Make the Most of Your Triathlon Transitions

Learn these triathlon transition basics and achieve a new personal record.


By Beth Shaw


While most people know triathlon to be a sport that involves a swim, a bike, and a run, some forget about the fourth portion that is just as important – transitions! Transitions are the points in between the swim to the bike, known as T1 (transition one) and the bike to the run (T2). Transition times are included in your overall triathlon race time and can make or break a race if you need those additional minutes or seconds to possibly get on the podium or just race a new personal record (PR). Here are some tips on how to make the most of your triathlon transitions.

1. Set your gear up for success. One of the keys to a fast transition is ensuring that your gear is set up in the most organized and efficient way for you to put it on and go! In addition, be sure you don’t over do it on the gear. Less is more, and less will help you go more quickly since you aren’t worried about a bunch of stuff.

2. Practice! You’ve been training hard on your swim, bike, and run, so why wouldn’t you also practice your transitions? Set up a mock transition area in your living room or driveway and work on putting on your shoes and helmet quickly for the bike. Then, work on your T2 skills and practice going from the bike to the run.

3. Wear one outfit for the whole race. Changing clothes can take a really long time and unless you are doing a full ironman distance race, there won’t be any place to change so find a triathlon kit that is comfortable from swim to bike to run. If your race is chilly and calls for a wetsuit on the swim, be sure to practice taking it off quickly.

4. Pay attention to the transition area. Transition areas can be quite large depending on the size of your race so it’s important to note where your bike is located on the rack. It’s also key to pay attention to where you enter and exit for both T1 and T1.

5. Act like the pros. If you can, keep your bike shoes clipped onto your bike. This will take some practice but it saves a lot of time in T1. Also, learn how to mount and dismount your bicycle quickly. If the flying dismount seems a little too advanced, practice getting off your bicycle as quickly as you can in a regular dismount. The same goes for mounting your bike. Also, if you are wearing sunglasses or a hat on the run, these are items you can put on while you run. No need to stand in transition putting them on.

Transitions are important in triathlon and it’s crucial that you work on them just as you do the swim, bike, and run. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

Beth is a running and triathlon coach from Florida who began her journey through health and fitness as a high school swimmer. After leading an unhealthy lifestyle while in college she made changes to get back in shape. Since then, she's completed numerous marathons and triathlons and finished her first full Ironman in 2014. She's also a freelance fitness writer and blogger. Her passion is fitness in all forms, though she enjoys running and swimming the most, and she believes in doing what makes you happy and healthy.

Main Photo Credit: Pavel1964/; Second Photo Credit: Stefan Holm/