When people consider triathlon, the main obvious focus tends to be on the swim, bike, and run portions of the event. However, there's one other component of triathlon that, if mastered, can make a huge difference in your overall event and performance: transitions.
Here's the brutal truth: when you spend so much time and effort training for such a big event to improve your strength, speed, and endurance, do you really want your overall performance set back - to waste or lose precious seconds/minutes - because you fiddled with your helmet, shoes, or sunglasses too long?? We hope your answer to this question is a resounding "NO."
Transitions are not a place for you to stop and rest or waste/lose time. The clock doesn't stop when you stop. Transitions are a space and place for you move as quickly and efficiently as possible to the next leg of the race.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to transitions:
This is a pretty obvious one, but practice them just like any other component you would practice or train for for your event. Practice in your driveway, at a park, or if you can, at the event location itself. Arrange your gear in different ways to see what works best for you. Practice, practice, practice.
2. Simplify Your Gear
The less stuff you have to deal with, the less potential there is to waste or lose time. For example, minimize clothing changes by wearing a 1-piece tri suit or wearing your bike/run clothing under your wetsuit.
3. Anchor Your Gear
Anchor whatever gear you can to your bike: water bottle, towel, shoes, sunglasses, etc. The easier it is to grab your bike and go, the less time you'll waste. Whatever you can't anchor, try to make sure you can move while getting it put on or in place.
4. Stay Calm
Sometimes when transitioning, your nerves or mind can get the best of you. In those in between moments you can become shaky, jittery, or nervous and drop something or slip, etc. Try to keep your mind and nerves calm during transitions. It'll make for a smoother transition. Ultimately, much of this comes down to how well you do #1, practice.
5. Prepare for the Unexpected
Of course we always hope nothing will go wrong, but just in case it does, try and be as prepared as possible for potential snags, issues, or struggles. Make a list of these and come up with a plan for how you might deal with them ahead of time, so even if you do hit a snag, at least you may not lose as much time as you would have if you didn't prepare for it at all.