What’s a brick?

Nobody is born doing triathlons, and so most of us remember hearing someone say “I’m going to do a brick tomorrow” and thinking “Wha…?” But of course we’re too embarrassed to ask “What’s a brick?” and so we go on the Internets and use the Google to try and figure it out. Well, here you are, and here’s what it is.

A brick, in triathlon termage, is when you do two disciplines in your training, back to back. In other words, you ride your bike, then you jump off and do a run immediately afterward. That’s a brick. If you jump out of the swimming pool and onto your bike, then that would also be a brick workout. But most commonly, when someone says they are doing a brick they mean they’re going to do a bike-run combo workout.

Generally when you do a brick you want to transition as quickly as possible from your bike to your run, because that’s what you’re be doing in the real event, and we’re trying to simulate that. I bike out of my garage, and so I’ll leave my running shoes where I park my bike in the garage so that I can quickly take off my bike-specific gear, put my running shoes on, and be back outside running with minimal downtime. If you take 10 minutes to transition from your bike to your run then you’re missing out on the immensely pleasurable feeling of taking off running while your legs are still hurting and wobbly from the bike ride. I used to leave my running shoes outside so I could just dump my bike on the lawn and be off running real quick, but since getting my new carbon frame bike I don’t think I’ll be “dumping” my bike anywhere, especially not anywhere outside.

Why is it called a brick?

Shawn Hardy says it’s because your legs feel like bricks when you start running right after the bike workout. Rhonda Cohen says the same thing, so I think that means it’s a fact. Good enough fact checking for the New York Times, anyway, right?

It’s true, when you get off that bike and get to running, your legs will feel like lead, jelly, bricks, or whatever other metaphor you want to come up with. Suffice it to say they won’t feel like moving. But don’t worry, that feeling usually goes away after a minute or two of running, and then you’ll feel fine. Unless you overdid it on the bike, in which case it will just get worse and worse until you vomit, everything turns black, and you wake up with an IV in your arm and somebody telling you you’re out of the race. Ok, that probably won’t happen during your training. If this happens while you’re training then you’ll just lie on the side of the road until you wake up with somebody fiddling in your pockets looking for your wallet.

  • Randall Smith

    Hey Josh, I go cycling all the time in Draper. Want to go together some time? (Don’t ask me to run or swim, though.) — Randall