Week 29: Shifting Rates

Rates will bump up slightly this week, and we’ll work more on shifting rates effectively together.  A shift in rate can be used to lengthen out to a more sustainable pace, to gain boat speed to pass another crew, to improve relaxation, to bring the crew together, or as a part of the final sprint.  All shifts should be clearly called – example “lengthen 2 beats to a 28 in 2.  1, 2, ON THIS ONE.”  The next recovery should be a bit slower on the slide and hopefully lead to a good catch, the next drive even more powerful.

When shifting for a final sprint – typically just the last 200-300m of the race – it’s important to focus in one last time for “Up 4 beats for the last sprint in 2!  1, 2, ON THIS ONE.”  We’ll try to sit up tall (less layback), make sure your hands come away quickly on the recovery, focus on matching the stern pair, and drive the legs for all they’re worth.  If we really kick the legs together, shifting up 4 beats is possible.  You’re going to run out of gas but that is the goal.  The final sprint is a chance to expend the last bit of anaerobic power we have.  It can be an effective tool – we had some very good sprints this summer (and some others that were not as good).

Reminder again – when rates are low or moderate – drive pressure should generally go up – there should be a contrast between the controlled relaxation on the recovery phase and then exertion on the drive phase.  It is harder to get your heart rate up at an 18 or 20 than at a 28 or 30.  Mentally difficult and exhausting.  But it is entirely possible and it is part of what will make us faster.  Training some days at low rates (but high pressure) builds our strength endurance – keep pushing!


  • Monday – re-rig, then shortened pick drill by 6s, then 10′ on, 2′ off at moderate rates – 18-24 spm.  We’ll incorporate more shifts up and down.
  • Tuesday – 3-4 mile repeat intervals with 5′ rest.  Stroke rates 24-30spm – coaches call for each boat.  Full pressure – race pace or better.  Stretch.
  • Wednesday – warmup by 6s full strokes,  then immediately into 2 long rating pyramids of up to 30′ each.  First one 5′ each at 18, 20, 22, 22, 20, 18.  Second one 22, 20, 18, 20, 22, 24.  Hard steady state pressure – stay on it and increase the pressure as the ratings drop.  3 x 15 shallow one leg squats (each leg) and 3 x 20 v-ups.
  • Thursday – 2 x head race – short “head race” warmup up past the 500m pole and then back past the boathouse.  First piece starts at the middle ramp on the dock and ends at Haines Point (or earlier based on coaches decision).  Paddle 30 seconds and turn immediately – cross river and get ready for piece #2.  Total rest (including spin) no more than 5 minutes.  Race back from Haines Point to the boathouse.  22-28spm depending on coaches’ call.  Load trailer for Occ Chase regatta.
  • Sunday – Occoquan Chase regatta – no practice.

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