Our Favorite Workouts: Brick Sessions

People often ask if there is a key session throughout the race season that they should include each and every week. One of those key sessions in my mind is the Brick.

Triathlon is unique. We swim, we bike and we run, but people forget the sport is doing all three together and one right after the other. No matter how much you swim, bike or run and no matter what speeds and efforts you do those activities in a week, if you can’t put everything together and know your pace, how to fuel, what it feels like and what demands doing them one right after the other have on your body, then you won’t be successful as a triathlete.

Triathlon is a sport with a finish line and a start line: fastest person to put all three together wins. So no matter how good you are at one, you must know the art of your sport. So, yes, I think the brick is one of the most important training sessions for a triathlete throughout the year.

There are several different types of bricks and ways to go about training this skill. I’m going to give you an example of some of my favorite brick sessions:

The Long Aerobic Brick

  1. First you must be able to do this easily and slowly at an aerobic heartrate before you should consider going “fast.” Simply give yourself an HR cap of 70% effort and go through the motions of a moderately long bike to run.
  2. Example: 2 hour ride, HR zone 1-2; followed by a 1 hour run on a flat road, HR zone 1-2.
  3. The second stage is:
    • Bike: 2-3 hours with 1 hour moderate threshold work broken up (such as 3x 20 minutes with 4 minutes easy between).
    • Run off the bike: 1 hour hilly run with HR under 70%.
  4. Work your way up to a brick that looks like this:
    • Bike: 4 hours total ride time with 2 hours worth of race effort work broken up.
    • Run off the bike: 1.5-2 hours with 1 hour worth of race effort work.
  5. Example: Bike 4 hours total with 40 minutes at ironman pace, 10 minutes easy, 30 minutes at half IM pace, 10 minutes easy, 10-20 minutes best TT effort. You can go through this cycle one or two times. Then run 1.5-2 hours with 10x 3 minutes at half IM race effort or 6x 1 mile race effort with 2 minutes easy between.

The Long Ride Brick

This is when you start doing your four to seven hour rides in your Ironman prep and immediately following, you do a 15-30 minute run right off the bike. I think capping the run at 30 minutes is enough for this type of session.

Short Fast Brick

For this session it’s best to keep it under two hours. Keep the intensity on the efforts high.

Here is an example of one I like to use:

  • Bike: 90 minutes total – 30 minutes easy, 8x 3 minutes TT effort on the flat (HR at 80-90% of max, rpm 85-95) with 3 minutes easy between, spin easy to finish up the 90 minutes.
  • Run: 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes HR at 80-90% of max, 10 minutes easy.

These are just a few examples of my favorite sessions to really train our sport: TRIATHLON! Include all the parts of your sport to get the most out of your race day.

TrainingMarilyn Chychota