Brick workouts, sometimes called the fourth discipline of triathlon training, are integral in preparing for a race.
What are brick workouts?
Brick workouts involve training for more than one discipline in a training session. They are called brick workouts because during the bike to run transition your legs will feel heavy, like bricks. Practicing these transitions prepare your body physically and mentally for race day.
What benefits do brick workouts have?
Brick workouts help your body learn to make the needed adjustments to shift from one discipline to another. These workouts train your muscles to recover from one demand and enter into another. As you shift disciplines your heart rate will increase. If your body is used to and well prepared for these changes, you will be able to maintain pace and speed during your race. Brick workouts also allow you to practice transition with your gear. Try to be as efficient as possible when you switch over and your gear transitions will benefit as well.
Swim to Bike Brick
Practice going from swimming to biking. Shifting from swimming to biking moves your body from a vertical position to an upright position. You also will be running from the swimming area to the transition area.
Bike to Run Brick
The toughest aspect of a triathlon race is shifting from biking to running. When you leave your bike behind your legs will feel very heavy and it takes time for them to feel normal again. A bike to run brick will lessen the amount of time it takes for your legs to loosen up. Another aspect to think about is having good biking fitness. Being fit for the bike portion of the race will help your legs stay strong and not wear down. Tired legs are not a great way to begin the running portion of a triathlon. If you are trying a brick workout for the first time, ease into the brick by first walking or jogging after the bike.
Another way to complete a swim to bike brick or a bike to run brick is to complete broken bricks. A broken brick is when you complete a brick multiple times during a workout. You would complete several bike to runs in one workout, just of a shorter distance. Doing the brick moving back and forth many times teaches your body two important skills. Broken bricks teach your body to shift efficiently and quickly. Practicing repetition helps you muscles learn to respond with greater ease.
Practicing a race simulation can also help psychologically and mentally prepare for your race. Set up your transition zone. Complete a shorten version of a swim, bike, and run. Completing a shortened version of the entire race along with the corresponding gear transitions will help build your confidence.
The Psychological Edge
Brick workouts are more difficult than single discipline workouts. Most triathletes do not complete more than one or two brick workouts a week, to allow for recovery time. Do not start brick workouts until you can complete the entire distance of each single discipline. During your pre-race taper decrease your brick workouts.
Increasing your endurance is the primary reason to add brick workouts to your training schedule. Another important reason to include brick workouts is the psychological edge they can provide you with. Imagine giving your all in a swim race, then immediately moving to a bike race, followed by a running race. Practicing the transitions help you learn to mentally overcome the pain of changing disciplines. Moving from biking to running also helps you know how to set a pace that will allow you to push yourself. Brick workouts allow you attain your best possible time on race day.