Friday, June 1, 2007

The Basis for Writing a Training Program

Training Programs – The Basis for Writing a Training Program
By Robert Marlow,
Published in Australian Rowing, December 1988
The 6 training categories presented in this article are numbered the opposite to the 6 presented in the article BASIC TRAINING - By Ed McNeely in issue No. 6 of StrokeARCs. They are the same categorization of training effects but the reverse numbering. - Jamie

It is very difficult to produce a complete rowing programme which is ideally suited to the individual’s needs and fitness levels.

Even with athletes who I train daily, it is often necessary to adjust the programme on the day because an athlete has not recovered in the way which we had anticipated.

Hence, it would appear that the interests of the athletes and coaches in remote areas (or uncoached veteran competitors) would be better served by receiving some general guidelines for building a program.

The first thing that must be done is determination of the date of the most important rowing race of the year. Count back 12 weeks and call this the “competition phase” of training. Now, count back an additional eight weeks and label this the “pre-competition phase”. The remainder of the year will be the “preparation phase”, except for a “transition phase” for a few weeks following competition. “Transition” refers here to non-rowing – specific activity.

With the broad framework established, it is time to plug the training into the preparation phase.The following information is based on: Category I (steady state rowing at 65 percent intensity, 20-26 rating; Category II (long interval: 70-85 percent at 26-30); Category III (medium interval: 80-90 percent at 28-34); Category IV (short aerobic interval: 85-100 percent at race rate); Category V (anaerobic interval: 100-105 percent at race rate +2 or +4).

During the preparation phase, approximately 50% of the training sessions should be selected from category I and 50% from category II.Therefore, if training 6 times per week, 3 rows would be “steady state” and 3 would be “long intervals”. It is suggested that 2 consecutive training sessions are not from category II. Rather, sessions of each of steady state and long interval should be alternated.

Depending on athlete level of interest, commitment or employment and family constraints, training any number of sessions could be easily accommodated with this program.If training more than 6 times per week, it is suggested that the 7th or 8th sessions be added on days when training is already scheduled. In other words, the body and mind would be well served by at least one day per week completely away from the water. An alternative form of activity (e.g. jogging, cycling, squash, tennis etc.) is ideal on days without water training.

During steady state rows, vary stroke ratings or put in extra “efforts” (maybe 10 strokes each 50) or do squared blade rowing or other drills to break up the monotony and keep the training interesting. Just remember that the average intensity should be approximately 65% during such a training session.

During the preparation phase, it is often appropriate to work in 3 or 4 weekly cycles with the training load (a combination of volume and intensity) progressively increasing for two or three weeks, followed by a week of “unloading” or a recovery week.

As fitness improves, each new cycle will involve slightly greater training loads than the cycle just completed. The “unloaded” or “recovery” week is essential to allow the body to adapt to the training stresses of preceding weeks. At the completion of the recovery week, “test” the progress.This can be done by timing the boat over a measured distance or by seeking how much distance can be covered in a fixed time. During this preparatory phase of training select relatively long distances (5+Km) or times (30 minutes+) for the “test”.

Plan training one cycle at a time to enable adjustment to training; if there is not sufficient recovery, training is not demanding enough. One way of monitoring recovery is to record the pulse rate each morning before getting out of bed. In very general terms, if this rate jumps up by more than 5 beats per minute and stays up for two or more consecutive days, recovery is inadequate and training should be reduced until the pulse rate returns to its normal range.

Similarly a loss of appetite and/or difficulty sleeping are other indications of over-training or an inability to adequately recover. Again, if these symptoms occur, reduce training until the symptoms cease. If any of these symptoms persist, consult a doctor.Following the preparatory phase, will be the pre-competitive phase. During this phase, start to incorporate the “medium interval” work. One could typically incorporate two such sessions into a 6 or 8 session training week.

If training 8 times per week, 3 such sessions could be incorporated during the “heavy” week of the cycle. The remaining training sessions each week could be evenly divided between training sessions selected from each of categories I and II. It would also be prudent to follow each category III training session with either a category I session, or your day off, during this phase.

As with the preparatory phase, a “test” should conclude or immediately follow the recovery week. Either time a fixed distance or measure the distance covered in a fixed time period. The “test” distance or time could be shorter than during the preparatory phase.

During the “competition phase”, two or three workouts per week should now be from categories IV and V. If the training programme involves 6 sessions per week or less, select one session of short aerobic and anaerobic from each of categories IV and V, while being certain to retain at least two sessions per week from category I.

If training 5 times per week, choose the fifth training session from any of categories I, II or III. If training 6 times per week, the programme could include: two sessions of category I and one from each of the other four categories or it could include three from category I plus one from either category II or category III plus one from each of categories IV and V.

If the chosen training programme involves eight sessions per week, three should come from category I, one each from categories II and III, plus either two from category IV and one from category V or two from category V and one from category IV. As rowing is predominantly aerobic, more sessions per cycle should be drawn from category IV.

The best way to “test” progress during the competition phase is by racing in regattas. Ideally, regattas should be selected to fit in at the end of the “unloading” or “recovery” weeks. Otherwise, consider the regatta to simply be a category IV training session.During the final 7 to 10 days prior to the major event of the year, limit training sessions to light work, with most coming from category I (but for less than 60 minutes) and only do short sprint pieces, when working at high intensities. The total high intensity work during any workout in the final “taper” should probably not exceed 150% of the number of strokes in a race and recovery periods should be quite long between high intensity bursts.

Strength training is another useful adjunct to the actual rowing work.Some general points on prudent training:
1. Warm up and stretch for 15-30 minutes before each training session.
2. Warm up on the water for 3 to 4km for every row.
3. Either, do not train if you are ill or have any kind of viral infection, or simply row at a very low intensity (below that in category I), as some recent research would suggest. It would be best to seek medical advice with the onset of any illness.
4. Do some stretching for 10-15 minutes after each row.
5. All of this material assumes a clean bill of health, following medical consultation.

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