Monday, February 1, 2016

Money Workouts

by Gina Kehr

You have heard the saying, “That was money!” or how about, “That’s money in the bank!” Neither one of these sayings have anything to do with actual money but have everything to do with making a gain in training. With Ironman World Champs just completed, I can’t help but always feel excited for those that I know who raced. Even though it’s been 5 years since my last time on the race course, every year as October approaches all those years of training for that one race come flooding to my head. I think about the workouts I use to do and the amount of mental training that went into each workout. Below are two workouts that I felt were money in the bank to help get me strong each year for Kona.

The Brick
A tempo/threshold ride and tempo run. I did this workout two different ways depending on the focus for the week. The ride would fluctuate between 1:30 and 2 hours and the run would fluctuate between 1 and 1:30 hours. Here is the breakdown.

  • Brick #1
    Approximately a 1:30 bike ride that included a 20-30 minute warm up then 1 hour of an interval workout around half ironman and olympic distance pace/watts. The run would be between 1:20-1:30 of marathon pace (not to be confused with ironman marathon pace) with some intervals at ½ marathon pace.
  • Brick #2
    Approximately a 2:00-2:15 bike ride that included a 20-30 min warm up then 1.5 hours of an interval workout around ironman and half ironman distance pace. This was more of a steady ride with the goal of being as consistent as possible. The run would be 1:00-1:10 of multiple intervals of , marathon, ½ marathon and 10K pace. (see tempo run article for an idea of structure).

The SRC (Swim/Run Combo)
A solid 4-5k swim plus 2 hour run. This workout started literally out of time efficiency. There is another component to it, that although not necessary, definitely lifted my run game.

  1. The 4-5k swim was typically a Stanford Masters session that was in a meter pool and was typically a distance or max meters theme. The 2-hour run was always in rolling terrain (not big hills) and typically was the first hour steady or “let the run come to me” and the second hour was either tempo or negative split. I typically felt pretty slow and tired after swimming 4k but I found this to be a tricky way to train the body for the middle part of the marathon.
  2. Add a Camelbak to that run and you have instant resistance that only makes you mentally tough. Five liters of water on your back plus having just swam 4-5k and then rolling terrain... talk about feeling slow! I really felt this was a great simulation to the beginning of the run for ironman.

There are two upsides to drinking 5 liters of fluid during a two hour run. One is, you get lighter as the distance gets longer, so when you are negative splitting a run, you can imagine how it must feel to be 5 lbs lighter -- it’s a huge mental confidence boost. The other upside is that although I had to stop a few times to go to the bathroom (again good race sim training) the recovery for my runs were so much better. Everything from fatigue and muscle soreness were much less once I started using a Camelbak for my long runs.

I am not going to lie -- there were times when the pace at that start of the run after a strong ride or swim was was laughable but the second half was always money!


Gina Kehr was a professional athlete for 15 years, competing in events ranging from Olympic Trials to Ironman World Championships, where she achieved five Top 10 finishes in her career. She coaches athletes of all levels and all distances. Her experience comes from her journey as a novice age group triathlete who quickly worked her way to becoming an established professional triathlete. Gina also works with the Stanford Tri team, is a coach with Stanford Masters and leads a squad of short and long course athletes. You can read more about Gina at AffinityMultisport.com.
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