The best part of a triathlon is getting to tackle three different disciplines in one event. Not only does this add variety to your training schedule, but it also makes the actual event more interesting. Competing in three differing sports is challenging, and training isn’t as simple as just swimming, cycling, and running. This is why many triathlon competitors use brick workouts to train.
Brick workouts are a workout that focuses on two differing sports. For triathletes, this would be a bike-to-run or swim-to-bike workout. By utilizing the brick workout, you can prepare your body for the challenge of switching between sports. This enables athletes to minimize the drop in performance during the switchover period.
For athletes training a triathlon, the most common brick workout is the cycle to run section. This is because it is often the hardest transition on your body, due to the differing movements. When you come off the cycle portion, your legs feel sluggish and slow. However, with practice, your body learns to respond to the movement. Thus lessening the impact on your running performance. The goal of the brick workout is to help the transition between cycling and running feel as natural as possible.
When you are first starting out on your triathlon training journey it is recommended to start small. For example, once a week add a mile run to the end of your cycling workout. Continue to increase the distance of your run as the transition becomes easier. Most athletes use brick workouts consistently in the 12 – 16 weeks before a race. Many even transition each cycling session into a brick workout. While adding brick workouts, ensure you are getting enough nutrients and fueling your body to avoid injury and exhaustion.
Set up a transition station and time your movements, after all, the faster you can transition to running the better off you’ll be. You’ll want to practice taking off your helmet, switching shoes, and grabbing your racing belt as part of the brick workout. As your race nears, back off on the brick workouts to ensure that you are fresh and ready to race.
Below are several different levels of brick workouts for you to try. These are based on the different triathlon lengths.
This is where you should start with brick workouts and it is the shortest triathlon distance. Try cycling on flat ground for 20 minutes at no more the 90% of your maximum heart rate. Follow this with a 10-minute run, also not exceeding 90% of your maximum heart rate. As this gets easier continue to add time to both the cycling and running portion.
This brick workout is for those interested in the Olympic triathlon distances (typically around a 1-mile swim, 24-25 mile bike, and 10K run), or those looking for more of a challenge than the sprint level. Start by warming up for 10 minutes on your bike. Then increase the intensity by cycling for 30 minutes on hilly terrain. Follow this up with a 15-minute hill run. Once this becomes easier, continue to increase your hill cycling to 60 minutes, and the run to 30 minutes.
If you are considering an Ironman challenge, you already know your strengths. Now is the time to focus on your weaker sporting discipline. So, if you are great at the cycling portion, increase the difficulty and length of the run during your brick workout.
If you are new to triathlons, brick workouts can really help you nail the transitions between sports. These workouts also help you to accurately practice changing your shoes and other equipment. Thus, allowing you to focus on the race and your heart rate, instead of worrying about the transitions. Start small, and ensure that you don’t overdo it, especially when starting out.