Transitioning in triathlons is said to be crazy chaotic. Everyone is in a hurry to outdo one another and it could only end up in two ways – they do successfully transition fast and get ahead of the others or they get lost trying to cram their way and end up falling behind even farther.
Because of all the hurdles usually seen during triathlon transition, some call it a Chinese fire drill where participants get frantic and tempers are thrown everywhere. Very seldom can you see a totally relaxed participant not caring about how the others are doing and just going about his own way.
This is the part that beginners fear and experience ones dread. It is the part where everyone’s temper is put to a test. The fear is real and your anxiety will only make it worse. There are an awful lot of advices to achieve a better transition but there is no real magic formula that you can learn overnight. Truth be said, time and experience hones the talent called efficient and effortless triathlon transition.
Of course you can just join many triathlon events and get the practice along the way… However, it does not mean that you would have to wait long years to be able to be better at the transition phase. To help you become more competitive and ready for your triathlon experience, here are some helpful tips to better transition in a triathlon:
Like everything, you have to train the transitions! Place everything like you would during a real triathlon and pretend you come out of the water and you have to jump on your bike. Practice the transition from swimming to cycling over and over again until you can dream about it. The same counts for the transition from cycling to running although that one is easier.
The main goal here would be to transition as swiftly as possible. Be on an autopilot mode if you must and strictly follow your plan. Being adventurous and trying new things is bold and beautiful but not on triathlons. Have a plan and practice it over and over until have you have mastered it.
Practice to run with your bike
This is highly suggested because it not only builds the stamina but prepares you for what lies ahead. Most distances from track to the mount are considerable especially at large triathlon events. If you are used to running with the bike, then it would definitely be easier regardless of the distance.
Practice by running with a good upright posture on the left side of the bike while holding the seat with your right hand. Keep doing this over and over in an empty space like a parking lot and you will soon get the hang of it.
Put your biking shoes in the pedals
This is tricky for beginners but works wonders for experienced triathletes. What some do is attach the bike shoes into the pedals and cruise down at 15 mph so you can easily slip your feet into them without stopping down or taking your eyes off the road.
As we have said, this is tricky and must be practiced indoors first. Do not make the mistake of going out on an open road for the first time you are going to try this. Learn the skill, practice it an awful lot, and then try it out on vacant streets with your trainer or anyone else to assist you.
Learn how to cyclocross mount / dismount
This is where triathletes somehow lose momentum. The trick here is how to do a cyclo-cross mount and dismount smoothly and efficiently. At the proper race event, this will be done on bare feet. Experts suggest tying the cycling shoes to the pedal.
The first thing to practice is the dismounting part which is said to be easier. Your goal should be to get out of the bike in the fastest and smoothest way possible while maintaining your momentum.
Get to know the dismount line. About 500 meters from the dismount line, start getting out of your cycling shoes and simply put your feet on top of the shoe (this is why we love attaching the cycling shoes into the pedal).
Have a minimalist mind
Bring only the things that you need and let go of the rest. First, you need socks to protect your feet from miles of running. Some skip this part thinking that it will make them faster during the transition only to end up being slowed down by bruises and cuts on the feet. Remember that no matter how expensive and how good your running shoes are, the marathon distance of running can take its toll so do not risk it.
Put on those socks but get rid of the shoelaces. Get some of those elastic ones that eliminate the need to tie them up. Through that way, you can definitely save more time and can already be running while all the others are still tying up their shoelaces.
Choose an outfit suited for all three sports
The most ideal triathlon outfit is a one-piece tri-suit. Any other clothing changes will only take more of your precious time. From swimming to cycling, it would be better to have a colorful and unique towel ready for drying up a bit and to serve as a marker as well.
During some triathlons you have to wear a wetsuit because of the temperature of the water. The transition from wetsuit to triathlon shorts will take longer and you will have to practice this transition a lot as well.
Attach the cycling stuff you need to the bicycle
Refrain from bringing anything that you need only for cycling. It would be best to attach those to the bicycle. This should include water bottles, sunglasses, spare tube, and a gas patron because you simply never know when your tire might act up or worse, give up.
Do not underestimate the power of navigation
There is a reason why professional triathletes love GPS watches. They are waterproof, give simple information, and can accurately track your performance wherever you are. Now this is extremely helpful especially if yours has a customization option.
During the triathlon you can use the information so you follow your plan. There is nothing worse than to start too fast and not being able to maintain the pace or even worse, to finish the triathlon! Train with your GPS watch so you know how to use the information and what to expect.
Always grab and go
Have a small belt bag that can fit everything you need – triathlon water bottles, energy bars, sunglasses, and whatever else you need for the span of the race. The rule here is to grab the bag and go. Don’t lose extra time in the transition area. As you go, attach the bag to your body.
Most triathlon organizations offer water or energy drinks along the track. If you know what kind of energy drink they serve and you’re (and your body / stomach) fine with it, you might be able to skip the water bottles on your belt. Having a water bottle on the bike will certainly be wise to keep on drinking slowly and to keep hydrated.
Maintaining focus is of utmost importance in triathlon events. No matter what happens and whatever situation comes up, ignore everything else. There are no crowds standing in the way, only competitors eager to finish ahead of you. Do not lose sight of the goal and you will surely be able to achieve faster and flawless transitions.
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