The best winter brick sessions for triathletes revealed by coaching editor Phil Mosley

RunningA brick session is a form of triathlon training where you go from one sport straight into another. It’s a particularly effective method of training, because it prepares your body for the specific race-day rigours of a triathlon. The problem is most people only entertain the notion of doing them in the springtime, with the race season just around the corner.

At the moment, I’m guessing you train for triathlons by doing individual swim, bike and run workouts. Don’t worry if you do, it’s no bad thing. After all, if you improve at swimming, cycling and running, it stands to reason that you’ll race a faster triathlon.

However some pro triathletes look at it slightly differently. One such person is the American professional Andy Potts. In 2012 he had a brilliant season, winning four tough Ironman events as well as the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon. And he did it off the back of a training regime consisting of regular bike to run sessions.

He trains in Colorado Springs, and is known locally for doing most of his run training directly after his long bike rides. So a typical workout for Potts would be a three- or four-hour bike ride, followed by a one-hour run. It may sound tough, but Potts has built his endurance up over a process of years so that he can handle it. He does this by incorporating his brick sessions throughout the year, not just in the spring. In races, he is known as a fast swimmer and a strong biker, but in 2012 he held strong on the run too. This is despite not necessarily being the fastest solo runner in the field. It shows that during a triathlon it’s not just about how fast you can run, but how fast you can run after a tough swim and bike.

Another benefit of his training method is time-efficiency. If you struggle to fit your training around your job, your family and several other commitments, brick sessions may help you. By doing most of your runs directly after cycling, you can potentially fit seven days’ training into five. Individual training sessions involve a certain amount of time-wasting too – getting changed, showering, driving. Brick workouts allow you to batch your sessions, and cut down on the time-consuming logistics.

Before you embrace the Andy Potts Method, it’s important to plan and build your training carefully. If you launch into daily brick sessions now, there’s a good chance you’ll end up over-tired or injured. The key is to build up gradually, by no more than 10 per cent per month. These sample workouts should help get you started.


> Weekend workout:
Bike 90 minutes to two hours at steady chatting pace, into run 30 minutes at steady chatting pace.

>  Midweek workout:
Bike one hour (including 2×20 minutes at target race pace), into run 20 minutes (10 minutes at target race pace, 10 minutes easy jog).


> Weekend workout:
Bike three hours at target Ironman race pace, into run 45 minutes at target Ironman race pace.

>  Midweek workout:
Bike one hour (including 2×15 minutes consistently hard riding) into run 30 minutes (20 minutes at approx half-marathon race pace, 10 minutes easy jog).

You can find more winter triathlon training articles here