Triathlon is a sport that combines three separate disciplines – swimming, cycling and running. For this reason, when training for a triathlon your workouts will often be comprised of more than one discipline. A staple of most triathlon training schedules is the “brick” workout. This method is used to emulate your race day and help your body learn how to handle the aerobic, anaerobic, and muscular demands of a triathlon event.
In basic terms, a brick workout refers to stacking two of the three disciplines during the same workout, without an interruption or intermission period that exceeds a few minutes. As you are switching between disciplines, your body needs to effectively and efficiently prepare for the next discipline, all while recovering from the previous discipline. This can be quite the physical demand and accordingly, your heart rate will likely increase significantly as your body tries to shift the blood flow from the muscles of the first discipline to the demands of the muscles of the next. This can make you feel “heavy” until your body stabilizes. This is typically known as the reason why the name of this workout is a “brick” and this is because the heavy feeling in your legs makes your legs feel like bricks!
Here is a sample brick workout I have used in the past when prepping for an Olympic triathlon:
Bike: Ride 1:00 to 1:30 with the last 15 to 20 minutes at heart rate (Zone 4) or power output if you have a power meter.
Transition to run
Run: Run a total of 30 to 45 minutes.
- Run the first half-mile at Zone 2 heart rate intensity or an easy pace. Go right into the next set.
- 2 x 880 (half-mile) at a pace that is 5 percent to 8 percent faster than your best Olympic-distance triathlon run pace. (Ex. If you run an 8:00-per-mile pace, your goal pace for this workout is 7:22 to 7:36 per mile). If you’re on a track, check your pace at each 220 mark (1/8 mile). If you are on the open road and you’re using a speed and distance tracking unit, check your watch every minute or so to be sure you’re on pace. This pace range is what you will maintain for the remainder of the run intervals.
- 2 to 4 x 440 (1/4 mile)
- 4 to 8 x 220 (1/8 mile)
During the intervals, make each recovery interval an easy jog at Zone 1 to 2 intensity for a time equal to the previous workout. (Ex. Follow a three-minute run interval with an easy three-minute jog.)
Run easy in Zones 1 to 2 or at an easy aerobic pace for the remaining time.
Repeat this workout each week on your non-rest weeks, up to one or two weeks prior to your key race.by