Bricks are a very important part of triathlon (and duathlon) training and they are sometimes overlooked. Bricks refer to training on two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other with minimal or no interruption in between, just as you would do in a race (I am sure you knew this). Usually when people talk about bricks they refer to a bike/run workout, but bricks could also refer to a swim/bike workout or to a run/bike workout (if you are training for a duathlon). These last two are often overlooked but still important to fit here and there in your training plan.
Multi-discipline workouts are more intense and physically demanding than single sport workouts, meaning that they require more preparation and recovery time. It is important to go into a brick session feeling fresh and relatively well rested. It is an important part of your training and should be treated as such. Similarly, it is important to realize the requirements for recovery following such a workout. Long or intense workouts may require up to 3 days of easier training in order to allow for glycogen replacement and muscle repair. It is safest and most beneficial to include a brick workout, especially a long or intense effort, no more than once per week.
When you stop biking and start running the legs feel “strange” and heavy (this is why they call these workouts bricks!) and the heart rate goes up, as our body tries to switch the blood from flowing into the muscles used for biking to those used for running. This feeling is more pronounced at the start of the run and usually the legs get better as time passes – although probably never as fresh as those you have when you run without biking before it (I wonder why?! ). Brick workouts help shorten the time our legs take to start feeling more normal thus allowing us to run better and faster. It is not uncommon to experience cramps when starting to run after biking, especially if you are not used to it. As usual, listen to your body and slow down if you feel a cramp coming. A carbo gel and water will also help if you are experiencing cramps due to the decrease in muscle fuel.
If you correctly match the type of brick workout to the goal of your current training phase and utilize adequate recovery and preparation methods, you’ll be able to use them as great way to boost your triathlon-specific fitness.
Example of Brick Workouts:
As you know, an Ironman features a 112-mile bike leg and a 26.2 mile run. A metric will consist of 69.6 mile bike and a 16.1 mile run. 2/3 of what you will have to do on race day.
10 min at Z1 with a high cadence and then follow your strategy for the bike with nutrition and your run with nutrition. Simulate everything on race day.
If you have a powertap, you would hold 72% of FTP the first 15 min. Then hold 76% – 80% of ftp and 90 RPM.