Many experts agree that a successful running leg is the key to a top triathlon finish [source: Mora]. However, all the run training in the world won't prepare your legs for the shock of transitioning from cycling to running at race speed. For that, you need to integrate "brick" workouts into your training. A brick (which involves two of the three disciplines, swimming and biking or biking and running) prepares your body for the experience of hopping onto a bike sopping wet or setting off on a run with rubbery cycler's legs. Bricks also give you a chance to practice and time your transitions.
In a run-intensive brick workout, you would bike 20 to 40 percent of your race's bike distance at an easy to moderate pace. Plan your route with only moderate hills so that you can save your legs for a more intense run leg. If you've followed the suggestions in the sidebar, you'll already be in your triathlon suit with your race number strapped across your chest as you approach the T2 transition. Here are a few other tips for a quick T2 transition:
- Stake out your space. Stage your running gear (hydration belt, running shoes, body lubricant, pack stocked with gels or snacks) on a beach towel.
- Invest in "speed laces," which tighten with a single tug.
- Skip the socks. Instead, rub Body Glide or a similar lubricant onto the inside heels of your shoes. This will help prevent blisters and make your shoes easier to slip into.
When you practice, time your transition and try to shave a few seconds off each time you do a brick workout. Once your shoes are laced up, set off on a run that's 70 to 90 percent of your race distance. Choose a course that's as geographically similar as possible to the course you'll be running on race day, and run just little slower than you plan to run at the race.
With a few successful bricks and your first sprint triathlon under your belt, you'll be ready to dabble in longer distances. Next up, we talk about run training for Olympic distance triathlons.