Brick workouts are a back-to-back combination of different disciplines such as a swim/bike, bike/run or run/bike/run. These workouts help the body get used to the physical and mental demands of moving quickly from one discipline to the next, and they should be incorporated into every multi-sport athlete's year-round training.
Since the most challenging transition for triathletes and duathletes is the bike-to-run, this article will address that particular aspect of brick training.
It is often unsettling for an athlete to transition from non-weight-bearing cycling to weight-bearing running. Coming off the bike, the body needs to adjust to the different muscles that are used during the run; and, if you have not been training for this, your legs can literally feel like "bricks." The best way to prevent this is to incorporate brick workouts into all periods of training: base, build, peak and race.
Completing brick workouts during the base period can be as simple as a 10 to 15-minute run following a bike workout or a trainer-treadmill combination—completing several sets of cycling and running (see Base workout examples below). These workouts can and should be completed several times per week.
Base Period Bricks
- Ride 30 minutes to 6 hours in heart rate or power zone 1-2 and transition to a 15-minute aerobic run.
- Ride 30 to 45 minutes on a trainer in heart rate or power zone 1-2 and transition to a 15-minute aerobic run. This sequence can be repeated several times to accommodate different race distances.
More: The 4 Phases of Training
As training moves closer to the race period, the bricks become more specific to the event and include "race-pace" efforts (see Build and Peak workout examples below). The brick workouts during these periods are much more physically demanding on the body and should only be completed one or two times per week. Completing these bricks also provides a great opportunity to rehearse transitions and practice race-day fueling.
Build and Peak Bricks
- Sprint distance: Complete a 45 to 60-minute ride and include 3 to 4 x 5K race-pace efforts (heart rate, power zone 4-5) with 2-minute recoveries between each interval. Then transition to a 20-minute run at 10K pace.
- International distance: Complete a 60-minute ride with the last 20 minutes at threshold heart rate or power, and then transition to a 20-minute run at 10K pace.