Your race is just around the corner, you feel ready having concentrated on perfecting your swim, run and bike skills. But hold on… did you forget something? Perfecting your transition skills maybe? Transitioning from one activity to another can take a lot of time, if not planned properly.
Practising transitions as part of your training is highly recommended.
We have summarised some tips below that will make your transition fast and smooth.
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE TRANSITION AREA
You definitely do not want to end up running around like a crazy person not being able to find your kit or running the wrong direction! Trust me, I have seen so many people during events cycling and running in the wrong direction. Not familiarizing yourself with the transition area is a mistake!
Race event websites usually provide detailed maps of the event including the transition area which you can study in advance of arriving to the event. When you arrive at the event (the day before the race or on the morning of the race), walk around the transition area to make sure you know where your designated transition spot is, where you will enter the swim, where you will exit the swim, how you will get from the exit of the swim to your bike, where the cycle mount point is, where the cycle dismount points is, how to get to your running gear once dismounted, where the run starts and where the finish is. Visualizing the whole race including transitions can be very helpful.
TRANISTION KIT LAYOUT
- Placing your kit at the right spot and in the right position is key. Your kit needs to be easy to access and should not be in the way for other athletes (not only because you would not want other athletes to trip on your kit but also because you do not want your kit being stepped on).
- Your bike should be placed on the rack so that you can take hold of it and run straight towards the bike mount point with it, without having to turn the bike (after you have put your helmet on – never touch the bike before your helmet is on – this can lead to disqualification).
- Make sure your bike has water bottles on it filled with your favourite electrolyte drink and nutrition attached to it, either with tape or a nutrition bag.
- Pumping up your tires on the morning of the race is recommended.
- Place your towel somewhere near your shoes so that you do not have to walk around your bike to get the towel to dry your toes before putting your socks on.
- Your shoes should be set up so that your feet can slide into them easily.
- Marking your transition spot can be useful to quickly identify your spot. Running into the transition area, you will find yourself struggling to find your bike. Find a large marker point behind your bike rack number that is easy to see.
THE ACTUAL TRANSITION
- Run one from one activity to the other, the clock keeps ticking and your transition times are part of your race times.
- Since swimming is the first activity, you will have plenty of time to get ready for it. Wear your triathlon suit under your wetsuit so that you do not have to change when you get out of the water. Attach your race number to your triathlon suit with safety pins (if you are not using race belt) and wear your race chip under your wetsuit. Use lube or plasters in areas that are rash sensitive (neck area for most people) and or use lube on the wetsuit around the neck, arms and wrists to help you remove it when you get out of the water.
- You often receive a swimming cap at the race (different colours for different waves). Wearing your own cap underneath this cap is a good option if the water is cold. Wearing your swim goggles under your cap is recommended to prevent losing them during the sometimes rather chaotic water starts.
- When you finish the swim you run from the swim exit to the bike rack. While running you put your goggles up, undo the zip of your wetsuit, take your goggles and cap off with your right hand, undo the top of your wetsuit, letting go of the goggles and cap (s) in the arm (so that there are save there).
- Once you get to your transition spot you undo the rest of the wetsuit and store it in a place where it will not be in the way (behind your bike).
- As soon as you have stored your wetsuit dry your feet and put your cycling socks and shoes on.
- Depending on weather conditions, put your arm warmers or jacket on also. Put your helmet on before un-racking your bike. Once you are good to go, run with your bike in your hand to the bike mount area where you jump on your bike and start cycling. When you return to the transition area on your bike, you will have to dismount and the bike dismount area. Once you get off the bike, you run with the bike in your hand to your transition spot where you rack your bike first, before taking off your helmet, which can be placed on top of the handle bars. Take off your cycling shoes and socks.
- Once you have taken off your cycling shoes and socks, through on your running shoes and socks.
- If you have planned to take some nutrition with you on the run, grab this. Run to the running start.
When you come back from your run you usually cross the finish line after which you will be given a medal, t-shirt and or food and drinks.
Enjoy some drinks and food before you head back to the transition zone to collect your kit, your body needs it!
Eventually, the transition area will become familiar terrain and you will see it as a place where you can change into some clean kit and hydrate!
TRYING OUT NEW GEAR ON RACE DAY IS NOT RECOMMENDED! NO SURPRISES ON RACE DAY!