A few weeks ago I posted my first blog in a series on “high intensity training.” This is my second installment. Consider it part review of a great article in “Inside Triathlon,” about an uber-age-grouper, Sami Inkinen, who went sub 9-hours at Kona despite only 12-hours of training/week; and part “update” on my attempts to transition into a high intensity training cycle.
Update on my “High Intensity Training…”
As a caveat that I hate to give: my schedule has been so hectic these last few weeks that even shorter
durations of high intensity training have seemed impossible to fit into my schedule with consistency.
The exciting news, however, is that I just completed a lifelong goal and finished law school! The weeks
preceding its completion were grueling, though. As such, this “update” will be minimal – which likely
reflects my fitness progress. But, expect a proper update in the next couple weeks as my schedule
allows a more consistent workout routine.
My high intensity workouts thus far have consisted of multiple max effort spin classes at Studio S in
Cincinnati, OH – a truly amazing boutique style gym with top notch trainers (check them out: http://
www.studioscincinnati.com/), hill workouts, sprint work, and high heart rate trail runs around beautify
Cincinnati. In the coming week I plan to take my training to the track and do more speed work, threshold
work on the bike, as well as more race paced fartlek runs.
My initial observations are simple: I was losing top end speed, strength, and endurance when at my
highest (and ideally race) levels of exertion and speed. As such, I found myself frustrated with the lack of
speed I currently have. It wasn’t long ago that I could complete the Cooper test (3×6-minute miles), the
beep test, and repeat-300-meter shuttle runs (more soccer specific training) with the best of them. Now,
however, holding a 6:45 pace seems nearly impossible.
That said, despite a lackluster beginning to my “high intensity training” I am confident that it has a
place in my workout regimen. The feeling after pushing my body in a high-intensity 50-mile ride mirrors
race-day in a way that cannot be duplicated with a slow-paced 100-miler. Also, despite my lackluster
beginning, I came to notice that each subsequent effort at a faster pace (run or bike) felt better:
stronger, smoother, more natural.
Again, it is my personal observation that I can’t “race” at 6:45 miles, if I cannot even bring my body to
move that fast on a training day. The more I do it, the more natural it becomes.
Inside Triathlon’s “the natural”:
triathlon_51584/attachment/it_fc_0506-indd I highly recommend picking up a copy
Shortly after my first post on high intensity training, Inside Triathlon’s May/June Edition read “RACE
FASTER BY TRAINING LESS” across the cover, inside was an article entitled: “the natural.” This very well-
written article by Courtney Baird chronicled Sami Inkinen a Finnish-age-grouper, and serial entrepreneur
who went under nine hours in Kona. The relevance of his success to this series is that he did it on 12
hours of training per week! The article also had me believing that this series is relevant.
One take-away from the article that serves to preface all of it was Baird’s conclusion that “it is possible
to go under nine hours in one of the toughest Ironmans on Earth [Kona], beating 23 pros in the process
off of 12 hours of training per week – if you are blessed with the genetics of Sami Inkinen.”
The importance of that sentence cannot be overstated.
My goal in this series is not to dissuade you from working out in whatever manner you feel necessary to
get the results you seek. Nor is it to suggest that 12-hours/week will lead to sub 9 ironman results.
To propose either would be irresponsible and unrealistic. Inkinen has genetics that we as age-group
triathletes, marathoners & weekend warriors dream of, but he works hard to keep that motor turning
over quickly. Therein lies the purpose of this series – do what you need to do to “keep your motor
turning,” maybe realize that “high intensity training” can do just that, and find some enjoyment as I
chronicle my training adjustment.
Inkinen finds success because he trains with “lots of intensity, maniacal attention to detail and number
crunching, and a fanatical insistence on recovery.” Add that to stellar genetics, and you have an age-
grouper who could turn pro if I wanted to.
Recurring themes in the article were Inkinen’s dedication to recovery & consistency in his workouts.
Inkinen listens to his body and trains to improve. In the article he says, “What I’ve been super-conscious
about this year is the idea that if I don’t improve in almost every single workout, it’s not because I
haven’t trained, but because I haven’t rested.” Baird goes on to say that “[Inkinen] rejects the notion
that you have to train through months of hard, exhausting workouts to improve…Instead he followed
the principle that he should literally get stronger and faster every week, if not every day, and that his
numbers should improve during every intense workout.”
Inkinen’s workouts are short in duration, but they push him beyond his “race day max.” For example,
Baird explains that “when Inkinen gets into the weeks leading up to an Ironman, he might do a workout
where he warms up for 30 minutes and then rides for 20 minutes just under Ironman intensity, then 20
minutes just at Ironman intensity, and then 20 minutes just above Ironman intensity.” That means that
in the weeks where a typical Ironman may be putting in his 100+ miler, Inkinen is on the bike for under
On his blog, Inkinen shared a typical training week:
Monday: Rest (or 30-minute easy swim*)
Tuesday: Bike intervals on trainer (60-90 minute)
Wednesday: Run intervals on trail (60-70 minutes)
Thursday: Bike intervals on trainer (60-90 minutes)
Friday: Rest Day: swim (20-50 minutes; easy run if time
Saturday: Bike “long” (4 to 5 hours with no intervals; social time with wife, friends)**
Sunday: Run “long” (80 to 90 minutes with intervals); swim if time
*Inkinen almost always finishes a swim with two to three “super fast sprints,” even on a rest day. He
does at least one intense swim per week.
** Inkinen did one six-hour ride before Kona last year
I find it amazing that Inkinen has achieved the results he has with this being his “typical” week.
My goal is to mirror this workout for 2-weeks and report back to you. As a side note, I am testing the
Garmin Forerunner 210, a GPS and heart-rate enabled watch that is proving extremely useful in my high-
intensity pursuits. Expect an in-depth review of that watch soon as well.