It's a Sandwich... workout!
Now that we are deep into the racing season you should be incorporating more race specific workouts that will help you when it comes race day. One variation of a workout I like to do periodically throughout the competitive season is what I call a sandwich workout.
The "Sandwich" workout is a great way to work on top end speed work while incorporating slower speed work in a setting that will mimic race scenarios quite well. Let me dig a little deeper into the concept and explain why I call this a "sandwich" workout.
The basic concept of this specific session is to complete a certain number of sets(pieces) that will consist of a sandwich of efforts. These typically include a beginning and end in zone 1 or 2 (the bread) with a zone 5 effort (the meat) between the easier efforts. After the completion of a sandwich (piece) it is followed by a period of complete rest.
There are a couple of advantages of doing this type of work that I will try to explain so you can understand the reasoning for making sets in this fashion. The first is other than the start of the race, you will be sprinting from a steady cruise throughout a race to either catch someone, pass someone, leave someone or to grab a wave so having work where you sprint from a cruise to tops speed can be beneficial. Secondly, also in the race other than at the finish you will need to settle back into a cruise once you do a quick sprint to do one of the said actions above otherwise the sprint will not sustain the desired result. So this workout helps you also get comfortable with paddling after you have tired yourself out from the sprint. Now you may be asking, well then why do you have periods of total rest? you do not rest in a race? The reason for total rest goes back to one of the main reasons to do the workout in the first place and that is for top end speed. For you to develop top end speed you need to be able to produce actual top end speed. Without the total rest periods you will continue to tire after each consecutive sprint effort and each sprint will be less effective at helping increase top end speed. When doing true speed workout it can be thought of to be very similar to strength training. When you want to get stronger in the gym you perform sets of reps for a given movement followed by periods of rest. If you do not rest you cannot perform more reps and will never get stronger. The same principle applies to top end speed in the boat.
Now that you have an understanding of the reason behind the structure of the workout let me break down for you the last sandwich workout I did this morning on my PERG (concept 2 rower w/ Paddle adapter). After I did a 1000m warm up I followed that with a series of 7 sandwiches. The sandwiches (pieces) included 1 minute in zone 1 followed immediately by 1 minute in zone 5 followed immediately by 1 minute in zone 1 again. after each sandwich I took a 1 minute total rest. I ended this workout at 7 sets as I was afraid that I would be getting diminishing returns as I was struggling to sustain my top end speed on the last interval. This is a good time to call it quits for the day and if you want to do more work follow this by more zone 1 or 2 paddling or a run as I did. I choose to use zone 1 for these as it is more of an active recovery meaning that I can keep my complete rest pretty short. If I were to paddle closer to zone 2 for the "bread" I would require more complete rest to be recovered for each piece to make and effective workout. These variable can change and the length of Zone 5 work should increase with a subsequent rise in your current fitness level but this will give you a structure to look at when creating your own workout.
I hope you found this information valuable and hope you get the chance to try this workout sometime. If you have, leave a comment below and let us know what you think!