Rowing Pace: Practical Application
Three main steps to finding your perfect rowing page:
- Understand your split time
- Learn to row at a consistent split
- Learn your slow and medium pace, as well as your race-pace, over various distances (ideally 500 m, 1,000 m, 2-km and 5-km)
Now it’s time to take those number and put them to practical use during a multi-modal conditioning workout. In other words, during metabolic workouts that features rowing and various other movements, such as barbell or gymnastics skills.
Consider the following three multi-modal workouts with rowing:
Jackie (1,000-m row, 50 thrusters at 45 lb., 30 pull-ups:
If you have ever done Jackie, you probably know it’s not won on the row. But it can be lost on the row if you go out too hard. This means way more time can be made up on the thrusters and the pull-ups than on the row.
Recommendation: Take your 1,000-m race pace effort time and try to hold 8 to 10 splits above that pace during the row in Jackie.
For example, if your best 1,000-m row is 3:40 (i.e. a 1:50 average split), then try to row the 1,000 m of Jackie at a 1:58 to a 2:00 split. It will only be about 20 seconds off your best effort, but that 20 seconds is the difference between seeing stars and passing out when you get off the rowing machine, and feeling relatively fresh and ready to hit thrusters.
Christine (3 rounds of 500-m row, 12 bodyweight deadlift, 21 box jumps)
While 500 m is a relatively short rowing distance, you need to think about the big picture here. For someone who is quite fit, Christine is likely an 8-12 minute workout. So you need to pace your row accordingly for this time domain.
This probably means rowing quite a bit slower than your 2-km race pace, so you can hit the deadlifts and box jumps a bit harder.
Recommendation: Row these 500-m intervals at approximately 6 to 8 splits above your 2-km time So if your best 2-km effort is a 7:20 (i.e. a 1:50 average split), then you should aim to hold a 1:56 to 1:58 split for each 500-m row interval during Christine.
Note: This will feel probably easy during the first interval. It should. If you don’t feel like you’re consciously holding back during that first 500-m row, you certainly won’t be able to hold that pace during the next two intervals. If each of your three Christine rounds are around the same speed, then you know you’re doing something right, so it’s always best to start a bit conservative on the first row.
2012 CrossFit Regionals workout: 2-km row, 50 pistols, 30 hang cleans
Like Jackie and Christine, this workout is not determined by the row. It’s won by managing the row well to be able to maximize your pistol and clean performance. Think of the row as a mere buy-in to the pistols and cleans.
Recommendation: Row at your 5-km race pace. For example, if your 5-km time is 20:00 (i.e. a 2:00 average split), then aim to hold a consistent 2:00 pace during the entire 2-km row on this workout. Again, the first 500-meters will feel like you’re holding back, but it will allow you to dismount the row and get started on your pistols without your heart beating out of your chest and feeling like you want to stop.
Overarching Lesson: For most multi-modal conditioning workouts with rowing, the best approach to maximize your overall time is to be consciously conservative and consistent on the row.