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5 Tips for Mastering Triathlon Transitions – SlayRx

So you’ve been training (hopefully) for your upcoming Triathlon. You’ve worked hard on your swimming, biking and running. But there are 2 more timed sections of your race that you may not have practiced – TRANSITIONS! Especially in a shorter race, the time you spend in transition can make a big difference in your outcome. A little preparation can go a long way in helping you calmly and quickly move through T1 and T2.

5 Tips for Mastering Triathlon Transitions

1. Plan Ahead

Take time in the days leading up to a race to practice your transitions at least 3 times. You want fluid muscle memory rather than a flustered rush when the pressure is on. If using a watch with multisport mode, make sure to try it out during training. It’s a good idea to use it for your practice swim or warm-up at the race location to make sure you have a good GPS satellite connection before the big show.

2. Take time to map out transition in your mind

Walk through the transition area and figure out where the Swim In, Bike Out/in and Run Out are. Look around for a landmark to help you find your bike quickly on the rack. This can be a tree, building, sign, etc.- anything except other bikes that may or may not be there when you get to T1! Some chalk on the ground or colorful piece of tinsel on your rack can also help you spot your gear more quickly. Pause to visualize yourself going through both transitions.

3. Place your gear in the order you will use it

Lay out your towel (bonus if it’s a funky color that’s easy to spot) if using and place your helmet on top of your socks (if using) on top of your bike shoes. Behind those, place your running shoes by your hat/visor and race belt (with bib number attached). Don’t think so much about moving as fast as possible, but about smooth movements without hesitation. 

4. Everything that can go on your bike should already be on it

Make sure your hydration and any nutrition that you might want are already on your bike and ready to go. For short races this may just be a single bottle of electrolyte drink. For Iron-distance races you may have a virtual buffet onboard. I like to attach my sunglasses to my bike too, but many people prefer to put them on with their helmet. Before heading to the swim start, check your tire pressure and brakes. You’d be surprised how much pressure you can sometimes lose overnight. Your brakes can be knocked against your wheel during transport or other people accidentally hitting them while racking their own bike.

Bonus Tip : T2 Time savers

Have you ever thought about how long it takes to tie your shoes? You can save time in T2 by replacing your shoelaces with bungee laces that don’t need to be tied. Grabbing your race belt/hat/sunglasses and putting them on as you run will also help you get going more quickly.

5. Have a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything

Your individual equipment needs will vary depending on the length of your race and your personal preferences. Here is a basic transition checklist:


On Towel:


Socks (optional)

Bike shoes

Running shoes

Race belt- with bib attached

Visor/hat (optional)

On Bike:

Water bottle(s)

Nutrition (for longer races)


Inflate tires and check brakes

Take Time to Locate:

Swim in

Your bike’s spot on the rack from the swim in

Bike out

Run out

Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to efficient transitions. Happy racing! 

By Kara Sasser- USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coach