How To Improve Pacing

I have a good deal of experience coaching athletes that haven’t learned how to pace their 2000m piece. Their race piece consists of a strong first half of the race and then drops off when they hit the second half of the piece, or more precisely the third quarter of the race. Pacing is key to maximizing performance in any athletic effort that is not a sprint.

A great deal of this goes back to an earlier post that I wrote previously about hitting your split at the shift part of the piece 25 or so strokes into it. However, there are some athletes that haven’t learned how to pace themselves throughout the entire piece. Learning to row with more control and consistency is important so that you can make changes/moves during your piece.

Showing Pacing Visually

I’ve prepared a graph that illustrates an example of the difference between a trained and well executed 2000m piece and an inconsistent/ineffective piece. I think the visual is helpful to illustrate that a poorly executed 2000m piece has a great deal more inconsistency and control than a well-executed piece.

Graph displaying good pacing versus poor pacing in a 2k rowing race.

The blue line represents an inconsistent piece. The red line indicates the ideal pacing for the piece. The green line is the average split for the entire piece for the red line.

How Do You Go About Improving Your Pacing?

Various types of training are important and what follows is an example of how to fix pacing and consistency issues.

One of the most effective workouts you can row to help with pacing is the anaerobic threshold session consisting of 3 x 10 minutes with equal amounts of rest (10 minutes).

Instead of just rowing the 10-minute pieces as hard as you can, split benchmarks are provided for various two-minute segments along the way. The splits that need to be rowed at various parts are based on the athlete’s 2k best split. For example, let’s say that the athlete has a 7:00 minute 2000m best. This calculates at a 1:45.0 split average for all of the four 500m sections of the piece.

As a result, the pacing for the 3 x 10-minute workout should follow this protocol.

Piece # 0-2 mins 2-4 mins 4-6 mins 6-8 mins 8-10 mins
1 +14 secs of 2k split +12 secs of 2k split +10 secs of 2k split +8 secs of 2k split +6 secs of 2k split
2 +14 secs of 2k split +12 secs of 2k split +10 secs of 2k split +8 secs of 2k split +6 secs of 2k split
3 +12 secs of 2k split +10 secs of 2k split +8 secs of 2k split +6 secs of 2k split +4 secs of 2k split

Therefore, in the first 2 minutes the 7:00m 2k athlete should be pushing a 1:59.0 split. For each subsequent two minute segment, the pace increases by two second each time interval. By the end of the first piece, the last two minutes should be at a 1:51 split. Try to keep the rating between 24 to 28 strokes per minute. It is reasonable to expect that the rate may increase as the piece continues. Control is important so feed the power in and create torque rather than jack the rate up too high.


The features and results of this workout are as follows:

  1. The workout is tailored to the individual rower and not just a team wide benchmark. There is a greater potential for a coach to praise personal growth and improvement.
  2. The targer splits create performance benchmarks where control and good rhythm is needed to execute the workout correctly.
  3. Athletes doing this workout are provided the structure to GET FASTER as the piece progresses. This format encourages negative splitting (i.e. the second half of the piece is faster than the first half of the piece).
  4. Those rowers with a tendency to expend too much energy in the first half of the piece train in a way that reinforces pacing and control.


In conclusion, there are other methods for learning pacing in a rowing race. However, this practice protocol provides an example of how to help athletes row stronger in the second half of the race in a training environment. You could consider making the change in split to be a difference of 6 or 4 seconds over the entire ten minutes. The point is to teach how to pace and be consistent in order to maintain as much speed as possible in the second half of a race and get faster as the piece progresses. This is one solution that makes the most logical sense to me.

I would love to serve as your coach. If you would like to improve your rowing and learn more about the sport, please contact me. If you have any thoughts or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. I can be contacted at

Or let me know in the comments below. See you next time!


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