Triathletes are often told we’re competing in one sport, but many of us still look at it as three separate sports and train accordingly. While this is certainly the most practical way to approach the training, it means we neglect the opportunity to blend two of the disciplines together for greater effect.
The process of combining two disciplines is known as a brick session, which, put simply, means you layer one discipline on top of another, in the same way you would layer one brick on top of another to build a house.
There are many questions about brick workouts in triathlon training: when do we do them? How do we do them? How often? When should we introduce them into our training? The beauty of performing brick sessions is that there’s no absolute right or
wrong way to do it.
The objective of this workout, as I mentioned, is to layer one exercise on top of another, which helps to increase the physiological demand of the training and produce greater results. Improved triathlon performance will come about after an athlete stresses their energy systems to adapt to an increasing workload, and any form of brick workout is a great way of doing this.
The other clear reason for including these as a key part of any triathlon plan is that we need to be ready for race day, and that feeling of speeding through transition to get to the next part of the race. We have to be practised so that it’s as seamless and, hopefully, as pain-free as possible on the day.
What’s more important is to ensure that each session and each part of the brick has a specific objective. Sometimes you can focus on holding target race pace on the bike; others you could keep the run at an intensity that boosts your stamina by keeping the pace a bit slower but sustainable.
A misconception of brick training is that it should only be introduced in the latter stages of preparation for a race – this is not true. Introduce sessions at any time in the training phase as long as the intensity and duration of the sessions are appropriate.
Dermott’s top 4 tips
Ready the equipment you’re going to use. Lay run and bike shoes out as you would in a real transition.
Treat the brick workouts as a chance to fine-tune your race-pacing targets.
If training indoors regularly, drink enough fluids to cope with increased sweat loss.
DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP
Always get ready for the workout with a dynamic full-body warm-up. No excuses.
Note: This plan includes one swim session per week to offer balance. At the time of writing, access to swimming pools is not possible, so if you’re still not able to swim, substitute the swim session for a bike, run or a strength and conditioning workout.