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    The Test of Time

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    Time trials and control tests need to be an integral part of your training throughout the year to ensure your fitness and technical skills are moving in the right direction.

     First, determine the type of control tests that will prepare you best for your peak race. Consider the distance, time, and elements that you need to improve. Types of trials include:                               

    * rowing a set distance at a set stroke rate and recording the elapsed time;
    * rowing a set time at a set stroke rate and measuring the meters covered;
    * rowing a set distance with an open stroke rating for a best time;
    * rowing a set time with an open stroke rating to maximize meters.

    For even pacing and consistency, rowing a set distance at a set stroke rate–5,000 meters at 28 strokes per minute or 2,000 meters at 32 strokes per minute, for example–is a good idea. A control test of 20 minutes at 26 strokes per minute (rowing a set time at a set stroke rate) develops stroke efficiency with the goal of increasing distance covered. Open-rating trials for a specific distance are for simulating actual race conditions. Practice your 2,000-meter or 1,000-meter race plan, fine-tune your mental approach, and track improvement on the clock.

    Plan your trials selectively, because the stress of too many maximal efforts in a given month can take its toll. If you include two higher-intensity sessions per week every two to three weeks, exchange one for a control test rather than adding another hard session. During your taper, a race-simulation day should be as near to actual competition conditions as possible; row at the same time of day, row the same number of races with the same time gaps between starts.

    Marlene Royle is the author of Tip of the Blade: Notes on Rowing. She is a specialist in masters training, and her coaching service, Roylerow Performance Training Programs, provides support to improve your competitive edge. For information, email Marlene at or visit

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