Having not competed in a single triathlon event, I'm unqualified to address that question; but the author of this article asserts that though bricks have a value, that that value for the long distance triathlete is solely to teach you to transition from cycling to running. The author asserts, "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." This statement seems to be the foundation for the development of unusual claim.
I submit his other "less than mainstream assertions" and the development of his claim to your reading of his article. It is somewhat unorthodox and even thought provoking. I wondered what my 50+ friends here at iamtri think of the author's approach?
There is a lot of value in what they say here. I think the less experienced you are the more value the brick runs are--you really need to get the legs trained to do that transition--but then you don't need a long brick--say maybe 3 mile run--that gets you through the transition of blood flow and gets the legs moving. I hardly ever do a longer run after a bike--and in the past couple of years have cut back on the number of bricks that I do. I need to learn how to be a fast runner--and agree that you can increase your run speed more by running on fresh legs.
If you have never done a run after a 100+ mile bike--you need to do it. Experiencing that feeling for the first time in your IM is not a good idea.
I'm with Sue, I struggle off the bike and it took me a long time to learn to hold back on the bike so I could run at the end of the TRI (I'm still not the best at this). The important part of the brick is to get your legs used to the change from biking to running, so the run doesn't need to be very long.
I totally agree with Sue and Don. I am a member of Endurance Nation and have read the many debates/discussions on their boards. Getting off a 100+mile bike ride can definitely screw up your running gate until you get use to having them back under you again. With EN, they ask you to give/trust the coaches with the first 6 mile by helping you with your pace. After the 6 "easy" miles then you will get into your IM pace and then your race really begins at mile 18. Everything before mile 18 is just a preamble to the real event after mile 18. My goal is to be half as fast as Sue and Don....after that, the world bbbwwaahahahaha! (he rolls his hands together in a sinister gesture).
Good? Bad? Worth it? ....who cares! If mentally it lets you feel prepared, do it. If you are confident noughand have enough experience it's a personall call ...
I did longer bricks in the before my first IM. Since then I've stayed with nothing longer than about 30 min. as part of a brick. Agree with all the comments here so far though. You do need to learn to run off the bike. And agree with Jay about pacing the beginning of the run. I find that very difficult to do but am hoping to get it right on my 5th try next month!
In my 8 years of racing Ironmans my coach has never had me run more than 30 minutes after a long run. I have occasionally "cheated" and tacked on an extra 10-15 minutes but that's just because I love to run, not because I think it's doing anything more for me. As others have mentioned the purpose is to train for the transition not to hammer out a long or hard run after a long bike ride. Save that for race day.
I have run about 12 triathlons which included 3 at HIM and IM and a half dozen Olympic events. However, I haven't run any tri's, except in training this year, in the last 25 years. For the last year, I am training about 2-4 hours per day, 6 days/week. I try to do all three sports and weight training in the same day about 3 times a week. I don't try to do them in tri order, though sometimes I do. My experience is that I agree mostly with what the article says, especially about the mental preparation for the transition. I don't know if you can train your way around the time it takes to get the blood flowing to the right places after the bike. You can get used to running on tired legs and set proper expectations - which seems to be what Rick is saying in this article.
Lots of great discussion. When I first started doing tri's 20 years ago, my legs would feel like rubber getting off the bike. Ironically, now that almost never happens. Generally my legs actually feel fine when I start my run. The issue ultimately is fatigue and how long I can keep up a particular pace. That said, I haven't done a lot of bricks or transition runs in previous years, but this year I've added transition runs to many of my bike rides. I feel it has really helped me, but I'll know more in two weeks at St. George. I do think that the transition run concept is a good one. Also, the value of pushing too hard or too long on tired legs may increase the risk of injury. Finally, my coach always reminds me that in order to run well you have to be in great cycling shape. So, you improve cycling fitness to run better. Like he says, you don't see any Kenyon marathon runners doing triathlons:)
Because most of the reading I've done about bricks elevates them almost to the status of a holy sacrament, I was expecting a general disagreement with this article's assertions. Since my bricks find me fully transitioned to running mode within two miles of getting off of the bike, I'm glad to see a general unanimity that the real value of bricks is to train you to transition to run. My longest brick to date was 38 miles on the bike followed by a 3 mile run (in 97 degree Texas heat). Less the heat, and then lengthening the bike, it sounds like I'm on the right track. Thanks for the input.