Monday, June 4, 2012


I had a few requests to blog about making faster transitions in races, so I put together a list of my tips that I've put into practice over the past couple years.  Your mileage may vary and I'll say it's taken me a couple years of introducing different things to get to this point (aka I did not start out sock less, with my shoes clipped into my bike).  It will all take practice so DO take the time every so often, and especially before a race, to practice transitions!  Set everything up in your driveway and just practice over and over getting on and off the bike and into your run gear.


  • I walk through transition, find the swim-in, bike-out, bike-in, and run-out, visualize going from one thing to the other.  Identify any problem areas and figure out before the race how to handle them.  Look for landmarks that will make it easier to find my transition spot, if necessary count the racks ("5th rack on the right") so I can find it while oxygen-deprived coming in from the swim.
  • If I get to choose my own transition spot, I select based on what will give me an easier time running through transition...if I will be running out wearing bike shoes, I grab the closest spot to bike-out to minimize that time spent running on cleats (I always dismount without my shoes now so no need to worry on the return trip).  If I will be running out with my shoes clipped into the bike, I get the closest spot to swim-in.  
  • Lay out everything in the order I need it and bundle items to minimize the amount of time spent gathering individual items. 
  • I lube the heck out of my lower legs so that my wetsuit will slide off faster.  I also tuck my timing chip up under my wetsuit so that it doesn't get caught when I'm trying to pry it off.
Swim Out through T1: 

  • As soon as I am upright and out of the water, I grab the cord and unzip my wetsuit.  I try to get the upper body out of the wetsuit as I trot into transition.  
  • As soon as I get to the rack, I remove the rest of wetsuit (I don't bother with laying out a towel anymore for my feet since I don't use socks anymore).  Yank it down my legs and then step on one leg at a time to get my foot out.  
  • Then I pull my cap/goggles off my head (I don't want to have them in my hand running up the ramp as that will get in the way of removing my wetsuit top half).  
  • My helmet has been left resting on my handlebars, upside down and with the straps hanging out, and my sunglasses open and inside helmet.  
  • Once the wetsuit is off, it's sunglasses on, helmet on and strapped, grab bike and run.  If you practice this, you can get through it really fast.
  • If my bike shoes are attached to bike, they have rubber bands through the heel loops and attached to the rear skewer to keep them in position and they are left velcroed open to make it easy to get feet in.
  •  Exit T1, mount bike, slip one foot inside shoe and start pedaling, work other foot into shoe when I can. 

Bike-In through T2: 

  • When I am close to the end of the ride, I undo my shoes and start to make sure my feet can slide out, work them out to be on top of my shoes.  
  • Dismount and run into transition barefoot.  
  • Throw bike on rack, remove helmet and toss aside.  
  • Pull racing flats onto feet (racing flats will be pre-lubed with Trislide and waiting to go on top of my run "pile")
  • Grab the rest of my run pile that is sitting bundled underneath (race belt, gels/salt tabs, water bottle, visor) and start running out of transition.  NO dicking around putting these things on or in my pockets in transition, I can do them on the run.
  • I will put my race belt on, then visor, then shove gels into pockets or clothes as needed but the goal is to get out of transition fast and take care of that stuff on the run.  

  • Clean up the mess of all my gear spread everywhere! :-)
  • Log all of my post-race comments, including about how transitions went, into TrainingPeaks so that I can review them and make changes as needed before the next race!

What are your favorite tips for fast transitions?


Stef0115 said...

Love this THANK YOU!

Fat for a Triathlete said...

People just need to practice!!!
And in small steps too.

Get out in a quiet parking lot, and just do the mount/dismount OVER and OVER and OVER.
Run a lap, transition, ride a lap, transition.
Eventually it will become second nature!

San said...

Okay, now I know what to do, when I do my first tri next year. Thanks.

By the way, the big news is out. I've got a new job. THE job.

Have a great week.

Living The Tri Life said...

Baby powder in your cycling shoes -
powder is a desicant and will sift off any dirt from your feet to the sides of the shoes.

I use a towel still (a bright one)- not to step on but to help me quickly find my spot when coming in off the bike. Mine happens to be a pink Hello Kitty towel!

I do wear socks for the run only - and put some baby powder in each and roll them down and put one gently in each shoe. I use the same pair at every race so I know they go on easily.

Make sure your bike is in the right gear with the cranks at 3 and 9 - making sure that the one you put your foot on first is forward.

If you want to learn to mount and dismount with your shoes on the bike do it for every single ride you do in training so it becomes natural.

I pull my foot up and over the top tube on the dismount so my lead leg is in front - easier to run off.

I actually yank off my cap and goggles after I've pulled my wetsuit or skinsuit to my waist - do more in motion.

I lay a line of baby powder at the end of the rack that my bike is on so I can see it easily in that O2 deprived brain that Molly mentioned!

While I am running your bike into transition I unbuckle my helmet (it must be buckled while you are on your bike but once your feet are on the ground you are good. Another thing you can do while you're moving.

And even though I've done it hundreds of times I put my number belt and cap UNDER my running shoes so I will put the shoes on first and grab the other things to put on as I run out.

Wish we could find a race to do!! Go Team Aquaphor!!!

GoBigGreen said...

Remember, and i have seen this at races mostly locally, that if you spread your mess into someone else's space, or you rack in their space its a penalty. So as much as you want to drop and run, make sure you keep to your space!
Yes practice does make perfect as does not overthinking the T's. One race i left my glasses in T2 and i paused to go back and i just "kept moving." I was fine, despite not having my glasses for a 10k it was still early and i was fine for 40+ minutes!
Good tips LMM!

Molly said...

Yes! When I say throw I'm not being totally literal. I drop stuff quickly but all within my own space :)

Molly said...

Lots of good tips!! The beauty of living somewhere not humid is all the dirt falls off in the bike shoes as our feet dry so they are clean for the run!

Elayne said...

Most important thing no matter the routine is to stay calm. So many people lose time by rushing and dropping things, fighting their wetsuit, getting their bike stuck on the rack, etc. Nice smooth, calm motions are the most efficient and help the heart rate come down.

Kim said...

Great tips! Im def having trouble remembering to unsnap my garmin from off my bike and onto my removing it before transition i think is key! Also i wear my race belt on my bike to avoid having to get it on while running out on the run.

Anonymous said...

If I'm going to Rick those sprints I'm going to have to practice this. I can't ride and run without socks, however, which will always be a handicap. Nice tips. Good point about the swim cap and goggles. My first instinct is always to get them off but they do then get in the way.

Mary M said...

For any one new out there, you don't need to wait to start reaping the benefits of these ideas. Last weekend I was able to get 1 foot out of my shoe before dismounting. That saved time in that I was more sure footed with one shoe and one sock than I would have been in both shoes.

Tea said...

Take a rubber band, connect it to the back of your cycling shoe and loop it onto the skewer.

this holds your cycling shoes in place as you head out onto the bike. No chasing spinning pedals.

when you jump on your shoes and start pedaling, the rubber band breaks off.

I also put bodyglide into back of running shoes and cycling shoes to allow my foot to slip in super fast.

If you ride/run with socks, roll them up. It is faster to roll socks onto your feet than to pull them onto wet feet.