If you are ready to change gears and shift from race participation to competing then the transition is the first place you should look to improve to over-all race time. Most triathletes, new and veterans alike, spend the majority of their training time focused on the three events: swimming, cycling, and running. It is important to remember that the transition between each event also requires training.
Each triathlon has two transitions: a swim-to-bike and a bike-to-run. Although they may seem simple; poor transitions can add precious time and waste energy during a race. A good transition however, can improve your position and spirits. Here are some tips to help you improve your transitions.
Train for Transitions
Just as with any of the other three disciplines it is important to practice the transition in order to have a successful one. A good time to practice is when you have scheduled two workouts back to back. For example, you swam a mile and now you are going for a 10 mile bike-ride. Practicing transitions during your regular training will help you feel very comfortable on race days.
Simplify the Routine
It is important to keep your transition routine simple. Keep the number of tasks to the minimum. In a transition, the more you have to do, the more time it takes and the more that can go wrong. When watching a triathlon you may notice, usually the fastest athletes are only in the transition area for a few minutes. They often wear a one-piece racing suit in order to avoid changing clothes. Many athletes will leave their shoes attached to the pedals and put them on once they have left the transition area and are already riding. Most athletes will have their food and drink already attached to the bike so that they can fuel on the road as well.
Planned Race Day Set-up
On race day, it is important to arrive with enough time to scope out the transition area before the race. Many athletes will arrive at the site the day prior in order to see where the entrance and exits are and the path they should take during their transition. On race day, lay out your gear and do a test run to make sure everything is where you need it. This pre-race check is also a good time to do a mental rehearsal as well. Visualizing what you will do will help you have fewer problems during your transition.
If you are looking to get the edge on your competition without additional training, take a look at your transitions. As you continue to do more events, you will find what works best for you. Through following these tips, you will begin to develop transitions that are efficient so you can save your energy for biking and running.