Ironman World Champ Mirinda Carfrae Running Workout

Ironman World Champ Mirinda Carfrae Running Workout

Mirinda Carfrae leads a class at Mile High Run Club. (Photo: Ironman)

Want to learn to run fast on tired legs? If you’re a half-marathoner, marathoner, or triathlete, methinks you do. I’ve got a Miranda Carfrae running workout for you from the best runner in Ironman, Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae herself.

On Tuesday afternoon, I headed to Mile High Run Club in NYC at the invitation of Ironman to meet Rinny, try one of her favorite run workouts while she coaches on the mic, and interview her for a Q&A at

Ironman World Champ Mirinda Carfrae Running Workout

Running with Rinny (Photo: Ironman)

As a reporter and broadcaster, I’ve met and interviewed some of the world’s best athletes—from runners like Meb Keflezighi to winter Olympians like Apolo Ohno. I’ve watched them cruise to gold medals and major marathon wins, interviewing them before and after.

But getting to run a workout led by one of them? Like a Visa ad, that’s priceless.

Ever since I watched Rinny cruise to her second Ironman World Championship victory in Kona (on TV, not in person—I wish!), I had an instant girl crush. She’s such a fierce and confident runner, perhaps the best in the world of Ironman. That fierceness and confidence lacks in my own running. I tend to admire in others what I lack myself.

Carfrae successfully defended her Ironman World Championship title in Kona in 2014, after finishing the bike leg more than 14 minutes behind the leader. She ran an astonishing come-from-behind, record-breaking 2:50 marathon to pick off the seven runners in front of her. Who does that? Who closes a 14 minute gap in a marathon? Rinny does, that’s who. She owns both the Kona overall course record and Kona marathon course record, with 3 wins there and 3 other podium finishes. In other words, she’s a beast.

“Training for an Ironman is all about learning to run fast on tired legs,” Carfrae told us during the workout. If anyone has perfected that art, she’s it.

So Rinny ran us through what she calls one of her favorite workouts to train just that. Lucky for me, I showed up with tired legs, having run 13.1 on Sunday and 3.1 on Tuesday morning. Yes, this was my second run of the day. It’s like this workout was meant for me. I really enjoyed it.

Ironman World Champ Mirinda Carfrae Running Workout

On the ‘mill at Mile High Run Club (Photo: Ironman)

IRONMAN World Champion Mirinda Carfrae Running Workout: Intro to Race Pace

Rinny likened the Zone 3 effort in this workout to Ironman 70.3 race pace. She said she often runs this workout on the treadmill, one of her favorite tools for training speed.

5-Minute Warm Up

  • Zone 1: 60-70% effort
  • Includes 2 x 30 second intervals at 100% effort

5 x 3 Minute Efforts

  • First effort (3 minutes) at Zone 3 (75-90% effort)
    • Recover at Zone 1 pace for a minute
  • Second effort (3 minutes) at Zone 3 (75-90% effort)
    • Recover at Zone 1 pace for a minute
  • Third effort (3 minutes) at Zone 3 (75-90% effort)
    • Recover at Zone 1 pace for a minute
  • Fourth effort (3 minutes) at Zone 4 (90-95% effort)
    • Recover at Zone 1 pace for a minute
  • Fifth effort (3 minutes) at Zone 4 (90-95% effort)
    • Recover at Zone 1 pace for a minute

5-Minute Cool Down

  • Zone 1: 60-70% effort

Though we did just five repeats, Carfrae said she’ll do as many as 15-20 repeats in this 3 minute on, 1 minute off format. So if you feel like going long, go for it.

As mentioned above, I attended this workout courtesy of Ironman. As always, all posts and opinions are purely my own. I’m always honest about my experiences. Seriously. For more information, read my Disclosure policy.

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Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

9 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    3 minutes at zone 4 with only one minute recovery sounds seriously tough!
    Judith recently posted..Hill and Turn SurgesMy Profile

  2. Gigi Wong #

    so, approx. what is the distance of 3 minute? On Flat? or on Track?

    • Karla Bruning

      The distance will totally depend on your speed. If you’re running 6 min miles, a half-mile/800m. If you’re running 9 min miles, a third-mile/550m. It’s less about the distance than just logging the time at speed. Rinny said she does this workout on the treadmill, but I think it would be great on a track too or any flat route.

  3. Stephen #

    When you say 15-20 in this format I assume you mean 3 minute on 1 minute off?

  4. 7

    Oh my gosh I am beyond jealous!!! Watching Rinny come from so far behind to take Kona was amazing!! The workout sounds really intense, but so good.
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    • Karla Bruning

      I just did it again yesterday on the treadmill. Really love this one!

  5. 9

    Yes exactly. She said she’ll do 15 to 20 repeats of 3 minutes on, 1 minute off.