Beginning tri training, week 14: The 'brick,' ladies and gentlemen

Bike + run = Brick!  Credit: Images: Donald Miralle, Mike Powell/Allsport
We shall introduce a new term into your training: "Brick." A brick is a workout in which you follow one activity immediately by another. The most common is bike-run. As is the case in a triathlon, you finish your bike ride and, as they, say, hit the ground running.

"Brick" is in this case obviously a metaphorical term, and can be construed as an edifice -- you build the wall laying one brick upon another -- or, if more appropriate, as that thing each of your legs feel like once off your bike and afoot.

Keeping with masonic terms, perhaps a closer analogy is a sack of cement. That is the substance you'll swear is coursing through your veins as your cycling muscles are now asked to go back and forth and up and down instead of around in circles. Not to worry. There's a 50/50 chance that sensation will abate within the first two miles of running.


This week you're going to get a little taste of triathlon. You'll notice that your running mileage is going way down. But, those two runs that are only 15 to 25 minutes in duration are going to take place immediately following your bike rides, which will make them a little more difficult.

This will take a little advance planning. I'd like you to prepare your bike for your ride, which means filling the water bottles, getting your gels ready, pumping up your tires -- whatever your routine is. Before you leave, though, also prepare your running paraphernalia. Get your shoes out, and prepare a water bottle for the run. You can either use a water bottle carrier, or if you don't have one, just carry a water bottle -- like a bicycle water bottle -- in your hand.

At some point it will occur to you that you've got an apparel issue. You're doing the ride in your cycling clothes. What clothes are you going to run in? Better to tackle this issue now than a day before your race.

Two or three ways to go. You've got to ask yourself, are you going for speed or for comfort? If it's speed, then you'll do the whole race in your swimsuit. If you're a man, that means those little skivvies -- a spare few square inches of fabric.

Ladies, it's the same thing except, of course, your suit will cover a little more territory.

You'll swim, bike and run in this garment. There's the wetsuit during the swim, perhaps, but we'll cover this piece of equipment in a future installment.

If you choose to go this way, this means you'll be bike-riding in your swimsuit. If you don't have the padding you're used to in your cycling short, you may find that uncomfortable. I'd therefore recommend a seat pad, and the two you ought to consider are those made by Quintana Roo and De Soto. They are made for this specific use.

For the guys, you might want to use a cycling jersey during the bike and run, and again, De Soto is the place to go. Perhaps also Zoot Sports. They both make sleeveless lightweight cycling jerseys that are perfect for the bike/run.

The other way to go -- better for both comfort and modesty -- is to ride in cycling clothing, and then change into running clothing. I recently competed in a half-Ironman, and this is what I did. I wore my cycling shorts under my wetsuit, and rode in those (along with a De Soto cycling top in which I also ran, that I donned in the swim/bike transition).

When I finished the bike ride, I wrapped a beach towel around my waist and commenced doffing my cycling shorts and donning my run shorts under my own personal "changing tent." You'll see surfers employing this method beachside all over coastal communities.

Women often wear their swimsuits throughout, but with cycling shorts during the ride and then running shorts during the run. But I'm not an expert in this. You might want to post on the Slowtwitch forum and/or other triathlon message board, asking for other suggestions.


Ride your bricks in your cycling clothing. Change into your running clothing in the comfort of your home. Don't be frantic about your transition. This doesn't need to be precisely like a race situation. My hope is that you'll get the experience of running off the bike, and that you'll start to think about what you're going to wear in your triathlon.

  • Swimming: 2 or 3 sessions x 1,200 - 3,500 yards per session
  • Cycling: 1 or 2 sessions of 60 minutes each, 1 session of 2 - 3 hours
  • Running: 2 or 3 sessions x 15-25 minutes per session, 1 x 45 minute run
  • Ready to catch the swim-bike-run bug? Check out our Give it a Tri section

    Find and register online for your first triathlon!

    Check out the full beginning tri-training guide

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