Today’s coaches corner is all about brick sessions. Jen Isaac wanted to know when is best to start doing them and whether there are different lengths according to what distance you are racing.
What is a brick session?: a brick session is when you look to combine two disciplines together. On the whole due to the ease, it’s commonly bike to run as you can freely cycle in your gym then hit the running machine or run off one of your bike sessions during the week. Yes you can go swim to run BUT you should be replicating your disciplines order. So if you are planning on doing an Aquathon: swim to run is perfect. duathlon: bike to run & even run to bike sessions will help. finally, triathlon: due to the wet issue, bike to run is common but if you want to work on that swim to bike you need to ensure that you set this up so that you can come back to your car and not find the lake locked up.
Soft & hard brick sessions: there are two different formats for a brick session. A soft brick sessions is when you can casually relax from finishing one discipline before you start the session. This could mean changing your kit, hydrating etc. before you crack on with the next session. A hard brick session is where you move from one discipline straight onto with as little break in between as possible (ideal way to practice your transitional skills). This will aid the body’s ability to switch from using one group of muscles to using another group. This will aid your ability to cope with the John Wayne style running action commonly seen moving out of T2 in the early season races.
NB: It’s best with this format to focus predominately on one of the two disciplines to help develop that aspect. I.e. Controlled bike followed by hard run session or hard bike session followed by a steady state run. Yes you can perform both disciplines hard, but it’s best to focus on one to help monitor that aspects progress.
Length options: how long is a piece of string. If you are doing sprint to olympic distance races. Then you can perform anything from 4-8km of run effort off the bike. In terms of bike length, this will depend on whether you are performing a soft or hard brick and what area of focus you have. There’s nothin wrong with a little 10-20min super easy jog off the bike after your long run or after a nasty bike session just to help ease out the legs. When you go longer (70.3 & IM) due to the volume you need to get through in order to develop that stamina level, running off the bike after your long run is perfect. Your pace is not going to be key like a sprint or olympic distance race. 20-40mins off the bike to help find that rhythm is key. No need to rush either as IM race, preparation in T1 & T2 is key so a soft brick approach is best taken