It's important to review your approach to training each year and decide what's working and what's not. This is a critical exercise for anyone looking to improve.
As coaches we perform the same review, although we have the benefit of looking at training and results from a detached perspective. This year, our top change for the upcoming season is a big one: we decided to eliminate brick workouts (aka running off the bike) as a "special" workout.
After years of reviewing results, sorting through the feedback of our athletes and customers, and comparing both with our own training and racing experience, we have come to the conclusion that brick workouts become less valuable as the distance of your goal race increases. In other words, they are more relevant to sprint triathlon training than your next Ironman.
Brick Workouts Have (Limited) Value for the Long Course Triathlete
Before we go further, let's be clear that there is some value to running off the bike on tired legs.
Mental Value: Feel it and taste it so that your first experience with running off the bike isn't on race day.
Pacing Value: Brick workouts can help you learn the difference between rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and pace. You've just been pedaling a bike for hours and now you are running. It's very common for you to feel like you're running an eight-minute per mile pace, when in fact you might be running faster.
In addition, because everyone around you is running too fast, you are getting a lot of feedback that this "too fast" pace is the correct one. In fact you'll most likely feel as though you're not running fast enough.
A brick run will help you experience this disconnect without the pressure of a race. It will also help build your confidence to run your pace versus the pace that everyone else is running in the first critical miles on race day.
How-Do-I-Get-My-Legs-Back Value: It's important to learn how to adjust your running form in the first couple of miles in order to get your running legs back. A few bricks can help you develop and refine your own strategy to achieve this.
Become Faster by Running on Fresh Legs
At Endurance Nation, we define fitness as the ability to do work. The "work" referenced here is the effort required to propel you down the road on the run, up mountains on your bike, or across the pool. Increased fitness is therefore the capacity to do more work.
The purpose of every single workout is essentially to increase your capacity to do work, and it's under this lens that the value of a brick workout quickly disappears. Simply put, very often a brick run for the long-course triathlete is a relatively slow run on tired legs. We've learned that the best way to become a faster runner is to create more opportunities to run faster on fresher legs.