Sami Inkinen’s Keys to Speed
Strength:Inkinen focuses on functional strength, or strength specific to what is needed in a race, rather than gym strength or strength from weights—which is another big tenet that coach Matt Dixon preaches. To obtain this type of strength, Inkinen will do bike workouts at a low cadence and a high gear, or run up steep hills, which activates the glutes and hamstrings.
Training: Inkinen posted a typical training week on his blog, “Incurable Data Geek.” Here’s what he posted:
Monday: Rest (or 30-min easy swim*)
Tuesday: Bike intervals on trainer (60-90 min)
Wednesday: Run intervals on trails (60-70 min)
Thursday: Bike intervals on trainer (60-90 min)
Friday: Rest day: swim (20-50 min); easy run if time
Saturday: Bike “long” (4 to 5 hours with no intervals; social time with wife, friends)**
Sunday: Run “long” (80 to 90 min with intervals); swim if time
*Inkinen almost always finishes a swim with two to three “super-fast sprints,” even on a rest day. He does at least one intense swim workout per week.
**He did one six-hour ride before Kona last year.
Shorter runs: When Inkinen first started triathlon, he did the requisite 2.5- to three-hour runs that most Ironman athletes practice. But Inkinen only ran one two-hour run in all of 2011 and rarely ran over 80 minutes. “I’m not an exercise scientist, so I’m not going to try to pretend that I know exactly what’s happening. But one thing I know for sure, that kind of run, it takes a long time to recover from, and you notice it if you are doing really high intensity,” he said.
Dixon has a similar take: “[Sami’s] done plenty of long runs previously and over the last eight years in the sport, so he’s coming off a platform of many, many long runs. When you scale that back for a year and drop the volume down, he had the ability to go there,” he said. “Marathon running is a simple equation of cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. You can gain muscular endurance through frequent running, and I think the long run is a very risky proposition. I have plenty of athletes who don’t do long, long runs in their Ironman preparation.”
Inkinen’s marathon split at Kona? 3:11:20.
Rest: Inkinen takes virtually the entire winter “off,” in that he exercises daily but doesn’t work out—it’s all just fun stuff. In January he sits down and decides what his triathlon goals are for the year. In 2011, his primary goal was to do well in Vegas, and Kona was just a bonus. The year before, his primary goal was to do well at the ITU Age Group World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, where he placed second in his age group.