When you say the word ‘brick’ amongst your triathlete friends, you usually get one of two replies. They either tell you that they don’t do them and don’t see the need, or how much they love them and how effective they are.
From my experience training and racing, and even more so from a coaching perspective, athletes usually race better when they are incorporating bricks into their training. You can do short bricks, long bricks, and medium bricks. The common denominator is to always add some race pacing into the workout. Very rarely do I have an athlete run off the bike, just to run off the bike. I don’t see the point in that, with the exception of when an athlete is just coming back to training.
As the race season approaches, one way to mix up the boredom of long training days is to do multiple bricks. The beauty is that you can do this in your house going from the trainer to the treadmill (or outdoor run) or do it outside going from bike to quick run a number of times. Even more fun is doing this workout with a group.
These workouts are built to focus on going fast on the run, after putting out a lot of energy (ie watts) on the bike. It’s a pretty hard effort on the bike and then a hard effort again on the run. The purpose is really about pushing the effort and being able to tolerate the pace, and build your fitness in order to race faster this season. You can also progress these workouts and I’ll give you ideas to do that as well.
Even more fun is doing this workout with a group. Let’s talk about all these options:
Indoor Trainer/Treadmill Bricks:
Indoor Workout #1 (5 x 8 minutes).
After a 20 minute warm up on the bike and 15 minute warm up on the run, you’re ready to begin. I recommend adding in a few ‘openers’ for the bike and run as well. Openers are just 30-60” race pace efforts with easy recovery in between. Usually 5 to 10 minutes worth will be enough to get you ready to hit the gas:
- Bike: 5’ at Lactate Threshold Heart Rate or Functional Threshold Power (FTP).
- Run: 3’ at 1% grade, and 10k race speed.
Repeat this pattern for 5 rounds. You can build this workout up to 5×12 minutes, with the bike being 7’ and then run building to 5’.
Indoor Workout #2 (3x 10 minutes):
Same warm up as above and then:
- First Bike: 3’ at FTP in the aeorbars, then 2’ of standing in a big gear, then 1’ of spinning at 105 rpms (6 minutes total).
- First Run: Run 5k pace for 2’ at 1% grade, then run 10k pace for 2’ at 3% grade.
- Second Bike: 2’ at FTP, in the aerobars, then 3’ of standing, and 1’ of spinning at 105 rpm.
- Second Run: Run 5k pace for 1’ at 2% grade, then run 10k pace for 3’ at 4% grade.
- Third Bike: 1’ at FTP, in the aerobars, then 4’ of standing, and 1’ of spinning at 105 rpm.
- Third Run: Run 5k pace for 2’ at 3% grade, then run 10k pace for 2’ at 5% grade.
You can build this brick to 3×15’ with the bike being 10’ and then run 5’. Mix and match the standing, sitting, high RPM sitting and the grades/speeds on the treadmill.
Outdoor Solo Bricks:
It’s best to try and find a closed course for this, whether it’s in a park or industrial area on the weekend. You want as little traffic as possible:
After a 20 minute warm up on the bike and 15 minute warm up on the run, you’re ready to begin. (I recommend adding in a few ‘openers for the bike and run as well):
- First Bike and Run: 3 miles TT as fast as you can, run 1 mile off the bike at HM pace.
- Second Bike and Run: 6 miles TT as fast as you can, run 2 mile off the bike at 5k pace.
- Third Bike and Run: 9 miles TT as fast as you can, run 3 mile off the bike at 10k pace.
Outdoor Group Bricks:
After a 20 minute warm up on the bike and 15 minute warm up on the run, you’re ready to begin. (I recommend adding in a few openers for the bike and run as well). This will be a bit like the brick above, but you’ll stagger the start so the slower bikers will go first.
Start with a short TT – maybe two miles to see where everyone comes in time wise and add in an 800m run off the bike to determine the gap from fastest to slowest. Start the slowest rider/runner first, giving him/her gap from the TT plus 20 seconds.
You’ll do the following set five times:
- 5-6 mile all out TT, with the staggered start.
- Run 1 mile all out time.
You can take a short 2-3 minute break after each brick and let everyone regroup. The winner of the workout is the person with the fastest finishing time combined for all the bricks. Remember the clock starts when the first rider takes off. The idea is that the faster riders will catch the slower rider by the end of the run. Adjust the send off gap as necessary. This is a great workout to teach pacing and negative splitting in a race.
These are just a few ideas with regards to bricks and of course the options are endless!