The “Pete Plan” method of pacing intervals is to do the first n-1 intervals at your target pace (generally the average pace from last time you did the session), with the final rep pretty much flat out. The MvB method on his 1min reps was to do the first n-2 reps at your target pace, then the n-1 (second to last) flat out, with the final rep a lesson in holding on following the big lactic acid flood from the penultimate rep.
In regard to the drive, one of the former olympians at my old club (about 6'5" and probably about 220 pounds when he was in top condition) says that it should be like leaping as high as you can into the air from a crouched position.
Short version: If you want to run faster, run a ton of miles.
Longer version: Triple your running miles (and then triple them again) and run everything at 145 bpm heart rate. Everything else (speed work, tempo runs, practically everything you read about in Runner's World, etc) just complicates the process.
The logic makes sense. Especially for amateurs like us, none of us has a big enough aerobic base to worry about speed work anyway. If your runs are too intense, you will either get injured or not be motivated to get out the door the following day.
The formula then becomes: slow runs = more runs = more miles = gradual improvement = a few years later you are fast as hell.
Sorry, no shortcuts here, just lots of boring consistency.
"the true nature of Olympic competition, it is not about beating the other guy, but using him to push yourself to better and better feats, and you don't have to fear your competition, just what lies inside you."
Remember to keep the hands moving. The more tired you get, the more likely you are to leave the hands in the finish. Continue to draw all the way through to the body, but keep your swing and momentum by making the handspeed away from the finish a reflection of the drive. If you can manage this, you'll always be able to take up the rate when your vision is starting to blur and you're losing feeling in your extremities.
make sure that you aren't "flapping your wings." Your arms should hang down from the shoulder, not stick out to the side. ... Aside from the usual advice of keeping your arms straight, elbows close to the body etc etc, he mentioned concentrating in pulling your elbows back behind your body when you pull the handle to your body rather than focusing on contracting your arm muscles.
Consistency is key. Stay injury free by means of well thought out, quality training. If you push too hard, you'll get hurt. There is no magic to it. Consistent application of energy an focus within workouts and from workout to workout, day to day, stroke to stroke will allow you to develop both technically and physiologically all the nuances and all the muscle memory required to be your very best. This is true whether your best is Olympic champion-level or average age-group rower. In many ways, this is the hardest part of training, but perhaps the most important. Let's face it -- one, kick-ass workout a month ain't going to hack it, no matter how hard you attack that training session. As an elite Danish rower once said, "The athlete who will win is the one who is willing to deal with the most repetition and boredom."
Here’s one of my favorite workouts to prepare you for that future 2k erg test. First, determine your goal time. Let’s say that in late March/early April, you want to go 8:00 for your 2k test. That works out to 2:00 splits for every 500 meters.
Week one, do 4x500 meters, with one minute rest in between at a 2:00 split. Do the first 500 meters like you’d do the first 500 meters of a 2k piece, the second 500 meters like the second 500 meters of a 2k piece, and so on.
Two weeks later, do the same workout, but now with 45 seconds of rest between pieces.
Another two weeks later, same thing, but with just 30 seconds of rest between pieces. The next time, 15 seconds rest. Now, the next piece should be your 2k test with no rest.
Obviously, you’re looking to be able to hold the splits with less and less rest, eventually holding the splits straight through the whole 2k piece. These workouts allow you to see if your training is on track and also help you get the feel of rowing at that split pace.
My first comment would be don't change anything too drastically with a week to go before a race, I would certainly recommend not changing the drag at this stage as the chances are whether you go up or down you will go slower because you'll not be using the drag you've trained yourself to be efficient at.
The relationship between stroke rate, drive power, and therefore pace, is generally different in racing or training. It is probably best at this point just to consider racing, or going as fast as you can for a set distance. In this case it is a trade off between stroke rate and drive power to get the best pace you can. The ability to make this trade off is what seperates the good racers (or time-triallers) from the not so good in my opinion. A lot of people fall into one of two categories - like you where to go faster you simply pull harder the same number of times each minute. Or those who keep the power the same and just apply it more times each minute (increase the stroke rate). Neither of these are optimal though. What you actually want to do is as you increase the stroke rate you gradually decrease the stroking power for a set distance.
For example let's take your best 2k of 7:05 at 25/26 spm. If you were to simply keep the power the same and increase the rate to 27spm it would be unsustainable. If you were to keep to 26spm and pull harder, it would become unsustainable. But if you were to decrease the power on the drive slightly and increase the stroke rate to 27spm you would go faster and the effort level would be the same. The trick comes in knowing how much to decrease the power as you increase the rate, and in having a gradual process through your training to get you to the point you want to be in the race.
You may have seen from my blog that a couple of times over the past year I have gone through a process of increasing rate 2k's. I started off with a 2k restricted to 20spm. I don't have to think too much how much power to put in here because I can pretty much pull as hard as I can (or rather push as hard as I can with my legs...) when I'm only doing a stroke every 3 seconds. But once I have a bench mark pace there I then do the next one (a week or two later) at 22spm, and I know I can go faster. But I decrease the power slightly because I can't still sustain max power on the drive.
Increasing stroke rate has the illusion of feeling harder because our breathing rate is tied to the stroke rate - you'll breathe once, twice, or even 3 times per stroke depending on effort level, but you will always breathe a multple of the rate each minute. So if you increase your 2k rate from 26 to 28spm you will breathe more regularly, and that makes you think you're working harder. It is an illusion though. For the effort level you'll still be taking in and processing the same amount of oxygen.
So how does this all help you? Well, if you are currently in shape to do that 1:46.5 pace (roughly) at 25-26spm, if you maintain 27-28spm you will be able to maintain 1:45.5 pace (roughly) through the 2k for the same real effort level. So the trick here is that if you concentrate on stroke rate during the 2k, and keep it to a minimum of 27spm, but don't put too much power on the drive so don't let yourself go faster that 1:46 pace for the first 1250m or so of the 2k, this will be sustainable and you will be in a good position to push on to a new 2k pb. Of course if you are not currently in shape for 1:46.5 pace at 26spm adjust accordingly from what you can actually do at the moment - maintain 1 to 2spm higher, but don't go faster than 1sec under the pace for that first 1250m (and don't go slower than the pace obviously, because you don't need to as it is more sustainable at this slightly higher rate).
How do you just increase the rate? Simple, at the end of the drive get your hands away quicker and pull yourself back up the slide a little with the foot straps if needed - make your adjustments to stroke rate by speeding up the recovery, not moving faster (and so pulling harder) on the drive. If you find that you're going too fast still, and pulling say 1:45 rather than 1:46, try to decrease the power at the beginning of the drive very slightly - but keep the recovery quicker to keep the rate at 27spm.
Doing it in a very small step like this is the only way it is achieveable - if you tried to go more than 2spm higher it would just be too unusual to you and not sustainable mentally.