For those who are new to the world of triathlon, the term ‘brick’ might be a strange one. Brick training is essentially the practising of two disciplines, one after the other, in one session. It can be in any order but is most useful if you bike after you swim or run after you bike (for obvious reasons). Triathlete Dan Millington lays out the facts about brick.
Much of the training we do as triathletes and duathletes involves honing our skills in the individual disciplines we need to participate in. Great improvements can be achieved by picking on your weakest one, and working hard to perfect your technique, and usually it is easier to see larger benefits by doing this than trying to improve on your best event. If you’re really serious, you’ll even be training hard on your brick workouts – adapting your body to keep going from one event to next with fatigued muscles. But the one activity ignored at your peril is transition – from swim to bike (T1) and from bike to run (T2) – the Fourth Discipline of triathlon.
For many people, getting into triathlon training isn’t something they set out to do initially, but was a progression from a single discipline. Maybe they started out as runners who liked to do some low-impact cross-training in the pool or on the bike. Or they started out as cyclists, but enjoyed trail running in their downtime. Whichever permutation was involved, there is a lot to think about when you first make the switch from a single event to become a beginner triathlete. First and foremost is what equipment are you going to need. Three events means three distinct kinds of kit and, although there is a vast range of choices in swimming, cycling and running gear – not to mention the specific triathlon accessories – as a beginner, you can often cut your shopping list down to just a few essential items.
For the uninitiated, the sport of triathlon seems like something that is exclusively for the super-fit athlete. And it’s only the pros and semi-professionals who attempt such energy-sapping endurance events, right? Wrong! Most of the general public who hear the word triathlon do not realise there are several triathlon distances, and that all triathlons are not necessarily gruelling ironman races. So, what are the most common triathlon distances you’ll encounter?
If you plan to participate in a triathlon, you’re going to want special triathlon cycling shoes to give you the edge when it comes to the biking portion of the race. These shoes are different than typical cycling shoes at least in the way that they connect to the pedals and strap onto your feet. Most people who bike will put their cycling shoes on before they get onto their bikes and then attach them to the pedals once they mount the bike. But triathlon cycling shoes work best if you have them already attached to your bike pedals then put them on after you mount the bicycle.
A triathlon involves running, cycling and swimming over long distances with no breaks in between the different sports. It’s a race for people who want to participate in all three types of endurance tests, and who want to push themselves to their limits. If you think it sounds easy enough to bike, run and swim long distances and come out anything less than exhausted on the other side, then you clearly haven’t tried it. And if you stop to think of the challenges of going from one physical activity to another, particularly including swimming in the mix, the need for special clothing that might include a triathlon suit becomes pretty clear.
Unless you are running an ironman triathlon in cold conditions, one of the best pieces of equipment you can purchase is pair of dedicated triathlon shorts – often referred to simply as tri shorts. For the longer ironman events you will need to check on the competition rules about whether wetsuits are allowed for the swimming leg, but if you are competing in cold weather, a triathlon wetsuit over the top of your tri shorts is the best way to go.