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Whether you are a newbie triathlete or an experienced veteran, speedy Gonzalez or back of the packer, everyone can afford to practice the art of a smooth transition. 

The transition is when you change disciplines – so swim to bike and bike to run.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you are really good at them), the time you spend in each of these transitions is added to your overall time in triathlon.

Sometimes considered “the fourth discipline,” practicing transitions can not only save you time, but can also save anxiety and confusion.  It may be pretty simple to just put on a pair of shoes while you are calmly getting ready to head out for your morning run.  However, when the clock is ticking, you are breathing hard (and sometimes shaking) from riding your bike at a hard effort, then running to your transition spot, now putting on those shoes isn’t quite as simple.  

Here’s another way to look at it: how much effort do you need to put in to take 30 seconds off your swim time?  How about taking 30 seconds off your run time?  I can assure you that if you haven’t practiced transitions at this point, you can likely find 30 seconds easily in your transition times.  There are dozens of tiny helpful tips that, when combined, can save you a significant amount of time.


Think about the last race you did where you missed your goal by a few seconds.  Say you were targeting a 2:00:00 finish time and you finished in 2:00:03.  You continually go through all the little things you did and know you could have found those measly three seconds somewhere in your race. Transitions are a great way to find those three seconds and more.  

Here are a few of tried and true tips:

-Know where your bike is in transition – use landmarks

-PRACTICE!

-Pack the night before and re-pack to make sure you have everything

-Be a minimalist – less is more when it comes to transitions

-Attach small items to bike (gels, salt tabs, etc)

-Use just ONE outfit for the entire race

-Put “speed laces” in your running shoes so you don’t waste time tying them

-Use a race belt for your bib number

In fact, I recently wrote a blog with more in-depth transition tips, so if you’re still struggling, feel free to check it out: How to Execute Smooth and Fast Transitions. And if you need more, never hesitate to contact me!

Until next time –

Tri Right!

Coach MJ

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MJ Gasik started competing in the sport of triathlon in 2003 and has completed 12 Ironman distance races including the World Championships in Kona, HI. MJ is a USAT Certified Coach, Ironman U Certified Coach, USMS Level 4 Certified Coach and is the founder and owner of Tri Right Coaching. MJ has coached hundreds of athletes from beginners through elite to personal bests in distances from sprint through Ironman.