INTRODUCTION TO BRICKS
Bricks refer to training on two disciplines during the same workout.
Bricks are a
very important part of triathlon (and duathlon) training and they are sometimes
overlooked. Bricks refer to training on two disciplines during the same
workout, one after the other with minimal or no interruption in between, just as
you would do in a race (I am sure you knew this). Usually when people talk about
bricks they refer to a bike/run workout, but bricks could also refer to a
swim/bike workout or to a run/bike workout (if you are training for a duathlon).
These last two are often overlooked but still important to fit here and there in
your training plan.
swim/bike brick: while you are swimming you will want to use your legs as
little as possible or else you may have a hard time when you get on your bike
before you start feeling comfortable. A swim/bike workout that simulates race
conditions will help you minimize this problem. A couple of suggestions are to
try and use your legs more (that is to kick more) during he last 50-100 yards of
your swim to get more blood flowing to them. Also, start your bike portion using
an easier gear than the one you plan on using during the main part of the race.
This will give your legs a chance to get used to the new sport and accumulate
less lactic acid than they would if you started from the beginning with a tough
example, a useful swim/bike brick can be:
3 x (500
yards swim + 5 mile bike). I believe this is more useful and time efficient than
doing a 1500 yards swim followed by a 15 miles bike, because you will switch
sports 6 times instead of only once .
important are bike/run bricks, mainly because the transition between bike
and run is the toughest of the two during a triathlon. Most people's recount of
their brick workouts consist of a medium/long bike ride followed by a medium
run. Although I do perform these kind of bricks, my recommendations are a
sequence of short/medium rides alternated with a series of short run.
Here are a
couple of bike/run examples:
triathlon workout: (5-6 miles bike + 1mile run) - repeat three or four times.
triathlon workout: (7-8 miles bike + 1.5-2 mile run) - repeat three or four
When I do
these kind of bricks, I try to run on a track so I am sure I am running the
exact distance, I force myself to run fast and time myself and I don’t have to
worry about traffic or sharp turns. I push on the bike, but the run needs to
be the hard part of the workout. I am trying to get my body used to running
fast as soon as I get off the bike.
By doing a
series of short repeats you also switch sport (and therefore muscles used)
several times in the same workout. You are practically teaching your legs and
body to switch as fast as possible and as efficiently as possible between two
very different kinds of effort. Again, I consider a series of short repeats more
efficient then doing the two sports one after the other, especially when you are
short on time.
have never done a brick before, you should get used to them before
attempting the kind of workouts described above. Start with a 1 mile run or
run/walk after every bike ride. You can start by walking briskly when you get
off the bike and them move to a jog or run within ¼ to ½ mile. You can also
attempt your first brick by biking in the morning and then running in the
afternoon or after a 1 to 2 hour break.
When you stop
biking and start running the legs feel “strange” and heavy (this is why they
call these workouts bricks!) and the heart rate goes up, as our body tries to
switch the blood from flowing into the muscles used for biking to those used for
running. This feeling is more pronounced at the start of the run and usually the
legs get better as time passes - although probably never as fresh as those you
have when you run without biking before it (I wonder why?! ). Brick workouts
help shorten the time our legs take to start feeling more normal thus allowing
us to run better and faster. It is not uncommon to experience cramps when
starting to run after biking, especially if you are not used to it. As usual,
listen to your body and slow down if you feel a cramp coming. A carbo gel and
water will also help if you are experiencing cramps due to the decrease in
Triathlete and ACE Certified
information in this article is provided freely with the only goal of educating
athletes accessing the beginnertriathlete.com website. The article/workouts
above are not meant to be exercise and/or personal recommendations, but only
examples of workouts that I and/or other athletes have completed in the past.
Enrico Contolini will not be responsible or liable for any injury, illness or
death resulting from the use of the information contained in this article.
Please, always remember to consult your physician before starting any exercise