4 Quick Triathlon Transition Tips That Will Save You Time on Race Day

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By CTS Expert Coach Scott Wrigley

Triathlon is a time intensive sport. Fitting in training for three sports takes dedication and planning. This is especially true when you are a time-crunched athlete. You get up early and train for hours each week. You do things like intervals, track your sleep, calculate your race day nutrition plan, swim in your wetsuit head of time, and plan how to get to the race. Then, you leave transition to whatever happens on race day.

Planning and practicing your transition gains you “free time” on race day. Being quick and efficient in transition can be the difference in winning your age group, placing in the race, or being left off of the podium. By following these tips, you will have a leg up on your competitors that do not plan and practice their transition execution.

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Here are my top tips for quick transitions in triathlon:

1. Know Where You Are in Transition and Find a Landmark

This seems obvious but I see it all the time. Athletes run into transition and can’t find their spot end up running up and down the aisles wasting precious time. When you get to transition race morning, find a landmark or a unique identifier close to your spot. Once you have this landmark, walk the route you will take from the swim into your spot, from your spot to the bike out, from the bike into your spot, and finally from your spot to the run out using this landmark to find your transition spot.

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2. The Simpler, the Better – Bring Only Essential Gear

Set up your transition as simply as possible and bring only the gear you need to compete in the race, not all of your training gear. Having extra gear only clutters up your spot making your transition slower. It could also be a safety hazard for you and other athletes.

  • Wetsuit
  • Swim Cap
  • Goggles
  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Race Nutrition and Hydration
  • Cycling Shoes
  • Running Shoes
  • Hat
  • Race Belt

3. Set Up Your Gear in Order of the Events

Your swimming gear will be the first you use so it does not need a spot in transition. However, when taking it off make sure to place it in the confines of your spot otherwise you could get a penalty.

If you are doing a flying mount, your shoes will be clipped into your pedals. If you are not executing a flying mount out of transition, your cycling shoes should be open at the very front of your mat facing away from you for ease of entry. If you have aero bars, place your helmet straps open upside down on your bars. If you do not have aero bars, place your helmet in the same position, upside down straps open, on top of your cycling shoes.

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Your running gear will be the last gear you use on race day and should be placed in the middle of your mat behind your cycling gear. Similar to your cycling shoes, put your shoes facing towards the rack open for ease of entry. Put your race number on top of your shoes so you do not forget to put it on leaving transition and disqualified.

4. Practice. Practice. Practice.

You can set up transition in a park, in your backyard, next to open water, next to the pool,  and practice exactly how you plan on executing on race day. Practice running out of the water and getting out of your wetsuit or speed suit. Practice quickly putting on your helmet. If you are doing a flying mount, practice running with your bike, executing that maneuver and riding off. If not, practice quickly putting on your cycling shoes quickly and then running with your bike to a line, mounting, and riding off. Practice dismounting your bike and then running it back to your transition spot. Practice getting out of your cycling gear and quickly into your run gear.

Planning and practicing your transition will help you to execute quickly on race day saving you precious time. Relax and go through the motions. You have put on and taken off this gear in training a multitude of times. Now, we are just trying to do it quickly. Remember, smooth is fast.


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Comments 6

  1. Pingback: 4 Triathlon Mistakes That Are Keeping You From Performing at Your Best - CTS

  2. In UK and other races you have to wear your number for the bike so leave it ready to put on then, or wear it under your wetsuit if allowed.

    For a quicker dismount, when you bring your leg over the bike, pass it between your other leg and the frame and dismount with that leg hitting the ground first (cyclocross style), helps maintain more momentum.

    1. Great quick tips. I think a lot of people forget to practice their transition strategy and that can be a major time eater.
      Really liked the video demonstration of an efficient transition to hopping on the bike, hopping off, and heading out for the run.

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