How to Survive Brick Triathlon Training

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Heather’s dream is to share with the world her success at becoming healthy after age 40. Heather lost over 88 pounds through changing her diet and incorporating exercise into her busy life. She would like to take what she has learned about becoming fit after 40, and using her Metabolic Training Certification to help others struggling with weight issues mid-life. Heather’s post day is Monday.
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Image Quote: Ready to pay the price for your dream.

My fitness dream expanded this year and the culmination of that big dream is only 2 weeks away. Triathlon training is a cumulative process of workouts that get longer and more intense, and many times make you too sore to move the next day.

I take this as a sign that triathlon training is working.

I had decided 8 months ago that my goal this year was to kick my goal up a notch and go for something bigger and badder. Olympic distance triathlon.

What the heck is Olympic distance triathlon? Do the following consecutively in this order.

  • 1.5 K (.93 Mile) swim
  • 40K (24.8 Mile) bike
  • 10K (6.2 Mile) run

This was about the same time that I was happy to add a part time job to my schedule. My mornings were now dedicated to motivating clients to their own fitness goals. This change meant my own triathlon training time had moved from early morning to evenings after work.

The after work triathlon training plan only works if you are still able to stay awake until then.

I have struggled with staying motivated and keeping my energy up for these workouts. Often I let the resentment of having no time to just chill-out keep me from training when I needed to.

The good news is I have a deadline. I have come to terms that this is a driving factor in everything that I do.

I’m sure you’ve had this experience – in work, a big personal project, or your own dream goals. Having a deadline adds motivation. It works wonders when you have a reward and punishment attached to it.

My reward? Bragging rights for completing my first Olympic distance triathlon just a week after my 44th birthday.

My punishment? Disappointment for not hitting my goal and money spent on training equipment, classes, coaching and the event registration if I didn’t stick to the program.

Brick training is the giant pile of pain in your triathlon journey.

I’ve been respectful of brick training since my first triathlon just last year. Balancing out swim, bike, and run training on their own is tough. Then at some point you realize you’ve signed up to do them all back to back, and you should be aware of how that feels before race day.

This is what triathletes call brick training.

Brick training
Bricks refer to training back-to-back on two disciplines, typically bike then run, one following the other with little or no break in between to the emulate race day experience.

Brick training (as defined by your fitness dreamer Heather)
A long intense back to back workout that makes you feel like a ton of bricks when you finish.

When I set out for my most intense brick training session this morning I treated like race day.

Well, almost. It was no where near as early, and my big plans of riding and running on the same course as the upcoming race changed. For some reason I hadn’t put together that my plans coincided with the Sunday before Memorial Day. Traffic and revelry in a part of Sonoma County that would be overrun with locals enjoying the perfect weather.

The location changed, but the plan stayed on track as I went through my pre-ride checklist. I have learned valuable lessons from my friends who are avid cyclists.

1. Check tire pressure: Every time you head out. There is nothing worse than feeling every road in the road 10 miles in and realizing your tires are low.

Heather triathlon brick training - check tire pressure

2. Check the brakes: This is one I was glad I verified this morning. The brake adjuster was not locked down after my last tire change and I discovered this in my pre-ride check. Stopping is important.

3. Gather your gear: In my case this includes my helmet, gloves, sunglasses, water bottle, ID and phone. The phone serves several purposes. I use an interval training timing with the iPhone app IntervalTimer, track my workout through the RunKeeper app. And of course I have a phone to use in case of emergencies.

Heather triathlon training gear

The gorgeous summer kick-off weekend made for a beautiful start of the brick workout.

I tackled some hills that managed not to completely kick my butt, enjoyed fast flats and kept my pace. The heat of the day hadn’t completely broke through. The start of my ride included a shaded breezy path through our local Anadel State Park.

The families and mountain bikers were out in force. I waved at fellow riders, and shared knowing smiles. Everyone out enjoying today knew why we are out here on a day like this. Sometimes it’s good to see others share the same insanity you do.

The other thing I was testing on this ride is the outfit and nutrition I planned on using on race day. There are some brave souls that grab whatever looks good to wear, and to eat, and are successful. I learned my lesson: try everything in training first.

Uncomfortable outfits can lead to chafing in places I just won’t share with you here fellow dreamers. Bad nutrition choices lead to not enough energy, or worse, the dreaded lower GI impact. Your goal is to get your own personal record, but I can guarantee you running for the bathroom does not count.

There are some that say anyone doing triathlons have 4 disciplines we train for. Swim, bike, run are the physical endurance. The fourth is shopping.

In keeping with this honorary fourth leg of a triathlon I purchased a new triathlon suit for this upcoming race. After getting in a fight with my one-piece triathlon suit for bathroom breaks on race day, I thought I was smart picking up a 2 piece option.

The first time I tested it on the bike, I was thankful I was indoors with my bike in the trainer. The shorts rode up. Why would they make bike shorts that didn’t have that grippy material in the legs? No one needs to see that, especially me. The view from the saddle is disturbing.

Adding to this fun was the material of the top wanted to slide up too, bunching around my waist. Crap.

This was one of those times that I made myself suck it up and keep using the outfit. I invested in the damn thing and am determined to use it. I finally got things to work out today.

The good news? When you start sweating, sometimes things stick to you in a good way.

The shorts did need adjusting once on the ride, but weren’t as annoying as I anticipated. The shirt cooperated too, although I think the weight of my giant phone helped fight the riding up in this case.

My ride went well and I was about an hour in and remembered to take the gel I had brought along. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, gel is a goo of energy boosting carbohydrates caffeine. It may also include vitamins and minerals to help your body keep going in any endurance sport. It takes some getting used to, but so far I’ve had luck with the GU brand Tri-Berry flavor.

The heat was starting to sink in, and I kept up my hydration pedaling back the way I had come. One thing I do love about Sonoma County is that the community is accepting of cyclists. Even when the road doesn’t always give us all enough room.

The last few miles of my ride are a challenge with a long, steep hill. I never think about how steep this hill is when I drive up it almost everyday. It seems as if it goes on forever when I’m on the bike. I pushed hard out of the saddle as long as my legs would allow. They gave up half way up the hill, forcing me to sit and spin at the lowest speed just to keep moving forward.

If you go up a hill, you usually get the amazing reward of going back down. Fast. I love the wind screaming by, pedaling hard, and getting low to feel like I’m flying.

I felt good as I pedaled into the home stretch, still knowing I had a run ahead of me. Of course the jello-legs kicked in as soon as I got off the bike. This is the wonderful feeling after a ride where you aren’t sure you will be your legs from buckling underneath you.

I walked my bike into the garage and headed upstairs for a quick change for the run.

Walking up stairs is interesting when your legs don’t respond to the concept of “lift” or “push”.

I slipped my running shoes on and headed back out. Then my tummy started talking. It’s been a while since I tried the GU and I was glad to see my hubby Ray driving back from an errand. I sidelined the run while he gave me a ride back to the house for a few minutes.

Sometimes you just have to take some extra time before so you aren’t dying in the middle of a run later.

Of course every minute at that time of day means a little warmer outside. It was just on the edge of my comfort zone as I headed out. The plan was to ramp up my speed and finish strong, just like on race day.

This plan made it through the slow, then medium speed phase. This is about the time that I remembered a note my triathlon Coach Rick Niles included in my training plan about this workout. “That brick is hard. Just in case you think it is”. I do appreciate his twisted sense of humor.

Hills, heat, and going through my water faster than usual made for a tough finish to the workout.

There are benefits to training close to home. I used home as my base for transitioning between bike and run. That means when you are done with your brick training, you can officially collapse. I didn’t have to drive anywhere or pack up any gear. Instead I walked through the front door and ran cold water over my hands and face.

Hot days are a challenge.

Dream fitness countdown: Olympic triathlon in 2 weeks.

I committed myself to this goals months ago, and just like any good challenge, I can’t let it go. I see this trait in all my dreamer friends. When you are working toward any positive change in your life, it’s a good attitude to have.

How about you dreamers? Are you running up against a deadline in your dream goals? Have you set a deadline yet?

Keep me updated in the comments!

Go get your fit on – Heather