15 Triathlon Transition Tips To Save You Time

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So you have worked hard for months training for a triathlon. You are feeling strong in the water, on the bike, and in your running shoes, but there is another way you can shave valuable seconds or minutes from your time. 

By perfecting each triathlon transition, you can get underway much faster. This will not only physically help you race, but it will also keep your mind in the game and ready to eat up the miles.

In this post, we will give you some triathlon transition tips, including:

  • What to plan for
  • Swim to bike transition tips
  • How to get on and off your bike faster
  • How to stay within the rules
  • How to prepare your triathlon transition area

Are you ready to be as smooth and as fast as a pro triathlete?

15 Triathlon Transition Tips To Save You Time

1. Make A Plan Well In Advance Of Your Race

The most important of all triathlon transition tips: you need to plan precisely what you need to do in each transition. Once you have a plan, you need to practice it several times until it is second nature.

Ideally, you will practice your transitions on the morning of the race too. However, this may not be possible due to logistics and time constraints.

But, it is a good idea to keep visualizing how you are going to perform your transitions. This will make your transitions virtually automatic, as you won’t need to think about what you need to do next.

2. Decide What You Want To Do With Socks

There are two options when it comes to socks. You can either wear them or not. But it all depends on your personal preferences and what you are used to.

Some triathletes wear their socks throughout the whole race, even the swim. They do this because it is really difficult to put a dry sock on a wet foot. If you wear your socks the whole time, the sock is already in place, saving you time.

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Other triathletes go minimalist and don’t wear socks. If this works for you, you will be on your bike in no time. If going sockless doesn’t do it for you, practice putting your socks on.

You do this every day, right? So why do you need to practice? Well, most of us don’t have to put shoes and socks on wet feet while being tired and full of adrenaline.

So practice slipping on your shoes and socks with wet feet until it is ingrained in your mind and muscle memory.

This might sound strange, but if you can get them on quickly, you won’t be fumbling around on the floor while others overtake you. To help you slip on shoes and socks rapidly, use speed laces in your shoes and put baby powder in your shoes.

3. Practice Taking Your Swimming Cap And Goggles Off

This may seem like something that you don’t need to practice. But pro triathletes make it look simple and cool when they pop off their cap and goggles.

They can do it like this due to practice. But you can look like less of an amateur in the triathlon transition without grabbing a handful of hair, getting your cap stuck, and dropping your goggles. You will also be much faster out of the triathlon transition.

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4. Practice Taking Off Your Wetsuit

You can’t often take off a soaking wet wetsuit with style and speed. Wetsuits are stretchy and tight, so taking them off quickly can be challenging.

Some high-end Ironman races have volunteers to help people out of their wetsuits. But this isn’t something that happens often.

Practice removing your wetsuit several times before your race. You can find some great YouTube videos on how to do it quickly.

5. Attach Your Shoes To Your Bike Pedals

Attaching your shoes to your bike pedals is quite an advanced move. But, there is a reason why experienced triathletes do it.

With your shoes already on your bike, you can jump on the saddle, get rolling and slip into your shoes. It takes quite a bit of practice to get to this, but it is the smoothest way to leave T1.

You may have to use a rubber band to hold one of your shoes in an upright position. If you don’t do this, they will both be upside down and difficult to slip into on the move. Check out this YouTube video for tips.

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6. Practice Putting On And Removing Your Helmet

You will not be allowed to leave T1 without your helmet on and buckled up. If an official catches you, you will be prevented from leaving, which costs you time.

Make sure you can clip your helmet on quickly without thinking about it. This way, you will be out of the triathlon transition in a flash.

7. Be Conscious Of Your Pedaling Speed

As you approach T2, try to pedal at the same pace as you are about to run. If you do this, you will be able to control your wobbly legs easier.

If you are head to head with someone as you approach T2, you need to make a tactical decision.

Do I try to get to the transition quicker than the other person?

Do I try to get out of the transition faster than them?

Or do I save my legs and get them on the run?

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8. Make Your Transition Area Stand Out

A triathlon transition area consists of row after row of bikes, making it difficult to find yours. If your bike is at the end of a row, you should be fine, but you need to make it easy to find if it is in the middle.

In the past, triathletes have used helium-filled balloons to indicate where their bike was. But you can drape a brightly colored towel or fit a brightly colored saddle and bar tape to make your bike stand out.

9. Run Out Of The Transition

When you see people walking out of the triathlon transition, you know they are losing valuable time. This is the time that they have worked hard for during their training.

So, it is best to run with your bike safely to the transition’s exit. Run with good form, with one hand on your saddle. Keep your bike upright, but tilt it to turn. This is something else you should practice at home or in a parking lot.

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10. Don’t Stop Before The Mount/Dismount Line

As you ride into the triathlon transition, make sure you speed over the line. Get ready to jump off the bike by slipping your feet out of your shoes. Once you have crossed the line, jump off and run to your transition area with your bike.

11. Make Sure You Attach Your Stuff To Your Bike

You don’t want to have to think about what you need for your ride in the transition. Therefore, it is best to have everything you need for your ride already attached.

For example, your water bottle, gels, sunglasses, tire levers, spare tube, and Co2 shot should be ready without you even thinking about it.

Your race is over if you don’t have the necessary stuff to repair a puncture. Nobody can help you, as you need to fix any mechanical issues yourself.

12. Consider A Tri-Suit

A tri-suit is an all-in-one suit that you wear under your wetsuit. Wearing one means you don’t have to change into any cycling or running clothing in the triathlon transition.

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13. Know Where The Transition Exit Is

A triathlon transition can be pretty big and busy, making it difficult to see the exit. When you are trying to get out as fast as possible, it is easy to get lost and head in the wrong direction.

Going the wrong way ruins your smooth and fast transition, so make sure you know which way to go.

14. Keep Moving

This goes hand in hand with running with your bike. You will save time if you grab everything you need and go. Don’t stand there clipping your helmet on, do it on the move. This way, you will be closer to the triathlon transition exit much sooner.

15. Make Sure You Read The Rules

The rules for entering a triathlon transition are stringent. If you don’t meet all the requirements, no matter how trivial you think they are, you won’t be let in.

Silly things like not having your handlebars sealed at the end, or having a damaged helmet, or a defective bike will end your race before it starts.

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Now You Can Look Like A Pro In The Triathlon Transitions

If you follow our tips for making your triathlon transitions smoother, you will shave lots of time off your race. Getting through the transitions quickly reinforces the hard work you have put in with your triathlon training.

It would be a shame to lose places because you can’t take your wetsuit off or put your socks on quick enough.

If you want to improve your speed on the bike, check out the following blogs:

Spin Class Guide: What Is Spinning, Format, Benefits Of Spinning

FTP Test: What Is Functional Threshold Power

How To Cycle Faster: 9 Tips To Speed Up

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Tom is an experienced freelance cycling journalist and mountain biking expert who competed nationally in the junior ranks. Now based in the world-famous mountain biking destination of Morzine in the French Alps, Tom spends his summers shredding off-road trails by bike and his winters on the same mountains on a snowboard.

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