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Technique Feature: Stay in Touch with Speed Year-Round
by Charlotte Hollings, Calm Waters Rowing
posted on March 21, 2017

Do some speed work as part of every row

In the 10-year span between my first year on the National Team and my last, training theories changed dramatically. In the mid 80's, we did interval work every day - pieces as short as 20 strokes on/5 off, up to 15' to 20' pieces at 90% pressure, and everything in between. Afternoons we reliably stuck to steady state workouts, but six mornings a week always meant some kind of intense interval work.

Ten years later, 80% of our workouts were steady state. Only two to three times a week did we do any kind of high intensity work. (FYI, we were 2nd at the Worlds in '85, 1st in '94 so both methods were relatively successful). Usually when first getting back on the water, I'd work in miles of steady state rowing, probably not adding starts or any high rate pieces until May (if I was planning to race in July).

Fast forward 25 years and theories have changed again, and the theory now says if you do a lot of long, slow rowing you'll become a long, slow rower. Current research recommends incorporating a little speed work into every practice and including every type of workout throughout the week - aerobic and anaerobic and LSD (long slow distance) and recovery. By working some speed into each practice, your muscles never lose touch with going fast.

So go ahead and do your steady state work, but before heading back to the docks, throw in a couple of starts or high 10s - something short so you can maintain technique, but enough so that the body experiences a little speed. Obviously as you get closer to racing season, you'll increase the volume of speed work and race type pieces, but now you won't be starting from zero. Include all modalities at all times and never stay completely away from any particular type of workout - although your emphasis will change as the seasons change.


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