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Triathlon transition training guide

You’ve been training for weeks with the aim of shaving a few seconds from your time. With just a couple of hours spent on improving your transitions you could knock entire minutes off.

Your focus should be on the three core disciplines, but transitioning between them can be tricky. And it's not something you want to face for the first time on race day.

Professional triathletes complete their first transition (T1) in less than a minute, and their second (T2) in half that time.

For the rest of us mere mortals, a good transition might be just under 3 minutes. It’s an often neglected area of training, so here are some hints to get you up to speed:

Take a deep breath

Switching disciplines can be confusing. Don’t set off too fast into the next stage. Take a deep breath and keep a steady pace to clear your head before you really start to hit your stride.

Know where your bike is!

There are going to be hundreds of bikes at the transition area. Make sure you plan your route to your bike on the morning of the race. You could also put a Blood Cancer UK t-shirt over it.

Attach your gear

Sellotape and string are your friend. Attach gels to your frame, tie sunglasses to your handlebars, put a replacement inner tube and CO2 cartridge in a seat pack. Have your water bottles filled and ready. The fewer bits and pieces you have to mess around with, the quicker you’ll be.

Don’t bother with socks (or laces...)

It can be difficult enough to put socks on in the morning, let alone just after you’ve finished a swim. It’s fine to run and cycle in your trainers/cleats without socks. Just make sure you practice doing this before the race to avoid getting blisters.

When transitioning from cycling, a sprinkle of baby powder in your running shoes can be a lifesaver. You can also take the step of switching your running shoe laces out for elastic ties, meaning even less fiddling around.

Unzip your wetsuit before you get to your bike

While running to the transition area, unzip your wetsuit to your waist, and get your arms free. This will make it easier to kick the rest of your suit off when you reach your bike.

Don’t sit down

It might be tempting to take your time, but whatever you do, don’t sit down. It gives your muscles a chance to build up lactic acid, which may lead to cramps. Keep yourself standing up and moving around.

Practice, practice, practice

Get down to the park and start practising. Lean your bike against a tree, line up your gear, run, mount, cycle, dismount, run – and repeat! Well executed transitioning techniques can save time. If you get it wrong it can be costly. Don’t decide to try something you haven’t practised on race day.

Run with your bike

The distance between bike rack and mounting area might be longer than you expect. By practising a steady jog with your bike saddle held firmly in your right hand, and your left hand free to swing, you can cover this distance very quickly.

Be prepared

You don’t want to be the person rummaging around in a rucksack for their gear. Have your running shoes laid out, untied and well opened for the second transition. If you are really serious, clip your cycling shoes into the pedals (and practice your mounts beforehand.)

Don’t panic

Lastly, but most importantly, don’t panic! People who rush their transition often take longer. As long as you stay calm and be methodical, your transition won’t be the focus of your race.