Thursday, December 1, 2016

Recommendations for First 20-Minute Erg Time Trial - Dec. 1, 2016

From: Jim Bertolini <>
Date: Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 3:58 PM
Subject: [CBRC Masters] 20-minute Erg Time Trial to Set Training Paces and Monitor Progress

Hi CBRC Masters,

The workout for Thursday, Dec. 1 will includes a 20-minute erg piece at race intensity. It's the first of three that we will do at monthly intervals, this Winter. I'm writing to explain how we're going to do this so that those who are able to make it on Thursday know what to expect, but also so those of you who are unable to be at practice are able to do the piece on your own. I would also like to explain the rationale for doing the 20-minute piece and give you some suggestions on how to approach it. I'm dusting off an email from last year, so many of you will find this familiar

The race pieces are for you to figure out where you are currently at, and then monitor your progress. They are also an opportunity for Beth and I to evaluate how the workouts are going. I'm not planning on writing down your results, but I will be really interested to know how each of your 20-min. pieces compare over time. That's the "race" - each month, it will be you against your time for the previous time trial. I hope you will approach this with some curiosity and eagerness rather than stress - an opportunity to learn a little more about yourself.

Up until now, you have been estimating your average pace / 500m as the basis for setting intensities for erging. E.g., a practice might consist of 3x 12 min. pieces with 3 min rest interval, where each 12 minutes consists of: (5 min. @ pace + 8 sec. @20-22 spm) + (2 min. @ pace -2 sec. @26-28 spm) + (5 min. @ pace + 8 sec. @20-22 spm). Going forward, I would like you to use your results from your most recent time trial to set your paces.

You should go into this month's time trial with a specific goal pace in mind. You should have a pretty good idea of where you are at based on recent practices. Avoid defaulting to your pace from last Winter. Focus on where you are, right now. Be conservative for this first piece. The pace should challenge you, but you should feel confident that you can maintain it for the entire time. It's ok to give yourself a little room for improvement for the next couple of tests.

Movement Prep:
We'll start the morning off, as we usually do, with about 5 minutes of easy rowing on the erg followed by our movement prep warm-up (~12 min.).

Warm-up on Erg:
The warm-up will continue with a 10-minute warm-up piece on the erg. This piece should include several minutes of easy rowing, followed by easy rowing interspersed with 3 or 4x 10 to 15-stroke bursts that gradually increase to the pace and rate you intend to row for the race piece.

20-minute Race Piece:
We'll then set the ergs for a single time = 20 min. with recall intervals of 5 min., and start together when everyone is ready.

From a physiological standpoint the most efficient approach is to row at close to an even pace throughout the 20 minutes.  "Flying and dying" does not feel very good physically or psychologically, and it is not an efficient way to perform. It's much better to have a slightly faster second 10 min. than go out too fast and gradually slow up in your second half.  

For where we are at in the season with our training, I recommend rowing at a stroke rate of ~24-28 spm.

I'm attaching a couple of photos from 6k erg tests of the Sinkovic brothers who are currently Olympic Champions in the double. After you get over the shock of how much power and endurance these guys have!!! - the real reason I am drawing attention to their scores is so you can see how consistent they are for each 1k. Also, notice that after rowing their first 1k at almost exactly goal pace, they slowed just a bit in the 2nd 1k and then got faster on each successive 1k.

I'd recommend a racing start consisting of 3/4, 1/2, 1/2, 3/4, full + 10 strokes. Use the start to quickly bring you up to your target goal pace and get to your full length. Then settle right in to your goal pace.

Here's a suggested strategy to use for pacing. It breaks the 20-minutes into 5 min. sections.
For Goal Pace 

1st 5 minutes (pace)
2nd 5 minutes (pace + 1 sec.)
3rd 5 minutes (pace)
4th 5 minutes ( pace - 1 sec.)

I would also recommend that you have a focus for each 5 min. increment, or break it up into smaller sections, if you'd like.

An example might be:

1st 5 minutes - Rhythm
Find an effective rhythm and rate that can carry you through the piece. Very important here to stick with your plan and not let the adrenaline get you going out too fast.

2nd 5 minutes - Relaxation
Conserving energy here. Breathing and remaining relaxed. Coasting a bit to set yourself up for a strong second half.

3rd 5 minutes - Posture
The third five minutes are probably the most challenging. Fight the fatigue by maintaining good posture - sitting up - and using the core strength you have been working on to power you through. Maintain your length and good form.

4th 5 minutes - Goal
You can count on alternative energy sources to kick in for your last two minutes. Bring all your focus to achieving your goal in this five minutes. One minute to go is time to open it up and empty the tank.

You may wish to plan out a focus element for different parts of the time trail and include things like: posture - sitting up, staying long, remaining relaxed, or technical elements, such as body-over, relaxed arms and shoulders at the catch, horizontal, etc. You may also wish to have some key words or phrases that motivate you, like "smooth," "power," and/or "quick."

Hope this helps. Little improvements built up consistently over time can lead to great results. 

In addition to working on technique, flexibility, core-strength, and balance, this winter, another overall goal for the fitness training is to raise your anaerobic threshold. A 20-minute race piece winds up being close to your anaerobic threshold pace. The 20-minute piece serves as a standard to measure your progress. It also allows you to continue to improve and challenge yourself in future workouts because you will be using your current trial pace to set your training paces.

Also, racing on the water or on the erg can bring with it a variety of emotional and psychological challenges. We should include all the different aspects of racing in our practices. This includes doing some things that might be out of our comfort level.

The psychological and physiological aspects of racing are intertwined. Notice what the race environment does to your mind and body. Be prepared to fill in any negative or defeatist self-talk with thoughts of how you have succeeded in the past or have progressed. Be prepared with imagery of a great race experience or personal victory to motivate you. Recognize excessive tension and be ready to replace it with relaxation. Allow yourself to feel amped up with adrenaline to drive you, but always be in touch with a deep place that is calm and unshakeable.

Think about other ways in addition to a faster pace that reflect how you can improve: better focus, better pacing, better technique, and/or the ability to push yourself fearlessly a bit further.

Finally, let's remember to keep it all in perspective.


Jim Bertolini
Head Masters Coach / Masters Sculling Coach
Commencement Bay Rowing Club
360-791-9437 (mobile)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winter Season Meeting - Notes 2

CBRC Masters Winter Training

Priorities for winter training, include:
Staying healthy and injury free.
Building core strength and improving flexibility as a means of creating a foundation for other goals.
Striving for consistency and continual, gradual improvement in fitness.
Using the erg to improve rowing technique.
Avoiding bad habits on the erg that can carry over to the boat.

Erg Workouts
Typical intensities for erg workouts are:
Pace + 13-18”                Cat. VI or UT2
Pace + 8”                      Cat. V or UT1
Pace + 2”                      Cat. IV or AT
Pace – 2”                      Cat. III or TR

(Where “pace” = pace/500m for most recent 20-minute time trial.)

See Erg Training Paces Chart from RoyleRow Notebook.1

Technical Goals:
Long term, for the upcoming season, I would like to focus on the drive phase. In particular, creating a more dynamic drive with better acceleration and send.

Practice Elements Used:
1. Warm-up
a. Light erg as people arrive
b. Movement Prep2
2. Technical Review or Instruction
3. Erg Workout
4. Core-strength Work
a. RoyleRow Core-Strength Exercises3
b. Exercise Circuit4
c. Yoga for Rowers5
5. Flexibility Exercises6

Typical Weekly Schedule:

Warm-up (~15’)
Erg (~50’)
Mid length intervals at ~Anaerobic Threshold pace.
Yoga for Rowers (~15’)
Flexibility (~10’)

Warm-up (~10’)
Erg/Exercises Circuit (~35’ each)
Divide into two groups, men and women. One does erg first, other does circuit first.
Erg – pieces are mid-length UT1 with some higher intensity work (either higher rate or power-per-stroke)
Flexibility (~10’)

Warm-up (~14’)
Technical Review or Instruction (~12’)
E.g., video on rowing technique, or learning squat technique
Erg (~70’)
Easy steady-state for longer duration and can include technique drills
RoyleRow Core Strength Exercises (~12’)
Flexibility (~12’)

2Movement Prep Exercises:

1) Lying on back: knees side to side
2) Bicycles
3) Lying on back: leg circles from hip
4) Glute bridge marching
5) Leg overs
6) Leg swings front-back
7) Leg swings side-to-side
8) On all fours: cat-cows
9) Standing - Opposite toe touch
10) Knee hugs
11) Lunge and twist
12) Standing Superman's
13) 20x squats
14) Drop Lunge
15) Lateral squat - low
16 Arm swings - side to side in front of body
17) Arm circles forward and back

Some of the exercises above are included at the link below:
3RoyleRow eNotebook Core Strength Exercises
(See accompanying .pdf file.)
Add planks, side-planks, and reverse planks
Have been increasing plank duration by 15” intervals. Serves as way of monitoring progress.

4Exercise Circuit:
Circuit is run 50” on and 10” off
Repeat 2x r2’

1) Hamstring Curls on balance ball
2) Plank
3) Bicycles
4) Supermans
5) Squats
6) Side Plank - L
7) Side Plank - R
8) Walk-outs on balance ball
9) 4-point to 3-point dog on balance ball
10) Wall Sit
11) Push-ups
12) Crunches with balance ball and small weighted ball
13) Kneeling on balance ball
14) Upward Plank
15) Bunny Tucks on balance ball

5Yoga for Rowers: Chrys Kozak (2009) (See photos attached.)
1) Tree - 30" each leg
2) Balancing Superman - 30" each leg
3) Seated Forward Bend - 1'
4) Downward Dog - 1'
5) Extended Side Angle - 30" each side
6) Victory Squat - 1'
7) Warrior - 30" each side
8) Hip Bridge
9) Chair - 1'
10) Side Plank - 30" each side
11) Upward Plank - 1'
12) Full Boat - 1'

6Flexibility Exercises:
Focus on hamstrings and hips.
Can use the stretches in the link below:
Instructed athletes to measure hamstring flexibility by lying on back with thigh held perpendicular to floor. Attempt to straighten lower leg at knee and determine angle of upper leg to lower leg as way of monitoring progress.

Winter Season Meeting - Notes 1

CBRC Masters’ Program
Winter 2016-17
Team Meeting Notes
Our training program is broken down into 6 different period of focus
Transition: Nov – Jan
Aerobic training – low intensity, working technique
Preparation: Feb – Mar
Aerobic training
Pre-Competition: April – May
Setting lineups
Increasing intensity and ratings
Competition: June – July
Practicing race pieces and race plan elements
Transition: Aug – September
Aerobic training – low intensity, rating
Competition: Oct – Nov
Race pieces and race plan elements

Overview of Winter
Staying healthy and injury free
Seeking to transition slowly as to decrease the chance of injury
Improving flexibility
To improve technique and decrease the chance of injury
Building core strength/general strength
To improve technique and explosiveness of stroke (and decrease chance of injury)
Consistency, gradual improvements in fitness
Working at the pace guidelines listed for ergs (we will talk more about those next week)
Improve technique
Identify technique aspects each person can work on so they can carry them onto the water
Avoid bad habits on erg
Attention to technique while erging so we’re not creating new/ineffective muscle memory
Fitness Goals (see chart for how different workouts fit into categories of training under Training Plan: Erg Workouts below)
Building aerobic base
Long, low level workouts to increase muscle endurance
Increase capillaries, mitochondria and oxygen transport to muscles
Raise anaerobic threshold
Increase amount of time before “hitting the wall”
20 minute test = rough estimate of anaerobic threshold
Thinking of a pyramid, we’re currently working on the base of the pyramid
Training Plan (see attached document for pieces you should work on outside of practice times)
Movement Prep
Erg workouts
Erg workout intensity is set in relation to pace/500m for most recent 20-minute time trial. (Based on RoyleRow methods.)
Training Pace
Target SR
Aprox.% HR
Cat VI
500-meter split
+13-18 seconds
500-meter split
+18-23 seconds
60- 70
Increases capillary density in muscles, development of aerobic base, increases ability for recovery during high intensity work.
Cat V
500-meter split +08 seconds
70- 80
Same as above except utilizes increased number of endurance fast twitch (FOG) fibers.
Cat IV
500-meter split +02 seconds
80- 90
Anaerobic threshold work raises the level of endurance capacity. The point where lactic acid is produced faster than it can be cleared.
500-meter split -02 seconds

26- 30
Perform at higher levels of lactate and to promote lactate recovery. Increases
Cat II
5 % faster than 500-meter split

32- 42
Increase VOmax and specific endurance. Racing.
Cat I
n/a anaerobic

up to maximum
Speed development. Bursts 20-30 seconds in duration.
Low lactic acid levels.

Core Strength (core is the major emphasis for multiple reasons
Royle Core Strength Exercises (see attached document)
Yoga for Rowers (see attached document)
See attached document
Everyone should be working on flexibility at least once a day
Technical Review or Instruction
Throughout the winter season, Jim and Beth H will be giving information on the following aspects of rowing to increase your effectiveness when we get back on the water
Sitting up tall from the hips
Especially in the shoulders and arms
Horizontal Movement
Keeping in mind how other movement interrupts the set on the water
Range of Motion (effective stroke length)
Not over reaching, getting a long but effective and powerful stroke
Feeling the connection with the handle to the shoulders, back and legs
Controlled slide on the recovery with noticeably quicker drive
Accelerating the handle through the stroke
20 minute time trials
Working independently on improving anaerobic threshold
This is not a comparative piece between people or this year to last year
Helps to customize your erg workouts using the pacing
Use your 20 min pace to determine where you should hold your splits during our erg pieces
Making progress during each month
By increasing your anaerobic threshold
Set training paces
Performed monthly
Monitor progress
Not flying and dying
Maintaining a consistent pace and rate
Race plan
Jim will give a race plan to follow including warmup and pacing ideas
Mental preparation
Modeling how we prepare for race season
First = Dec 1st
If you can’t make it, you can do one on your own or you can arrange to do it at a different time with coaches
Setting a benchmark, identifying where you are at right now.  Not worrying about where you were at last year.  
General weekly training plan
(see attached file)
Spring & Summer
Jim and Beth will be working on preparing for spring and summer during the winter season
Athlete Goal Setting
Team Goal Setting
Mental Preparation
Masters Links
During the winter in preparation for the spring, please go through the Masters links and fill in your event preferences for spring
Other thoughts or questions about Spring and Summer
Beth O. said she’d like to have more of the strength and endurance throughout the spring and summer
Mike would like to be able to get on the water faster to increase our practice time
Chris said “as a team, we need to commit to being here on time and if we sign up to make sure we’re here”
Team Meeting the 2nd Saturday of each season
Make commitments to which races we’ll be racing early on in the season
Will help with getting race selections and setting set lineups.  This can help with getting on the water faster.  
Beth H. is going to learn the administrative stuff over the winter so that we can get entries in earlier.  

Winter Events
Christmas Party
Kari can host Dec 2nd or Dec 23rd
Someone else can take host if they want
Adult Rowing Committee can help coordinate
Christmas Lights Row
Adult Rowing Committee will coordinate
Vashon Scrimmage
Do we want to do this during the winter or during the spring?
Adult Rowing Committee can coordinate if we want to arrange it for this season
Ergomania – Jan 28, 2017
We won’t be training for 2k pieces during the winter season
There are other races too if you’re interested, Hour of Power and Team Relays  
Contact Chris if you’re interested in participating.  She will organize who is participating in each event.
Adult Rowing Committee
Steering committee for Masters Program
For coordinate and organize the following: social events, support for coaches, regatta planning, food, support, assisting with Learn-to-Row activities and classes, advertising, etc.
Looking for 5 volunteers to help for at least the Winter Season
Members can change for each season if we want
Beth O mentioned that if you want your voice heard, you should be on this committee and that those that are on the board shouldn’t be on the committee
Chris will head the committee.  Please email her if you’re interested in joining

The coaches would like to increase communication.  Check the following places for questions and looking for additional information
Website: look here for big picture, whole season information
Blog: more concrete long term record of notes, information from meeting communication, upcoming regattas, etc.
Emails: for reminders and daily information
Monthly gatherings: Adult Rowing Committee will work on setting up monthly potlucks after Saturday practices

What type of workouts should we be doing in between these workouts?
Core strength exercises, flexibility every day, lower intensity, long aerobic pieces (rowing, running, etc)
Where’s Tim?  
He has other commitments for the winter, we’re hoping he’ll be back for the spring
Who will be coaching this winter?
Beth H will be here on a regular basis.  Jim will be coming about once a week and working on administrative duties getting ready for spring and summer.  
One aspect he will be working on is getting registration up for Learn to Row
With early advertising and registration, we’re hoping to able to build that program and the team as a whole.  You can help by promoting rowing and directing people to check the website for registration.  
He will also be showing Beth H some of the administrative aspects of the program   
Budget questions
Beth O said arrangements for married couples are under review.  
Is there a way to communicate lineups (mostly for sweep practices) the night before?
Discussion tabled until spring season meeting, bring your ideas on how this might work