Prepping for Triathlon with the BikeErg
The Zoom call rang once, then twice, and then Kate Hunt answered. She was sitting on a BikeErg, cooling down from an early morning workout. Kate is recovering from knee surgery and just completed a 10k workout. “I go to a few classes per week, which is good because it makes me work a little harder,” she says. And the hard work is necessary because Kate’s aim is another iron-distance triathlon: a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run endurance event.
Kate is one of four founders and owners of CrossFit Monrovia. She and her husband are early adopters of CrossFit: they competed at the very first CrossFit Games in 2007, the year they also opened their box. At a CrossFit location prior to their own, Kate led a kids’ CrossFit program. She wanted to continue that work and decided to affiliate.
During the 2009 economic recession, she and three others found a good location to open their box, which at the time was only one of 300 CrossFit boxes worldwide. Starting small, they quickly grew exponentially: they now have over 140 members. “Our little town is a fitness area with a dozen gyms in less than a two-mile radius,” says Kate. The goal is not to be big, though, but to cultivate a family-friendly gym. “We aim to have kids, parents, people of all ages work hard and maybe compete. It’s about average folks that want to get fitter. We try to get people to branch out and run 5k, 10k, maybe a half marathon,” she says.
Kate has always been active and played a variety of sports growing up, including soccer and weightlifting. In college, she played tennis and competed in some smaller professional tournaments. It wasn’t until after graduation that she discovered CrossFit. Kate says sports make her "tick" but running is what she likes best. “I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. The long distance is what’s comfortable for me, but unfortunately my body doesn’t like that very much,” she explains. With a torn ACL, but also an endurance "bug", the iron-distance triathlons appealed to her. “Crazy enough, going out for twelve, thirteen hours is appealing to me. The swimming and riding don’t beat me up and then, some way or another, I get through the running.”
When she’s training for triathlons, Kate’s body is in high physical demand. She teaches tennis six to eight hours per day and trains an additional 15 hours per week. She uses a combination of CrossFit and endurance work to prepare for these strenuous endeavors. “Most plans will have you running for three or four days. I’ll run maybe two and put in a couple long CrossFit workouts,” Kate says.
In an effort to reduce impact on her knees, she lightens the load of the workouts by doing aerobic training on the Concept2 BikeErg. “I’ll work on the BikeErg without beating up my joints too much. I’m still fatiguing and strengthening the same muscle groups I need for the run but in a more controlled manner,” she says. Kate combines intervals of 30 minutes running on the treadmill with two hours on the BikeErg “mixing the modalities”. In doing so, she works on the transitions that are specific to triathlon.
She also likes to mix up the long bike rides that she would usually do on her fitted, but not always comfortable, triathlon bike with rides on the BikeErg. “When I ride for five hours, my back and neck get angry. On the BikeErg I’m comfortable, I can move around, get the handlebars down. I’m comfortable in the saddle,” Kate says.
Kate is not the only person at the gym who finds their four BikeErgs comfortable. “Our members love these machines. I had to beg for the first two, but they became really popular. The comfortable saddle is easily adjustable. And as the bike is belt driven, it’s very smooth. They’re user-friendly,” she says.
As a gym owner, Kate appreciates the sturdiness of all Concept2 equipment. “What we have always liked about Concept2 in general is that the machines are workhorses,” Kate explains. The gym has had the RowErgs since they opened fourteen years ago.
One of the technologies that Kate and CrossFit Monrovia loves is the computer on the BikeErg. “I can link the BikeErg to the training program Zwift. I only have to adjust the damper by what the program tells me to, which makes it really easy,” she says. Zwift provides BikeErg users with training programs or online scenery, and signing up for virtual competitions is easy.
The BikeErg also provides a great alternative for rowing and running—the main cardio tools for CrossFit programs. Kate describes a workout in which an athlete mixes 20 toes-to-bars with 500-meter "spins". She can now give the cycling option for people who don’t want to run or can’t row due to injury. “We combine squats or pull ups with 1000 meters on the BikeErg. That gives me another avenue to give them that cardio piece,” she says.
As for Kate, she continues to recover from her knee surgery with a lot of spinning her legs out on the BikeErg. She has her hopes set on a qualifier in May for the Boston Marathon and is looking forward to racing IRONMAN Canada in August.