Preparation Is Everything For A Smooth Transition On Triathlon Race Day

Transition is written into triathlon folklore as something of a dark art by many a seasoned triathlete. We’ve been around the triathlon world for more than we care to remember and seen so many tips, tricks and theories about not messing up a transition. Many outspoken purists will start to tell you that if you don’t tie your shoes with a triple helix crossbow knot, then the world will more than likely end.

The world won’t fall apart without a triple helix crossbow knot, but there are a few tips to consider that will help you save precious seconds in the transition.



What Makes For A Good Transition?

Take a step back.  You’ve got dressed for work this week right? Did you wear a snorkel, chicken suit and elf shoes? Possibly, but probably not. You wore the clothes most appropriate for the job. Did you put your pants on after your trousers? Again possibly, (superheroes excluded) but probably not. You got dressed in a logical order. This is all transition is.

So spending time logically thinking through the order of things will help you avoid time-costly mistakes as you leave the swim and get on your bike.


Practice Setting Up Your Transition Area

As you unpack your transition bag, think about what you’re going to wear for each phase of the race and lay it out in the order that you’re going to wear it.

When you’re changing between disciplines, for example swim to bike, make sure your swim cap, goggles and wetsuit you take off are placed at the back of your area. You’re not going to need them again so make sure they’re not in the way of your run gear which you will need.

Laying your kit out and thinking about the race and when you’re going to wear it is also a great way of checking you’ve got everything you need.


Rehearse The Route From The Swim To Your Bike

Once you have laid out all your kit take a walk from the swim exit to your bike. Then jog it, then run it so you are totally familiar with the layout. Then repeat the process from bike in to your racking point to run exit. Remember if you thought it was hard to find your bike, it’ll be doubly hard to find a pair of running shoes. 

A great tip is to count the number of rows and then the A-Frames supporting the racking.  So for example, 3rd row, 5th A-Frame. This will bring you to within 5 metres of your bike making it easier to find. Don’t be one of those poor souls running around like a headless chicken screaming, ‘I can’t find my bike!’, all the while lamenting that there is more than one white bike with two wheels. 

However, if you don’t get on with the number system try and use a landmark like a street sign or similar, basically something that doesn’t move unlike, say, a cow.


Useful Bits Of Kit To Make Your Triathlon Race Day Easier

Although it may not be essential for your first race there are a number of pieces of kit that can make your life easier in transition:

  1. Trisuit. This is arguably the most sensible piece of clothing to help you perform and remain comfortable throughout the whole race. 
  2. Race belts. These are great bits of kit, and often undervalued. They are there so you can pin your number to the belt so you don’t have to stand there stabbing yourself with safety pins after the swim. Top tip if you’re not allowed to wear it under the wetsuit (most Ironman races don’t allow this), or if it’s a pool swim leave the belt clipped up, step into it and pull it up like it’s a pair of shorts. Your dexterity will not be what you’d like it to be post-swim and this is vastly easier. 
  3. Elastic Laces. Yes elastic laces or similar are really useful enabling you to quickly put your shoes on to the right tension and get on to the run course. This is particularly relevant for Sprint and Standard distance where 30 seconds can lose you position.

When we talk of transition the most inappropriate phrase is definitely ‘less haste more speed’. This doesn’t mean you have to be slow, just slick and well prepared. If you set up logically, rehearse your routes and wear the right kit, you’re ready to go and enjoy the best triathlon of your career.


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