This week has been a difficult week. On Wednesday, Atlanta had tornadoes touch down, in January! I will run in adverse weather, but with disaster looming so close I opted to stay safe and indoors, hence no run workout on Wednesday. Then on Thursday I completed my longest bike session and my legs felt dead, so I opted to nix Friday’s run. Part of training is learning when to listen to your body and most importantly to not take yourself out of the race. So I opted to remove a few workouts. Mentally it killed me, but I felt like that was what needed to be done. So in crazy multisport training fashion, I decided that Saturday would be a great time to try a brick workout. It was AWESOME!!!
Firstly, in endurance event training the brick workout provides the cornerstone litmus test of endurance athletes. While training for an event, usually close to the day of an event, an endurance athlete will schedule these workouts to prepare and train the muscles for the stresses and challenges of multisport. Basically a brick consists of performing two cardio activities back-to-back, with little rest in between. This might entail swimming and then immediately biking or biking then running or biking and then running. The bike/run brick is most often the brick performed by triathletes and was the combination I strived to complete.
I have done some interesting things as I have trained for this triathlon, such as run a 5k race then two hours later gone for a 25 mile bike ride. Along with increasing physical ability, my mental resolve has grown rock solid. But I have read and heard horror stories about bricks from other triathletes. Friday night, my mind went over the endurance athletic feet I was going to attempt. It worried me a bit as I had successfully done some harrowing workouts of the components individually, but I had never tried to tie events together. This would be the closest simulation to race day,except it included only two events instead of three. I decided to keep things simple, targeting specific heart rate for the spin bike and keeping the miles simple. I chose a 2.3/2.5 mile course I had ran numerous times. I wanted a 5k, but that involved adding some serious hills, so I just went for shorter for the first one.
Bike Leg : 00:48:00 (Spin bike that is)
Due to colder weather and to ease things up a bit, I did the bike leg on the spin bike. I tried to target this for a zone 2-3 heart rate predominantly and added some occasional boosts in resistance to simulate hills. Because I have spent so much time this winter on a spin bike this was not hard to do. Looking at the chart I was fairly successful in getting my heart rate into high zone two and some boosts into zone three. While I know it is not a real riding experience, it did the trick to simulate the stress on my legs. Next time I do one of these I will use the sufferfest video to really wear out my legs before the run. Overall I was a sweaty mess by the time I finished my 48 minutes on the bike. Once I got off and bundled up my things I began my transition.
Transition : 00:03:34
I rarely have taken two lockers at the gym. But I knew that if I wanted this to work smoothly it would help to set up one locker as a semi-transition area, containing my running hat, mp3 player(allowed in training but not in races) and a towel to wipe down with. My transition was simple as I did not have to change from cleats, but time was consumed undoing the lock and getting from the spin room and then the front door. I also wolfed down a gel and drank tons of water before continuing.
Run Leg : 00:36:19
This is where I heard these things get hard, the run leg. It did not fail to live up to the expectation. As soon as I stepped out of the gym and heading toward my usual route I switched from transition to the route. Because I started indoors with no GPS signal available, my Global Trainer never did pick up a signal and my final 2.5 distance as well as split times are based on known distances derived from my familiarity with this route.
The first mile was the hardest, I could feel my inside leg muscles complain as the bike had warmed up the outer muscles. It was the most interesting feeling to notice how the bike had warmed up certain parts of the leg muscles more than the others. The first mile really involved just moving my legs, they literally felt like bricks. I finished the first estimated mile in 16:07 time(I run this route frequently and can place the end of the mile down to the tenths). The second mile felt a bit more relaxed and easier to run, miraculously I completed the second one in 13:52 time. The second mile felt easier and I had to walk less. Yes, I walked when I felt like I needed to, but they were really short segments.
One of the most difficult things for me involving the run was the fact that my body was already really warmed up. My heart rate was higher than usual to start with and surprisingly my lungs felt heavy. I have not felt heavy lungs since my early running day. Some of it might have been excitement, but I could tell my body was on a totally different physicality level. It took a while for the heart rate and the breathing to calm down a bit, but they stayed higher than usual.
On my second mile I suddenly had the realization that I was grinning. I for the first time realized that in 63 more days when I participate in my first triathlon, I could truly do it. Also, I realized that I was having fun. Sore, hungry and growing slightly weary, I truly felt amazing and alive. I had ran a brick and it was such a rush. None of my other training ever felt so incredible! I think I might be addicted to triathlon before I even begin. I know when I participate in my first race it will feel different and there will be three events instead of two, but I am aware now that I truly can push myself from biking to running and I enjoyed it. What an amazing experience, can’t wait to try it again. Til next time.
- The Perfect Brick – For Triathlon or Duathlon Training (the5krunner.com)
- 2013 A Look Ahead (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- My Weekly Triathlon Training Brick (iowatribob.com)
- A Tale of Two Athletes (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)