As triathletes we’re always looking to improve and go faster. We tend to look at how we can upgrade our gear to shave a few seconds off our total time. Or maybe we just keep increasing the intensity in our training to get more fit for race day. Both examples are effective, but many of us could PR in our next race by simplifying parts of our approach.
It is evident that Pro and Elite athletes are more fit than the rest of the field. They’ve perfected their technique in each of the disciplines which makes them more efficient. But there is one part of a triathlon where your fitness or using the best gear is not as important. It can save you minutes without any extra effort, and it actually requires less work. And it starts in transition.
If you watch the elites race they usually fly through transitions, and what allows them to do it is keeping the process as simple as possible.
So what can you start doing (or rather stop doing) in transition to PR your next triathlon?
1. Do not sit! Stay on your feet during transition. The only exception when you could consider sitting is during a full Ironman distance race where there is an actual chair and a volunteer helping you change your clothes. In general, sitting down will make you a little too comfortable, and whether you realize it or not, you may take a lot more time putting on your socks and shoes than you would have otherwise standing. I’ll personally even go as far as avoiding sitting down in an Ironman transition and skipping the changing tent all together.
2. Do not fuel in transition! Take a minute or two to get through T1 as quickly as possible and start refueling as you’re making forward progress on the bike. Same is true for T2. If you eat or drink in T2 not only will it take extra time, but you’ll feel very heavy, uncomfortable, and it may be difficult to find your rhythm in the early stage of the run. Instead, take some extra calories 10-15 min before getting off the bike which should easily fuel you until getting to the first or even second aid station on the run.
3. Ask yourself whether you really need all this stuff in transition! Sometimes being over prepared does more harm than good. Be aware of the fact that the more stuff you have in transition, the more time it will take to sort through, and decide if you really need a particular item.
Yes, it’s that simple! I went from 8 to 9 minutes for each of the two transitions in an Ironman; that’s about 17 minutes total; to a combined T1 & T2 total of well under 5 minutes. That’s over a 12 minute improvement that cost me nothing in gear upgrades while maintaining similar fitness level. The margins may be smaller in a shorter race, but even a couple minutes can make a huge difference in your results of a Sprint or Olympic distance race.
Since 2001 Peter has worked with individuals from many backgrounds, some taking up exercise for the first time looking for weight loss and toning, and others seeking guidance with a more extreme goal of training for an Ironman triathlon. Peter has published articles in the Competitor Magazine, some of his work was also featured by USA Triathlon, Golf Fitness Magazine and Colorado Runner website.
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