Seven Tips for Efficient Transitions
Whether the Hy-Vee Triathlon is your first race or your twenty-fifth, every triathlete knows that sprinting into the transition area can be one of most hectic and stressful situations in a race. The last thing any athlete wants is all their training to be for not by having excessively long transitions. Being able to properly organize and execute your transition will ensure that you will be efficient and stress-free when you start the next discipline of the triathlon.
Practice Transitions During Training
You have put in many hours swimming, biking, and running leading up to the triathlon; why wouldn’t you spend the time practicing what you do in between? “Nothing new on race-day” is a common phrase among coaches, and this goes for transitions as well. Incorporate transitions into your brick workouts by setting up your first transition area (T1) during your swim-to-bike bricks and your second transition area (T2) during your bike-to-run bricks. Adding in transitions will provide specificity of a high-stress situation, help you to memorize movement patterns, and also help you to organize what and where to put your equipment.
Find Visual Cues
In a big race such as the Hy-Vee Triathlon, finding your bike among hundreds that look just like it would be near impossible. To make finding your transition easier, find a visual cue the day before or the morning of your race. Walk to your transition and then look around to find a large stationary object to sight off. This can be a flag, tent, sign, or anything that will be there when you’re running in from the swim or coming in from the bike. After finding this large visual cue, it will be much easier for you to narrow down which row your transition is in. Also, take the time to walk from each of the transition entrances and exits so that you know the easiest paths to take when coming in or going out.
Stack Your Equipment
Organizing your equipment in transition based on when you will put them on, take them off, or use them can save you time and remove some of the guessing often associated with transitions. For instance, in T1 place your glasses inside your helmet, this requires that you put your glasses on first and your helmet straps over top. Organizing your helmet this way will make starting T2 quicker since now you won’t have to take your glasses off to take off your helmet. In T2, consider stacking your shoes on top of your race belt and your hat or visor. Stacking your equipment this way allows you to put on your running shoes at your space and then your belt and hat while running out of transition.
When going from swim to bike or bike to run, you can save valuable time by doing multiple things at once. For instance, while you’re running from the swim to the bike, make sure that you already have your wetsuit pulled down to your waist by the time you get to your transition; this will allow you to begin putting on your sunglasses and helmet while kicking off your wetsuit. Putting on additional accessories such as a race belt, hat, or fuel belt while running out of transition is also a great way to save time.
Put Your Shoes in Your Pedals
Already having your shoes connected to your bike will save lots of time in transition by not having to put on your shoes while standing in transition. You can do this by using thin rubber bands to connect your right shoe at 3 o’clock to your front derailleur and your left shoe at 9 o’clock to your rear skewer. When you mount your bike, begin pedaling with your feet on top of your shoes, take the time to get up to speed and then coast while putting each foot into their respective shoes.
Use a Flying Mount and Dismount
A flying mount and dismount on the bike can save multiple seconds over coming to a complete stop to get on or off your bike. A flying mount is the more challenging of the two, but involves running past the mount line while jumping onto your saddle, landing most of your weight on your inside thigh and then sliding into a comfortable position. A flying dismount, while slightly easier, will still take skill and practice. This requires that you begin taking your feet out of your shoes before coming into the dismount line and then swinging your right leg behind the bike and bringing it forward next to your left foot still on the pedal. When you get to the dismount line, drop your right foot down and begin running with your bike. Both of these techniques are advanced and should be practiced during your bike workouts well in advance of your race.
Use Elastic Laces and Go Sockless
A cheap and easy way to save time on T2 is to use elastic laces and go without wearing socks. Elastic laces can be found at almost any running store and will allow you to slip your foot in and out of your shoe without having to tie the laces. Going sockless will also save time in T2, but isn’t recommended if you have not practiced going sockless in training, as it may cause severe blisters. Consider rubbing a anti-chafing cream in the opening of the shoe to help your foot slide in better, as well as in the toe box and any other areas of the shoes known to give you blisters or hot spots.