How Often Should I Be Doing Brick Sessions?

May 03, 2022

Arguably, the most difficult part of a triathlon is the run. While the swim is the most technically challenging leg, at least you are at maximum energy for that. When it comes to the run, regardless of your ability, you have been pushing hard through the swim and the cycle and when you get off the bike your legs feel like jelly! Unless, that is, you have been focusing some of your training on brick sessions.

Brick sessions are triathlon specific workouts where you follow a bike session immediately with a run. This gets you used to running on tired legs and helps your body adapt more quickly to the demands of running off the bike. Ideally you should be doing 1-3 brick sessions per week leading up to your big event, depending on your ability and aims.

Why Do I Need To Do Brick Sessions?

On the bike leg, your body is bent over and contracted into the most aerodynamic position possible for up to 6 hours or more. You jump off the bike and all of a sudden you are asking your body to work in a completely different manner, running upright.

Inevitably, your body responds with either legs that feel like they are made of jelly, or are so heavy they feel like they are made of bricks. It is a very strange sensation, and if you are not prepared for it then in the race there is a good chance that you will question whether you can even complete the run, let alone perform well.

Including brick sessions in your training will allow your mind to become acquainted with this feeling, and for your body to adapt more quickly. Training yourself to feel comfortable being uncomfortable is key to the mental challenge.

When Should I Include Brick Sessions?

During the off season, there is no need to put your body under a huge amount of strain. This is a good time to be focusing on strength and flexibility, along with general fitness maintenance. As the season ramps up, that is when you want to be including brick sessions consistently in your training. At around 8-12 weeks before your first race of the season you want to be having brick sessions dialled into your training regime.

How Many Brick Sessions Per Week Should I Do?

At a bare minimum you should be getting in one short, and one long brick session per week. If you are serious about getting into those podium positions then up it to three.

The short brick session would be something like a one-hour ride, followed by a 15-minute run, and this would be the midweek session. For the weekend long brick that would look something like a 2-hour ride, straight into a 30-minute run. For those podium chasers, add in another short midweek brick session in the few weeks before you start tapering for your race.

What Would A Brick Session Look Like?

The most basic form of brick session would be to replicate the race. Leave your running shoes ready at the front door, jump off the bike at the end of your ride, swap your shoes and get running. The key to remember here is that you do not need to go and do a long run for your brick session. You just want to get the body used to running on tired legs, and adapting as quickly as possible to the change in demands from cycling to running.

Short Brick Session – 60-minute ride followed by a 15-minute run.

Long Brick Session – 120-minute ride followed by a 30-minute run.

Another option which really pushes your body to adapt is the mixed-brick session in which you do shorter stints on the bike and run, but you do them repeatedly. A mixed-brick session would look something like this:
Mixed-Brick Session – 15-minute ride followed by 5-minute run, repeat this 3 times.

Final Thoughts

As a beginner triathlete, you just want to complete the course, but as you become more competitive you want to be able to find that extra edge over your fellow athletes. Having the ability to quickly get up to speed on the run will see you stretching out a lead that will create a mental and physical advantage. So, the next time you finish up with your bike session, just add a little run on the end so that you get more used to the feeling.


Written for Innerforce by Stewart Spiessens.

Photos. @dreid.tri


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