving day in the parking lot outside her apartment downtown. We don't start together any more but we do celebrate when we both reach 100,000. Usually I need to finish early so I can leave for Texas and not drag an erg with me. The year we stayed home I did my last few meters Christmas morning.
The Challenge has taken on great significance for me. It's the way I kick off my New Year, feeling fit and strong. It's the way I keep from turning into a 400 lb slob while eating...pretty much at will over the Holidays. It's a way to encourage and inspire the people I coach...several of whom now also meet the Challenge.
The USRowing convention falls right in the middle of the Challenge. Concept 2 brings in 15-20 ergs for the convention goers to use. Every time Tracy, Sharon and I talk about what fun we had last year in Baltimore we talk about one of our erg sessions...crazy but fun. We'll erg this year in Portland.
If you are a rower I recommend the Challenge. You will finish the winter indoor season in better shape than ever and get a cool t-shirt to boot! If you are not a rower challenge yourself to 200,000 of something or 45 minutes per day. My step mom does 45 on the treadmill. It works!
For some crazy reason I've volunteered my house for our holiday meal. Kim is on call and can't leave KC so we knew we'd need to have our meal here instead of going to Mom's. Kim's house is bigger (much bigger) and it would have made more sense to eat there but...9 of us will squeeze into my house for turkey and all the trimmings.
I'm excited because I've never had everyone to my house for a holiday. I've got dishes that match, the proper table cloth, enough wine glasses and I've planned the menu. One thing about a small house and a smaller group is the intimacy. I'm excited because we will all sit at the same table , no kid's table, no one in the living room. We'll have 4 generations from Alan's folks to Kim's boys.
I'm very thankful.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sleepy day.

Very sad...that's all I'm going to say. Still love them.

Finally got on that blasted machine yesterday. 45 minutes. 1st 15 were ugly. It was just me and the guys (Dusty, Kenny, Rob, Al). Al was on for the first time, he did great!

Today is 4x10 minutes. Try to do them all with negative splits. Don't go out so fast that you need to crawl home.

I'm going to take a nap in the freezer we call a bunk room. Burritos for dinner, Yum!

Go Fast.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Book Club anyone?

Laura, the girls and I got to talking about books on our last road trip. They had been working on lists of books everyone should read. This lead to a discussion of a book club over the winter.
I'll let Laura pick our first book.
Stay tuned.

And all of a sudden it was bedtime.

I had every intention of erging yesterday. Really, I did. But first I needed to clean out the refrigerator. It needed to be done...seriously. And then the kitchen cabinets were bugging me. And then I'd made a mess in the dining room with all the stuff I removed from the kitchen. And laundry and I mopped the floors. There were emails to answer and I needed to run to the store and reserve my turkey (14 lb fresh!).

This is my problem. I will create diversions to keep from working out. It's not that I don't enjoy it. It's not that I don't want to do it. I need to be forced. Forced by a group practice (like tonight, YEAH) or by a goal such as the Holiday Erg Challenge (which starts in 1 week!).

Here is a little secret. Erging will not make you faster on the water. You won't get back in the boat in March and be lightening fast because you sat on the erg all winter. What it will do is allow you to work at a level on the water that will make you fast. You won't need to do conditioning in the boat. You can jump right in with blade work and boat speed.

We all have things that get in the way, or that we put in the way. Your challenge for the winter is to figure out ways to trick yourself into making it a priority. Health and fitness should be important to us. We are athletes. Older athletes but still athletes. We have passed the time where we will earn college scholarships. We won't be making the Olympic team. But we will grow older with friends we adore, healthy, active and interesting.

Go fast...or at least go.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

They're everywhere!

This is apparently a picture of a weight room somewhere at the South Pole. Note the Model B erg in the lower right hand corner.
If you haven't already, I would recommend signing up for Concept2's online logbook. It has a lot of neat features. It will log every meter you row and when you reach 1 million meters they send you a t-shirt. You can participate in the Holiday Erg Challenge (200K between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). You can look at a history of all your workouts and see splits, track improvement. You can search to see what others all over the world your size and age are pulling.
And now for a non rowing comment. Please check the address on your house. Make sure that it is visible even when a porch light isn't on and is big enough to be read from the street at night. Big simple numbers in a starkly contrasting color are great. Don't get those script ones and don't put them on the front porch under the eves. Trying to find a house number from an emergency vehicle at night is so hard. If you really need help they'll need to be able to find you.
One of our Juniors has been offered a nice scholarship to the University of Tulsa. She has some erg work to do this winter to meet the terms of the offer but I think it's a fantastic opportunity. Many of you know who she is (rows a single, strokes a quad, her folks keep us fed!) although I'm hesitant to refer to our kids by name on a public blog. If you see her at the gym, tell her how proud we all are of her.
Go fast.

Monday, November 13, 2006

And so it begins...

I'm working today at Station #7 in Argintine...they have a wireless signal but it is very weak and slow, reminds me a bit of the old days of dial up! So this will be short and sweet with out much fluff. I'm learning how to post pictures and links but not today.

Yipee! Today is the first day of Winter Workouts! Aren't you excited! The signup system seems to have worked pretty well. Mondays and Saturdays are full...no one is interested in Tuesdays or Fridays. Fridays I can understand but Tuesdays? There's nothing on TV on Tuesdays, I figured Tuesdays would fill up.

Oh well.

Remember that there are a few novice erging with us this year. They don't understand the workout lingo so explain to them what you are going to do. Correct basic technique mistakes (Handles not moving level, rushing, legs, back arms, that kind of stuff). Show them how to work the monitors.

I will show up from time to time to coach and workout with you (Laura may as well). Have fun, remember to be considerate of the others who may be there working out, clean up after yourselves, pull hard and don't get uptight about the splits...not yet any way.

Go fast.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Erg Music

We went to Harlings yesterday afternoon, invited by Tracy to celebrate her birthday. The music was fantastic not technically superior in any way although the keyboard player and harmonica player were very good. What made it so much fun was how much fun they were having.

When you are looking for erg music choose music you love, first. I like music with a simple beat, slower but not...slow. Everyone will have their preference. When we have a Boathouse to call home we will have to agree on music that everyone likes but for now we'll erg in our own worlds, headphones on, so listen to the stuff that makes it fun.

Laura will soon be adding to the blog...it is a KCRC coaches blog after all. If you have questions or things you'd like to know more about you can leave a comment, private message us on the message board or call.

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Let's see what happens...

I been thinking about and reading a lot of blogs in the past few weeks. The concept is intriguing to me but I couldn't figure out a way to use it in my own life.

Zeno Mueller has a blog(http://indoor-rowing.blogspot.com/) he talks about the people he coaches and posts links to interesting sites he finds.

I decided to give this a try in a rowing related way.

so here goes...

We were talking today at the station about fitness, how as we age it becomes more and more difficult to maintain a level of fitness that makes you happy. We are moving into winter erg season and I plan on getting back on the bloody machine with everyone else. At least I hope everyone is getting on...My juniors better be!...the key for me will be not letting the winter fit become the summer soft once everyone is back outside.

The first few weeks of winter are a bit shocking. Don't worry too much about the splits. Concentrate on the technique and let the fitness catch up. Remember to stretch...a lot. Drink a lot of water, before, during and after. Spending a short session in the weight room twice per week is great if you can fit it in, endurance lifting more than heavy. Do the work and it will be spring before you know it!