As with pretty much everything in triathlon, the value of brick workouts is debated. My first few years I’d do a brick every week. Last year, leading up to IMCDA, I did several. This year, before today, I’d done one, but it was so long ago and so piddly I hardly count it. It wasn’t so much that I’d come down on one side or the other in The Great Brick Debate. (Those sides are, generally speaking: that by practicing running off the bike you’ll be faster on the run in a race; and that to get faster on the run you need to do high-quality run workouts, which are unlikely if not impossible right off the bike.) Rather, it didn’t seem necessary to work on that aspect of my game because I’ve never had problems gearing up my run off the bike. I might feel awkward and slow at the start of the run, but then I’ll check my watch and see I’ve covered the first mile in 7:40 in an oly, 8:10 in a half or 8:35 in a full. Then after another mile I’ll feel totally comfortable. This I need to practice?
With Coeur d’Alene only about a month away, however, I was getting a little nervous about not doing any running off the bike. Plus, I was itching to run, having run just four times in the previous 11 days. So today I called an audible on my workout plan and changed a planned 80-mile bike ride into a 40-mile ride followed by a one-hour run. On the ride, I did 20 miles at a moderate effort, then threw in a long series of half-mile surges separated by half-miles of moderate spinning. In all, I averaged 18.4 miles per hour for the ride.
The run went just as my brick runs always go: felt awkward at first, but ran well. My first mile was around 8:40. I wasn’t trying to kill the run but I wanted just a little push to the pace. I got faster, but in small increments. In the end, I did 7 miles in 58:33, an 8:21 pace. My heart rate stayed under 80 percent of max for all but the last half-mile of the run, and even at that it only hit 81 percent. Most of the time I was cruising at 75 percent of max.
Was it the perfect workout for the day? I don’t know. But if I didn’t do the run then, right after the bike, I wouldn’t have run today. So I got in a run, and that counts. And I did away with any anxiety about being ready to run off the bike on June 21. That counts for something, too.