Do Something Streak, Day 15: Mark Allen’s Bike-Run Brick Workout

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It’s Day 15 of our Do Something Streak and Mark Allen is back with another Saturday workout. After last weekend’s ride, this week it’s a bike-run brick session with two options: a 90-minute version or a 45-minute version. Allen, the six-time Ironman world champion turned coach, will be providing a workout for every Saturday of the challenge.

He described this session as “the perfect January brick workout” and gave us a clear reminder: “It’s never too early to start training your body to be able to transition from cycling to running. This tends to be the more important of the two transitions in a triathlon (the other one being swimming to cycling).”

Allen is a big advocate of including bike-run bricks in your training regardless of the time of year in order to get your body as familiar as possible with the transition.

He said: “Without practicing this transition (from bike to run), it can actually be fairly difficult. In cycling, your range of motion is limited by the pedaling circle. When you run, you can approach full range of motion in the legs. Cycling is bent over, which shortens a lot of the muscles in the front/core of your body. Running is upright and stretches those same muscles. Cycling is quad-dominant. Running engages the hamstrings quite a bit along with the calf muscles. My point here is that it’s important to remember they are two very different sports.”

This workout will help you to get better at transitioning from bike to run, so the goal is to do them back-to-back as a single workout rather than as two separate sessions with time to rest and recover between them.

Allen said: “For the ride, pick a route that is about one hour in length. It can be any kind of terrain, but for these first few bricks of the year let’s try to keep the terrain flat to rolling. Split the ride into thirds. Build the effort as you go through the workout. So the first third is the easiest, build the effort in the middle third, and then make the final third the strongest. Keep the top-end effort to be roughly mid-zone 3 at the hardest (top end of your aerobic range), so RPE 7/10.

“For the run, it should ideally take place within about five minutes of finishing the bike. Even if it takes longer, the main thing is to not let your energy come down, just make sure it all flows like one workout.

“The run should be no more than 30 minutes. Build into the run during the first 5-10 minutes, slowly letting your stride length open up and your posture to gradually be tall and relaxed. Then for the next 15-20 minutes hold a steady pace with a focus on your overall cadence rate. Ideally it should be around 80 strides per minute or higher (counted on one side). If you are a lot lower than that (65-70) you are likely over-striding. Shorten up the stride and see if you can land lighter on your feet. Then warm down for the final 5-10 minutes.”

For the shorter version, simply make the ride 30 minutes in duration, building effort every 10 minutes, and run for 15 minutes, as five minutes easy, five minutes steady, five minutes easy/cool-down.

To find out more about bike-run brick workouts, check out this video from Allen.

Do Something Streak, Day 15: Mark Allen’s Bike-Run Brick Workout

90-minute version

Bike: 1-hour ride, building in 20-min. increments, as: 20 min. easy, 20 min. easy/moderate, 20 min. moderate (no more than RPE 7/10)

Run: ~30 min. as: first 5-10 min. easy build, 15-20. min steady, 5-10 min. easy cool-down

45-minute version

Bike: 30 min. ride, building in 10-min. increments, as: 10 min. easy, 10 min. easy/moderate, 10 min. moderate (no more than RPE 7/10)

Run: 15 min. run, as: 5 min. easy, 5 min. steady, 5 min. easy/cool-down.