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Coaches Blog

The Bike-Run Brick: Still a Brick But Different Focus

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

Those in the multi-sport world are very aware of a brick workout. We do these back-to-back workouts to train the body to transition and develop neuromotor patterns and memory to make these transitions quicker. The most common “Brick” workout is the Bike to Run brick, but you can and should do bricks that simulate every type of transition from one discipline to another. In this blog, I am going to focus mainly on the Bike-Run brick and explain how, within this type of workout, we can (and should) change it up to train for the exact type of brick we may have on race day and to make the most gains in our training.


Every workout should have a purpose. This is another reason we should have a significant degree of variability in and within workouts.


In this blog, I give many different ideas and things to think about when writing the Bike-Run brick. Below I have separated my suggestions into 3 distinct subgroups; Neuromotor Focus, The Bike Focused, and The Run Focused brick.


Neuromotor Focus:

If your focus of doing the brick is purely to build the neuromotor program to transition, then this is where you add multiple bricks within one workout.


The Triple Brick, which includes 3X Bike/Run bricks in one workout session, is probably the most common multiple brick workout.


This type of workout gives your body multiple repetitions within the same workout to improve its efficiency to change from cycling to running. The bricks can be varied to progress training zones. Each brick uses different metabolic systems or all-out efforts to really fatigue the system and truly simulate what you may feel like on race day.


Bike Focused:

Often times we want the athlete to do a bike-run brick to transition quickly from one discipline to the other, but the focus of the brick is really on one discipline rather than the other.


In the bike-focused brick, the bike portion is the primary reason for the workout, but there is a reason why you have the athlete do a brick versus two separate workouts. An example of a bike-focused brick workout may be that you have the athlete do 8X 3min at threshold on the bike and then get off and run 30 minutes. The first 5 minutes of the run may be race pace, and the remainder is aerobic.


The threshold work on the bike is the main focus of the workout, but secondary is running off the bike, starting out at race pace to train the body to run at the race pace after a harder threshold bike. Another possibility is the athlete is working their “sweet spot” on the bike, which is that intensity at the high-end tempo / low threshold level, and then the run includes higher cadence work at the beginning to transition into a quicker turnover on the run. Regardless of the details of the run, the focus of this brick is more on the bike.


Run Focused

The run-focused brick shifts the focus to the run and thus may be aerobic, tempo, or technique heavy on the bike with the transition into a race simulation run or a longer run with multiple tempo or threshold efforts. The reason to make this a brick rather than separate workouts may be that you add some short hard efforts at the end of the bike to prime the legs or just to work the neuromotor transition. A run-focused brick may include a bike of 3x10 minutes at Tempo pace with a run of 4 X 5 minutes at threshold pace, starting the first threshold effort right off the bike. Again, the focus of the brick is the run portion. There is a secondary reason for doing the bike-run in combination.

In conclusion, there are endless ways that a bike/run brick can be written, but there should always be a focus.


If you're a coach reading this blog, I hope this blog gives some more direction when writing the next brick workout for your athlete. If you are an athlete, I hope this provides more clarity as to why you may be doing the workouts that you are doing in your training plan.


Athletes or coaches, always feel free to reach out to me with any questions or clarification on this topic. I hope to be a wealth of knowledge for many. I am always open to responding to any questions you may have regarding the content I put out. Until next time, ENJOY YOUR NEXT BRICK!

 

Aaron Scheidies is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and licensed Physical Therapist. A graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Exercise Physiology, Aaron has coached World Champion Paratriathletes as well as Ironman World Championship qualifiers. Aaron is an 11 time World Paratriatlhon Champion and has set the World’s fastest time for anyone with a disability at both the Olympic (1:57:24) and Ironman 70.3 distances. (4:09:54).

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