Breakthrough Brick Workouts: Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

By Louis Therien, LifeSport Coach


After a longer than wished for winter, the roads are clear, the lake are warming up and triathlon season is finally here! The start of Tri season means getting certain key workouts in prior to race day: sessions that are designed to get you both physically and mentally prepared to perform to your best ability.

During post-race reflection we often hear athletes say how good their bike was but how they just didn’t have the legs required for the run, or that they just didn’t feel great getting on the bike post swim. Creating a seamless and smooth transition of power and energy between swim, bike and run legs is the cornerstone to triathlon, and brick workouts (swim/bike or bike/run) have always been essential to triathlon training. Making brick workouts a priority so you can practice race day intensity and mental focus is the key to ensuring your race day preparedness.

To ensure that you’re getting the most out of your swim/bike or bike/run workouts, simulating race pace intensity is essential to introducing your body to the various sensations it will endure during a race and to be mentally prepared to deal with these various factors.

Here you will find 2 brick workouts that will better prepare you for your next race and have you reaching a new personal best on the bike and run! For each workout, give yourself one or two goals to shoot for: these can be physical (hitting a certain realistic pace for example) or emotional (dealing with discomfort in a constructive and positive manner.)

KEY (Rests (R), minutes (‘), seconds (‘’), Warmup (WU), Cooldown (CD), Main Set (MS))

Bike/Run – The following is best performed on a bike trainer and where you have access to a treadmill or a good running route free of traffic. If you do not have access to a bike trainer ensure that you’re in a safe environment and one where you can bike at race pace speed. The goal is to mimic race pace and to accustom your body to what sensations and emotions it will be feeling on race day.

* WU: 20’ easy bike including 3X1min race pace R1’ followed by 10’easy run including 3X30secs race pace.

* R:5’easy bike

* MS: Complete the following 2-3 times depending on your ability

* 10’ bike (5’ slightly below race pace, 5’ at race pace) quick transition from bike to run, followed by 5’ run (3’ race pace, 2’ easy), R: 5’ easy bike.

* CD: Once you have completed 2 or 3 repetitions end with a 15’ easy bike

Performance Pointer: Have transition organized and well set up. Think ahead to what ‘coach’ talk you will have in your head as you begin the run. “Quick feet and turnover, breathe well, relax,” are all cues that you have control over.

Swim/Bike – The following is best performed at a lake or a pool and where you are able to bike in a safe environment or have access to a bike trainer. If you are not able to get on your bike right away, try and do so as soon as possible while keeping your safety in mind.

Initial WU if possible 10’ easy bike


* WU: 300m Free R:15”, 4X50m increasing intensity 1 to 4 R:15”, 100m Kick R:15”, 10X25m Race pace R:10”

* MS: 3X200m (100m faster than race pace, 100m race pace) R30”

* 100m as fast as possible, STRAIGHT to the bike

Bike (40min)

* WU: 5’ slightly below race pace

* MS: 3X5’ at Race Pace, R:3’ between each repetition (easy bike)

* CD: 10’ easy spin

Depending on your comfort level, you can vary the duration of each interval, repetition and total time.

Performance Pointer: Biking post swim often creates a spike in heart rate. Your breathing rate will go up on the bike, as will the tendency to take shallow rapid breathes. Be mindful of this and make sure you are creating a strong exhale as you settle into your pace.

By completing these key brick workouts prior to race day, you will be giving yourself the opportunity to create the positive habits required to deal with race day stress. Getting to a race prepared and confident paves the way for personal best performances!

LifeSport coach Louis Therien resides in the Ottawa Area. He enjoys coaching all levels of triathletes from the first timer to the more experienced Ironman.

If you’re looking for that extra edge to meet and surpass your athletic goals, contact Louis and LifeSport.