Speed Up Your Triathlon Transitions: 7 Tips we've learned over the years

jim cissel September 20, 2023

Speed Up Your Triathlon Transitions: 7 Tips we've learned over the years

No matter your ambition heading into a triathlon, your best time invested in the week leading up to the race might just be the hidden minutes many lose in transition

Better transitions can make or break your race if you’re competing for a podium or top Age Group finish. Best of all, you don’t have to be even 1% fitter to save minutes in your next race.

In this email, we'll share simple and actionable tips for better transitions we’ve learned over the years.


Transition from Swim to Bike

1. Wear a Tri-Suit:

A tri-suit is like a superhero outfit for triathletes. It combines a swimsuit, cycling shorts, and a running outfit in one. This means no time wasted changing clothes between stages. while also providing comfort and efficiency during the race. No matter, if it’s a 2 piece suit or a one-piece suit, not changing in transition, is a MUST if you want to save valuable time.


2. Practise Wetsuit Removal:

Getting out of your wetsuit quickly is key. Practice taking it off so you can save time during the transition from the water to your bike. These saved seconds can make all the difference. PRO TIP. It may seem obvious, but get both arms out of your wetsuit before removing your swim cap and goggles


Practising wetsuit removal - both arms out of your wetsuit


3. Know Your Shoe Plan:

Whether you have your shoes clipped on your pedals already or if you’re happy doing that at the mounting line, having a plan and executing is the priority.

I usually am perfectly happy having my shoes on the ground and clipping into the pedals after the mounting line, for me this is the smoothest and least stressful way to get out of T1. However, you don’t spot many pros doing the same, so if you want to join the pro ranks in transition, clip your shoes into your pedals before you get in the water.



Should you wear socks on the bike or not?

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer here, it’s just personal. Most triathletes feel you save a few seconds getting on the bike without socks, as it can be difficult slipping your socks onto wet feet.


However, if you don’t train without socks, don’t let the race be the first time you do this. You don't want to get blisters mid-race. 

If you too decide to cycle without socks, make sure you put some Vaseline on your shoes where you might get some rub.


Shoes clamped to the bike: Tri transition from swim to bike


4. Know Your Transition Area:

Walk through your transition before the race in the same order as if you left the swim (this is not always possible with a split transition race) but do what you can.

Transitions are hectic places. Some races have up to 3000 athletes. Being familiar with your gear layout will save you from searching and confusion.


An athlete makes preparations at the transition area for the IRONMAN Mallorca on May 06, 2022 in Mallorca, Spain.


5. Pack Nutrition in Advance:

Prepare all your race food and drinks ahead of time. Put them where you can easily reach them during transitions. Only keep enough nutrition which you can hold in one hand and put in the back pocket


6. Start Your Bike Computer Early:

As you’re getting ready to leave transition to start your race, make sure your bike computer is turned on and the sleep mode is not going to turn the computer off when you’re in the water. Do a second check before starting the race.



Seamless Bike-to-Run Transition

7. Pack your run nutrition in a bag

When transitioning from bike to run, have all your run nutrition in a zip lock bag or in your hat, that way you can put these into your pockets as you run and not stand still (this pro tip will save you 30 seconds)



Practice Makes Perfect

The key to mastering transitions is practice.

Spend time rehearsing each step, from wetsuit removal to setting up your gear.

"Perfecting transitions can make the difference between winning and struggling to catch up." - Triathlon coach Adam Miller


So, practice in your backyard, during your training sessions, or even in your hotel room. These small but precise improvements will give you an edge in the race without needing to be even 1% fitter.


While transitions might not be the most exciting part of triathlons, they are where races can be decided. By following these straightforward tips and dedicating time to practice, you'll become really good at transitioning. This will get you closer to your personal best and provide free speed.

Remember, every second counts!


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