Luke McKenzie’s Run Next Level

In 2013, we saw Luke McKenzie take his Ironman run to a new level. Luke’s Ironman marathon would often be 3:05 to 3:10. Around 2013 we started to see Luke’s marathon improve with his personal best being 2:49 at Ironman Wisconsin 2017.

When asked about what had changed with his run, Luke said

“In 2011-2012 I trained with Siri Lindley in Los Angeles and I spent a lot more time running at threshold than I had done in the years prior. I guess 2004-2010 I had trained the speed out of the legs with too much aerobic running. Siri had me running on the treadmill to increase turnover as well as including regular shorter more intense run efforts. I saw my bike strength drop off over that period but I was running a lot better. In 2013 when I went back to coaching myself I feel I found a good balance of bike strength while still incorporating the running at threshold.”

The key run sessions in the lead up to an Ironman for luke:

“Treadmill for turn over. Track for pacing. Hill reps for strength and durability.”

You can check out Luke’s Ironman program HERE

Luke McKenzie’s Ironman Build

Luke McKenzie shared with Train Smooth what his maximum work load 8-4 weeks out from a key Ironman events like Kona, Ironman Western Australia and Ironman Cairns looks like.

MONDAY
AM: SWIM – Squad 5km
MID AM: RIDE 60-80km inc. 60min of Strength Endurance (SE) hill reps
PM: GYM/CORE work

TUESDAY
AM: RUN: TREADMILL OR TRACK
16-24km (usually 20x3min at 800 at pace/200 float recovery or 2-3x5km at 70.3 pace/1km float rec.)
PM: SWIM – 3-4km usually paddles/pull work

WEDNESDAY
AM: SWIM/BIKE/RUN
Squad 5km (or INS/OUTS for 1hr at beach with surf club)
100-120km hilly RIDE *straight off swim
5-8km RUN *off bike

THURSDAY
AM: RIDE – Bunch 60-80km with 30min paceline effort
PM: RUN – 12-16km w/ hills reps (30-40 mins worth)

FRIDAY
AM: SWIM – Squad 5km
PM: GYM/CORE work
*Sometimes FULL DAY OFF*

SATURDAY
AM: RIDE – 150-180 inc. 80-100km @ IM watt TT effort
RUN off bike 6-10 x 1 mile (10-16km) targeting 10-15 sec/km faster than IM pace *would only do this 2-3 x MAX in a prep

SUNDAY
AM: LONG RUN 24-32km
PM: SWIM – 2km ocean with group
PM: OPTIONAL RUN 6-10km

Luke’s test sessions in the lead up to a key Ironman race

“My usual test sessions were usually about 8,6 and 4 weeks out from Ironman and it would be our Saturday Bike/Run session. It would involve riding 2x1hr TT’s (very rarely I would do 6x30min) at IM watts covering 150-180km and then running 6-10 x 1 mile efforts. I would usually aim to hold 5.45-6 min and leave on 7 mins.”

Cam Brown’s Kona Build

Looking back at professional triathlete Cam Brown’s Ironman builds. here are five different weeks Cam completed. During these times Cam would aim to peak twice a year at Ironman New Zealand and again at Ironman World Championship.

August 2003:

Mon: Swim 5.7km, Bike 140km at a medium effort and Run 10km easy

Tue: Swim 5.2km, Bike 95km and Run 18km (5x 1mile)

Wed: Bike 180km hilly and Run 11km steady

Thu: Swim 5.3km, Bike 110km (3.15min efforts), Run 17km steady

Fri: Swim 4.3km, Bike 73km easy

Sat: Bike 180km with 35km fast and Run 12.5km steady

Sun: Bike 95km medium effort and Run 25km medium effort

Total: Swim 20.5km – Bike 875km – Run 98km

February 2004

Mon: Swim 5.9km, Bike 103km hilly and run 9.5km easy

Tue: Swim 5.6km, Bike 71km and Run 20km (3x 800 + 8x 400)

Wed: Bike 170km steady and Run 12km medium effort

Thur: Swim 5.5km, Bike 78km hilly and Run 18km with 20min of hill repeats

Fri: Bike: 201km medium effort and Run 7.5km medium effort)

Sat: Bike 40km easy and Run 33km moderate

Sun: Bike: 75km and Run 13km easy

Total: Swim 17km – Bike – 738km – Run 113km – Total training time: 36.30 hrs

September 2004

Mon: Swim 5km, Bike 108km and Run 11.5km

Tue: Swim 5.2km, Bike 50km and Run 21km (30min fast)

Wed: Bike 203km and Run 10km medium effort

Thur: Swim 5km, Bike 80km (easy to moderate) and Run 21km (2x 800 + 4x 1600)

Fri: Swim 5km, Run 11km and Run 9km easy

Sat: Swim 3km, Bike 184km (35km fast) and Run 15.5km

Sun: Bike: 69km and Run 35km

Totals: Swim: 23.5km, Bike: 693km, Run 135km “Total Hours: 38.40hrs

September 2005

Mon: Swim: 5.1km and Bike 174km

Tue: Swim: 5.4km and Bike 106km (60km fast), Run 20km hilly

Wed: Bike: 156km, Run 14km brick run and weight training

Thur: Swim: 5.2km and Bike 60km easy and run 21.5km (3x 3km efforts)

Fri: Swim: 5.3km, Run 7km easy and weight training

Sat: Bike: 222km and 12km brick run

Sun: Bike: 45km easy and run 35km

Totals: Swim 21km, Bike 763km, Run 110km

August 2007

Mon: Swim 5.2km, Bike 136km and run 10km easy

Tue: Swim 5.2km, Bike 52km easy, Run 21km

Wed: Bike 193km

Thur: Swim: 4.5km, Bike 91km and Run 21km (30min fast)

Fri: Run 13.5km

Sat: Swim 4km, Bike 214km (2x 20min fast) and Run 7km

Sun: Bike 43km and Run 34km

Total: Swim 18.9km – Bike 730km – Run 107km

Scott Smith’s Marathon Program

Professional US marathon runner Scott Smith has a personal best time of 2:11 marathon.

Below is a typical week of training with most of his weekly volume done at an easy effort.

Monday: AM: Easy 10 miles – PM: Easy 4 miles

Tuesday: AM: Easy 8 miles – PM: Easy 4 miles with drills and strides

Wednesday: AM: Track sessions – something like 20x 400m with 200m easy jog for recovery

Thursday: AM: Easy 10 miles

Friday: AM: Leg Speed session – something like repeats of 300m, 200m, 100m with 200m easy jog between – PM: Easy 4 miles with drills and strides

Saturday: Long runs – Scott’s long runs are often a mix bag and rarely the same session is repeated. One week Scott will have 2 min surges every mile of running and other long runs could be last 5km done fast.

Sunday: Easy 8 miles (it is common to see Saturday and Sunday swapped around and Scott doing his long run on the Sunday)

Leg Speed & Ground Contact Time

The two biggest things that stick out when reviewing Scott’s training logs are the relentless focus of leg speed and to reduce ground contact time.

Just about every week you will see one or two sessions with shorter faster efforts like 200m fast, 200m easy or 10 x 60sec fast hill repeats with the main focus being leg speed.

Also twice a week Scott will do two sessions that contain run drills and will finish with some strides.

5 key sessions from Tim Kerrison

Tim Kerrison is the head performance coach at Team Ineos and has been responsible for all of the team’s Tour de France wins including Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal and has also been coaching Ironman professional Cam Wurf.

I have been following Tim’s career for sometime now and here are five key sessions that have stuck out at me.

Five Key Sessions

  1. 3x 50min @ threshold – This session is used once or twice in the lead up to a grand tour. Often you will see his athletes do this session as a 4 hour ride with the main set being 3x 50min at threshold with 10min easy between. (note that this is at threshold and not sweet spot). Normally this session will take a number of weeks to build up to.
  2. High threshold in Andorra – There is a 6% clime in Andorra that takes his athletes between 38-42 minutes to ride up. The ride isn’t max effort but it is a high threshold session. I have put this in the list as it is a very common session to see for most of his athletes 6-8 weeks out from key races.
  3. Alternating cadence – Most weeks you will find sessions with this or a version of this for his athletes. Often these are done on different terrain. A high portion of his athletes invest heavily on pedal efficiency. 24min hovering at or just under threshold done as 6min/6min alternating cadence 50/85rpm followed by 24min slightly lower in power done as 6min/6min 45/90rpm
  4. Threshold with surges – A lot of the sessions Tim gives his athletes you will find surges and bursts sets ranging from 10-90sec. A common session found is 2x 40min at threshold with 10x 20sec surges to low anaerobic zone every 4min at the same power all with a high cadence between 90-100rpm.
  5. Mix UP – Mix up sessions are found multiple times each week that targets a number of different energy systems. A common session would be something like 15min hovering under threshold, 20min done as 5x 3:30min @ tempo, 30sec burst followed by 15min @ threshold, 8min @ tempo, 45min high zone two.

Summary

There are four common things when looking at training logs from the athletes Tim coaches that stick out at me.

  1. High Volume
  2. A lot of time spent at or hovering just under threshold
  3. Most sessions will have surges and burst sets
  4. An endless chase to improve peddle efficiency

Cam Wurf’s Run

In 2019 professional triathlete Cam Wurf showed some big improvements with his Ironman run with a 2:50 marathon split at Ironman Australia in May 2019.

I wanted to dig a little deeper within Cam’s run program from 1st January 2019 through to his win at Ironman Australia in May 2019 where he averaged a pace of 4:02 per km. Cam has been trying to establish his race pace to 3:47 per km that would give him a 2:40 marathon.

Looking at his training log, there are a few things that stick out.

  • Cam spends a lot of his run volume at or just around his race pace/race effort.
  • Cam’s fast efforts are very controlled and will rarely go faster than 3:15km pace and never faster than 3:00km pace. Most shorter intervals hang around the 3:25km pace.
  • Cam isn’t afraid to take a rest day or take it easy if needed.
  • During the peak run weeks, Cam was comfortably holding around 115km run weeks with 7 runs per week over five days.
  • Key weeks he would have two track sessions and a long run that would be around 30-35km holding around 4min km pace

Cam’s Week

While it can be tough to create a template Cam followed, most weeks looked something like this.

Monday: 1hr run moderate effort or often time between 4min-3:42min km pace. A treadmill was used a number of weeks for this session.

Tuesday: Track Session 15-17km most of these track runs was spending longer intervals 1-2km holding 3:25min km pace. Afternoon was a mix bag between a 2nd run or a bike or simply rest.

Wednesday: Run – 1hr depending on the week, this could be easy treadmill run or a 1hr moderate effort run holding 4min km pace or a bike and swim session.

Thursday: Long Run day between 30-35km building and holding to around 4min km pace. Afternoon was often rest however a few weeks Cam jumped on the bike or would do another run that would be all easy.

Friday: Bike – 3hrs. Afternoon a 1hr run often descending in pace to around race pace/effort.

Saturday: Track Session – 15-17km with the focus on shorter faster efforts like 14x 800m @3:30 pace with 200 easy between with some sessions will include a spike of 3:10 pace towards the end of the interval. In the afternoon would be a bike or another run.

Sunday: Often a mix bag and rarely saw the same type of session two weeks in a row. Unless Cam was traveling through the week, Sunday was mostly a recovery day, sometimes full rest, others were active recovery through swim or bike or run volume.

Revers Engineering Power?

Simple race day and long term goal settings is all about taking your goal and reverse engineering it.

  1. What power will you need on race day
  2. What threshold power will you need in order for you to achieve race day power

 

Bike Power Example:

A athlete looking to ride at around 75% of their FTP and is aiming for target time of sub 5 hours may need to hold 230 watts, giving this athlete a FTP of 310+ watts.

 

 Run Power Example: 

A athlete who is looking at running the marathon of the Ironman at 85% of their FTP with a target time of sub 3:30 may need to hold around 250 watts, giving this athlete a FTP of 295+ watts.

 

Starting Point

I am over simplifying things here as you will need to workout what power you need to ride to hit the goal time and is the goal power achievable within your time frame.  

 

Race Day Power

Just to give a starting point on race day power, here are some numbers to start with.  

 

Ironman 

  • Bike @75% of FTP
  • Run @85% of FTP (80% of FTP if weaker biker) 

Ironman 70.3

  • Bike @80% of FTP
  • Run @90% of FTP

Other factors definitely come into play when estimating estimated goal power like course, weather, power to weight, power to drag, etc.  Your training log will have a lot of the answers you are looking for.

Cam Wurf training into Kona

Pro triathlete & pro cyclist Cam Wurf has an unorthodox approach to his Ironman training that is overseen by his coach Tim Kerrison of Team Ineos.  While it is hard to create an accurate template of Cam’s weekly training due to travel and racing, this is as close to a template that started to form for the thirteen weeks leading into the 2019 Ironman World Championships.

All cam’s training data is uploaded to Strava and I will aim to dig deeper into a few of his key weeks.

Training leading into Kona

Monday: – AM: Morning ride 70-80km – PM: Run 11-16km (often this run is a hypoxic run)

Tuesday: – Double run day, often one being a track session 15+18km and the 2nd run 5-10km PM: swim session 3-5km

Wednesday: – Bike 4-5hrs + swim 3-4km

Thursday: – Long run (30-40km) the afternoon on a Thursday can be a mix bag, some weeks it will be a double run day, others a 5km swim and others a swim/bike/run

Friday: Swim 3-5km followed by a ride 3-5hrs

Saturday: Swim 5km,  Mid morning ride 3-5hrs with a 20km brick run

Sunday: rest day

Cam’s running

A lot of Cam’s runs including his long runs are done at or around race pace.

Cadence & Power Fade

One of the more popular questions I receive on my podcast is what cadence should I ride at.  There is a lot of evidence and success for athletes with a high cadence and also a lot of evidence and success for athletes with a low cadence.

To make things as simple as possible, I would follow this.

  1. Ride at your natural cadence.
  2. In a race simulation session or looking back at past races, analyse the data and look at where can you improve.

Power

Below is a cadence fade chart for both Ironman and half Ironman.  For example if an athlete is doing a Ironman and the athlete does most of the race with a cadence of 90rpm and in the last 30min of the race the cadence drops to 81rpm, this will show a fade of 10% showing that the athlete needs to either change their cadence or look at ways to limit the cadence fad towards the end of their race.

There could be a number of reasons why an athlete sees a cadence fad and may not be the wrong cadence.

I have also added a power fade here as well to help when you analyse your training/race data.

Cadence and power fade for Ironman races

  Cadence % Power %
Excellent 0-5% 0-7%
Good 5-8% 7-15%
Needs Improvement 8-12% 15-20%
Poor 12% + 21% +

Cadence and power fade for Half Ironman

  Cadence % Power %
Excellent 0-3% 0-4%
Good 4-5% 5-8%
Needs Improvement 6-7% 9-14%
Poor 8% + 14% +

Egan Bernal’s Tour de France Program

I have gone through 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal’s program and analysed two weeks of his tour build being seven and six weeks out from the start of the Tour.  All this is available on his Strava account.

Going through his training log, there are a couple of things that really stick out.

  1. Bernal dose a lot of alternating cadence sets (this increases more as he approaches the tour) .
  2. Bernal does a lot of surges within most sessions.

 

I “think” Bernal’s threshold is around 320 watts

Week Seven: 

Mon: – Recovery

Tue: – 76km – 10min @321 with mid set surge of 1min peaking @393 + 20min @322 steady + 20min @323 with 1min surge @360

Wed: –  69km – 39min @321 on a 6% climb (not altitude)

Thu: – 47km – 5min @325 + 24sec @472 (mostly a recovery session)

 Fri: –  97km – 10min @280 + 12-14min over/under (290/220) + 15min @256 + 20min set of 15min @158 (include 2x 20sec surge @425 1min rest

Sat: – 133km – 40min @222 then 30sec hard surge to 550 + attacks of 4x 10s @500 then 25s @330 (no rest) high cadence + 27min @285 of 50sec easy, 50sec surge to 481 with an average of 380, 60sec easy, 10/60 over/under 260/210 + 250min @250 + 5min @275, 30sec urge finish to 390 with 90sec rest then 10sec surge @510 + 12min @240

Sun: –  129km – 17min @257 with surges to 320 watts gradual easing off ending with 1min @290 + 5x 30s/30s @400, Z1/Z2 rest (ave 313) + 30min @258 + 15min @235 + 60min cruising

 

 

Week Six

Mon: – 56.5km  – Recovery

Tue: – 130km – 10sec sprints @964 with 1143 peaks + 23min total set of 20min @240, 60sec rest, 4min set of 30-50sec over 420/10-15s rest + 2x sets of 15min @290 with alternating cadence 5min @40rpm, 5min @90rom, 5min @40rpm

Wed: – 158km – 14min @245 + 36min in total of 16min @290, 2min easy, 17min @290 finish with full gas sprint of 969 + 40min @233 + 90min cruising

Thur: – 64km – Cruising

Fri: – 160km – 20min in total of 5x 10sec sprints @870-950 with gradually decreeing rest periods of 6, 5, 4, 3, 2min + 10min @260 + 36min in total climbing to 3350m altitude 18min @280 alternating cadence of 6min @45rpm, 6min @90rpm, 6min @45rpm and 17min @245 @70rpm + 17 245 watts @90rpm building slowly from 230 to 255 + 2hr in zone 2

Sat: – 195km – 32min stead @260 to 32000m altitude + 1hr rolling turns with training partners back to town + 13min @265 + 36min @270 finishing with 25s bursts + 35min zone 2 finishing with 1min effort @365

Sun: – 148km – 12min rolling turns @247 but when he is pulling, watts go @350-450 + 13min warm up climb @230 + 20min @240 + 1:10hr @280 to 3200 altitude + 2hr Z1/Z2 climb + 11min @260

 

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