Most triathletes spend the majority of their time training on the three disciplines for triathlon and negate putting enough time into the mechanics of the transition period. Granted the transition period is a small part of the race when looking at longer distance races, but when competing in short distance races those extra seconds in transition period can be the difference between finishing a place or two ahead or a place or two behind.
The trick is to minimise the time spent in the transition zone, whilst limiting any negative effects on your performance. What we mean is, if rushing through the transition zone is going to mean your going to forget energy gels, water bottle or hats, that will have a negative effect on performance, then maybe we need to spend a couple of seconds extra to make sure we have all of our essential items. Here are our top five tips to improving your transition times.
1) Know the Transition Layout
We all know what it’s like when we turn up to a Triathlon event - We have some friends, family or even supporters there, the adrenaline is rushing through us and usually we are rushing around trying to get our bike and kit set up perfectly in the transition zone. With all of these distractions its hard to really have time to focus on the layout and positioning of the transition zone. It is key to understand where you are positioned in the transition zone, where you enter from the swim, where you leave for the cycle, where you enter for the cycle and finally where you leave for the run. If you have this covered, then trust me you will shave time of your transitions.
2) Have Everything Laid Out in Order.
One of the easiest and most useful tips we can give, is to have everything laid out in the transition area. This will make it easier when coming in from the swim and subsequently from the cycle. Make sure you have everything you need for the cycle in a pile at the front, so when you come in for the swim you can quickly put your helmet on, take your energy gels if needed and any other accessories like sunglasses etc. Make sure you don’t throw your swim cap and goggles just anywhere, make sure they are placed out the way of your running equipment to avoid confusion when coming in from the cycle. A tidy transition area is a GOOD transition area. One way to help stay organised and to avoid forgetting items for the cycle or run is to get a Triathlon Box, which can be used to seperate items. (Take a look onhttps://www.triathlonbox.co.uk)
3. Try Locklaces for your running shoes
One thing that can add on quite a bit of time is tying the laces after putting on your trainers. Some people just slip on their running shoes but if like me you prefer the shoe to be quite tight on the foot to avoid getting blisters, I would recommend looking into Locklaces (www.locklaces.com). Not only do they make transitions more effective they are pretty cool and come in a range of colours.
4. Draft in the Swim
Yes I know what your thinking - How is this improving my transition time? Well studies show that competitors post swim can get impaired balance, dizziness or blurred vision because of gravitational stress and the removal of the muscle pump. In fact, one study showed that severe dizziness after swimming when exiting the water and standing up for the transition section is a common occurrence for many triathletes, but it is more prevalent in highly trained endurance athletes. If you can improve swim performance by reducing passive drag, thus decreasing the effort to swim the same distance then this can help with exiting the water and feeling less dizzy. Overall this will play a crucial role in speeding up your transition time. Drafting also improves stroke economy and efficiency, therefore potentially improving the subsequent cycling performance. To take maximal advantage of drafting, swim behind another triathlete at a distance up to 1.5 feet (.5 m) back from the toes is the most advantageous.
5. Leave your shoes in the pedals and use rubber bands
All of the elite athletes nowadays leave their shoes in the pedals for the first transition. After they exit the swim, they put on their helmets, grab the bike and run out of the transition area.
In order to keep the shoes from rotating and jamming into the ground, they use thin rubber bands to hold the shoes and the crank arms parallel to the ground. They attach one end of the rubber band around the shoe or through the heel loop of the shoe, and the other end to a rear stay on the side of the bike. This method can be extremely effective in reducing time in the transition zone as the time doing up your shoes is on the bike when you are moving. The thin rubber bands will easily break away when you mount the bike and begin pedalling with your feet on top of your shoes. When dismounting the bike as well - you can unstrap yourself and keep your shoes in the clips on the bike.
Still not sure how to do this then check out this video below.
We hope these tips help, and if you have any points that could reduce transition time then let us know below. Please feel free to share!!