HOCR Training Suggestions

Below is a recent article about training suggestions for the upcoming Head of the Charles regatta posted by US Rowing by the legendary international rowing coach, Kris Korzeniowski.

The Head of the Charles Regatta is a kind of American phenomenon. It is one of largest rowing regattas in the world, combining festivities with serious racing. Placed awkwardly on the third weekend of October, there is not give enough time for serious preparation. In addition, almost every school starts their academic year on the different Head-of-Charles-Regatta date which will decide how much time is available to train. Many coaches would like to use this time to teach and correct rowing technique but the athletes want to race and they want to have fun. If it has to be done, selection of the boat is rather simple. The coaches use ergometer results or small boats racing as a criteria. For instance, the top four ergs on each side, or the first four pairs from an inter-squad regatta make the boat.

Competing at the Head of the Charles is a great motivation for athletes to start training and getting into shape quickly. As much as everyone knows it is a fun regatta, no one wants to do poorly.

Physiologically, this 3-mile race is a typical anaerobic threshold (AT) effort. For this reason, combination of regular steady state (U2), hard steady state (U1) and anaerobic threshold (AT) workouts should be the basis of the of the preparation for this race.

Here are some examples of the “hard” steady state (U1) workouts:

5 x 2k/ 2′ rest at (18- 24 spm)
(2-3) x 19′(4′, 3′, 2′, 1′ … 4′) at (18, 20, 22, 24 … 18 spm)
3 x 16’ (4’,4’,4’,4’)) at (20, 22, 24,20 spm)
(2-3) x 20′ (10′, 7′, 3′) at (20, 22, 24 spm)

All these workouts can be done on the erg or in the boat. They could be competitive but preferably in the single file only to keep intensity low.

The most popular anaerobic threshold (AT) workouts are:

2 x 20′ (10′, 7′, 3′) at (24, 26, 28 spm)
(2-3) x 15′(5′, 5′, 5′) at (24, 26, 28 spm)
3 x 15′ – 1st and 3rd at 26 spm; 2nd (17 strokes on/5 strokes off) at 32-34 spm
(1-2) x 16′(8′, 4′, 2′, 1′, 1′) at (24, 28, 30, 32, 34 spm)
1x (5-10k) – racing at open cadence

The last two workouts are very good as specific race preparation.

Talking to a few experienced coaches, it seems that the most common weekly schedule before the HOCR is as follows:

Mon. – (U2/U1) – (16-18k) steady state at (18,20,22,18 spm) with some acceleration
Tues. – (AT) – (2-3) x 15′(5’,5’,5’) at (24,26,28 spm) or 3x 4k at 24,26,28 spm
Wed. – (U1) – 6 x 2k / 2′ rest at (18-24 spm)
Thurs. – (AT) – 2 x (4-5k) at ( 26,24,26 spm) or 1x 16’ (see above)
Fri. – (U2) – 16k of steady state, on easy side
Sat. – (AT) – 2 x 5k racing at open cadence or 1x8k at open cadence.

For alumni boats, Mike Teti and 1987 Gold Medal 8+ have these suggestions:

1. Get to the boat – 20 strokes at half slide, 20 strokes at three-quarter slide, 20 strokes at full slide
2. Say short prayer
4. Drink, eat, drink some more, have fun!

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