Many people take transition for granted, spending wasted time refueling or resting when in reality, the quicker you can get through transition, the better finish time you’ll have. Period. Many people train harder to run or bike faster when for no extra effort you could cut two minutes off your finish time simply by getting through transition quicker. That’s like cutting 10 seconds off your average run pace for a half marathon – 20 off a 10k! Just as you practice and train to swim, bike and run, you need to practice your transitions too!

The week leading up to the race I start writing down every piece of gear I will need during race day – see my gear checklist here.

Next, write down what you need for each stage of the triathlon. Then practice visualizing each step, from coming out of the water and taking off your cap and goggles, to pressing the lap button on your Garmin. Come race morning you’ll be able to set up your transition area according to how you’ve been practicing your visualization. This makes everything second nature during the race and you won’t be second guessing whether you have everything for the next stage or not. One last visualization practice after everything is set up will ensure you’re good to go and not missing anything.

Example of my Race Day Transition / Visualization List

  • Getting Ready for Swim
    Put on wetsuit, swim cap, goggles on head, Garmin, apply Aquaphor
    Start of Swim
    Put on goggles, press start button on Garmin at horn
    Out of Water
    Take off goggles, cap, unzip wetsuit and pull down to waist, push lap button on Garmin, run to swim-in entrance
    Step on towel, pull down wet suit, sit on stool, finish pulling off wet suit, put on socks, bike shoes, stand up and put on helmet which is upside down in aero bars, put on and zip up vest also on bike, grab bike out of rack, run toward bike-out, mount bike, push lap button on Garmin
    Dismount bike, press lap button on Garmin, run to transition area, put bike away, take off helmet, place on aero bars, take off vest, sit on stool, take of bike shoes, put on running shoes (with speed laces), take electrolytes and/or Excedrin with Gatorade, put on hat and glasses, grab fuel belt and put on while running out, press lap button on Garmin at run-out exit

You’ll want to make sure your bike is in the correct gear ready to go with fuel and hydration as well as your fuel belt for your run if utilizing one.

From my own personal experience, having a good, quick transition can mean coming in under your goal time, getting on the podium or just beating a friend by a few minutes. You’ve been training and practicing your swim, bike and run for weeks – don’t waste it on extra time spent in the transition area. Practice that too!