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HOW TO TRANSITION IN TRIATHLON

You may have trained for bike, swim and run but there is, of course, a fourth event in triathlon; the transition.

 

What is transition?

 

The transition area in a triathlon is the area for changing from one discipline to another. That may be from swimming to cycling or from cycling to running.

 

Transition 1 (often referred to as “T1”) is where you will store your bike gear when you transition from the swim to the bike. Transition 2 or, (you guessed it!) “T2” is where you store your run gear when you transition from the bike to the run.

 

The transition takes the least amount of time of any triathlon activity, however, getting it wrong can be disastrous. From penalties given to time wasted - a poor approach to transition can have a serious effect. This applies as much to elite level athletes as amateur triathletes.

 

It’s not difficult to see why either. Anyone who has been training for some time knows how uncomfortable and awkward it can be going from one discipline to the next. The mixture of activities, preparations and things to remember at each transition area along with the pressure of time can make it tricky for any seasoned competitor.

 

A swift progression through the transition area though can really boost your time, confidence and mentality as you move from one discipline to another.

 

Like most things Triathlon - preparation is key. To help with this, we’ve put together the handy plan below packed full of tips to make your transition as smooth as possible.

 

 

RACE MORNING

 

Now, to those new to triathlon, it’s worth noting that all triathlon events will have a designated transition area but how that area works, particularly in terms of storing your bike (or “racking”) can vary between events.

 

For example, larger events like Ironman will require you to put your equipment into bags that you collect as you come through both T1 and T2. For smaller and local events it's quite standard to just leave your equipment by your bike.

 

Having said this, when setting up your transition area you should aim to take up a minimal amount of space. Keeping your equipment to an absolute minimum will help you to make a faster transition.

 

As a general rule of thumb, be respectful of other people in the transition area. You may be new to triathlon but leaving your items strewn about like a 14-year-old’s bedroom will not win you any friends. You have been warned!

 

When arriving for your race, you will be given a number. Each of the bike racks within the transition area will be assigned to competitors of a certain number. For example rack one will be for competitors numbered 1 - 10. Rack two will be for competitors numbered 11-20 and so on. Find the correct rack that corresponds to your number. Then:

 

  1. Rack your bike
  2. Place your bag on the ground - remember that your gear must be placed to the immediate right or left of your bicycle tyre touching the ground.
  3. Remove your race belt from your bag.
  4. Take your race belt and number to get body marked and receive your timing chip.
  5. Use a standard sized bath towel folded over on the ground to mark where your equipment is in the transition area.
  6. Check out the approach to the transition area - not only will this help you get your bearings as you’re coming out of the water but it will also help you notice any other problems to be aware of.
  7. Make a mental note of any landmarks. Things like banners, buildings or other signage are all useful. This will help you to orientate yourself and find your gear quicker while in the transition area.

 

With all the above in place, you can pick up your goggles and cap safe in the knowledge you’re as prepared as possible.

 

 

TIPS FOR TRIATHLON TRANSITION ONE (T1): SWIM TO BIKE

T1 begins as soon as you cross the timing mat after finishing the swim leg of your race. Here are a selection of tips to make this as easy as possible:

 

  1. Exit the water swiftly and begin taking off your cap and goggles.
  2. Once you reach your bike, quickly put on your gear and get ready to walk your bike out of the transition area.
  3. All athletes must walk their bikes to a designated mount line before they are able to get on their bike.
  4. Use a small amount of baby oil on your legs and arms to make it easier to remove your wetsuit. Apply it using a bag to avoid having greasy hands during the swim section.
  5. Helmets must be worn and strapped on before starting the cycling phase. To help with this instead of placing your helmet on the floor, consider placing it on the handlebars
  6. Hanging your helmet from one of the straps means it can quickly be grabbed from waist height.

 

If you’re opting for this approach - consider which side would be optimum for hanging your helmet on. Elite triathletes tend to prefer placing their helmet on the same side that they’ll be standing on in order to avoid leaning over the bike. A small point, but an important one should your helmet (for whatever reason) end up being knocked to the ground.

 

You should also consider using elasticated laces. This prevents your shoes scraping, bouncing or even getting caught upside-down on the floor. The real bonus of using elastics is that it holds the shoes in place ready for you to place your feet straight in!

 

The most popular method for attaching your shoes is to loop an elastic from the right shoe to the front mech and the left shoe to the rear quick-release or vice versa. If this approach doesn’t suit you consider attaching it to anything solid or strong on the bike

 

Lastly, make your life and race easier by considering the gear you leave your bike in at the transition area. Generally, you will want an easy gear to start with in order to build your momentum up effectively. Leaving your bike in the wrong gear can make the bike mount more difficult - the last thing you need when transitioning from swim to bike.

 

Whatever your methods the key thing is practice, practice practice. The more often you do it the quicker it will become second nature on race day.

 

 

TIPS FOR TRIATHLON TRANSITION TWO (T2): BIKE TO RUN

Much like T1, T2 begins as soon as you cross the timing mat after finishing the cycling leg of your race. Tips for a quick T2 transition include:

 

 

  1. Before you reach the Transition 2 area, switch to an easier gear to prepare your legs for the final hurdle - the run.
  2. Learn to do a flying dismount to save the most time, but don’t attempt this unless you are fully comfortable.
  3. Return to your spot on the rack, placing your bike there and your gear on your towel.
  4. Do not remove your helmet until your bike is racked. You can receive penalties and even be disqualified if your helmet is not clipped at all times while on your bike.

 

Now you’re ready to quickly prepare for the run and tear off. While putting on the items you will need for the running section of the race be aware of the other athletes that are moving through transition with you.

 

Coming into the second transition you will already be wearing the more complicated kit, so it’s just a case of removing that, swapping it out for your running kit and topping up those energy levels with some nutritional foods.

 

Many triathletes will keep their running shoes beside their bike for the quickest possible change, but be mindful that they’re not in the path of any other competitors - or your bike when it needs to be racked.

 

 

WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A TRIATHLON TRANSITION?

 

You’ve got your triathlon bike, clothing, wetsuit, and running shoes but are you prepped for transition?

 

As the UK’s largest triathlon retailer, our products are designed with you in mind. We’ve got a number of products designed specifically for transitioning which includes:

  • Number belt: Whether you're cycling or running in a triathlon, generally you require a number on your back or front. Rather than fussing with swapping it you can save time by simply swivelling the belt around your body when in transition two.
  • 2XU Transition Bag: Keep all your kit safe and secure using our transition bag. It’s lightweight to carry, easy to transport and has a compartment to separate wet items.

 

While these items will go a long way in helping speed up your time in the transition area, all of our triathlon products are designed to maximise efficiency. The great thing about TRI UK is we’re passionate about triathlon and our experienced team is more than happy to advise and assist you in choosing the right products for you.

 

Are you looking to improve your triathlon performance? Contact our friendly team today or pop to one of our stores in Yeovil or Shirebrook!