The 4th Discipline
Updated: Jun 13, 2018
You log hours and hours swimming, riding & running. Rightfully so. You don't improve if you don't spend time in the pool, in the saddle or pounding the pavement. The question for this article is, how much time do you spend practicing transitions?
If you answered 'none', that needs to change in 2018. Fast, efficient transitions can literally be the difference between standing on the podium or watching others collect the hardware, between realizing a PR or wondering what could have been. Shaving a few minutes, even seconds, off your transition times can help you climb the leader board.
Improving your transition times is easy. You simply need to practice and think it through before the race. Here are a few tips to help you improve your times in-between your times:
Know the Layout
Before the race begins, know the lay of the land. It's important to get oriented with where your bike is in relation to the swim exit, bike entrance/exit and run exit. Walk it out before the race begins and have a great idea of the geography.
Keep it Simple
Think minimalist! Think KISS - Keep It Simple Super-athlete (you thought I was going a different direction, didn't you?). Don't bring unnecessary things into transition, you'll simply clutter your area and make it more confusing for you. Only bring the bare essentials.
That's right, practice! The more you practice, the better, more efficient and faster you'll get. Practice peeling off your wetsuit, beginning as soon as you exit the water. Practice pushing and steering your bike out of transition using only the saddle. You should also practice your mounts and dismounts.
Putting triathlon laces in your running shoes will save time, allowing you to merely slip them on. As mentioned above, start peeling your wetsuit as soon as you exit the water. You can get it unzipped and peeled down to your waist or below by the time you get to your bike. If you feel comfortable doing it, consider clipping your bike shoes into the pedals before the race starts. Your time in transition will be reduced, but it does require you to practice starting your bike split while putting your foot in the shoes. YOU CAN DO IT! Finally, after slipping your running shoes on (which is now much faster after putting those triathlon laces in there!), grab your race belt, hat and sunglasses and GO. Don't put those things on while you're in your transition area. You can put them on as you exit.
T1 and T2 are important parts of each race and the time you spend there counts just as much as anywhere else on the course. A little pre-race planning, the right gear and some practice will have you shaving minutes off your overall race-day and climbing the ranks in your age-group!