I know what you're thinking: this blog is about running barefoot, why on earth am I mentioning rowing? Well, simple really: as you'll recall from my previous post, I'm not running at the moment and am using rowing to keep fit instead.

This month's UK edition of Runner's World (January '09) has an article on a method of training devised by Veronique Billat. The basic principle is you determine your vVO2 max and then train at that level using varying intervals. I'm a big fan of intervals (I know, I'm insane) and was quite eager to try this out however due to my self-imposed running "embargo", this is currently off the cards.

Fear not, I turned to my good friend - t'Internet - to see if I could find details on using this approach for rowing. Well, the best source of info I could find was this one which provides quite generic instructions, but doesn't explicitly mention rowing, and here which provides a bit more info and a handy calculator. As the instructions are quite generic, I couldn't see any reason why it shouldn't be possible.

So I've decided to see if I could apply the principles to rowing.

Yesterday I did about 10 mins of gentle rowing and then blasted my way through 6 mins of hard fast rowing to see how far I could get in that time - 1598m.

Now to calculate my vVO2 max:

   Distance / seconds
=  1598 / 360
=  4.44 metres / second

This isn't particularly useful when it comes to rowing as the rowing machines I have access to show pace in time per 500m, so converting this to time per 500m should make things easier...

= 1:53 mins / 500m

So in order to row at my vVO2 max pace, I need to be rowing at a pace of 1min 53 secs per 500m.

My next challenge was to determine my tvVO2 max.

With my vVO2 max pace, I set to determining my tvVO2 max this morning. I should probably have left it a couple more days, but I was too anxious to get going. My tvVO2 max came in at 1890m.

Oh yes, a few technical bits that are worth considering in the context of this post:

  • all rowing is done with a drag setting of about 130
  • I was very honest with myself when calculating my vVO2 and tvVO2 settings:
    • vVO2: I used the timer to ensure I could get an accurate distance for 6 mins.
    • tvVO2: I allowed for a fluctuation of 3 seconds per 500m in either direction on my vVO2 pace as keeping a consistent pace is a bit hard. I took my distance reading as soon as I hit 3 consecutive strokes that were 3 or more seconds above my vVO2 pace.

Now I have my figures, I can go about training using Billat pace on the rower. I'll keep you updated as I progress.