PRE-RACE, PRACTICING TRANSITION & TRANSITION SETUP
- Practice ahead of time - We have included multiple sessions specifically for you to practice the swim-bike and bike-run transitions. It’s vital to go through the motions of each transition before you do it in a race. That way you know what to expect and can switch into autopilot while your heart is pounding and the adrenaline is pumping.
- Work on the layout of your transition area. Think chronologically. Put all of your bike gear in front of your run gear since you will be heading out on the bike before you run. That way you’re not moving your running shoes around trying to get your bike shoes or helmet during the race.
Keep your transition area clean. Only lay out the items you absolutely need so you don’t have to go searching for your sunglasses or running shoes in a pile of equipment. Bring a bag to put any extra gear that you won’t
need so it can be stashed out of the way.
- Recon, visualize and practice your race transition on site. Walk through the transition area the way you will run through it during the race. There will be different entry and exit locations for T1 and T2, so make sure you know which is which. Figure out some landmarks like rack numbers or sides of the transition zone so you can orient yourself when you run into the transition area and know where to go to find your stuff. You can also invest in a bright or unique towel that stands out so your area is easier to find.
DURING THE RACE
- Stay calm. Running around frantically isn’t fast. Slow down and think about what you’re doing and where you need to be going. Think about smooth movements when taking off your wetsuit or putting on your shoes. There is a reason the Navy SEALS say “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.”
- Take one last glance around your area before heading out. You don’t want to forget your sunglasses or an important gel for the bike or the run. An easy way to avoid the sunglasses issue is to stash them in your helmet while setting up your transition area.
- Laugh at yourself if you make a mistake. If you drop your sunglasses or struggle to put your shoes on, getting upset won’t solve the problem any faster. If you want to get the most out of yourself you have to enjoy what you are doing!
SWIM-BIKE TRANSITION (T1)
If you’re racing in a wetsuit then you should do at least four swim training sessions in your wetsuit so that you can practice taking it off during a swim to bike transition practice session...it’s a lot harder than you might think!
On days when you have a bike workout right after swimming, try to have your bike set up nearby and go through the transition as if you were racing. If you can’t, just practice the first few steps and practice the bike mount later.
- Set up your bike shoes, helmet, glasses and towel as you would in T1. After exiting the water, remove your wetsuit as quickly (and calmly) as you can.
- Next wipe off your feet with your towel so they are dry. This will make putting your socks on easier, or if you don’t use socks it will make getting your feet into your shoes easier. Another trick is to sprinkle baby powder inside your shoes to absorb any moisture that does remain on your feet and helps to prevent blisters.
- Next put on your helmet, buckle it and put on your sunglasses. At this point you would grab your bike and walk out of (an imaginary) T1 before mounting. When possible, it is good to practice mounting your bike like you would when coming out of T1. The more comfortable you get mounting your bike in cycling shoes (or with shoes already attached to your pedals), the more confident and relaxed you will be on race day.
Note: Most people lose time in transition because they are stressed and try to rush the process. Focus on remaining calm and relaxed when practicing your transitions, and come race day you will be less likely to panic and make mistakes.
BIKE-RUN TRANSITION (T2)
The bike to run transition is generally easier for people, but that does not mean you shouldn’t practice.
On days that you have cycling and running workouts on the same day; try to do them back to back in order to practice this transition. If timing does not allow for this, it’s ok to do them separately; simply practice the transition immediately after finishing your bike workout.
- Since you have to walk your bike through T2, you should consider leaving your shoes clipped into your pedals and walking barefoot through T2 since many cycling cleats are very hard to walk in. Taking your feet out of your shoes while riding takes a fair bit of practice to do smoothly, so do this frequently! To do so, stop pedaling and while you coast, reach down, open your shoe, grab the heel of the shoe and pull your foot out of it. Place your foot on top of the shoe, then take a few pedal strokes to build up some momentum again and repeat on the other side.
- Once you are off the bike, you have to remember to put your bike, helmet and any other accessories you aren’t taking with you on the run in your specific transition spot. (For practice, you can simply mark a spot against the wall as your transition area and practice leaning your bike up, removing your helmet and putting it neatly next to your bike)
- Practice getting your running shoes on as quickly as possible. The fastest way is to balance on one foot while changing the other shoe, but this is difficult when you’re fatigued. If you cannot balance well, then you can sit down to do it. Try both and see what you’re most comfortable with, then practice, practice, practice!