Run Workouts From the World's Fastest Triathletes

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If you don't regularly follow International Triathlon Union (ITU) races, you might be surprised to know that at the 2012 ITU World Triathlon held in San Diego the women had to run 10 kilometers in 34:22 or faster to be in the top 10 overall. Men had to run 30:57 or faster to be in the top 10. The winning women's time was produced by Great Britain's Helen Jenkins with a 33:34 and the winning men's time was Great Britain's Jonathan Brownlee at 30:00.

Of course, triathletes know that these run times come after swimming 1500 kilometers (0.9 miles) and cycling 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) at criterium-style efforts.

With help from the ITU staff, I contacted the personal coaches of some of the top 10 ranked triathletes in the world. Because rankings change after major races, the rankings were taken early / mid-May of 2012.

I asked these world-class coaches to share a favorite running workout they use with their athletes. The workouts they use for speed improvement could be run-only workouts or bike-run (brick) sessions.

More: How to Test Your 5K Run Speed

Know that many coaches use different terminology and scales to describe intensity. You will see that reflected in this column.

Ainhoa Murua (Spain)

Ainhoa's coach I?igo Mujika told me that he loves this workout and Ainhoa has a love-hate relationship with it. The workout is not long or complicated, but effective:

  • Warm-up:  10 minutes at 70 to 75 percent of maximum heart rate.
  • Main set: 10 repeats of (2 minutes at 3:15 per kilometer pace (5:14 per mile pace) with 1-minute recovery intervals run at 4 minutes per kilometer (6:27 per mile pace))
  • Cool down: Easy 5-minute jog

More: 3 Basic Steps to a Faster Run