This article is part of our recent series on training for busy athletes.   It describes one of my favorite workouts I’m using to try to qualify for Kona Ironman World Championships on a plan of mostly 10ish hours power week.

Are you tired and falling behind struggling to fit in all your workouts on a busy schedule?  One of the biggest challenges we face in coaching busy triathletes (especially coaching Ironman triathletes) is figuring out how to set up a training plan that will get the athlete ready for their race (often Ironman) but that leaves then time to succeed at work and to enjoy their family (while also letting them sleep and maintain a strong foundation for adaptation).

Here at TriForce we sometimes find that training less (but smarter) will transform a busy athlete from tired and overwhelmed  to confident, on top of things and in the flow with life (and make them faster in the process!)  But even triathletes on a minimal training plan want to hit 3 bikes, 3 runs and 2-3 swims per week if they want to be fast.   This article talks about a time effective way to knock out 2 of those weekly workouts–  the tempo brick run– a 20 minute workout with a big training impact.  (and it’s sort of fun too!)

tempo brick run for Ironman training

The tempo brick run will have you ready to fly on race day even if a weird injury forces you to race in mandals.



According to Jack Daniels “Ideally, a tempo run is nothing more than a steady 20 minute run at T (threshold) pace.  Subjectively the intensity of effort… is comfortably hard.”

It couldn’t be simpler– after one of your harder bike rides put on your run shoes and go out and run about 20 minutes right around your threshold effort (about what you can sustain for an hour in a race).  That’s an effort that might take about a mile to catch up to you and feel pretty hard, but it shouldn’t feel too much harder at minute 20 vs. minute 10.   When you finish you should feel you could run another couple miles at that effort.   It’s hard, but if you are filling up with lactate and struggling to hold your pace, then you are going too hard.



  • Already warmed up: you are already warmed up and ready to go after your hard bike ride!   No need for 15-20 min of warming up to get ready to run.  Still gradually ramp up to your threshold pace over the first few minutes, but you won’t need a big warmup.
  • No “getting started” mental cost.  If you are like me, getting started with training is a mental hurdle.  This is one less run workout / week to think about.  When you are done riding throw on your shoes and go!   If you haven’t been doing this regularly you might have to “rally” yourself to do it, but after a couple weeks you’ll “just do it.”  Which leads us to the next benefit.
  • You’ll have the mental edge on race day.   If you are jumping off a hard bike and running at threshold effort almost every week, race day will be automatic and second nature.   The “fear factor” of running hard off a hard bike won’t be there.
  • The physical edge on race day.   Your body is going to be used to and adapted to the demands of running off the bike FAST.
  • Improved Lactate Threshold Pace.  Of course.. the specific benefit of this workout is that you improve your lactate threshold pace– you raise the speed of what’s sustainable and that should improve your performances at all distances from 5k to Ironman.

I have this workout on my training plan every single week as I prepare for Ironman Santa Rosa (I’m on a 10 hours per week Ironman training plan) and I love it!   I love blasting out the door and running at threshold pace after my hard Wednesday trainer ride.   The effort is hard enough to be a satisfying test, but not so hard I have to “face my demons.”  (I’ll save that for race day).

Whether you are a new parent short on time or just looking for a time efficient change to your program, the tempo transition run is a powerful option.   Give it a try in your training plan leave a comment below to tell us how it went.

PS, the mission of this blog is to empower busy athletes to crush their races.  We do our best to give you clear, actionable advice, but if you’re busy and tired of trying to put it all together yourself,  consider joining the Force!     We’ll put you on a program that gives you clarity and confidence and sets you up to win in triathlon (and life!)