February 28, 2005

The Four Minute Kilometre

The four-minute-kilometre, or two minute 500m as it's generally measured in rowing, has been a bit of a magic number with my erging.

It didn't take long to beat over a 2000m distance, I managed that the third time I rowed 2km, and since then I'm rather disappointed if I don't get below 8 minutes. It was harder to pass over longer distances though, and I've only managed it once on a 6km erg - near the end of five months of averaging over 2200m per day to hit my "half-a-million metres rowed in total" target.

I don't do 6km workouts any more, they were mainly to give me an easier shot at hitting the half-million metres. 2km and 5km seem to be the favoured workouts as far as the rankings go on the Concept 2 website, and fit nicely with giving me a choice of short or long session.

Having beaten the two-minute split time over 6km, I was obviously capable of doing the same over 5km; however, as I hadn't had a period of regular erging since that last challenge, my rowing fitness had dropped and I developed a bit of a mental block about rowing 5km at all.

That was supposed to change with this winter's challenge to replace my Thursday evening exercise "slot" with an erg whilst it's too dark to play football. I managed a few in October, but with the added complication of not working at home that slipped to 2km ergs, and not enough to make the 5km/week target.

So now I'm back working at home, there's been a renewed effort to get my rowing back on track. Given that I'm no longer cycling eight miles a day to work and back, I've started a "2km erg commute" in the mornings as I can do it first thing, before having my morning shower, so it only takes around ten minutes out of my day. I've also forced myself back into the 5km ergs - not caring about the times, the important thing was to make the distance.

Which was why it came as a bit of a surprise when last week I found myself hovering around the 2minutes/500m average for the first 1km of a 5km. It was quite possible that I'd just got my pacing all wrong, and I'd just "blow up" (rowing equivalent of the runner's "hitting the wall") before finishing, I decided to see if I could get below that average for the full distance.

I think the knowledge that I'd rowed at that kind of pace in the past helped me believe it was possible, but I was still amazed to find I'd averaged 1m59.2s/500m, which brought me in a whole eight seconds below twenty minutes. That put me 605th of 1062 in the Concept 2 rankings, so still well below average but in the top 60&percent;

I knew I wouldn't run another sub-twenty minute 5km straight off, so didn't even try for it and somehow only ended up six tenths of a second over! I suppose setting a new personal best ratchets up what I expect to achieve even on a "coasting" workout. Today I didn't start off pushing for my second sub-twenty minute 5km, but with only 2km left it looked achievable so I raised my pace a notch and came home over six seconds under. Give it another few workouts and I'll start expecting to come in below twenty minutes every time.

That was a long-winded way of saying "Woo! I rowed 5000m in less than twenty minutes" wasn't it?

Posted by Adrian at February 28, 2005 07:34 PM | TrackBack

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