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Duathlon Training: Brick Workout

Aug 19, 2013 | Running | 2 comments

A brick workout is a training session that involves two or more exercises back to back, with the aim of muscle adaptation. Your heart rate increases significantly as your body tries to change the blood flow from the muscles used in the first exercise, to those used in the second. Most brick workouts are a bike/run session, but many triathletes incorporate swim workouts into brick sessions.

When I originally signed up for the London Duathlon a few months ago, I somewhat niavely signed up for the Classic 55- 10K run, 40K bike, 5K, with the confidence that I had completed all of those distances before. What I neglected to think about was the fact that I had never done them in succession, and that my legs are usually quite wobbly after getting off the bike even after a 6 mile commute. I’ve since dropped down to a far shorter race distance- 5K run, 11K bike, 5K run, but was still nervous about combining the exercises.

I saw that a few of my friends had signed up for Brick training sessions with RG Active. RG Active, as the trainer for the London Duathlon, have organised brick training sessions in Richmond Park, that are open to those of all abilities. I was incredibly nervous before the workout after reading Laura’s account of her experience, and was glad my friend Beki would be there too!

I arrived just in time (after waiting in the wrong car park for about 10 mins!) to head off on a warm up lap of the 1.5K run course. Whilst running, Martin explained a little bit about how to transition and the route for the bike course,. He also mentioned that the guy in the front of the pack had just placed second in his age group in an International Duathlon in Canada. It was at this point that I noticed that everyone was in Tri suits, and would be swapping out their shoes during the transition. Well, at least I may make up some time due to the fact I would be wearing the same shoes for both biking and running!

I set off quickly out of the first transition (due to the fact that as my bike was the last one there, it was leaning against the rack rather that hooked on), however I was quickly over taken by a lot of people. I mean, almost everyone. I was pedalling as hard as I could but I didn’t seem to be moving! I suddenly wished I had a road bike rather than my hybrid, and vowed to go to more spinning classes.

Bike 1: 14.15

After the first 5K bike loop, where I wasn’t quite lapped, and cheered on by the coaches, I set off on the run loop. I hoped to make up some time here, but my legs felt like lead. Whilst I’d been on the bike, all I had been thinking about was running, but with heavy legs, I couldn’t wait to be back on the bike!

Run 1: 7.59

Back on the bike and I felt more comfotable this time. I used the bike section to rehydrate, knowing that for me, the run sections are where I am going to make up time.

Bike 2: 14.31

Back into transtion…and I got LAPPED. Sure he is an International Duathlete, but I was still a little embarrassed. (Turns out he completed 5 complete circuits in a similar time that I finished 3!) This run was slightly faster with someone to chase!

Run 2: 7.52

Out on the bike for the final time. We were encouraged to complete between 3-5 loops in total, and with the prospect of the 5 mile cycle home, I decided at this point that 3 would be enough for me! This was my slowest bike lap, and I felt like I was literally crawling up the hills. I found it so tough to push myself faster, and really struggled mentally with my lack of speed.

Bike 3: 15.38

For my final run loop, I was determined to make up some time, and knowing I didn’t have to cycle fast afterwards spurred me on to push a little harder. With no-one to follow, and no garmin, I found it tough to know whether I was actually running any faster.

Run 3: 7.45

Once I’d clocked in with the trainers, I stretched a little before cheering Beki on her final bit of the run. I think we were both pleased to be finished, regardless of times.

There were a few other newbies at the training session, however most of them seemed to be seasoned duathletes or triathletes, with all the kit, knowledge and speed! They were a really friendly lot though, with a couple of people telling me to ‘keep pushing’ as they cycled past me, smiles on the run section, and congratulations at the end for finishing my first session.


I gave Beki’s bike a quick go (don’t worry I wore a helmet for the actual workout)- her road bike is so speedy, although I found the brakes/handlebars very odd. I may look into borrowing a road bike for my training and duathlon- let’s face it, I need all the help I can get to speed up my cycle section. The Brick workout was a bit of a wakeup call that I need to do more training on the bike, and include some more back-to-back sessions in the run up to the London Duathlon. I may even sign up for another early Sunday morning session in Richmond Park!

RG Active run sessions in Richmond Park on a Weds and Sunday, as well as swim workouts- check out their website. The Brick workout I attended costs £20, although I was generously comped my first session. It’s also not too late to enter the London Duathlon, enter here.

Have you ever completed a multi-sport event? Would you ever?


  1. KW

    That’s how I was on a long group bike ride. I just felt like everyone was zooming past me, while I’m pedaling fast. I quickly went to the back of the pack. I had someone work with me, but I just didn’t feel a difference and I have a hybrid like you.

    I’m actually thinking about doing a triathlon next month, but unsure yet.

    • Charlie

      Let’s blame our hybrids! I don’t know why I chose a hybrid as I rarely cycle off road! A triathlon is on my bucket list…one day!


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