What are brick sessions and how do they benefit triathletes?

Brick sessions for you to try

When training for triathlon there are many ways that you can achieve it. Among these tri training techniques are brick sessions – when you train for a few disciplines consecutively – which are considered really helpful sessions to include in your training programme. 

Written by Will Clarke

Will is a British triathlete. He's a former U23 World and European Champion, competed at Beijing 2008 and has twice been British national champion.  He now competes on the World Ironman 70:3 circuit.

An example brick session might include a ride for 4 hours, and then you have your shoes ready by the door to run a 45-minute session immediately afterwards. It’s obviously great for building strength, speed and getting used to that feeling of running straight off the bike. 

In training it’s very hard to replicate a race. Most of the time people will train the disciplines separately, but that intensity of sprinting from the swim to your bike before jumping on and pushing out big power for the first 5 minutes, then getting off and getting your running legs going straight away is really something that your legs forget when you have a whole winter off racing.

A brick is the specific session of the week that will get you used to that feeling and you’ll notice the difference come race day. That’s why so often for many tri athletes the first races of the season are usually pretty hopeless. With a few of these sessions under your belt, ideally your legs are trained well enough that you don’t get the jelly feeling in your legs when you run off a hard bike ride. It’s also very time efficient especially if you have a demanding job or family to look after.

It’s not just bike to run sessions that come under the ‘Brick' umbrella. Equally as helpful to your performance is the swim to bike brick and also mini triathlons. However it’s most likely that you need a lake to do this in as you’ll be lucky if your pool lets you turbo on poolside!

Aero position on a bike

Here are a couple of brick session ideas for you to try:

Long strength endurance brick

45 minutes very light run straight into a 2 and a half hour steady ride then straight back into a 45 minute run with 15mins, 10mins and 5 minutes at tempo pace, with 5 minutes recovery between each tempo segment. 

This is a great session because the time adds up to a meaty 4-hour session. You have forgotten about that first 45 minute run by the time it comes round to your second run and you also have some intensity in there to spice things up. Remember that because your legs are so warmed up from the first run you’ll probably feel pretty strong.

Swim - bike high intensity brick

If you’re part of a triathlon club it’s likely that they have an open water session available or a pool rented, so take your turbo trainer along or you can also complete the session on the road. In this set you’ll swim and ride 3 times.

Swim 

400m as 150m Free/50m Back stroke, easy pace

300m Steady swimming

200m Tempo

100m best pace

Hop onto your bike

Ride

(1min best pace/1min recovery) x 3

5mins settling down into race pace

2mins spin and back into the water

 
Don’t just jump into doing these brick sessions immediately, but instead adapt the sessions to match your current ability.

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