What does this term “Brick” mean and why do all the Triathletes keep saying it?

Before we get into what “Brick” is, I’m sure you already realize, the sport of triathlon is not just a sport. It’s three sports. Surprise!!

I sure hope you already knew that.

While training for three sports you will be using many different muscle groups and in some cases the same muscle groups in a different range of motion and intensity. The most common of the latter is between biking and running.

The Brick workout is when you stack two disciplines (like Lego’s) into the same workout period. Usually a bike ride of a relatively good intensity for your fitness level and then immediately followed by a run of a mile or more. Again this depends on your level of fitness. If your just starting out with triathlons take it easy the first few times.

You already know how running feels on your legs. You also know how it feels to finish a hard bike ride. Simple and non descriptive right. Low impact vs. high impact. Now, mix the two and running will feel very different. Sometimes easier and often times harder.

Everyone experiences this differently. Some of the more common things you might feel when you first start to run right off the bike are:

  • Sluggish legs
  • Numb feet – Heavy “Brick” like feet
  • Not able to run straight
  • Running flat-footed
  • Slower pace than expected
  • Stiff hips or knees
  • Lower back stiffness
  • Neck stiffness
  • Higher heart rate

These are all normal and what you feel will change the more your practice. This is why your training plan or team is doing these “Brick” workouts. They do a good job of preparing your mind and body through simulation. There’s a lot going on in the body to support the needs of your muscles for one activity and then to suddenly change muscle groups while keeping the intensity can be tough.

Your equipment will also change how you feel. For example if your riding a road bike your quads will likely feel much more fatigued than those who are on a Triathlon (TT) bike. This is because the geometry of the bike is what’s referred to as being more aggressive and slightly changes the muscle groups and range of motion used to ride.

This alone isn’t necessarily a reason to run out and drop $$$ on a new bike. Make sure your ready to commit to the sport for a while. I raced my first two years on a road bike and did well. I raced events from sprint distance to an Ironman 70.3. Now if you’re really itching to go and get a new bike ignore this last paragraph and see if I published my recommendations on how to buy a triathlon bike without breaking the bank.

There are two basic schools of thought on the training for “The Brick”

  1. You could do a brick workout every once in a while and learn how it feels with the various symptoms above so that you know what to expect.

OR

  1. You can train “The Brick” regularly so that there is no real perceived difference between your run days and your brick run days. This is how I train with TCCR. Every Tuesday and Thursday we have a bike workout that is roughly 20 miles and includes some hard intervals mixed in. We all then load our bikes up and put on our running shoes. Sometimes it’s a track workout and other times we run 2-3 miles at what would be a high Zone 2 heart rate.

How often do you do your Brick work?

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