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Coach Steve being aero!

BRICK RUNS: Bricks are the foundation of an effective multisport training program, and no doubt that's where the term comes from: stacking one brick (workout) on top of the other for solid race preparation. I recall my first ride-run brick workouts after I retired from bike racing and began competing in duathlons. It was quite different from running on fresh legs; the sensation varies from 'rubber' legs, to stiff legs, just plain tired legs, or all of the above. The good news is that after many bricks completed, running after a ride is no problem at all. After 15 years of duathlon and triathlon I hardly know a difference between runs on fresh legs and post-ride run legs.

To quote Simon Lessing: "I've always felt the swim is a good warm up for the bike, and the bike is a good warm up for a run." That's the goal. Consider the elite ITU competitors who run an all-out 10k after racing at redline through the swim and ride. To be competitive they run only about 10-seconds per mile slower than their 10k PR times on fresh legs.

During the race season more than half of my training runs follow a ride. Sometimes the break between is short, but most post-ride runs come hours later the same day. You don't need to jump off the bike and run instantly afterwards to get good brick effect, especially once you're into race season and competing every few weeks. When I do a difficult long run or speedwork it's usually on fresh legs. One exception is when I ride easy to the track. In fact I've had some of my best track workouts that way.

Back in the day when I was young and very focused on duathon (even more energetic and obsessed with training than I am now), I would do run, ride, run, ride, run, ride, run workouts! The run reps were typically 1-mile, and the ride reps were typically 3-miles, all at race pace! This workout is similar to F1 races you may be aware of.

There are no special techniques to effective brick workouts, just repetition. Most should be at training effort levels, but I've done ride-run brick workouts to at near race effort when I needed intensity no race day was available. Eventually your physiology gets adapts to the ride-run sequence just as it does for all training.

As a duathlete I've got to ride after a tough run, but I don't find this sequence to be as tough as running after a ride. When I have a duathon on the horizon I'll flip my usual pattern and do some runs before rides to get the effect. It's interesting to note that my duathlon rides are slightly slower than my triathlon rides over the same distance. It makes sense since the the du sequence is leg-legs, while for tri it's upper body-legs.

As a triathlete most of my swims are the first workout of the day. For many training days a ride follows, but I've never found the swim-ride sequence to be as difficult as ride-run so I don't do many bricks that way. I do find there's a bit of post-swim burn to cope with for the first few minutes of the ride, but the effect fades faster than what I feel after a fast 10k.

Competing in an Olympic distance triathlon (1.5k/40k/10k) is of similar duration to running a 32k race. That's a relatively long and tough run effort, and it requires careful pacing well below max levels. When preparation is good and your race effort is at full potential, you should be going faster for the OD triathlon 10k than you'd go for a 32k run race. I make that point to illustrate just how intense OD racing is when you're racing at your full potential.

With a solid season of brick workouts and occasional races you should be able to race at speeds near fresh leg levels for the entire event. One season a few years back I raced several 5k run races as well as sprint-distance tris. That year I set my best 5k time at the end of a sprint distance tri.

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