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"Are we done yet?" FLPT triathlete Garen Riedel is blogging in the lead-up to IM Lake Placid on July 28. Blog #3 of 6: The Pain Train.

Posted in Blog, News, Performance Enhancement, Triathlon.

July 22nd, 2013

The Pain Train: Garen’s 4 Fear-Inducing Short Workouts

Countdown to IM Lake Placid: Blog #3 of 6

Tapering means time to break out fast hard efforts to sharpen up and top off your fitness. While the training volume may be shorter, the workouts are far from easy. Frankly, 3-5 min VO2 max intervals–when done properly–puts you in a darker place and leaves you more physically and mentally drained than any other workout out there. So in order to embrace these efforts I compiled together a list of the my most dreaded workouts. Just seeing these on the calendar a week out is enough to make me cringe.

Garen’s 4 Fear-Inducing Short Workouts:

100yd Repeats
The Workout: Holding a pace in the pool that gives you 3-5 seconds rest, repeat 10-40 times.
Pain Train Meter: 8/10

As you lower your splits the pain certainly starts to settle in. On 10x100s swum at the correct pace, I am usually convinced I am going to drown by the third interval. My traps, lats and triceps are on fire, and I am barely making it to the wall on the split before having to leave and do it all over again. (To all you swimmers out there, HOW ON EARTH DOES 3s QUALIFY AS REST?!?) Plus, oh yeah, you’re underwater for these efforts so you can’t even catch your breath!

VO2 Max Repeats
The Workout: 5 mins on the bike, all out as hard as you can go, trying to push the biggest wattage you can sustain, repeat 5 times.
Pain Train Meter: 9/10

You can’t help but stare at the clock on this workout. You count internally to 100 yet somehow, defying the laws of physics, only 5 seconds have passed. Usually by the 2 min mark my quads and glutes are burning hotter than a snake’s butt in a wagon rut. Oh yeah, then you repeat this effort 5 more times. For the safety of yourself, pedestrians, and wildlife these efforts should never be attempted outdoors.

The Workout: Bike intervals consisting of 20s all out, 10s rest, repeated 8 times.
Pain Train Meter: 9.5/10

The premise is simple. The total workout is only 4 mins long, sounds simple and easy, right? Ohhhhhh man, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. When done correctly these efforts make me want to lose my lunch by 1m30s. By the end of the 4 mins I am usually folded in half over the bike, unable to unclip from the pedals, having fully sworn off cycling for the rest of my life.

The Mile
The Workout: 4 laps of a track + 9m
Pain Train Meter: 10/10

Racing the mile might be the hardest conceivable workout in existence. It is so short that you must go all out the whole way, but come 600 meters in, your lungs and legs are crying mercy. During that last 1009 meters, seconds tick away like hours. Mile pace also provides the one-two punch of chest and leg pain (i.e., your chest feels like there is a volcano spewing hot magma into your lungs and your legs feel as though a mal-fed bengal tiger is using your hamstrings to break a month long fast). I can’t even begin to describe which of the one-two punch is worse, they are both that bad. Plus the recovery time after a mile race is much much longer than the race itself, in fact the time spent hunched over a trashcan post race is often much longer than the race too! The mile certainly holds an express stop on the pain train.

Who’s with me here? What are your fear-inducing workouts?

Finish Line PT is sponsoring local elite triathlete Garen Riedel this year in his quest to return to the Ironman World Championship in Kona. In 2012, Garen was the top New York finisher at the Ironman U.S. Championship in New York City, finishing 28th overall — the 5th overall amateur and 2nd in his age group.

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