The Brick Workout

I smoothly shift my gears and slow my bike down to a glide before eventually braking to a complete stop.  I swing my right leg across the middle bar, and feel the heaviness of tired muscles weigh me down. It’s not until I am completely off the bike that I realize just how heavy, shaky and tired my legs feel. I am teetering on lead pillars. Cautiously, I bend at the waist to take off my cycling shoes, and prepare to slide my feet into my runners. The heaviness weighs on me and I feel as though I might topple like a leaning tower of Jenga. As I pop back to the upright position, I struggle to bring one leg in front of the other, as I shift my muscles from cycling mode to running mode. I am a baby fawn with drunken coordination, and this is called the ‘brick workout.’
Mastering the techniques, endurance and finesse of three different sports is a challenge, but so is teaching your muscles and brain how to quickly shift from one event to the next, efficiently, and effectively, and preferably without looking like a complete idiot. Which is what I have been really good at mastering. Creating forward momentum on my bicycle requires the largest muscles in my thunder thighs to fire on all cylinders, which results in the pooling of blood in that region; hence, the heavy legs. Once, I command my confused body to go from cycling to running, my heart rate goes up, as my body attempts to get the blood moving from the muscles used for biking to those used for running. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been telling my legs to work in pedaling circles, and now I want them to support my large frame and move me forward in a completely different motion. As a result, I look quite discombobulated until my brain and muscles sync into knowing what it is that I’m trying to accomplish. I have had the heavy leg feeling last for almost an entire run, and sometimes it goes away within a few minutes, but I always look just as ridiculous.
I still remember the feeling of transitioning from the bike to the run during my first triathlon. I had to look down at my feet to ensure that I was in fact moving forward and not just stumbling around. Although I was probably doing a bit of that too, as I saw my competitors glide on past me. “Move legs, move!” But alas they were just useless chunks of meat.
Since my first race I have made it a priority to incorporate more brick workouts into my schedule, which will help my body learn and remember the transition. With time, more experience and knowledge I’ll learn how to reduce the effects of heavy legs through understanding proper techniques, nutrition and hydration. Until then you can find me clumsily maneuvering through some early morning workouts as I continue on my journey to one hundred forty point six miles.


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