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Measuring Progress

December 26, 2011

I know I’m training hard, but how do I know how much progress I’m making? How do I know if I’m getting stronger? There’s a whiteboard in our gym where we can write up personal records: the maximum we can lift for a given lift. That’s one way to track progress. My workout later today is another way.

In late February, I’ll be racing in the Chicago Indoor Rowing Championships, a 2k erg race. Every Monday, I do a workout specifically to train for that race. The last few weeks, we’ve been doing eight 500 meter sprints on Mondays. But every week we get a little less time to rest in between sprints. By repeating almost the same workout every week, I get an idea of my progress. The goal is to see the same, or slightly faster, average speed (just holding the same speed means I’m getting stronger, because it’s same speed with less rest time).

This sort of workout is exciting and intimidating. It’s a chance to measure my progress, to prove the benefits of my work. But it’s also a demand to perform at my best. The coach knows how fast I went last week. The other rowers around me know what my goal is. We all hold each other accountable.

But this sort of workout structure does more than just let me measure my progress. It keeps my head in the game. Those last few sprints are the ones that are really important to building my cardio base. Those are the ones that are going to make the most difference. But as I hit that 6th and 7th sprint, and my body is exhausted, it’s tempting to just stop. And thinking about Ironman Arizona in November is not going to do much to keep me going. But knowing last week’s average speed, and knowing how close I am to that, will matter.

328 Days till Ironman Arizona.

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From → erg, training

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