I am again closing in on a sub 7 minute 2k. One thing that I have noticed about rowing is that the effectiveness of a workout is directly related to how miserable you are during. Any effective workout is going to be absolutely miserable.
I have tried to lower my 2k time by doing long slow rows, like 10k or longer, and I have tried short intervals even as short as 200 meter sprints. I found that doing things to decrease the misery factor also decreased the effectiveness of the training. Really long rows are probably good for something, but they don’t seem to directly affect my 2k time. To effect that, I have to concentrate on distances closer to 2k, and row at a pace that is also closer to 2k pace. Which also puts the misery level closer to what I feel during a fast 2k. A 2500 meter or a 3K row done just slightly over 2k pace might even be worse than a fast 2k.
Really short intervals like 200 meter sprints, while being fun and often not miserable at all, also don’t seem to help much. For intervals to really help, I have to make them at least 500 meters, and limit the rest period. Multiple 500 meter intervals with 1 minute rest period are a pretty useful workout. But doing 10 sets of this interval again might actually be more miserable than just doing a fast 2k.
In short, there is simply no way to get around the discomfort of the training process. In this, rowing is much like weightlifting. The things that are useful are hard. Multiple heavy sets of 5 on the back squat. Heavy deadlifts, heavy pulls, or heavy push presses. All hard. All miserable if you push yourself hard enough to actually move the weight up over time. Maxing your snatch is not miserable. For many who “dabble” in weightlifting it is fun. Everyone loves to max the snatch. But that is not weightlifting. It is not the sport I fell in love with. The sport I fell in love with is hard. Brutal even. And to succeed in it you have to have a certain mindset. A mindset that develops over time and comes to not only accept the discomfort and sometimes downright misery of the training process, but to welcome it. To look forward to the misery. To fall in love with it.
As a competitor I fell in love with weightlifting, even with all the misery involved. Now as a rower and I am trying to appreciate the misery in rowing. But even more important to me is to foster the love of of weightlifting in a new generation of lifters. Even with all the discomfort of the training process, it is a great sport to love!
I wrote this for the athletes on the PendlayWOD, but I think it applies to most lifters.
Wednesday is going to be your worst day most weeks when it comes to top performance. Obviously the reason is that Tuesday is the high volume squat day, and a killer. Most of you are sore and stiff from squats on Wednesday, yet most of you are either making PR’s on either power snatch or power clean, or coming very very close.
I firmly believe that the ability to perform at 95% even on a bad day is even more important than the ability to perform at 101% on that day when you are rested up and everything is perfect.
I believe some coaches refer to this as your daily minimum. This is the weight you can make no matter what. No matter how bad you feel, no matter how sore you are, no matter how tired you are.
When your daily minimum goes up not only are you stronger, but you are more consistent. And consistency matters in competition. What good is a 150kg snatch if it usually takes you 3-4 tries to make 140? Not much. But when you can hit 140kg consistently in ANY situation, now you are going to get a chance to show that 150kg lift in competition!
The Pendlay WOD is programmed in 8-week training cycles. I do it this way because this length of cycle works the best for the most people. Training cycles work for a simple reason. Neither the human body nor the human psyche react well to monotony. We thrive on change, particularly when it comes to stress. So we constantly change the stressor. On the competition weightlifting movements, every week brings a change in the intensity and the volume. We also do variations of the weightlifting movements such as the power variations, or lifts from the knee or the hip. While the competition movements are done weekly with moderate intensity, we do the variations with high intensity, often going right up to our maximum. We can do this indefinitely because we change which variation we are using every week or two. The combination of doing the actual competition lifts with moderate intensity and different variations with maximal intensity while regularly changing the variation works. But it is only half the story, or actually 1/3 of the story. Doing only the snatch and clean and jerk doesn’t make an effective program.
As amazing as an exercise like the snatch is, it is not all that effective for building maximal strength and muscle. For that, we have to do movements like the squat and deadlift. Ideally the exercises that we use to build strength and muscle will work the body through the same or similar ranges of motion as the weightlifting movements but will use much heavier weight and therefore slower bar speed. The exercises that work the best are the back squat, the deadlift, and the front squat. The use of training cycles is even more important for continual progress on the squat and deadlift than it is for the snatch and clean. Each 8-week cycle on the Pendlay WOD moves the athlete from higher volume training on the squat and deadlift at the start, to lower volume and higher intensity by week 8. Each 8-week cycle should end with PR sets in the squat and deadlift as well as PR lifts in the snatch and clean and jerk.
The combination of moderate competition lifts and maximal lifts on a variety of variations is 1/3 of story, an effective strength program is another third, and the final piece of the puzzle is something that few weightlifters like to do. Assistance exercises like glute-hamstring raises, back extensions, hip extensions and other similar things done for sets of 10 at the end of every training session. No one likes to do these exercises. No one looks forward to their time on the GHR. But just because they are not fun doesn’t mean we don’t do them. Exercises like the back extension and hip extension build muscle and strength where we need it most, in the back, hips, and hamstrings. They also build tolerance to workload and enable an athlete to handle MORE squats, snatches, and clean and jerks. With each successive 8-week cycle you get stronger in the snatch and clean, stronger in the squat and deadlift, as well as in better shape and able to handle a higher workload.
This is the first digital watch I have owned in years. As soon as I got done with my first 5k, I got the itch to run faster. So yesterday I went out and invested in a new digital watch to help me keep track of my times more accurately.
Since I ran the 5k I have been doing a quick run every morning of about 1 mile, followed by a longer run later in the day of about 2.5 miles. I don’t go that fast in the morning, but in the afternoon I have been getting steadily faster over the past 7 days. The day after I ran the 5k I ran the 2.5 miles pretty slow, it took me roughly 40 minutes. Definitely more of a slow jog than a run. But I ran the distance faster every day, and yesterday I ran it in 24min and 25 seconds. That is below a 10 min mile pace, and that milestone is what prompted me to go out and buy a new digital watch.
My friends know how tight I am with money, and they will understand how big a deal this was to me to prompt me to go out and buy something like a new watch.
I am now anxiously awaiting my second 5k, and hoping to complete it with a pace of less than 10 minutes per mile!
I always like Saturday morning, because that is the day we get to do heavy back squats!
Squats One set of 5 with your PR (-5%)
One set of push presses with your PR (-5%)
If you do any extra lower back work or abs, this is a good day to do it.
PS, I said at the start of this cycle that it would be a little more strength biased. And we will be starting deadliest Monday of next week!
Sunday, our day of rest. Only six days to go till competition.
snatch high pull + hang snatch (1+1) 80,85, 90
press grin split 30% of your best military press x5x5x5