Brick workouts are a vital part of any triathlete's training plan to get their body ready for race day. These workouts combine two of the three disciplines back to back without rest. Training the body to respond to these workouts help simulate the race itself. With these combination training sessions come unique nutrition demands for the athlete.
A big goal of the brick workout is to have the body create muscle memory of completing separate disciplines together. Your body is creating this training memory as well as creating a gut memory. The goal here is to have the gut learn to respond to consuming food throughout this transition. If an athlete neglects this aspect of the training, it is very likely that race day will go wrong, leading to bonking or gastric distress. Here are several strategies to fueling your brick workout for optimal triathlon performance.
Consume a carbohydrate fuel source before the brick workout to boost energy and prep the body for a good performance. If the beginning of your brick is a swim, eat what you normally do leading into a swim workout. If the beginning portion is a bike, eat what you normally would before a ride.
Consider Each Discipline
Whether it's a swim-and-bike or bike-and-run brick, think of how you typically fuel each of these disciplines individually and apply that to the brick. This helps your body know what to expect and how to utilize those nutrients for the given activity. For the majority of the sessions, think about what you would typically consume for each leg, depending on the length and intensity of the effort.
Make It Work Together
What makes a brick special is that the whole workout is more than the sum of its parts. The fueling plan needs to reflect this—the total workout duration and how much fuel you need for that, not just each leg.
Think about how your body reacts to fuel during each leg of the workout. For example, if you can tolerate fuel well on the bike but not on the run, consume more earlier on the bike and taper the fuel as you come into the run.
Set up your transition area in a brick workout just as you would in the race. Lay out your food and drink in way that you can easily grab it. Spending a few extra seconds grabbing an extra sip of sports drink or a gel during this time will be worth it in the end.
Just like any training session, remember to have a recovery meal or shake immediately after the brick workout to better prepare you for your next training session.
Fueling any one sport is a difficult enough task that requires precision, practice and insight into personal nutrition needs. With a brick workout, you're suddenly fueling two sports at once. Athletes should take special consideration when fueling these workouts in a way that supports both disciplines and is translatable for the actual race. To develop a nutrition plan that promotes your best race day performance, consult a sports dietitian.
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