What’s misunderstood is that Brick training does not have to be race-specific in nature in order to produce effective adaptation. A 75-90min recovery Bike/Run Brick, for example, helps the body learn to better run off the bike; some would argue just as effectively as a race pace Brick. But, what about Swim/Bike Bricks? Or even Swim/Run Bricks? What about Run/Swim Bricks? Or Double Bricks? Pigeon holing a Brick into a race pace Bike/Run affair minimizes the workout’s effectiveness.
The Double Brick
Using Ironman as the example, a standard Brick is a 4hr Bike/2hr Run workout. Turning this into a Double Brick would look something like 3hr Bike/1:15 Run/1hr Bike/45min Run. The benefit here is three-fold: 1) That last hour of biking is done when the legs are even more fatigued, which promotes greater adaptation for the latter stages of the bike leg; 2) By breaking up the run into 2 sections, you are decreasing the overall pounding on the body even though you’re running the same duration; and 3) You should be able to run both legs at a faster pace than a straight 2hr run.
The Swim/Bike Brick
The toughest part of the triathlon is when exiting the water, getting through T1 and into the first few miles of the bike. You’re going from a prone position to standing up and running for your bike, which elicits bodily responses to keep your from blacking out and falling over. You go from primarily using your arms to now needing to use your legs, which pulls blood from the arms and drives it to the lower extremities. In conjunction with this, your HR and BP shoot up in order to keep blood in your head. It takes until several miles into the bike for the body to reach stasis and calm down. Practicing this transition in training will at least allow you to become more comfortable with this chaotic bodily transition.
Pick a day of the week when you can follow up your swim workout (alone or with your local Masters team) with at least a 60min ride. In a pinch, you could even leverage a stationary bike at the gym, if your pool is at the same location. In the swim workout, be sure to finish it off at the same intensity as you will be swimming in your key race. Even bypass the cool down. The idea is to simulate the race situation as much as you can. So, also have your bike clothing laying out on the pool deck ready to go. Get into your bike clothing and gear as quickly as you can – avoid socializing and focus on what you’re doing – and head out the door to your bike. Be on your bike and heading out of the parking lot within 3 minutes.
Hop on the bike with a sense of urgency, just as you would in a race. Get into your aero tuck and settle right into your race effort. If you’re training for an Ironman, settle into a steady effort you would plan to hold for the 112 miles and get into your race mode in your head for the solid hour. For half-Ironman races, settle into Zone 3 for 45 solid minutes, then cool down. For Olympic distance races, you will want to settle into race effort for 15 minutes, pedal easy for 5 minutes, then hit it for another 15 minutes before cooling down. Finally, for a sprint, complete one 15-minute effort.
The Run/Swim Brick
A final type of brick could be a Run/Swim workout. Swimming when already 30-60 minutes into a workout will help you cope with the fatigue of the latter stages of the Swim leg in a race. Try running up to an hour at a solid aerobic effort in Zone 2. Finish as close to the start of the swim workout as you can. Then, complete your swim workout as prescribed.
There you have it. Some examples of Brick workouts that, when properly utilized, will help you race more effectively and, hopefully, achieve greater successes in your key races. Give ‘em a try and let me know how they work for you!