Triathlon Brick Sessions

by Edward

When do your trathletes begin bike/run (brick) sessions for the upcoming triathlon season and could you provide feedback as to the type of sessions you do in the general phase and then later on in the competitive phase?

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

We will begin proper bricks about 4-5 weeks before the season, although most will do a long run once a week within 10 minutes of finishing a long ride. So not really a brick but just keeps that feeling of running off the bike there all the time. The other benefit of this session is that it provides a high CV stimulus (4-hr ride and 1-hr run off).

We utilise two main types of session:

1. A 2 – 5 minute very fast off a short (<30-min) hard ride to simulate the first kilometre off the bike in a race. This is done at over race pace, as in ITU racing establishing yourself within a pack is important and the race tends to go quick right from the start. Catching up even 10-15 seconds is nigh on impossible in ITU racing now.

2. We do a longer fartlek type run that changes and evolves depending upon requirements. We use a circuit of ~1300m which is undulating and on gravel and do one lap at just over race pace, one lap at race pace and then one at ~15-16-km/h (active recovery). Then we two laps at race pace and one lap recovery at 16-km/h.

Depending upon time of year and the athlete we can do up to 10 laps like this (50 minutes). This is a long hard session that you would need to be very fit and well conditioned to replicate. At the speeds they are running this is ~ 17-18km of session.

The latter session is off a shorter but harder bike - we use 2 x 5 minute hills at over LT2 at the end of a 45 minute warm up ride.

Both these session have different purposes. The first is to fire up the muscles and motor control of running fast having been riding hard and low, and has less to do with physiology. The second is a variation on an LT2 development session but put in after a bike. We start doing the run session a few weeks before we add the bike in before it, and having done 2 – 3 weeks of the faster run-off.

As the season momentum builds we stop the brick sessions, as the athletes are racing on average every third week (although sometimes it is 3 on the trot and then 6 weeks off racing). If they feel the need to add one in we will. The main focus has then become finding more fitness/speed.

Next year we may revise this a little and modify the session a bit, but not the principle.

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