Get race ready – The multiple brick session

Thankfully we are now approaching that glorious time of year when we leave the cold weather and dark nights behind us. It’s an exciting time for triathletes because for many means that race season is fast approaching. This should also signal a shift in training mindset, especially if you have big races coming up in May or June. Your training plan should start to evolve and certain key sessions should be added to help get you race ready.

I speak to many athletes on a daily basis and I’m often surprised at the number that never consider putting multiple swim-bike-run brick sessions into their training plan, or even swim to bike transition sessions. Many just focus on bike to run brick sessions never giving a second thought to adding a swim before it (or the swim is done as the 3rd element!). It seems many only put all 3 elements together on race day.

This brings us back to an important question, what is triathlon?

It’s actually 3 sports that are inextricably linked, not 3 individual sports. Each one has a knock on effect on the other and any good training plan should account for this.

Many of my athletes do these multiple brick sessions on a weekly or fortnightly basis depending on their individual circumstances. The closer we get to race the higher the frequency of these sessions. If you want to be fully race ready then these kinds of sessions are a crucial part of your training plan.

Combining all 3 elements together is the perfect opportunity to practice race skills and race pacing. The more you practise this the more autonomous it becomes. It also allows you to strengthen these skills if they are weak. Simulating these weaknesses in training will help you increase your skill level and confidence. If you don’t practise these elements in training then the energy cost will be high during a race and it will feel much harder than it needs to be.

The ideal testing ground for this would be an open water swimming venue, transitioning to an outdoor bike and brick run. But if you can’t do this then using the swimming pool, an indoor bike and a treadmill are just as good. These multiple brick sessions can be tailor made to suit your own training environment; you just need to be creative.

It’s also important to realise that if you are time constrained you can spread these 3 sessions across one day. For example, you could do the swim in the morning before work and then do the turbo session with a brick run off it in the evening. This for many will be far more time efficient on midweek days, with weekends being the best opportunity to add in the continuous multiple brick session. Sometimes my athletes will miss a midweek swim session due to unforeseen circumstances, I always then give them the option of adding it to their long weekend sessions as a multiple brick challenge. So long as you are combining the 3 elements in race order on one day the session is still highly valuable.

Setting up sessions like these just takes a bit of planning. Have everything ready and set it up like you are in a real race.  Use your wetsuit so you can practise taking it off and have your bike and run gear all set up for when you get home, this will make the process as seamless as possible. Also be sure to use the kit, nutrition and equipment you plan on using in your race, familiarisation is so important.

The frequency of doing these sessions will vary from athlete to athlete depending on where they live and what they have access to, it will also depend on the time of year. Most lakes won’t be open until April-May time so it’s best just to use the swimming pool until they’ve warmed up. I would highly recommend doing at least one of these sessions every 1 or 2 weeks in the final 8 weeks building into your race. This gives you plenty of time to hone your race skills and pacing strategy.

Just be sure to learn from every attempt and refine the process from week to week, before you know it you will be making these transitions on auto pilot. It’s about programming your mind as well as your body. Leave no stone unturned in your preparation because usually it’s the thing that you practise the least that usually comes back to bite you.