Triathlon Transition Execution
Executing a fast transition requires perfect practice. Rehearsing the steps you will take every time in the transition area makes your transition habitual and automatic. Practicing the same routine multiple times helps streamline and optimize each step, resulting in a faster transition. Using time, accuracy and effort when evaluating your transitions will offer objective data on whether you are improving.
The next step toward perfecting your transitions is executing them at race pace. The stress of race effort makes it harder to think through what you are doing, so it becomes important for your movements to be instinctual and automatic. Incorporating transition practice in short, intense brick workouts is a great way to perform numerous transitions at race pace before race day. The goal of perfect practice is to repeat an automatic, smooth and fast transition routine that you don’t need to think about.
Tips for setup and execution:
• Place your helmet on the bars of your bike, so you don’t need to bend over and reach all the way to the ground to retrieve it. Flying mounts and dismounts save a lot of time in transition. A great way to get comfortable with the flying mount and dismount is to practice with running shoes on your bike, rather than cycling shoes. Removing the challenge of clipping in and out can help you get comfortable throwing your leg over the bike. It also is easier to dismount and run with shoes on than it is in bare feet. Once you are confident doing this in running shoes, you are ready to transfer the skills quickly in bike shoes. • Another tip to speed up your transition is to mount and dismount three steps away from the mount line. Many athletes choose to stop right at the mount line to get on their bike. Running past the mount line, and the potential traffic jam that is forming, is a great way to get clear of traffic. • Use elastics to hold your bike shoes flat when your shoes are clipped into your pedals. This makes it easier to slide your feet into them after you mount your bike. If you wear glasses, either hang them on your bars or put them inside your helmet to remind you to put them on your face before you run to the mount line. • When you are at a race, get to know the transition area. Look for landmarks that will allow you to find your bike when you run in from the swim or off the bike. The day before the race, walk through the transition area to rehearse the direction you travel for both T1 and T2. This will help you get your bearings and set landmarks to find your bike when you are stressed by racing. • •
Finding free speed in the transition area is a matter of planning and practicing. Put your transitions to the test in training. Watching the top ITU athletes perform transitions is a great way to learn how fast the exchange between sports can be and can help optimize your own triathlon transition setup and execution.
Melanie Mcquaid is a three-time Xterra world champion and a six-time Ironman 70.3 and Challenge half-distance champion. She lives in Victoria.