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Mastering Your Triathlon Transition

In the course of a triathlon, there are two particular segments where free time can be had en route to your next personal-best without any additional training. It doesn’t even require purchasing a disc wheel, aero helmet, or any other speed enhancing item. Rather, I’m referring to mastering the art of transitions: our friends T1 and T2.

Triathlon transitions, as with the swim start, seem chaotic to the vast majority, but they don’t have to be. The swim start on the other hand, will always be chaotic, so you might as well come to terms with that as soon as possible. Exiting the swim, it’s not uncommon to be a bit disoriented. Even if the disorientation lingers as you enter transition, if you have a plan and act calmly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much time you can gain over your competitors. Hence why I refer to transition time as “free time.”

Keep It Simple

If I had to chose one acronym to help people expedite their transitions, I would chose: K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. On average, triathletes bring way too much stuff into transition. Even if everything is nicely laid out ahead of time, once waves of athletes start rolling through, the chances of it remaining as is not very good. By limiting gear to the just bare essentials, there will be less to go through and/or apply, meaning less time accumulating against you.

T1 Transition

Even before you exit the water, you should know exactly what your plan of action is. That is, what gear you’ll put on first and so on. For example, as I run to transition, I unzip my wetsuit and pull it down low enough so that it does not impede my running. Upon reaching my bike, I put on my sunglasses (which are in my helmet) and then my helmet. That moment of standing still is enough for me to get my wits about me in the event the swim was rough. I then proceed to slip off my wetsuit, leaving it out of the way of other athletes, and grab my race belt, before grabbing my bike. I would like to think it happens in an instant, as it is a rehearsed action.

T2 Transition

When T2 approaches, the process is very similar in regards to simplicity. Rack the bike, slip on my socks (if wearing) and shoes. Then the helmet comes off and I’m off again.

Transitions should sound like simple things to go through. It’s the clutter that we bring in that slows us down and/or confuses us. Even putting on compression apparel is no excuse for a slow transition. If you wear compression calf sleeves, you have nothing to worry about as those are easily worn under a wetsuit. However, compression socks can be time-consuming. The quickest and easiest way to put on compression socks is to have them inside-out up to the base of the heel. To do this, reach in the sock and grab the heel and pull outwards so that you’re left with the likes of a low-cut sock. Then, slip your foot in just as you would a regular sock and then pull the sock back from the top. Voilà, compression socks on in a matter of seconds!

Overall, transitions are best approached after a deep breath and a bit of calmness. Keeping it simple and down to the race essentials will get you in and out of transition faster than your opponents, either buffering or lessening the gap between.