Your triathlon transitions can make or break your event times. If you're well-prepared and you've practiced transitions, it's easier to cut minutes from your overall time during transitions than it is to save time during your swim, bike, or run. With practice, you may be able to enter a transition area full of dozens of people who are getting ready for their rides or runs, and leave them all there still fumbling with their shoes as you head out again.
You can save time and maintain your cool with practice — and a few insider tips:
✓ Have a plan. Create a setup system for your transition area. How you lay out your gear depends on what works best for you. Think through your steps and do what comes most naturally and quickly for you. For example, you may always put your helmet on when you're getting ready for a bike ride, then your sunglasses, and then shoes — set up your transition area in that way and try it out.
✓ Slow down. Yes, we said slow down — to save time. If you're rushed and nervous, you can cost yourself time dropping gear or fumbling with shoelaces. Try to relax and approach the transition methodically.
✓ Practice doing more than one task at a time. Take off your goggles and cap in one movement as you run to the transition area. Start removing your wetsuit as you approach, too. Or put on your hat after you've already started running.
If you're wearing a long-sleeved wetsuit, hold your cap and goggles in one hand. As you pull off the arms of your wetsuit inside out, release the cap and goggles inside the sleeve to keep them together.
✓ Dry-run it. Walk yourself through the process without actually putting on the gear. Think, "I'll put my shoes on first. Where are they? What will I need next?"
✓ After you have the timing chip on, never, ever, ever take it off, until you're across the finish line. If you put it under a wetsuit, the wetsuit will come off over it just fine. If you take it off after your swim to get your wetsuit off, you'll lose minutes getting it back on and risk leaving it behind entirely.
✓ Sprinkle some talc powder in your shoes or socks so that you'll have an easier time sliding your wet feet into them.
✓ Roll your socks halfway down to what would be the ball of your foot.
When you put your toes into the rolled socks, you can then easily roll the heel and ankle part across your foot.
✓ Tape nutrition packets onto the top tube or handlebars of your bike.
Open the packets, too. Or use a gummy nutrition cube and stick the cube itself right onto the top tube of your bike.
✓ Leave the change of clothes behind. Don't lose time by trying to change or put on a new shirt or shorts over your bathing suit.
✓ Relax. Unless you were planning to win the first triathlon you enter, concentrate on relaxing through the transition period so that you're calm and focused when you get on your bike or head out for your run.
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