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Triathlon Training Minneapolis

Our Favorite Pre-season Bricks

Erin Stone Time TrailDuring the winter and early spring months, any training is good training. Whether treadmill, rower or cross-country skiing, any activity that maintains (or improves!) your cardiovascular base while keeping you mentally engaged is a good thing in our opinion. However, as spring turns to summer there is a need to progress from general training to sport-specific training. As triathlete this means we need to swim, bike, and run. In that order.

Every triathlete has experienced the “dead wood” feeling in your legs on the first half mile of a run after a hard bike. By logging some key early season bricks, you can quickly adapt your body’s ability to the run off the bike (otb).

There are two effects at work in your body in the run otb. The first and most obvious is the muscular effect. Working muscles need to have the endurance to sustain back to back bike and run sessions. The second effect is less obvious to novice triathletes and less studied by the science side of our sport. This is the neurological effect of the brick. The wiring between brain and legs literally needs to be programmed to switch the activity from bike movement patterns to run movement patterns.


Here are our favorite bricks to help your body adapt during early season.


Brick #1: The Baby Brick

– normal bike ride, whatever that means for you

– 5:00 to 10:00 run off the bike

This might seem painfully obvious. And not that challenging. The key is to do this for every single bike ride for a couple weeks in early season until your legs are used to the run otb. This is one of Coach John’s favorites.


Brick #2: The Du Yo Yo

– 10:00 Bike

– 5:00 Run

– 10:00 Bike

– 5:00 Run

– 10:00 Bike

– 5:00 Run

– 10:00 Bike

– 5:00 Run

The above assumes a relatively new triathlete training for an Oly or shorter. If you have been tuning up for a half or full ironman, then you could change the intervals to 30:00 bike + 15:00 run. For this one I often ride the trainer in the garage with a short run around the block as the big key for this session is quick transitions which can be hampered when taking the time to lock the bike to your car or at a trailhead.


Brick #3: The T1 Ride

– race distance swim

– half race distance bike

(we again assume Oly distance or sprint)  This is without question the most under-utilized brick in triathlon. When you make the transition from swim to bike there are a couple interesting obstacles. Much of your blood has been pulled into your trunk to keep organs warm in cold water and also to your chest and shoulders since they are doing the work. Transitions from swim to the bike force your legs to deal with those blood flow issues. You will also have to contend with heat-retention problems while riding in wet gear.   Don’t hesitate to complete this from your gym pool if it is too cold to get in open water.


All three of the above should be completed after a warm up and include some easy walking or riding as a cool down. To be clear, these are our early season bricks and should not be confused with our suggestions for peak season training bricks that focus on race-specific pacing. They are simply designed to adapt muscles and neurology to the demands of our sport.


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