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The term "bricks" is used to describe a particular type of workout widely employed by triathletes (those superb athletes who challenge themselves to swim, bike, and run, in that order, all in the same event).

A brick workout consists of stacking one discipline on top of another, just like the bricks on your neighbor's wall. Triathletes often follow a swim with a bike ride, or run after cycling, to simulate the muscle fatigue experienced on the day of their event. The name "bricks" is doubly appropriate. Not only are the brick workouts stacked like bricks, but they can also make your legs feel heavy as bricks, especially if you bike, then run. Think: B(ike)R(un)ick.

But triathletes are not the only ones who can derive benefit from this most effective training method. Bricks are also very useful for runners, especially if you are trying to increase your mileage, say in preparation for an upcoming race. It is widely held that increasing mileage by more than 10% in a given week (1.5 miles per week if you usually log 15 weekly miles) can court injury by exposing muscles to undue strain. And we agree that when increasing mileage, moderation is best.

Enter the brick. A bike workout before a run fatigues the legs without the pounding and joint stress that attend running, so you can follow your bicycle ride with a short run, say of 3 to 5 miles, and derive the benefits experienced with running perhaps twice the distance. By exposing your legs to various disciplines, you shock them into greater fitness, while at the same time avoiding the monotony that some may feel from slogging through mile upon mile, on foot, on the same ole neighborhood streets day after day. Booooring!

A good way to practice a brick is to hop on your bike and cycle to a destination, like a track, park, or hilly neighborhood. Park and lock the bike, and take a trot around. Your legs may feel heavy and blood-engorged from the cycling, or they may feel nice and warm and ready to run. Either way, trust us when we say you will love this foray into cross-training. Another alternative is to trot or bike to your local YMCA or pool and head into the water for some laps, then trot or ride home. Try to incorporate a brick workout into your routine once or twice a week, and watch your fitness and enjoyment skyrocket!


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