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.
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!