Building Bricks

Triathlete Tim Don wiped the floor with more experienced runners at this year's Great Manchester Run 10K, coming in just a minute after Haile Gebrselassie at 28:56. So what's a triathlete's secret weapon? Brick sessions: more varied and more intense than your usual workout, these combine running with cycling or swimming. After your usual warm-up, hit the bike, pool or stationary cycle for a pre-run session to ramp up your workload and reap the rewards.

If you want to... Work your whole body  

Build on this: Swim to run

For optimum running form, don't neglect your upper body. "Swimming increases mobility and flex in the arms, shoulders and back, which enhances running style and aerobic capacity," says triathlon coach Barry Jameson ( Start with a couple of lengths, building up by one or two lengths a week. Incorporate a brief run after three to five weeks. You'll still feel the benefits even if you have to take time to dry off and get changed. When swimming isn't practical, try a gym-based brick session - this could be 25 minutes on the rowing machine followed by long session on the treadmill.
Training tip While you can use any stroke, Jameson says front crawl is fast, efficient and involves less aggressive kicking than other strokes, leaving legs fresh and ready to run.

If you want to... Increase endurance

Build on this: Long ride to long run

If long runs bore you, but you need to pack in more mileage, try an endurance session in the saddle. "If the total length of the session is equivalent to your longest run, you get the same improvement to your heart and lung capacity without the monotony," says endurance coach Nick Anderson ( A typical session might be 90-120 minutes slow cycling, followed by a 60-90-minute run.
Training tip Spin your legs faster in your last few minutes on the bike - Anderson says this will prime your muscles for the transition to the motion of running.

If you want to...  Get faster  

Build on this: Bike sprint to speed session

Looking for a great way to prepare for a speedy run? Then hit the pedals and try a speedy cycle. "A fast spin on a bike prepares you for the rapid turnover of a speed session," says triathlon coach Shannon Paterson ( "Start at a cadence of 80-90 revolutions per minute for five minutes, then 90 rpm for another 10 minutes." It's best to choose an easy gear, so you can pedal faster. You're then ready for a speedwork session. Anderson recommends five reps of five minutes, each at your lactate threshold (when lactic acids starts to accumulate).
Training tip If you don't have a cadence counter on your bike, pedal fast while counting how many times your right knee comes up in 30 seconds. Multiply this number by two. Not exactly high-tech, but it works well enough.

If you want to... Beat injury

Build on this: Aqua-jog to run

Using a buoyancy belt like Keifer's Aqua Runner (£17.99, to keep upright and afloat, you can run underwater at the same intensity as you would on the road, but with a fraction of the strain on your joints, bones and muscles. "It's a good way to increase the length of your runs without stressing out your body," says Anderson. "A session might involve aqua-jogging for 60 minutes at threshold heart rate. Then come out and run 30-45 minutes."
Training tip Go for a swim the day after a hard run - the water relieves muscle tightness and speeds recovery from muscular micro-tears.