Coach JP: Rowing Goals

So we’re here in week 5 of lockdown. ION have loaned out the entire gym worth of equipment to help keep people active and I’ve borrowed a Concept 2 Rower. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Week 0 (w/c Mon 16th March) 

ION Closed.

 One of the first workouts I attempted was a 5km, not aiming for a PB, just a steady 20 Minute Row (2:00/500m Splits). But, I gave up after about 3k’s, my lower back had seized up and I couldn’t continue rowing. My lower back has been something I’ve struggled with on and off for a while now, it’s really affected my weightlifting and movement in general. Have I been doing enough pre/rehab for it? No, and on reflection, I’ll add more in the next training block.

In the next few days, I did a couple of BW/DB workouts as well as a little bit of rowing and felt a lot better. For some reason, I decided to Row a 2km a few days later. The 2km is one of the hardest fitness tests ever conceived. This is also the distance that actual water rowers do in the Olympics. I figured as I had held 2:00 for 3km, I’d go 1:45 splits and finish with a 7 minute 2km as a new benchmark. Bear in mind that my all-time PB is 6:25.9 from circa 2017, I thought a 7:00 should still be well within my current ability. However, even with a sprint to the line, I finished just short with a 7:00.7.

I thought, ‘I’ve gonna have to work my nuts off to get back to where I was’. And there came my motivation, inspiration. Not wanting to beat anyone else, just trying to beat myself.



Week 1 (23rd March)

Government official lockdown implemented this week.

23rd – 5 x 500m / 1:45 Rest @ 1:45.

24th – Push/Pull Strength. 8 x 60:60 of 10 Cal Row + Max. Burpees

25th – 10 x 250m Row @ Faster Splits each interval / 1:00 Rest. 1:44 -> 1:35.

26th – ION FB Live WOD

27th – Squats/RDL’s/Lunges Strength. EMOM-10 of 1) 15 Cal Row 2) 20 Hang DB Snatch.

28th – 6 x 1000m / 2:00 Rest. 2:00,1:58,56,54,52,50.

29th – Rest

[Total Rowing = Approx. 13,000m]


Week 2 (30th March)

30th – 5 x 500m @ 1:44,43,42 (x3) / 1:00 Rest

31st – 5km Row @ 2:00

1st April – Leisurely Bike Ride

2nd – 10 x 250m / 30s Rest. 1:44,43,42,41,40,39 (x5)

3rd – 6 x 1000m / 1:00 Rest. 2:00,1:58,56,54,52,50.

4th – CF Mini Open – 10 Min AMRAP Squats, DB Snatch, Press Ups, DB Snatch.

5th – Leisurely Bike Ride

[Total Rowing = 16,000m]


Week 3 (6th April)

6th – 5 x 500m / 1:00 Rest @ 1:42.4, 42.0, 42.4, 42.4, 36.4.

7th – 3 x 2km / 4:00 Rest. 1) r25 @ 1:59. 2) r27 @ 1:56. 3) r29 @ 1:50.

8th – 8 x 250m / 30s Rest @ 1:38

9th – 3 x 2km / 2:00 Rest. 1) r16 @ 2:25. 2) r18 @ 2:17. 3) r20 @ 2:12.

10th – ION FB Live WOD

11th – 3 x 10:00 / No Rest. Avg HR = 60%, 65%, 70%.

12th – 4 x 500m / 30s Rest. 1:42.0, 1:41.8, 1:40.9, 1:37.2.

[Total Rowing = 24,500m]


Week 4 (13th April)

13th – 2 x 2km / 5:00 Rest. 1) r16, 2:00, HR 80%. 2) r18, 1:52, HR 90%.

14th – FB Live WOD. 30 Mins @ Rate 20. HR 75%, 2:10 avg split.

15th – 1250m @ 2km Race Strategy.

16th – Rest Day

17th – 2km Test

18th – Partner WOD with Ro.

19th – Rest

[Total Rowing = 14,000m]


Man rowing

There was some structure in place over that short 4 week training period. But I was mostly doing what I enjoyed, with some CrossFit in there too. My preference is the shorter interval type sessions, where you’re working very hard at high heart rates, short rest periods. I did this for the first 2 weeks, then did some more reading around rowing and how the 2km was predominantly aerobic in nature, so did some longer sessions in week 3.

I retested my 2km at the end of week 4.

In preparation for this, I watched a great video from Cam Nichol on Youtube (Founder of RowingWOD, CrossFitter and Olympic Rower), explaining how to strategise the 2km Row.

The 2km itself;

Start hard! First 10 pulls go as hard as you can, you’re using your ATP-CP stores and also getting that average split as fast as you possibly can.

Next 10 strokes you settle down to your target pace. My target was 1:40, based on how I felt the previous 4 weeks of training had gone.

Before you know it you’ve passed the 500m mark. Now you settle in for the middle kilometre. I aimed to hold my average around 1:41-42, slightly above the target average.

1000m down, 1000m to go, your lungs and legs are burning by this point, you doubt whether or not you can hold this pace.

1500m gone, feeling confident at this point, final quarter.

MyZone is telling me in big red letters I’ve been on 98% for the last 3 minutes.

1800m, the end is in sight, 200m sprint, empty the tank!

Time = 6:39.0

Over 20s faster than last time.

Very pleased with this improvement, now the hard work really begins.

Concept 2

Somewhat interesting to note..

When we look at 2km Split times, here are the Power equivalents;

8:00 = 2:00/500m = 200 W


7:00 = 1:45/500m = 300 W

6:50 = 1:42.5/500m = 325 W

6:40 = 1:40/500m = 350 W

6:30 = 1:37.5/500m = 378 W

6:20 = 1:35/500m = 408 W

6:10 = 1:32.5/500m = 442 W

6:00 = 1:30/500m = 480 W

 As you can see, each 10s improvement from 7:00 to 6:00 requires even greater increases in avg. Power. [Simply put, Work = Force x Distance. Power = Work/time]

It requires even more effort to improve the faster you get.


Flower photo created by Waewkidja –

Set goals, be SMART.

Short (Next 8 Weeks)

Increase aerobic capacity.

Take another 4s off my 2km Row, I want to get down to 6:35 at the end of next block.

These last 4 weeks I’ve gone from 7:00.7 to 6:39.0. But I’m now at a more realistic reflection of my fitness, so I think -4s over the next 8 weeks is realistic.

Depending on how this next block goes, I can reevaluate and plan the next block.

I may need 8-12 weeks to go from 6:35 to 6:30!


Medium (6 Months)

All-time PB.

I am going to enter the Welsh Indoor rowing champs on 28th Nov.

Goal by then is to go sub 6:20.


Long (1 Year Onwards)

Is sub 6:00 possible?

So, there’s an outline of how I have gone about setting and working on my goal.

For others, it could be for sports performance, body fat % loss, muscle % gain or just getting started exercising.

Set yourself tangible goals and track your progress.

JP Macchu Picchu

It’s human nature to always want more and more. Just know that when you do achieve your goal, you’ll probably have to set another one/change focus to negate the lull felt afterwards.

For me, the best part of achieving a goal is the daily grind of working towards it.

I once did a trek to Macchu Picchu, Peru. The most enjoyable part wasn’t getting to the Inca ruins at the top of the mountain. The best times were the hours of hiking and getting to know our eclectic tour group, camping in the mountains, our guides waking us up with Coca tea, playing drinking games around the campfire, and seeing the breathtaking Andean mountains.

Enjoy the process,

Coach JP.


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