Transition is an underrated aspect when it comes to shaving valuable seconds off your time. The process of changing gears and equipment between different segments of a triathlon, transition is often considered the fourth discipline because of how important having quick and seamless transitions are to a race.
Races are often decided by milliseconds. Triathletes train hard to get faster times cycling, running, and swimming. However, if athletes get stuck tying shoelaces or taking off their wetsuits during transitions, their training would’ve been for nothing. Being efficient during transitions gives you a distinct advantage over your opponents.
Here are some tips to save time during transitions.
First off, simplify your equipment and bring only what you need. Many athletes bring a lot of excess baggage during races. All you need to bring are your goggles, shoes, socks, cap, and sunglasses; everything else is nice to have but not essential. This keeps your transitions very simple and fast.
Next, create a transition routine/flow. This means deciding what goes first when taking things off and putting things on, and arranging your equipment in the transition area accordingly. This decreases the amount of thinking you need to do and energy you put into the transition since you already know where everything is and what you need to do next.
Here’s a suggested transition flow for swim to bike, and bike to run.
T1: Remove goggles and cap coming out of water > Pull wetsuit down off shoulders and arms as you run from swim exit to transition > Put cap and goggles in basket > Pull wetsuit down off hips > Put on helmet, race number belt, and (optional) sunglasses, stomp wetsuit off legs and feet > Put wetsuit in basket > (optional) Put on bike shoes > Take bike off rack and run out of transition to mount.
T2: Rack bike > Take shoes off > Put on left sock, left running shoe > Put on right sock, right running shoe > Take helmet off > (optional) Grab cap and nutrition > Run out of transition.
This can change depending on whether you use bike shoes and also if you are able to do a flying mount/dismount.
Practice this transition routine until it becomes second nature. Make sure that the way you do your transitions are the same, so that on race day you just flow through doing everything even without thinking.
You can do transition practice as part of a brick session or practice for it specifically. Start off with just doing things in the order you mean to. Then you can add some pressure by using a stopwatch or making it a friendly competition with your training partners. The advanced version of this is to get your training partner to mess up your transition area so you can learn how to calmly handle disruptions to the routine.
On race day:
- Walk through transition to see where the entrances and exits are and what the flow of traffic is through them. Do this so you can move through the area without crashing into anyone else.
- Take note of where your rack position is and establish landmarks so you don’t get lost looking for your bike and transition box.
- Prep your transition area yourself so you know where you put things.
Good luck, and enjoy the free speed this gives you!