Lukas Verzbicas’ Hardest Workout

The speedy ITU runner uses dynamic run training to become more efficient.

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Short-course pro Lukas Verzbicas is being coached by Joaquim Cruz, a former Olympic gold medalist in the 800 meters. Since the two started working together, Verzbicas has incorporated more dynamic run training to work on his run efficiency.

“Everything from active stretching to the Crossfit-like exercises are used to improve range of motion and overall strength,” Verzbicas says.

Cruz has Verzbicas do a less intense version of this workout during the beginning base-building cycle, then makes it faster and longer as he moves through the season’s training cycles.

Verzbicas’ Endurance Training Circuit

2-mile jog
Warm-up running drills on speed ladder
Strides at full speed (2x120m, 2x100m, 2x80m)

Main Workout
Seven exercise stations are, with every other exercise, set up at opposite ends of an 80-meter stretch of infield turf.

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Set 1
80-meter run to first exercise then seven stations with 80-meter run in between:
1. Jumping jacks (10 forward, 10 backward)
2. Elevations of legs (15x)
3. Push-ups (10x)
4. Bench (12x)
5. Hip twist (15x)
6. Single-leg high knees (12 per leg)
7. Leg flex and jump (12x)
8. Finish with 80-meter run to start

3 minutes rest
4×400-meter (each lap in 62 seconds) tempo run, with 2-minute rest in between
3 minutes rest

Set 2
Repeat exercises in Set 1
3 minutes rest
2K tempo run in 6 minutes
3 minutes rest

Set 3
Repeat exercises in Set 1
3 minutes rest
3×400-meter (each lap 60 seconds) tempo run, with 2-minute rest in between
3 minutes rest

2 miles easy jog

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In 2011, Verzbicas broke the national high school two-mile record by five seconds (8:29.46) and became the fifth high school runner in history to go under four minutes in the mile (3:59.71). He also won the 2011 ITU Junior World Triathlon Championship in Beijing, and when he decided to bring his talents to triathlon full-time, U.S. triathlon fans were convinced he was our best hope for the 2016 Olympics.

He won his first race, the ITU Continental Cup in Dallas, and then won the ITU event in Banyoles, Spain, where he ran a 30:55 10K off the bike. But then on a training ride in July 2012 in Colorado Springs, Colo., he crashed his bike after going over a section of soft sand — it left him with a clavicle broken in three places, a collapsed lung and two broken vertebrae. The surgery on his back, which took six hours, left him with two rods and several screws in his back, and afterward he had no movement in his right leg. Miraculously, Verzbicas is now walking and running again, and has since moved to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., to get himself back to his pre-crash form.

“I still have a bit of a lingering neurological weakness in my right leg,” he says, “and this kind of fast-twitch-promoting training is helping to return that leg to full function again.”

This article was originally published in the Nov./Dec. 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.

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