6 Tips to Faster Transitions

People say there are four disciplines to triathlon, the swim, bike, run, and nutrition but if you really break it down there are WAY more than that; swim, bike, run, nutrition, strength, recovery, and transitions. We are not going to talk about all of those today, we are going to talk about the one that people often let go by the wayside and not think about all that much, transitions. Because transitions are so short it is easy to forget about them, but there are two of them and a smooth transition can help prevent an unnecessary heart rate spike, stress, and is FREE speed in a triathlon, who doesn’t like Free speed?!?!

Here are some tips to help make those transitions a little bit smoother.

Before I get into my tips I want to highlight a couple of items that do make transitions smoother because they make things such as putting on your shoes easier, and taking off your wet suit smoother.
Non-Tie Laces: This is an easy way to save time in T2 because you can just slip your shoes on quickly and not have to waste time trying to keep your hands from shaking long enough to tie your shoes.
Tri-Glide/Body Glide: Body glide is a form of Vaseline type film that you want to put on your neck, armpits, ankles, wrists, etc to make it easier to take your wet suit off. When it gets wet it becomes slippery which when taking your wet suit off helps it slide right off.
Race Belt: This way you can pin your number to it the night before and all you have to do in T2 is grab your belt, clip it on and run away.


It is really easy to want to bring the whole house and the kitchen sink with you to a triathlon, just in case… but the more “stuff” you have sitting around you in transition the more chaotic it will seem especially when all you are doing is looking for your glasses and can’t find them because they are tucked into that third pair of socks you threw in "just in case”. Keep it simple, and keep it minimal bringing only what you need.
Here is what each transition should include at a minimum:


You do not need a whole bunch of crazy stuff in your transition area, it will just muddle it up and make it harder to find when you are stressed out. Think minimalist vs. overly prepared.

With this gear you then want to have it set out in the order that you will use it, now some of the Ironman branded races use bags and that is a different set up, but most local and smaller Ironman branded races have you set up your transition under your bike. Think about your order when you are setting up, first you are going to come into T1 from the swim to your bike so your bike gear (shoes, socks, sunglasses) should be at the front followed by your run gear.

It isn’t always easy to totally practice your transitions for a whole host of reasons, such as maybe you live in the pacific northwest and it is freezing cold outside and don’t have a treadmill to run on immediately after your bike. Or open water is not easy for you to get to and don’t get to do them very often. The thing is when it comes to practicing your transition does not mean you have to complete an entire bike or run after you change, even just spending the time getting off your bike hustling to get your shoes off, running shoes on, race belt buckled and nutrition grabbed is just as effective. Set yourself a timer and try to get faster each time that you do it, that is practice enough.

If physically practicing is not something you can do at least plan it out in your head or even on paper, write down how you will attack transition so that you have it in your head.

When you go rack your bike the night before walk through transition, make sure that you know where the bike out, bike in, and run out areas are. Find a landmark you can remember that signifies where your bike is located so that you can easily find it in the mess of T1 and T2.

There is nothing worse than hoping onto your bike and it being in a gear that you can barely turn over or in such a small gear that you feel like you are going to fly off your bike. Similar to when you walk through transition the night before take a look at the profile or the bike mounting run out area, is it slightly uphill, totally flat, or maybe even slight down hill and then put your bike into the gear that best fits this profile so that you can easily get out of harms way when leaving transition.


Transitions are not tough and they can really set the tone for a strong next discipline. The number one key to transitions is to not panic in them, there is a lot of noise in a transition area and it is easy to get caught up in the crazy. If you find yourself becoming stressed in transition take a step back, slow down, take a deep breath and focus on the task at hand remembering why it is that you are doing this and relish in the atmosphere that you are in.

Whether your A-race is still to come, or maybe it is in a couple of weeks its not to late to make a couple of changes to your transitions so that during your next race you can fly through them like a PRO!!! Who knows maybe it’ll help you shave off enough time that you’ll get your Personal Best time!!