Links and Notes - October 17th 2023

Rowing changes and back to 12k

When I paused rowing in March the last steady state session I did was 12,194m. The session a week before was 12,302m. The reason for the dip across a week was because after testing my heart rate, my max heart rate had come down a decent amount and I had to recalculate my heart rate training zones. The new calculation meant that I needed to sit at about 4 beats lower for the duration of the workout. This might not sound much but it does make the difference of about 100m.

After returning to rowing on September 11th, my distance that I could do was only 11,609m. That drop felt painful. I had also learnt a lot about training in the months that I was away from the erg so I had changed my approach to steady state training too.

Earlier in the year I was training purely based on my heart rate. So I would start at a wattage of 130W and by the end of the workout I'd have dropped down to about 102W. That's a huge difference to compensate for cardiac drift.

After reading a lot about steady state and cardiac drift and just how much rowing triggers cardiac drift (it's a lot!), I realized that I was using too much power in the start. It's entirely possible and even ok to see the heart rate drift a little in a 60 minute session into zone 3. But the heart rate isn't actually indicative of whether one is training at a level where lactate buildup is happening or not.

See, the goal of steady state or zone 2 training isn't to stay in the heart rate zone. The heart rate zone is a great indicator of how much the effort is affecting you but the real goal is to be training just at about the level where your lactate buildup is in balance with how well your body is clearing it out. More than that and you end up with a session that leaves you more tired out and more prone to injury if you do it for a longer period of time.

After scouring literature and listening to doctors, it turns out that the easiest zone 2 test that actually lines up with reality even better than the heart rate is the talk test. Exercise at a level where you can talk and hold a conversation but you are also huffing and puffing enough that if you were on a call the other person would know that you are exercising.

So I did that and since September I've been doing steady state at a much lower output where my heart rate stays in zone 1 for a decent period of time before slowly building up into zone 2. I've also modified my steady state sessions to be 20 minute intervals followed by a 30 to 50 second break to drink water and munch on something. This helps a lot not just with cardiac drift, but also with recovery since I can stay somewhat hydrated while working out. This is one of those lessons I learnt for myself while cycling. Hydration is so darn important.

Anyways. I finally get to say that after a month at it, today I sat down to do a steady state workout and immediately I could feel a difference. I could feel my legs pushing very differently from the previous week and my arms were doing almost no work at all except to hold on to the handle bar. And after warming up for 6 minutes, I just pushed ahead at a 104W pace and it felt really really good. So far I'd been hovering at around 100W and was edging my way into 102W. Getting to 104W and feeling good about it was really awesome.

Next thing I knew, I was onto the rest of my intervals and smashing my target of 4000m in 20 minutes per interval without letting my heart rate average more than 152. Did I see some drift into Zone 3? Absolutely. But did I also spend the vast majority of time in Zone 1 and Zone 2 heart rate? At 91.1%, I think the answer is a resounding yes and the milestone has been claimed fair and square.

Asus Rog Ally

I ordered an asus rog ally today. Hoping to pick it up tomorrow. It's the fully specced out version with max power. I've been wanting to have handheld gaming for a while now so it feels good to finally get it.

I've been thinking of a steamdeck for a while but I just couldn't get myself over the hump that it is a little older now and there's no sign of a newer version till 2025 or even 2026. So with the Asus rog ally reviews all coming in really positive, especially after the firmware updates, and with the price being competitive with the steam deck (at least in Sri Lanka), annnd with it being verified as being actually more powerful, I feel like it's time for me to bite the bullet and get the device. There are so many games I want to finish in my library. And I do want to do it while being on the go.

I think it helps that the vast majority of games I want to finish are non demanding indie games. Which makes the question of steam deck vs rog questionable on my end. But all things considered, this purchase feels right for me.

Here's hoping it is worth it 🤞🏽

A small note on the conflict in palestine

There isn't much that I want to say here except that as always, my heart burns and bleeds for the innocents of Palestine. I know what it's like to see a civil war end with mass casualties of innocents. To hear of an exit corridor being looked at as a murder tunnel and the prospect of not taking it being the devil's choice of being mortared to death. I know also of the relief of hearing that the enemy has been obliterated, even if the civilians died with them. It's so comfortable from a distance.

It's also horrifying that we can be comfortable with it.

Most everything I see and read tells me that our education and information systems have failed us in teaching us that we can have multiple truths that we hold at one time. And I'm not even talking about the media framing of this war depending on which side is being discussed. I'm just talking about being able to hold simple truths that don't contradict each other or even mean anything malicious at all.

I can feel extreme sorrow and anger on behalf of the innocent families of Palestine who live in a cruel apartheid.

I can feel sorry for the innocent civilians of Israel who live in fear of the current attacks.

I can call Hamas terrorists. I can be angry at the Israeli military and government and zionist groups that make the everyday life of a Palestinian miserable.

I can do all of that and hold love for the people of Palestine and for the Israelites and for the jewish people all over the world. And I do.

That's a sample of the many truths that one can hold here without being anti semitic, islamaphobic, pro terrorist, and pro genocide.

But unfortunately, all conversations at this point seem to start with a "you are either with us or against us, horrors be damned" position. And that to me is the greatest tragedy of all. The death of reason. Tribalism never allowed enlightenment to shine it seems. Call out war crimes by a sovereign state? "You must be pro terrorism". Call out the crimes by Hamas? "You support the zionist propaganda". Have the last decade and more of wars taught us nothing of the humans and crimes that exist in this sphere?

This war in gaza and Israel won't be the last that the world sees. The horrors of war will raise their heads again and again. I pray that we at some point find it in ourselves to call out evil wherever we see it. War crimes are war crimes. Whether it's retaliation against an entire nation for the crimes of one group (I'm actually thinking of the invasion of Afghanistan right now) or the means used to end a civil war (see Sri Lanka's defeat of the LTTE). We should be courageous enough to be honest with ourselves. We should ask better. It may be war. But it must not be the loss of humanity.

Even if we must accept that horrors will happen, let us not do so with our mouths frothing in calls for blood.

Let us be better. Please.

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Posted on October 17 2023 by Adnan Issadeen