Brick Sessions To Try Today

Three top coaches from suggest sessions for the most popular triathlon distances

Posted: 18 June 2010

1. Super sprint

The shortest triathlon distance is all about speed, and brick sessions are important for building pace. "Recreate race conditions," says coach Simon Ward. "If you're doing the race in a pool you won't need a wetsuit, and you should take your bike with you."

Session 1

15 mins (at least) on the bike to the pool or swimming lake at warm-up pace.
15-min swim at race pace: "But shake it up every now and then - go longer or shorter and vary the pace. Be creative with your training," says Ward.
15-min bike at race pace: "You need at least 15 minutes on the bike to transfer the blood from your shoulders to your legs."

Session 2

10K bike: Do 5-minute intervals at
race pace.
2.5K run: Set up your bike near a running track so you can practise a proper transition.

2. Sprint

Although the sprint presents a greater endurance test than its little brother, maintaining speed in the early stages of each discipline is still vital. "The purpose of swim-bike bricks is mainly to improve the transition and to get going as quickly as possible on the bike," says coach Steve Lumley. "It's best to keep the intensity quite high and repeat sessions a few times."

Session 1                                              

5-10 mins warming up by swimming or cycling.
Swim: 200m at race effort, 100m steady, 100m at race effort.
5-min bike at race pace: "The first 60 seconds can be with feet on the shoes rather than in them," says Lumley.
Repeat 2-4 times.

Session 2  

5-min bike at race pace: Repeat 3-4 times, with a short recovery in between.
800m run: 5K pace. 3-5 mins recovery.
Repeat 2-3 times: 3-5 mins recovery each time.

3. Olympic

Judging pace is vital on a standard-distrance tri. "Bike-run bricks are most conveniently done on a turbo trainer, but make sure you do some on the road," says Lumley. "We have to process information much more rapidly on the bike than while running, which can lead to problems in judging how fast we are running immediately after getting off the bike - we tend to think that we are moving more slowly than we are."

Session 1                                              

5-10 mins warming up: swim or cycle.
Swim: 200m at race effort, 100m steady, 100m at race effort.
10-15 min bike: Race pace. "Again, the first 60 seconds can be with feet on the shoes," says Lumley.
Repeat 2-4 times.

Session 2

10-15 min warm-up: swim.  
8-10 min bike: race pace.
6-8 min run: race pace.
Repeat 2-3 times: 3-5 minutes recovery each time.

4. Half-Ironman

The demands on the body during a half-Ironman are different from those placed on it during the Olympic-distance triathlon. "To avoid burning out use race nutrition during training," says Fiona Hoare, who has competed in the World Championships. "If you're hungry or thirsty it's too late, so drink every 20 minutes, up to a litre an hour."

Session 1

2-3hr bike: go harder for the last half hour. "That means strong breathing," says Hoare.
1hr run: 20 mins at race pace, 30 mins above race pace, last 10 mins easy.

Session 2

"Make this your last session three or four times before the race."
10-min bike: 5 mins moderate, 5 mins at race pace. "Then do 30 seconds at recovery pace."
10-min run: 5 mins hard, 5 mins recovery. "Taper off your training before a race, but this keeps your muscles ready for the transition," says Hoare.

5. Ironman

Brick training is essential before attempting an Ironman because of the daunting distances involved. Hoare has completed six such mammoth events, including the Hawaii Ironman. "It's important thay you make your training race-specific," she says. "If it's a flat course there's no point cycling or running up hills for this length of time. But always use your race bike for training, even if you're on a turbo."

Session 1

4-6hr bike: building up intensity
over time.
30-min run: 15-20 mins at race pace, 10-15 mins recovery. "Always finish
with at least 10 minutes at a gentle pace to recover."

Session 2

2.5-3hr bike: moderate pace.
1.5hr run: race pace. "Use both sessions to test your muscles in different ways," says Hoare. They'll test you, but they're worth the effort.

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