Smooth Transitions Save Time
No matter what your level, you can be a master in Transition. Hone your skills with our 10 Triathlon Transition Tips.
1/ Keep it Simple: The less stuff you have in transition, the better. Every item and every action has a time cost.
2/ Slow Down: Unless you're in a draft-legal race, you don't need to sprint through transition. Research shows that most triathlete's heart-rates are at their highest during transition. You might gain 5-seconds by sprinting, but you'll fatigue quicker and lose more time later on in the race. You’re also more likely to make silly mistakes when you're at maximum intensity.
3/ The Set-Up: Before your race, allow time to walk around the transition area and study the swim-in, bike-out, bike-in and run-out areas. Rehearse each transition:
- Coming in through "swim-in" and finding your bike then heading out through "bike-out".
- Entering at "bike-in", finding your place, racking your bike then heading to "run-out".
- Imagine what you'll be thinking and what it will look like with or without other bikes there.
- Use visual landmarks (that won't move) to help you find your place in transition.
4/ Movement Patterns: When you rack your bike before the race, take the opportunity to practice your movements. Put your helmet and glasses on and off several times, and then do the same with your running shoes or number belt so that the movement patterns become etched into your brain.
5/ Shoes On Your Bike: If you're allowed to, keep your bike shoes attached to your pedals rather than wasting time putting them on in the transition zone. Keep them in a horizontal position by looping a thin elastic band around the heel-tab of each shoe and hooking it on a bottle cage or wheel-skewer. When you get on your bike and pedal, the bands will simply snap. Ride with your feet on top of the shoes until you're up to speed and then slip your feet in carefully. Practice this several times at home before you try it in a race - it’s not as hard as it sounds.
6/ T1 - Swim To Bike: Towards the end of the swim, mentally rehearse your first transition. As you exit the water, remove your hat and goggles as you jog towards your bike. While still jogging, unzip your wetsuit and pull your arms out. When you get to your bike, pull the rest of your wetsuit off and put your bike helmet and sunglasses on. Grab your bike and go. Job done.
7/ T2 - Bike to Run Part 1: Towards the end of the cycle section, start mentally rehearsing your next transition. With around 400 meters to go, pull your feet out of your shoes and ride with your feet on top of them. As you reach the dismount line, you can either stop and dismount. Or perform a moving dismount, where you swing one leg over your top-tube, put your feet on the ground and break into a run while pushing your bike. (You will need to slow right down to jogging pace before you attempt this dismount. Master this at home before you try it in a race).
8/ T2 - Bike to Run Part 2: After dismounting from your bike, run towards your spot in transition and do the following tasks in order:
- Rack your bike
- Put your running shoes on
- Take your helmet off
- Jog to the run-out area
The benefits of taking your helmet off last are:
- You avoid a helmet rule violation and
- You can align yourself towards the run-out area as you remove it.
9/ Gels, Hats, Glasses, Watches: If you need to pick up other stuff in transition, such as gels or a hat, keep it simple and do it on the move. For example, pick up a fuel belt, start running and then attach it to your waist while you run. This is far quicker than grabbing individual gels and trying to stuff them into your pockets while standing still.
10/ Video Yourself: It's amazing what you see on video sometimes. The best is to have someone film you (and others) at a race. Replay the video, critique and think about how you can get faster.
This article was based on our blog post: Triathlon Transitions: 10 Essential Tips
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