So, you’ve been training for weeks all with the aim of shaving a few seconds off your time? That’s great – but with just a couple of hours spent on improving your transitions you could knock entire minutes off.
Of course your focus should be on the three core disciplines, but transitioning between them can be tricky – and it's not something you want to face for the first time on race day.
Professional triathletes complete their first transition in less than a minute, and their second in half that time. For the rest of us mere mortals, a good transition might be just under 3 minutes. It’s an often neglected area of training, so here are some hints to get you up to speed:
1) Take a deep breath
Switching disciplines can be disorienting. Don’t set off too fast, take a deep breath and keep a steady pace to clear your head before you really start to hit your stride.
2) Know where your bike is!
There are going to be hundreds of bikes at the transition area, so make sure to plan your route to it on the morning of the race. You could also put a Bloodwise t-shirt over it.
3) Attach your gear
Sellotape and string are your friend! Attach gels to your frame, tie sunglasses to your handlebars, put a replacement inner tube and co2 cartridge in a seat pack, and have your water bottles filled and ready. The fewer bits and pieces you have to mess around with, the quicker you’ll be.
4) Don’t bother with socks
It can be difficult enough to put socks on in the morning, let alone just after you’ve finished a swim. It’s fine to run and cycle in your trainers/cleats without socks – just make sure you practice doing this before the race to avoid getting blisters. When transitioning from cycling, a sprinkle of baby powder in your running shoes can be a lifesaver.
5) Unzip your wetsuit before you get to your bike
While running to the transition area, unzip your wetsuit (if you’re wearing one) to your waist, and get your arms free. This will make it easier to kick the rest of your suit off when you reach your bike.
6) Don’t sit down
It might be tempting to take your time, but whatever you do, don’t sit down. It gives your muscles a chance to build up lactic acid, which may lead to cramps. Keep yourself standing up and moving around.
7) Practice, practice, practice!
Get down to the park and start practicing. Lean your bike against a tree, line up your gear, run, mount, cycle, dismount, run – and repeat! Well executed transitioning techniques can save time, but if you get it wrong it can be costly – so don’t decide to try something you haven’t practiced on race day.
8) Run with your bike
The distance between bike rack and mounting area might be longer than you expected. By practicing a steady jog with your bike saddle held firmly in your right hand, and your left hand free to swing, you can cover this distance very quickly.
9) Be prepared
You don’t want to be the person rummaging around in a rucksack for their gear. Have your running shoes laid out, untied and well opened for the second transition. If you're really serious, clip your cycling shoes into the pedals (and practice your mounts beforehand!).
10) Don’t panic!
Lastly, but most importantly, don’t panic! People who rush their transition often take longer – as long as you stay calm and be methodical, your transition won’t become the focus of your race.