My friend Jeff considers the sport of triathlon to be one of five elements, not three. Yes, the main elements are swimming, biking and running. Considerable time is often spent, however, in the fourth and fifth elements…better known as transition.
As most of us know, T1 is the transition from swim to bike. T2 is the transition from bike to run. For those among us who are efficient and speedy, these transitions can be relatively quick (like 60 seconds quick). For others, valuable minutes can creep by while we are in transition.
I should know. I am notoriously slow in transition. The graph below shows my transition times from the races I did in 2011.
These times…well, they are GLACIAL. Almost 5 minutes in T1 in Knoxville? No excuse.
I’ve often just told myself that slow transitions are part of the way I race. I’ve settled with being slow. Here’s the reality…it’s free time. Essentially, going fast in transition is a near effortless reduction in overall race time. Take, for example, Knoxville. I wanted to go sub-3 hours. I didn’t. I went 3:00:26. Had I not spent six minutes 44 seconds in transition, I would have met my goal.
Transition time is free time. It just doesn’t come without practice.
This season, I’m going to be working on getting faster in transition. How, you might ask? I’ve been listening to folks (well….previously I’ve only heard folks chatter about transition, now I’m actually listening). I’ve been reading. Watching YouTube videos. Now it’s time to put what I’ve learned into action.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned and will be implementing this season:
Practicing transitions: At least once a month (though probably more frequently than that) I will set up a transition zone and actually run through doing transitions. This will include stripping out of a wetsuit (though only a couple of races I’m going to do this year will be wetsuit legal). As they say, “practice makes perfect.” Time to put that motto to test.
Shoes clipped in: I have never left my shoes clipped in my pedals at transition. I’ve always put on my cycling shoes and ran out of transition to the mount line in my cleats. Although I’ve never fallen doing this, I have seen people fall. At the very least, I’ve been careful in my run. Doing this is bad for a number of reasons – dropping this one step will save me significant time. Instead, I’ll clip my shoes in and secure them with rubber bands so that they are horizontal and will facilitate getting them on while moving. Likewise, as I come into T2, I’ll leave the shoes clipped in so I can run to transition with bare feet
No socks: I have always raced in socks. I don’t know why. I suppose it’s because I train in socks. This year, I’ll train (and race – at least shorter races) sockless. Putting socks on in T1 can be very time intensive – especially because your feet are wet. I’ve tried rolling them down pre-race so as to minimize the time investment to put them on…which certainly helps some. For half-iron races I may still wear socks.
My goal for this year is to reduce my average transition time. I can’t imagine why I’d spend more than 75 seconds in T2 and maybe 90 in T1. Are those goals realistic? What are some other time-saving tips I can employ?