Former college swimmer and Kona qualifier Luke Lengfeld shares his secrets to time-efficient training.
This article was originally published in the Sep./Oct. 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
In only his third year of racing triathlon, 24-year-old Luke Lengfeld is going to Kona. A former collegiate swimmer at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he was the first amateur out of the water at the 2012 Ironman Wisconsin, where he finished second in his age group (in a time of 10:05:58) in his first attempt at the distance and earned a slot at Ironman Hawaii.
He started racing triathlon after four years swimming at UW, when he felt like he had a lot of free time to fill. He spent his first season getting his feet wet in short-course triathlon, but knew he wanted to race Ironman one day.
Lengfeld credits his swimming career for his early success in long-course triathlon. Swimming, he says, gave him the discipline to train day after day, as well as manage his time. “My experience with swimming has been doing double practices five times a week,” he says. “[It’s taught me to] manage my time effectively so I can do all the things I need to get done, whether it’s training or working.”
“Effective” time management is a bit of an understatement for Lengfeld, as he works a full-time job (a job coach for special-needs adults), plus three part-time jobs (coaching swim teams, working in a triathlon retail store and giving private swim lessons), usually adding up to 70–90 hours a week, plus 10–23 hours per week of Ironman training.
“Coming from a competitive swimming background with the University of Wisconsin, he’s had a goal-driven, hard training type of ethic installed,” says Lengfeld’s coach, Will Smith, who started coaching him this year. “He never misses a beat.”
With only the Ironman World Championship on his horizon this year, Lengfeld is training full-bore. To have gotten a Kona slot at his Ironman debut is “unbelievable,” coach Smith says. “But going off his year so far, [I’m] no longer surprised.”
His coach expects him to be strong in Kona, but “it’s his first big dance, and I want him to take it all in,” Smith says. “It’s always a learning experience, but he’s there to race.”
As for Lengfeld’s own goals for Kona, he’d like to break 10 hours, but it really comes down to his approach to Ironman in general: “I like to see how far I can go, how far I can push myself physically and mentally.”
From Here to There
Age-group triathlete Luke Lengfeld is able to balance a social life, Ironman training and multiple jobs by staying organized and planning ahead. He starts by looking at his training plan and work schedule before each week, and then plans each workout.
-> “My biggest secret is most of my workouts are done as I go to work,” he says. For example, he lives in downtown Madison, Wis., but coaches a swim team in Cross Plains, 17 miles away. He uses the time getting to and from swim practice for his bike workout, whether it’s an easy ride or a tempo ride. Using workouts to get around frees up time for friends and family.
-> For long rides and runs, he’ll take advantage of traveling to weekend swim meets by catching a ride and bringing his bike to Wisconsin Dells, for example, and then he’ll ride the 90 miles home.
-> To stay motivated, he finds races that fit into his training schedule, such as running a half-marathon on a day he needs to run 12–15 miles.