My first attempt at a brick workout last year resulted in a hilarious penguin walk-jog-waddle after my relatively short bike ride. I’m happy to say this year’s first brick workout wasn’t as horrible. Still pretty bad, but not horrible.
A brick workout is a great addition to triathlon training, switches up the regular routine, and offers a total body workout. When I had first starting creating my training schedule last year, the idea of a brick workout was foreign to me. However, the concept is relatively simple: choose two of the three disciplines and complete them back to back with minimal to no interruption in between. Easier said than done for most people.
The most common brick workout is establishing a good transition from cycling to running. You can also choose from swimming to biking, or swimming to running, or any combination of the three.
The hardest brick workout for me was transitioning from cycling to running. When your legs become used to the circular motion of your bike, switching from cycling to running, which is a more linear motion, takes some adjusting too. The heavy feeling you’ll feel in your legs during this transition will remind you of carrying weights, hence the name “brick workout.”
You’ll find your heart rate rise rapidly as it adjusts from one sport to another. A brick workout is also not something you want to daily; at most once a week, or even once every two weeks.
USA Triathlon recommends giving yourself “several weeks of easy-steady aerobic training and light strength training to first build your aerobic fitness base.” The organization notes it takes around two to three months of base training before brick workouts should be added to your training schedule.
What I’ve learned through trial and error (and some research):
-Listen to your body. I’m all for pushing myself past my own limits, but sometimes you just have to listen to the creaking in your body and make minutia adjustments.
-Make sure you can complete each phase by itself before trying to do them together. It will be a train wreak if you attempt to do both but you’re not ready to handle it.
-Start small. Make sure the distances you choose for your brick workout are in line with where you currently are in your training program.
-Learning to transition is its own challenge. By transition I mean going from wetsuit to shoes, etc.
-It takes longer to recuperate. The first few times you attempt a brick, it will take your body longer than expected to bounce back from the workout purely because you are using more muscles than in a typical training routine.
Some examples of a brick workout include:
-5 mile bike (roughly 8km), followed by 1 mile run (around 2.5km); repeated four times
-45 minute bike ride, 10 minute run (distance is not a factor)
-Swim 400 metres – 3 mile (6.5k) bike; repeat x2 (harder to pull of in terms of getting your bike to a pool and keeping it accessible, or even a body of water)
That said, have fun!