Paul's Law

Paul's Law says that for a rowing athlete with balanced speed and endurance capabilities, for every doubling of distance the 500m split should increase by five seconds. The form below calculates Paul's Law predicted target times based on a known result.

I wanted to see how balanced my speed and endurancecapabilitiesare so I made this graph. I plotted the spread between the best and worst performances to give me an incentive to narrow the gap as much as possible.

My best time according to Paul's law is my 500m time trial. I got this from an interval workout that I didn't think it was a particularly great performance. It's ranked at only the 55th percentile so it's actually my worst performance compared to the rowing community at large. The only other time trial that lands on the same curve is the half-marathon which is the longest distance I've rowed. Here I come in at the 71st percentile. I think the fact that my shortest and longest time trials fall on the same line indicates that I'm a pretty balanced rower.

My worst times according to Paul's law are my 2000m and 5000m times, yet those are my best performances compared to the community coming in at the 76th and 74th percentile. What does this mean?

Most importantly it means that if I can get these times in more in line with Paul's law, my best rankings will get even better. My actual 2k time is 7:07.3 but I should be able to get it down to 6:57.6. That's a worthy goal!

But why the discrepancy between what Paul's law and the online rankings? One guess is that since the 2k and 5k time trials are so popular there are more novice rowers at these distances which skews the rankings downward. Another guess is that these distances lie more on the cutting edge of anaerobic threshold than longer pieces so this is where weakness is most exposed?

Whatever it means, I've found my new benchmark for evaluating my performances. Wouldn't it be great if you could automatically generate one of these graphs from your online logbook at

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