Why I “Du” The Mondo Brick

The brick is a triathlon and duathlon staple. Although almost every multisport athlete incorporates bricks into her training, they vary about as much as the individual. There’s the standard middle-distance bike-run brick, the run-bike brick, the run-bike-run brick, and multi-bricks: intervals alternating bike and run.

I do a little bit of all of these in duathlon training. I also incorporate what I call the mondo brick: a bike-run or run-bike-run session that incorporates intensity in all segments. Sometimes I incorporate race-pace efforts, sometimes tempo, but the mondo brick has some element of hard all the way through.

Today was a mondo-brick day. To punish myself even more, I picked a hilly course for the bike and run. I ran on lovely, very rolling Nimitz Way in Berkeley’s Tilden Park. For the bike portion, I descended Wildcat Canyon and then used the Bears loop: a 19-mile, hilly-ish loop through El Sobrante and Briones that culminates with Bear Creek Road, home to “the Three Bears” (aka three bears of a hill). It’s a loop I ride often, and it’s also the bike part of the upcoming Du Toes duathlon on June 18.

Nimitz Way
The start of Nimitz Way. It looks innocent enough here, but gets hillier with every mile.

Maybe my reasoning is twisted, but I told myself that if I included a workout that was ridiculously hard, and longer than my goal race, the USAT Duathlon Nationals in Bend, Oregon, that it would make the race seem easy. We’ll see about that.

I gave myself an eight-mile run, six at a brisk pace (roughly tempo effort); Bears loop (plus descending and then climbing Wildcat, about 24 miles total); four-mile run, three of them at a brisk pace (which really wasn’t very brisk, but there was a lot of effort).

For standard-distance duathlon training (10k-40k-5k), this is most likely overkill. But I am self-coached, and sometimes I go a little overboard. As I started the second run, I thought, “this is crazy!” Which means, yes, it was a long, tough workout. More like a mega-mondo brick.

The mondo brick doesn’t have to be so excessively long. I also incorporate shorter mondo bricks into my week. As the goal race nears, I incorporate at least a few bike-run workouts that include tempo and faster intervals on the bike (about 1:15 total riding time), followed by a tempo run around Oakland’s Lake Merritt (4 miles total, including .5 from/to my apartment).

The mondo brick is not for the feint of heart. But it’s a great way to improve that all-important second run! Just remember I’m not a coach so don’t do as I say, or as I do, unless it works for you!

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