Spring signals the arrival of three things: warm weather, the Easter bunny, and triathlon season. And as such, we’ve already seen several TFE athletes dawning swimskin, lacing up the Nikes, and dialing in that aero position in hopes of fast times this race season. There is so much that goes in to racing- and April is usually the first month where we get to dust off the cobwebs of Winter and see the results of all of that off-season training. As athletes, we spend months dialing in our FTP on the bike, refining our swim technique in the pool, and hammering out tempo runs on the street. Yet many times triathletes neglect one very important element of our race: the transition.
There is the one place during a triathlon where everyone is equal - the transition. A speedy transition doesn’t require any great amount of talent or skill. It doesn’t demand hours of training and the most cutting edge gear. It’s the one time where the ordinary back of the back age-group athlete can be just as fast as the the seasoned pro or elite level athlete. And it's apparent in every triathlon you’ll see.
In fact, I remember witnessing this last year while coaching a few clients and friends at a 70.3 race in Florida last year. As I cheered each of them on, I also watched other athletes as they entered and exited transition, some fluidly and some not so much. In one instance, I was surprised to see an Ironman All-World Athlete (someone who is ranked in the top 5% of Ironman age-group athletes) running up from the swim in a complete panic. First, she couldn’t find her bike, and when she finally did, she struggled to get her wetsuit off, sitting on the ground tugging at her ankles as she muttered the occasional curse word. After a minute or so she finally won the battle with the wetsuit and hastily grabbed her helmet, put it on and fastened it...backwards! Then, she struggled to put on her socks, then finally her shoes, and rushed out of transition. I was taken aback by what a challenge the transition was for her. This was a very good athlete- super fit, very fast, obviously very accomplished- but her transition was a disaster.
While the transition only accounts for a fraction of the overall time of the race, those minutes do add up- especially if you’re on track for a PR or podium finish. But more importantly, frantic, disorganized transitions can create stress, elevating the heart rate, and ratting the nerves when an athlete needs to remain calm and stay in control. So, how do you succeed at the shortest part of a triathlon?
Check out these 7 steps for a faster transition:
The transition is the easiest and shortest part of the race. Using these 7 steps, you’ll have a fast, fluid transition and save valuable time as you race toward a PR, a podium spot, or just feeling like a pro.