Sprint Triathlons: The Importance Of Regular Brick Sessions
Spring is definitely that time if year when triathletes can bring out their bikes again. When spring is in the air, what better way to mark your entrance to the new triathlon season than by competing at the Energade sprint series.
What Sort Of Training Is Appropriate? ///
Sprint distance races do not require the most amount of time. That's the good news if you are one of the many time-challenged triathletes in the country. If you can spare 1 hour a day during the week, you will be able to compete solidly in the races.
The five weekdays you can divide between 2 runs, 2 swims and 1 bike or something similar. The weekends allow you more time to do longer miles. I recommend a long run of 80-90 minutes for this distance. Yes, you can run well on 3-4 runs a week! As long as you are consistent and focus on the right aspects of your training you will be fine.
A Basic Outline ///
In total, you will fare well if you can complete 3 bike sessions, 3 swims and 3 runs per week. That even leaves you with a day off!
The Value Of Brick Sessions
Combine your training to simulate race performance.
It is definitely a good idea at this stage, with the series so close to do a weekly brick session. These can be really simple too. You can do your usual swim session followed by a short sharp 20 minute run afterward or even a 1-hour ride.
Brickwork is ideally done closer to the race. I recommend 1 brick session a week 4-6 weeks out from your first race. With sprint distance racing, you do not need to do long bricks at all. Bricks are not only great fun because of the variety but also they really help prepare your legs for the event.
Again, let me emphasize you only need 1 a week. For a sprint distance triathlon brick workout doesn't need be any longer than 60 minutes.
An Approach To Brick Sessions
There are 2 approaches to brick sessions. One is as a race simulation where you do everything in race type conditions: your intended HR, pace etc. The second approach is to do the session to completion. In other words, you simply complete the session. This means you do not need to focus on how fast you do each discipline. It is simply getting the muscles accustomed to the demands triathlon places on your body.
If you have a rigorous training schedule then aim for the latter approach whereas if you have more rest built into your program, then it is a good idea to get into more of a 'race mode'.
As an example, 6 weeks before my major international races I embark on a weekly brick session. Sometimes I am racing the next day (like a 21km road race or even a long bike race). On these weekends, I simply complete the brick session as a quality session rather than as a race simulation.
My races tend to be ultra distances so it is fine to train this way. For a sprint triathlon, if you want to race the next day, then definitely take the brick session comfortably so your legs are fresh for that run or bike. More than likely you will race a 10km run (I hope!) in which case you want your legs to feel light. Ideally, for sprint triathlon it would be good to race the day before your brick session.
The chances are your legs will be more fatigued from the race but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as fatigued legs is what you race with in any case! Despite the fact, that your recovery is much quicker for shorter distances than for long ones, I suggest you only follow this sort of regimen for not longer than a 3-week period: i.e. brick and race in 2 consecutive days. 3 weeks builds up your legs to a sharp and responsive level whereas another 3 weeks like this, tends to leave your legs tired.
If this sounds contradictory to my earlier statement about doing bricks 4-6 weeks out from a race, then allow me to explain.
You can certainly still complete 6 weeks of brick session where 3 of those weeks can also include a race either the day before or after. I focus on weekends because it seems to be when most people can fit more training in. Ideally, if you want to race road races on the weekend and your time is flexible, then rather do a brick during the weekend.
Due to the speed of a sprint triathlon, I feel it is an idea to do 2 or more bricks as a race simulation.
A Gentle Reminder ///
If you decide to include some brick sessions, then please remember to schedule your next quality run workouts more than 48 hours later than the brick session. South Africans tend to run a lot of running time trials on Tuesdays, which many triathletes incorporate as speed work. If this is also your plan, then I suggest you do your brick workout no later than Saturday.
Why? Your legs need to enough time to recover! You really want your legs to be as fast as possible on a sprint triathlon hence the need for sufficient recovery. For me, sprint triathlons require your best running speed. Thus, your quality workouts need your legs to be able to fire.
Some Ideas For Brick Sessions
These are simple guidelines. Bricks are fun because you can be creative with them. Let your mind and your body be your guides here. Brick workouts for sprint triathlons need to place their emphasis on too little rather than too much!
Always warm up for 15-20 minutes before a brick workout. That means a short swim, bike and run - simply to get the blood supply pumping nicely and the muscles recruiting properly. I most often use my indoor trainer for the bike section of a brick. Another ideal place is on a track or roads where you are not forced to stop for traffic or traffic control signs.
- Swim 4x25m and 2x50m with 30s for the 25m intervals and 60s between the 50m intervals.
- Bike 20 minutes steady.
- Run 10 minutes steady.
- Bike 20 minutes steady.
- Run 8 minutes faster tempo than first run.
This is one example of a brick session. You can change the time parameters as you feel. You certainly do not need to do too much more in terms of volume.
If you want to inject further pace into your run then I would change the session to something like this:
- Swim: Same as above
- Bike: 10 minutes steady, Run 1.5km steady/bike 10 mins, run 1km steady, bike 10mins/run 600m hard. If you are not near a running track, convert this to a time based interval.
- Or you could keep the bike intervals the same time, but run 1 by 800m interval after each bike session. The 800m interval is then at race pace or slightly quicker.
Results Speak For Themselves! ///
I trust the value of brickwork in my training. It makes you race sharp and actively prepares the muscles for the physical demands of racing. It will not only feel easier when you race but more than likely you will be quicker too!