Faster Transitions: A Key Component in Improving your Performance – By Lily Mason

Tips to help you improve improve your transition time so that you can become a top triathlete!

Inexperienced triathletes often regard the transition area as a place to celebrate the completion of one part of a race and prepare for the next. It is often easy to forget how important it is to have a fast transition, as out on the racecourse everybody is moving forwards but in the transition area, triathletes are milling about in different directions, which can create the illusion that they are taking a break from being competitive. However in reality, it is essential to master speedy transitions if you want to become a top triathlete. How many hours of practicing swimming would it take to reduce your swim time by two minutes? Probably at least a few hundred. It is considerably easier to lop a couple of minutes off a transition time, meaning that learning how to transition quickly can give you a major competitive edge. Here are some tips for doing this.

Draw Up a Plan

It is always less tricky to do something quickly if you know exactly how you are going to do it. Plan what routine you are going to follow in the transition area and practice it over and over again. Rehearse it mentally on the morning of the race and do not deviate from your plan. By the time you are transitioning during the race, you should be working on autopilot, which will mean that you don’t have to waste time stopping to think what to do next.

Shoes in the Pedals

Coasting down the course at fifteen miles per hour whilst putting your feet in your shoes will advance you far ahead of somebody who is sitting in T1 doing the same thing. Set your bicycle up in the transition area with your shoes attached to its pedals and rubber bands looped between the frame and heels holding them horizontal. Upon leaving T1, pedal the bike with your feet resting on top of your shoes. Once you have started cruising at speed, coast while slipping your feet into them. Remember to keep looking ahead and not down at your feet. On the return, take your feet out of your shoes before reaching T2. You can practice these techniques on an indoor trainer before trying them out on the road.

Running with your Bike

By running quickly and safely with your bike, it is easy to fly over the distance from rack to mount line. Run upright on the left side of the bike holding the seat with your right hand whilst letting your left arm swing by your side. Keep the bike upright in order to go straight and lean it to one side in order to turn. This can be practiced in an empty car park.

Getting your Bearings

Have you ever come out of a shopping centre and had trouble locating your car? It is possible to have a similar experience to this in a large transition area. Make a note of where your rack spot is and how to find it from the bike entrance and swim exit. From your rack, know where the run and bike exits are and ensure that you are aware of the quickest routes to them. Psychologically prepare for this feat of navigation before the race, as a recent article in Triathlon Plus magazine highlights the importance of mental rehearsal when taking part in an event. This can mean the difference between success and failure.

Baby Powder and Speed Laces

Tying your shoelaces takes up precious time and can be eliminated by using speed laces or lace locks. Sprinkling your feet with baby powder will help them to slide inside your shoes. Some people also like to sprinkle baby powder in swimming caps in order to get them on more easily but this is inadvisable, as some baby powder contains propylene glycol, which can cause hair loss. Research shows that regular exercise can stimulate testosterone in women so female triathletes are already at risk of a form of hair loss known as testosterone hair loss, which is caused by a by-product of testosterone called DHT. It is therefore better to avoid powdering your swimming cap unless you want to save yourself from having to put on a cap for future races by leaving yourself hairless.

Have the Correct Mentality

The main method for having fast transitions is to treat them as competitively as you treat the other aspects of triathlons. Practice for them, try as hard as possible to be speedy in the transition area and ensure that you have a clear idea of what tactics you are going to use. Above all, be confident in your abilities. This will ensure that you shave minutes off your transition time, giving you a significantly greater chance of winning the race.


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