This week, the Tri Talk Tuesday “topic” is Transitions! I thought I’d chime in with my own experience on how to make transitions go smoothly in any triathlon-whether sprint or Iron distance. From my experience, reading books, and talking with other veteran triathletes, here are a few recommendations on how to execute successful transitions in your race.
1) Before the race begins: Yes, successful transitions rely on preparation before the race begins. In the morning, before the race, lay everything out at your transition site in the order you will need it. I also prep all my fuel (water bottles and gels) before the race. I hang my bike helmet on my bike with my sun glasses inside the helmet-this makes it so I won’t forget to put my glasses on. Then, I have my bike shoes and run shoes on the ground sitting on my towel and I have a gel flask inside the shoes-so I don’t forget to grab THAT.
2) T1 (The transition from the swim to the bike): As soon as you exit the water, your T1 has begun. People suggest immediately either taking off your wetsuit in the water, or taking off the sleeves and torso while running up to the transition site. I opt to run in my wetsuit with the sleeves and torso pulled down. After this, I pull off my swim cap and goggles while on the run as well. Once I have made it to my bike, I drop my goggles and cap, then step out of my wetsuit. You can do this very quickly by stepping on the legs and pulling your feet out one at a time. While standing on my towel that’s laid out, I wipe my feet off while putting on my helmet, sunglasses, and shoes. I put on my race bib belt. Then, I run my bike to the edge of the transition, and then hop on! Seriously, the quicker your transitions, the better. Some people try and grab a quick snack during this time, or they change clothes. To each his own, but I find this works best for me. I sneak a gel gulp from my flask as I’m mounting my bike in the exit.
3) T2 (transition from bike to run): This transition is typically faster for me because I don’t have to worry about pulling my wetsuit off. I run my bike in, mount it, hang up my helmet, take off my shoes, and slip on my running shoes. I snag my gel flask (and water if it’s a long race), and I’m off!
I’ve heard many people say that races are won and lost by transition times. No, you may not be in contention to win, but transition time is something VERY easy to cut down-you don’t have to be a fast biker or runner to have a short transition time! To help improve your transition times, I recommend practicing. Here’s what I do.
1) Every weekend, I do a brick (bike to run). I practice a brief transition each week by going straight from biking to running. This helps my efficiency, but also obviously helps keep my legs used to running after biking.
2) During my taper before a race, I’ll do “mini triathlons” every day and practice my transitions each day. The goal is to mimic the race as much as possible.
3) The day before the race, I’ll actually do a short swim, bike, run at the race sight and again, practice my transitions exactly like they will be the following day.
I find these three things really help me prepare myself for successful transitions on race day! What are your tricks to transitions? Do you like to take your time and “collect your thoughts”? Nothing wrong with that if it works for you!