The Interactive Plan (IP)

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The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Mat » Tue May 24, 2011 8:53 pm

The Interactive Plan is probably the easiest plan to get hold of, and is quickly tailored for an individual's fitness/training level. Nevertheless, it does seem to have a very low profile, and I thought I'd start a thread to provide a quick overview for anyone looking for an alternative training plan.

I initially paid the IP very little attention, and it was not until I was recommended to it last year (thanks Jason :wink: ) that I printed myself off a copy and began following the IP. I followed it throughout last year, and began the programme again earlier this year, with the intention of utilising it for 2 x 24 week cycles each year.

My own understanding of the PP and the WP is that whilst they are different, each appears to maintain a mix of long slow training, fast intervals and everything in between (apologies for any misunderstanding on my part - I've followed neither though I had briefly considered them). My own view is that it is very difficult to peak in your performance for a 60’ / HM at the same time as a 1k / 2k distance.

This is where the IP is different. Whilst it is introduced as a 2k programme, the plan addresses all aspects of your erging fitness along the way.

The plan begins with a focus on intervals (UT1 & UT2), during which you will build a good, solid aerobic base. After a few weeks, it will introduce some shorter AT (Aerobic Threshold) intervals, but still maintain plenty of long ones. At this stage, you will find your performance over the longer distances (60’, 10k etc) will have improved.

The middle phase of the plan introduces more AT intervals, as well as the shorter TR (Transport) intervals whilst balancing these with the 12’ and 15’ UT1 intervals to maintain the base fitness you’ve built up. Towards the end of this phase, you’ll begin to see some of the AT (max) sprint intervals (e.g. 1’, 1.5’) appearing. At this stage, you may be pleasantly surprised with any attempts at middle distance pieces such as the 5k or 6k

The final stage alternates the now familiar UT1 intervals with a balance of the AT intervals as well as the TR and AN sprint stuff, peaking at a 2k “Test” at the end of the plan.

You can get a plan for anything from 9 to 26 weeks, and thus tailor it to meet a race date, or decide how many cycles to build into your training year.

Some may be put off by the fact that all sessions are timed rather than distance based, but you will get used to this. The intervals are often fairly odd times too (e.g. 9’, 13’), but this can help to keep the plan varied.

To get a copy of the IP specifically for you, simply put your own details into the webpage http://concept2.co.uk/training/interactive and print out your personal plan. The plan will suggest training “zones” for each of the training bands, based either on HR or pace. If you are unsure which “Athlete Level” to select, just take your best guess – if in real doubt, my advice would be simply to enter details twice (one for each level), and decide which plan you’d prefer to follow!

As with any other plan, this does have its shortcomings, and I am sure that others will be able to comment based on their own experience. The only downside I found last year was that because the plan is primarily intervals, I did lose the mental strength on longer 30’/10k type pieces in the middle of the plan. This I addressed this time around by simply switching a weekly UT1 or AT session to a similar length single time/distance piece

I offer my own experience simply to raise the profile of this plan for those looking to a viable and flexible alternative to the PP/WP. Hope it helps :fsbgrin:
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by kirbyt » Tue May 24, 2011 10:42 pm

Hey, Mat. The IP looks interesting and your results over the past year have been very impressive. I have a quick question for you. When doing the intervals, did you use the heart rate to determine your pace and if you did did you use the heart rate to determine the rest period as the IP suggests? Okay, that was two questions and the second one was conditional so maybe not so quick. :oops: I'm just kind of curious because that would be a very different experience for me: waiting for my heart rate to fall sufficiently as opposed to just watching the rest interval count down.
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Mat » Wed May 25, 2011 9:31 am

Kirby - I tend to use the pace guide for the intervals rather than the HR, and I'd recommend that to anyone as the plan simply "knows" min and max HR, and I personally feel that our response to training at a % of HR Max is very individual. I do tend to train at the high end of the recommended pace, and try to negative split the intervals slightly, but then I always like to come away feeling like I had a good session (though not always exhaustive).

I do tend to use timed rest too - like you, I think I'd struggle to wait for the HR to get to the prescribed level. For longer intervals (12', 15' etc), I actually keep the rest periods pretty short (2') so that the session better replicates a longer piece, although I think it would be more usual to allow 3' or even 4'. I would use 3' for the AN/TR type intervals that below 10' , whilst the the shorter stuff (under 3') I would use 1:1 work to rest.

To be honest Kirby, whilst I do monitor HR on each session, I tend to use the information for two purposes; Comparison between similar sessions helps to identify improvements (or otherwise) in training, and secondly as a mental aid during tough longer sessions / PB attempts. I know for example that under 150 is still pretty well in UT2 territory, and when in the 150's I'm still fairly comfortable, whilst as the HR reaches high 150's and into the 160's it'll start getting hard. So if I'm say 35' into a 60' row and the HD demons are telling me it's all too much, a quick glance at a HR of say 155 reminds me that it's not tough at all, and sends the demons back in their box :!:

Hope that helps :fsbgrin:
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by kirbyt » Wed May 25, 2011 2:07 pm

Yes, I think that's clear, Mat. It all sounds good to me. Now, I just have to see about replacing the battery in my polar chest belt. Strangely, the battery's not designed to be replaced...
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by hewitt » Wed May 25, 2011 2:23 pm

I will have to put my 2 pence in aswell.I highly recomend the IP as a training program.I have used it twice in the last 2 years and it made me PB on my 2k twice in the same year and recently it has taken me to within .1 of my PB yesterday. 8)
I follow the IP with the training "pace"(basically percentage of 2k power needed) that it gives you as i dont have a HR monitor.I find myself pushing the pace on most sessions faster than the prescribed pace.And i also find that the best way to do the sessions is to negative split them.eg.7x4min.
Once you have used the IP for a few weeks it seems to help with negative splitting all sessions,even the PB attempts. :)
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by SlowSi » Wed May 25, 2011 4:23 pm

I'm another advocate of the IP, albeit a tad slower than Mat & Jase!! I've gone back to it in recent weeks as I just can't get my head into the WP at the moment.

Like Jason I don't use a HRM so just tend to try and stick in the pace bands and recommended stroke rates, on average I tend to be at the higher end of the pace band at mid range spm's so I know that if I up the spms a bit i'll be heading into the next training band....if that makes sense.

WRT to stroke rate and rest periods I think the recommneded is:-

UT2 - 18-20 spm
UT1 - 20-24 spm, 25% of work
AT - 24-28 spm, 50% of work
TR - 30-34 spm, 100% of work
AN - 36+ spm, 100% of work

I'm 4 weeks into a 26 week Level 4 programme, no real desire to do a 2k test this side of Christmas so i'll intersperse CTC's & C2C sessions into the programme aswell.

Today for me was a 12' AT session :-

4k wu

12 AT' - 3368m - 1:46.8 @ 28

3 min splits :-

1:47.0 @ 27
1:47.3 @ 27
1:47.1 @ 28
1:45.8 @ 28

This was faster than the recommneded pace for the session but I wanted to see what 1:47's would feel like for 2/3's of a 5k, the answer is blooming hard !!! Quite happy with the session and pleased with managing to keep 1:47's on the clock with a burst at the end aswell

5k UT2 @ 17

2k cd @ 14

Hope I'm not going to be the only posting in here :lol: !!

Cheers, Si
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by billwright » Wed May 25, 2011 4:33 pm

Thanks for laying that out Mat. I'm thinking of switching out of the WP in July/August with a 26 week lead into the Crash B's. The WP is maybe contributing to problems with my joints (shoulders, elbows and wrists) especially on the L4 sessions. Of course, that may just be the onset of old age as I'm almost 65. :lol: :lol:

I have a couple of questions. I used the last week of a notional 26 week IP as my taper week before the Farnboro' 5k RowPro and I was at a bit of a loss as to how to get to the prescribed HR in for example 3 x 1.5' AN and 1 x 3' TR where my HR would be 160-166 and 149-160 respectively. I found it very difficult unless my WU was also at that or near that pace. That made the sessions at the prescribed HR very long and much more difficult. Have I misunderstood something? #-o How have you resolved that issue?

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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Iain » Wed May 25, 2011 4:57 pm

Si, nice session.

Bill, I think consensus backed up by the author's comments was that the intention was that you should row at a pace that levelled out in the bands, but not to slow for HR drift. AN meant AFAP and ignore the HR (i.e. wouldn't ever level out) - I know my HR continues upwards after these intervals, a little late to adjust pace then :lol: . I think a 2k is a TR interval, so that gives an approximate pace while 5k is AT, these can be adjusted for the slower paces if the required HR is not achieved.

I only followed IP for about 5 weeks early in my erging, so most of my knowledge comes from reading the posts of others (I read a lot when i was on it including many dozens of pages of IP threads!)

One of the reasons that the IP fell out of favour was that they got rid of the target paces relying wholly on HR & stroke rate. Glad that these seem to have been restored.

Just to reply to Mat's reference to comparison of plans, I won't comment on the WP as few people follow a plan its originator would recognise as being the WP! My only comment would be that the main distinction of WPesque plans is that they have a focus on low rate sessions, a "marmite" topic in itself. As I see it comparing PP and IP, the PP:

1) appeals to those that need constant reassurance/motivation (depending on your preference) of their improvements
2) is IMHO the simplest and best explained plan available and so appeals to those with less patience for study / complexity
3) was designed to fit into a (probably generous) lunch hour and so might appeal to those who dislike hour+ rows!
4) it aims for 2k/5k improvement throughout the training and so is good to use during periods including more than one race while IP is focussed on a single optimum 2k.

As those who were generous enough to read my posts a year and more ago will be bored of hearing, as formulated it has an element of base building followed by race sharpening as it starts with more even paced rows where the intervals are significantly sub-maximal and only gradually sharpens the targets to the tough plan most know. However,

it is not easy to modify it for more than a 6 month period and is unsatisfactory to "restart" without a significant gap for more than a couple of months of sharpening. It is the latter use which makes it so popular and sub-optimum for longer distance focus (as well as the shorter session maximum).

The IP has an impressive pedigree and you only have to glance above to see glowing testimonials. I am not in a position to add to or refute these, but negative comments made include:

1) few comparable sessions make progress difficult to assess between the 6 weekly 2k tests.
2) issues on pacing the shorter and particularly the AN sessions (1 band for very different sessions)
3) early long sessions are not to everyone's tastes, although I understand rthese have been significantly reduced from earlier plans.

I am surprised at the rest periods quoted for the shorter sessions, I have heared people using 3 times work period for the AN sessions, certainly Pete recommended 80" rests after 100m repeats although admittedly for many more reps.

- Iain
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Mat » Wed May 25, 2011 8:35 pm

SlowSi wrote:12 AT' - 3368m - 1:46.8 @ 28
This was faster than the recommneded pace for the session but I wanted to see what 1:47's would feel like for 2/3's of a 5k, the answer is blooming hard !!! Quite happy with the session and pleased with managing to keep 1:47's on the clock with a burst at the end aswell
That may have felt hard, but it looks like a pretty well executed piece to me Si =D> =D> Very nice increase in pace towards the end too 8)

Thanks for the info on SR :fsbgrin: I must admit that I have taken very little notice of stroke rate myself :oops: but am only too aware how important it is for me to do some lower rate pieces to build power - I will do more low rate stuff, I promise :^o [-X
billwright wrote:I was at a bit of a loss as to how to get to the prescribed HR... I found it very difficult unless my WU was also at that or near that pace.
Bill - I do tend to use the pace prescription rather than HR to determine session pace, and would expect an HR paced session to be very difficult on short intervals with the lag in HR response, as referred to by Iain. Aside from deliberately capped "recovery rows", I find it difficult to pace any piece on HR.

Even if you had used the pace guide however, you may have struggled given that you'd just taken the taper week from the plan. If you do follow the plan for any length of time, you'll soon get a feel for the right training pace on these pieces, and would simply refer back to previous sessions for say 1.5" AN intervals :D
Iain wrote:1) few comparable sessions make progress difficult to assess between the 6 weekly 2k tests.
2) issues on pacing the shorter and particularly the AN sessions (1 band for very different sessions)
3) early long sessions are not to everyone's tastes, although I understand rthese have been significantly reduced from earlier plans.
I can understand each of these concerns, and can admit that I may have had them to a small degree myself, but did find that;

"...few comparable sessions" was beneficial because you were not always comparing and trying to better previous sessions, but making that days session work for you ( I recall Erik once telling me to "concentrate on what is on the PM rather than what you think should be there" - apologies Erik if I have misquoted :wink: ). For example, you may have a 3 x 9' session. Rather than looking at a similar session last week, you may refer to previous 10', or 8' sessions, and decide to pace slightly faster or slower, and in my case, always try to negative split the intervals. If you are still feeling freash after the first two, put some more effort in of the third :!: I promise that it is not as daunting as the various timed pieces initially look.

"...early long sessions not to everyone's taste" I must admit to jumping in at week 4/5 each time I've done the plan for that reason :oops: I don't necessarily endorse that though 8-[ I am restricted in time, and managed to fit the plan into my 1 hr session (inc w/u etc) quite easily, with long sessions always done on a Sunday when I can do a little longer. If the plan says 5 x 12', and you just don't have the time, then do 4 x 12' :fsbgrin: Similarly, all of my 75'/90' UT2 rows ended up as 60' UT1 rows :?
Last edited by Mat on Wed May 25, 2011 10:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Wolfmiester » Wed May 25, 2011 9:16 pm

The often mentioned indoor rowing coach Eddie Fletcher endorses the IP, so obviously it works.
I also used it for about 18 months when I first started, and of course the times and fitness improved greatly.
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Liefcat » Wed May 25, 2011 10:20 pm

Mat wrote:"...few comparable sessions" was beneficial because you were not always comparing and trying to better previous sessions, but making that days session work for you ( I recall Erik once telling me to "concentrate on what is on the PM rather than what you think should be there" - apologies Erik if I have misquoted :wink: ).
No need for apologies, think I´ve tried to formulate that meaning, but maybe not with those exact words. What I recall the best was once I wrote about Mikkel´s Zen-approach:

"Mikkel,
like your Zen approach very much! I find the sessions where I just start to see how fast (or whatever) I can go, with no expectations whatsoever,the most exciting. But there seems to be a kind of entropy, so I soon afterwards fall into the "trap" of expectations and fixation on numbers. So like everything else: it´s an ongoing process!"
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Iain » Thu May 26, 2011 11:06 am

Mat wrote:
Iain wrote:1) few comparable sessions make progress difficult to assess between the 6 weekly 2k tests.
2) issues on pacing the shorter and particularly the AN sessions (1 band for very different sessions)
3) early long sessions are not to everyone's tastes, although I understand rthese have been significantly reduced from earlier plans.
I can understand each of these concerns, and can admit that I may have had them to a small degree myself, but did find that;

"...few comparable sessions" was beneficial because you were not always comparing and trying to better previous sessions, but making that days session work for you ( I recall Erik once telling me to "concentrate on what is on the PM rather than what you think should be there" - apologies Erik if I have misquoted :wink: ).

"...early long sessions not to everyone's taste" I must admit to jumping in at week 4/5 each time I've done the plan for that reason :oops: I don't necessarily endorse that though 8-[
Thanks for the comments, all fair. Re comparability, as I see it people find different optimum balances between the motivation of comparison against the temptation to push too hard (see first comment on PP above). I think you & Erik have a good point, far better to work for consistency at the right work rate for that particular day than pushing faster all the time.
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Paul Victory » Thu May 26, 2011 5:22 pm

I´ve had a look at the IP and what I like about it is the cyclic approach. You start off concentarting on longer distances and gradually work your way twoards shorter, faster pieces. As someone who has become semi (?) obsessed with improving my nonathlon scores, this seems like a great way of working your way through the various distances in order to optimise each at different points on the cycle.

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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by andy walls » Thu May 26, 2011 6:11 pm

I was put onto the 2k IP by Jason last year and really enjoyed it.

I only opted for a 12 week plan but the variety and structure of training it offered kept me really interested. I plan on working with the IP again after Madchester and would recommend it.
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by billwright » Thu May 26, 2011 7:18 pm

I think that we have enough of us going to Madchester to have a right old discussion on the pros and cons. Should be interesting. :D

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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Stan » Thu May 26, 2011 8:03 pm

Delighted to see this thread taking off. We tried starting a similar one a few years back but it never really took off. I know Thomas WP used the IP plan a lot in our early days and improved a lot. I may well give this a go after my little stint on the PP5k plan
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by SlowSi » Thu May 26, 2011 8:24 pm

Looks like there may be a fair bit of interest being drummed up, come on in the waters fine :lol: !!!

Plan called for 2*15 Ut1 today so decided to call it a straight 30' at top end of my pacing 1:54.0 :-

2k wu

30' - 7940 (1:53.3 @ 22)

1:53.5 @ 22
1:53.2 @ 22
1:53.4 @ 22
1:53.3 @ 24
1:52.9 @ 23

Quite happy with that, probably sneaked into AT territory at the end but didn't want to let the 1:53's slip.

5k cd @ 16

Cheers, Si
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Daffy » Thu May 26, 2011 10:57 pm

billwright wrote:I think that we have enough of us going to Madchester to have a right old discussion on the pros and cons. Should be interesting. :D

Bill :fswink: :fswink:

Only seven more sleeps before we set off. :lol: :lol:
Awhhh! Bless! :D

I will probably be having a stab at using the IP after Madchester. (The problem I foresee is the fact that an initial 2k TT is required... That's not it's greatest selling point. Fwightened... 8-[ )
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Mat » Fri May 27, 2011 12:46 pm

SlowSi wrote:Plan called for 2*15 Ut1 today so decided to call it a straight 30' at top end of my pacing 1:54.0 :-

30' - 7940 (1:53.3 @ 22)
Good session Si =D> =D> =D> Nice pace throughout, and a good decision to merge the two intervals together - I always feel that it is definitely worth doing that regularly to enable to you maintain pace for longer durations 8)
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by SlowSi » Sat May 28, 2011 7:07 pm

Thanks Mat, I intend to do the longest Ut1 workput of the week as a straight through session, next week is scheduled for a 3*13 so i'll just call that one a straight 10k @ UT1 pacing and rate. Like you say the one downfall of this plan is, that if you follow it exactly, you'll never do a rep greater than circa 5/6k, which can play on your mind when trying for a ranking distance greater than 6k.

Today was a 2*8 AT session :-

4k wu @ 18

2*8 AT, 4' active rest - 1:47.5 @ 27

1:47.8 @ 26
1:47.4 @ 28
1214 AR

3k cd @ 16

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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by SlowSi » Mon May 30, 2011 2:00 pm

Another AT session today, this time 2*9, 4.5 AR, aim for me was to keep 1:47's on the PM aslong as I could :-

4k wu

2*9 AT - 1:47.5 @ 28

1:47.9 @ 28
1:47.2 @ 28

3.5k cd

Quite happy with that, same average pace as Saturday 2*8 AT.

Cheers, Si
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Mat » Tue May 31, 2011 8:27 am

SlowSi wrote:2*9 AT - 1:47.5 @ 28
Quite happy with that, same average pace as Saturday 2*8 AT.
So you should be Si :D Same pace as the 8' session - feels good when that happens doesn't it 8)
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by strider77 » Tue May 31, 2011 5:17 pm

Great idea Mat and very well presented :D =D>

I have been on a 13 week IP programme and had reached the end of week 6 when I went to Cornwall for a week so have missed almost 10 days,

Rather than start again I will plug into week 7 tonight and start the last 7 weeks, I have enjoyed the change and the discipline of having every session planned and predetermined.

I also agree that 3 x 13 mins UTI and the like did not sit well with me and I have also substituted 5k, 30 mins and 40 mins rows for these intervals as I was also losing the mental discipline to do anything longer than about 15 mins.

Last night was a 6k UT1-22:57.7-1:[email protected] and tonight calls for an AN session 10 x 45 secs on/45 secs rest will report back tomorrow :D
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by strider77 » Wed Jun 01, 2011 8:26 am

I am hogging this thread now it seems :oops:

Last night was an AN session 10 x 45 secs on 45 secs off target pace 1:39.0

This is what happened :-

7:30-2293m-1:38.1- a very generous 33spm from the PM actually closer to 34

231-1:37.4-35 far too many strokes get a grip lad !
228-1:38.6-32 much better see you can do it :lol:
229-1:38.2-33-steady
227-1:39.1-33-oops come on you can do better than that
229-1:38.2-33-told you !
228-1:38.6-33
230-1:37.8-33
228-1:38.6-34-beginning to feel it :oops:
230-1:37.8-35-dig in only one more to go :twisted:
233-1:36.5-36-let it go a little bit and finally finished

Overall quite pleased as better than target and rate not too bad, would have liked more consistency like reps 3-7 which were pleasing :D

Night off tonight to repair the damage and rise like a Phoenix on Thursday :lol:
66 5ft 10ins tall, 13 stone 11lbs, proud to be a Free Spirit
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Mat
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Re: The Interactive Plan (IP)

Post by Mat » Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:13 am

Good stuff Alan :fsbgrin: I think you're absolutely right in that there's no need to restart after a short break - I often just "rewind" the plan by a week or so, and re-do the previous week's sessions, which can help you get back on track, and by repeating the sessions allows you to see if there has been any fitness lost

Good set of 45' last night 8) Certainly well below your initial target, and I enjoyed the thought processes throughout the session :fsbgrin: It can be tough to get consistency in pace whilst you are also concentrating on changing SR, and also worrying about the fact that there's a whole 10 intervals to get through :!: :!: Looks like you began to push that pace once you saw the light at the end of the tunnel :twisted:
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45, 6'2", 85kg(ish)

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