When Seconds Count

Top triathletes know that a race can be won or lost in the important transition between water and bike, bike and run.

Like a bad pit stop in auto racing, precious seconds can expire due to a lack of preparation and precision. To make transitions smooth, follow these five simple pointers:

  1. Keep it simple
    The first mistake I see most athletes make is that that they bring too much equipment to transition. An unorganized, cluttered transition will lead to extra time and mistakes. Each athlete will only have space for his or her bike and an area the size of a smaller towel. The fewer tasks you have to do in the transition area, the faster you will go. Keep things as simple as possible with the least amount of gear
  2. Create, practice and visualize your plan
    Have a plan of the exact steps you will take during T1 and T2. Then practice it until you are efficient and fast, with no mistakes. Practice it physically several times in training and then rehearse it mentally before and on race morning. By the time you are in transition on race day, you should be moving on autopilot.
  3. Know where you are going
    Nothing can frustrate an athlete faster than to get lost in transition. In every triathlon, you will see athletes running around looking for their bike locations. Note the rack and your exact spot in transition and how to find it from the swim exit and bike entrance. It is a good idea to count the racks from each entrance to your rack. From your rack, know where the bike and run exits are — and the quickest route to them.
  4. Be familiar with the mount and dismount line
    In every triathlon, there will be a line just outside of transition where an athlete can mount his or her bike going into the bike leg and then dismount before the same line coming back into transition. It is a penalty if an athlete does not do this, so make sure you know where this line is before the race starts.
  5. Pre-handle the little things
    Take care of every thing you can before the race. All items for the bike discipline should be attached to the bike. Tape gels to the frame and have water bottles in the carriers. Your race number should be on your race belt for the run and running shoes should have speed laces so you don’t spend time tying your shoes.

    Remember to plan and practice your transition before you show up on race day. Don’t try anything new on race day and when you keep it simple and efficient it will make race day faster and a better experience.

Transition Checklist:

Swim: Towel, timing chip, body glide, wetsuit, goggles (with spare), swim cap
Bike: Bike, bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, race numbers, nutrition
Run: Shoes with speed laces, number belt, visor/hat, nutrition

By Matt Zepeda, Zoom Performance head coach
USAT level 1 certified coach | USAC level 3 certified Coach

Zoom Performance is a professional endurance coaching company working with athletes from beginner triathletes to Ironman World Championship qualifiers. Certified coaches provide customized programs along with metabolic testing, bike fit, one-on-one analysis, clinics, and sports nutrition programs to allow athletes to take it to the next level.

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Race Updates

    Water Temperature: 76 F / 24 C
    152 days and 16 hours ago

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