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The Importance of Brick Workouts: Why You Shouldn't Skip That 15-Minute Run

As an Ironman coach, one of the most common mistakes I see my athletes make is skipping the run portion of their brick workouts. Sure, it's tempting to hop off the bike and call it a day, but those 15 minutes of running right after your ride are crucial. Here’s why you shouldn’t skip them and how they can make a big difference in your triathlon performance.

 

1. Brick Runs Help You to Adapt to Physiological Changes

Transitioning from the bike to the run in a triathlon can feel like learning to walk again. Your legs are heavy and they feel like jelly, you must acclimate to being upright again and it feels like a whole new ballgame. By consistently practicing brick workouts, your body gets better at handling that switch.

*Neuromuscular Adaptation: Although you might not feel “amazing” going from bike to run, you can train your muscles to get used to switching from cycling to running by doing it on the regular. I give all of my athletes 2 brick runs per week, one after a short ride and usually one after their long ride on the weekend.

*Circulatory Adjustment: Your heart and blood vessels become more efficient at reallocating blood flow from your cycling muscles to your running muscles. Going from flexed hips for several hours to vertical stance won’t feel as strange if you practice bike to run often.

 

2. Brick Runs Build Mental Toughness

Running on tired legs is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Doing brick workouts in the Texas summer heat can be brutal, but it helps you build the mental resilience needed to push through discomfort when it really matters. An added bonus of being in Texas is that most races you do in the fall will be much cooler on race day than what you trained it.

*Mental Toughness: Each time you push through the heaviness in your legs, you’re strengthening your mind. A bulletproof mindset sets you up with plenty of confidence for race day.

*Familiarity with Discomfort: The more you do brick workouts, the you know exactly what to expect on race day.


 

3. Brick Runs Boost Your Race-Day Performance

Skipping brick runs can lead to a rude awakening during your race. Practicing this transition regularly helps ensure a smoother, more efficient race day.

*Reduced Transition Time: The more you practice bike to run, the faster and smoother your transitions will be and therefore overall faster race times.

*Better Pacing: Training your body to handle the bike-to-run switch helps you maintain a more consistent pace during the run. I tell my athletes to allow yourself a mile or so to get a rhythm going then begin to build some speed to a comfortable pace.

 

4. Brick Runs Enhance Muscular Endurance and Efficiency

Running immediately after biking challenges your muscles and energy systems in a different way than running on fresh legs. Regular brick workouts build this essential endurance.

*Muscular Endurance: Your legs adapt quickly to added stress and they are less prone to fatigue.

*Energy Utilization: Your body gets better at managing glycogen stores and burning fat, which is crucial for those long distances.

 

Conclusion

Incorporating brick workouts into your training isn’t just a good idea; it’s essential for any serious triathlete. These sessions prepare your body and mind for the unique demands of a triathlon, especially in the long course races.

 

So next time you’re tempted to skip that 15-minute run after your bike ride, remember what your coach told you. It’s those small but consistent efforts that will make you a stronger, more resilient athlete come race day.

 

Have you thought about hiring a coach for your next iron distance race? Click the purple button below and fill out the short form for a FREE 15 minute call with me! I would love to hear about your race goals and how I can help you.



 Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Triathlon Coach

TriDot Coach

ACSM Trainer

 

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