Monday, March 24, 2008

Pro Athlete Training Secrets: Chris Lieto

By: Lance Watson

LifeSport Coaching works with some of the finest multisport athletes in the world. The coaches strive to supply these athletes with workouts that have a specific physiological purpose while providing inspiration. These training sessions are often trying, but when tackled with zest, result in world-beating performances.

This series offers a little peek into the training diary of TrainingBible’s elite athletes. Note the workout adjustments included at the end for athletes of various abilities, experience and fitness levels.

Athlete: CHRIS LIETO, top U.S. Ironman and top Ironman cyclist
Hometown: Danville, California.
Distance: Ironman/Ironman 70.3
Coached by: Lance Watson, LifeSport Coaching

Workout: 5x1 minute hills, 6x1 mile repeats

Warm-up: 20 minutes easy jog, drills/activation/strides
Main set: 5x1 minute uphill run easy run back down (continuous) 1-mile moderate run, 6x1 mile at tempo pace.
Cool down: 10 minutes easy jog


Lieto: As much as this workout hurts, I know it makes a big difference. The strength I get from the hills helps with my flat running by recruiting the hip flexors and glutes to create a good stride strength. If my butt is sore the next day, I know I am getting faster.

This is a workout that I will start doing early season and we revisit it periodically throughout the season.

Coach Watson: Both hills and pace work are important for strength and threshold fitness. If your threshold is higher, the pace you run aerobically over the marathon distance will also be faster. In an Ironman program, which has aerobic endurance sessions as the core training component, it is often difficult to fit in multiple run interval workouts within a week—the muscles tear down and the need for recovery is too great. I like this session because it is a 2 for 1 deal. It allows us to work on dynamic strength through hill work, followed by the drills. The athlete is then forced to run with good mechanics at lactate threshold with fatigue in the legs. Holding together form at the end of a race is also paramount, and this trains you physically and mentally to do so.


Hills are a great workout for all triathletes. Running off the bike is a strength activity, so anything that develops that ability will contribute to triathlon success. Once the hills are over, the workout calls for some tempo running— this requires you to get into a rhythm on somewhat tired legs as you would in a race.

Novice Athletes
This workout has been shortened for novices, although the spirit of the workout is still there—hill work to develop strength and then some tempo running to help improve running efficiency.

Warm-up: 15 minutes warm-up easy run, drills/activation/strides
Main set: 3x1 minute uphill run easy run back down (continuous), 1 mile moderate run, 3x3 minutes at *tempo pace.
Cool down: 10 minutes easy jog

Intermediate Athletes
This workout has been shortened slightly, but because the repetitions are measured by time, it’s suitable for the majority of athletes with some running experience.

Warm up: 20 minutes easy run, drills/activation/strides
Main set: 5x1 minute uphill run easy run back down (continuous), 1 mile moderate run, 5x3 minutes at *tempo pace.
Cool down: 10 minutes easy jog.

*tempo pace is comfortably hard running – equivalent to your current 10km pace

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