Five Tips for Faster Triathlon Transitions

Aug 5, 2010
Outside Magazine

Your transition speed can make the difference between podium glory and going home empty handed. Consider this scenario: You swam and biked about the same as your rival, Dom, at an Olympic distance race. But you ran six-minute miles and he ran seven. You should cross the finish line six minutes and 13 seconds ahead of him, but if you took your sweet time putting on socks and shorts and gloves in transition, you might be clapping from the stands while Dom gets his medal. Presenting five tips for a faster triathlon transition, so you can run for glory, not to catch up.

1. Get a triathlon suit.

Accepting yourself in a full spandex get-up is a triathlete's rite of passage. Do it now. It's near impossible to change clothes when you're wet, so don't. Wear a triathlon outfit--it doesn't have to be a one-piece--and transition seamlessly from swim to bike to run.

2. Keep your cycling shoes on your bike.

It takes a little practice, but starting and ending the bike with your cycling shoes on your bike can shave big time off of your transitions, especially if the transition area is large. You look like a dork running in your cleats anyway (unless you're at an Ironman, where you're not allowed to start with your shoes on your bike). Get some rubber bands and practice getting your feet in and out of your shoes without unclipping them from your pedals.

3. Use Vaseline, not socks.

Don't wear socks with your cycling or running shoes unless you're planning on running for a really long time (i.e. half to full iron-distance). Getting socks on over your wet or sweaty feet wastes time. Get a vat of Vas, and stick some where the ball of your foot hits the bottom of your shoes when you put them on. Also put it on the back heel for an easy slide-in. Zoot makes triathlon-specific running shoes designed to be worn barefoot.

4. Leave your food on your bike.

Better yet, take food from aid stations and don't bring any. But if you like the comfort of knowing your favorite Gu flavor is with you, try using electrical tape to tape your gels to your top tube. Tape across the top of the gel packet, then just yank it off, slam it down, and continue on your path to triathlon domination. Don't sit around stuffing your pockets with food. Dom wouldn't.

5. Get speed laces.

If you have skinny feet and never untie your running shoes to put them on, this doesn't apply to you. But if you need to tighten your shoes up around your foot, get speed laces. Tug on them and you're good to go.

--Erin Beresini

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