Transition In Depth – How Much Time Can Really Be Made??

It doesn’t matter if it is Swim to Bike, or Bike to Run the transition in triathlon is so important.

It is a crucial link between major efforts, and practically the one time that you are literally standing still.
So how much time can we really make up in transition from getting the minute things right?
Well I have crunched he numbers and compiled a time-list of a normal transitioner vs a fast transitioner.
Let’s have a look…

T1 – normal time
Into transition 50m – 20sec
Location of T area – 3sec
Wetsuit – 10sec
Goggles swim cap – 2sec
Sunglasses – 3sec
Helmet – 7sec
Location or exit – 3sec
Out of transition 50m – 22sec
Onto bike – 5sec

Total time – 75sec

T2 – normal time
Into transition – 20sec
Location or T area – 5sec
Helmet off – 3sec
Shoes on – 6sec
Hat on – 2sec
Location of exit – 3sec
Out of transition 50m – 20sec

Total time – 60sec
Now that we know a normal transition procedure, let’s look at someone who gets it right every time and compare the difference.

T1 – FAST time
Into Transition 50m – 15sec
Location of T area – 0sec
Wetsuit – 5sec
Goggles and cap – 0sec
Sunglasses – 2sec
Helmet on – 4sec
Location of exit – 0sec
Out of transition 50m – 18sec

Onto bike – 1sec

Total time – 45sec

T2 – FAST time
Into transition – 15sec
Location or T area – 2sec
Helmet off – 2sec
Shoes on – 4sec
Hat on – 1sec
Location of exit – 0sec
Out of transition 50m – 15sec

Total time – 40sec


So based off those calculations you can see that a great transitioner can save as much as 30sec in T1 – and 20sec in T2 – for a total of 50sec in transition.

Now let’s put that into perspective. If you were to give your rival swimmer 50sec in the water, so he/she averages a modest 1:30/100m whilst you average 1:40/100m – that would mean that with your fast transition compared to their normal one than you would pick that time back, without actually having to go faster.

Or imagine it at the back end of the race, where if you had the same exact swim pace and ride pace as your rival, but had the faster transitions by the above difference – than you would be 50sec ahead onto the run. Now over a sprint race of 5km that is a huge difference. That person would need to claw back 10sec per kilometre just to catch you, whilst also remembering that your faster transition has not cost you much more energy.
50sec can be a lot.
But let’s just assume that the difference wasn’t even that great, and the rival is not a muppet between the disciplines. Even if you were to be able to gain 5 or 10seconds over the transition period, wouldn’t that still be a big difference? Remembering that you have not used any more energy than them in order to do that.

Without boasting, I do not lose transition. The reason for it is I simply hate to. I love the technical aspects of this sport, and if someone has a faster transition than me I feel as if I have not practiced the easiest skills in the sport enough.
So how can we achieve lightning fast transitions???
⁃ practice , practice , practice
⁃ Know your entry and exit points!!! Walk them before the race many times
⁃ Know your transition area!!! More important T2 when there are no bikes
⁃ Do not rush. Be calm. Smile as you do it.
⁃ Know your order of operations inside out.
⁃ Know your gear tendency of what can go wrong
⁃ Do not look around, focus on yourself
⁃ Get in fast, get out fast

Practice is key – literally set your gear up, and time yourself over and over again on a rest day. I used to set my bike up using a bit of dowel between two rubbish bins and time myself in transition until I got it as low as I possibly could. My dad would time me and then have a go at it himself. It is amazing how much time we saved in our races after doing this all the time. Literally even just getting used to the way the helmet folds onto your head, or the way the shoes sometimes don’t go on your foot properly is a great thing to get used to

Knowing the entry and exit points saves you so much time. So too does knowing your transition area. Have a bright towel, or a landmark to pinpoint the location of where your steeds home is. So much time can be made up with this one skill, especially when you are coming in off the bike and transition is empty of carbon. It looks completely different and you must know which towel and setup is yours in order to rack your horse in the right spot.

Be calm, you hear it all the time. When you panic you make mistakes and use energy. Smile as you do your transition and it will trick your body into being relaxed, and as such you can concentrate on getting it done.

Know your order of operations, it is different for everyone, and you should have perfected it after the first point above.

Know what can go wrong. Does your helmet strap get stuck in your helmet when you pick it up, can your sunglasses arm fall off if you try and push it on too quick? Does your wetsuit prevent you from getting your left leg out quickly if pulled to a certain spot? Know these problems, and always have your troubleshoot brain ready to react

Do not look around. You are here purely so you can get ready for the next part of your race. Don’t check your lead, you can do that once your job is over. Everything here is a fine-motor skill and these muscle movements take concentration. So don’t wreck a 5sec lead in transition to check how far behind your competitor is. Which leads into the last point.

Get in, get out. Don’t muck around. Don’t even consider your other competitors. Remember that you can make time up on them simply by not thinking about them. Get you job done. That includes entry and exit of transition. Get in and out of there fast, don’t drink, don’t eat. You can do that while you are moving.

If you follow the above tips I guarantee you will become a much faster triathlete.

Some very simple skills can yield some very big improvements in time.
If you have any questions on particular transition skills please shoot me a message

Dave Selwood


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