If I told you I could make you 3-4 mins faster in your next race without any additional swim/bike/run training – you would be a little doubtful, wouldn’t you. Well I can guarantee it is possible and it is as simple as looking at the very underrated discipline of transition planning and practice.

Another great bit of news is that with some slight differences – this free speed applies to all race distances

Find A Spot
Transitions come in different shapes and sizes but they are generally set up to be natural so everyone travels the same distance.

Sprint/Olympic distance: First, find a spot for your bike ( if its not numbered racking ). I usually go with the nearest to the bike exit. The reason I do this is it means I have the shortest amount of time running out with the bike. That said, it means you are usually have a longer run back into T2 with the bike

70:3/FULL DISTANCE: Due to the size of these races – you will always have a designated spot (with the All World Athletes having the plumb spots ;-). Check out where yours is as soon as transition is opened

Once you know your bike location, walk to the swim exit and look at where your bike is from that point as this is how you are going to find it when you come out of the water. Take note where it is, i.e. 2 lanes to the left, 4th last bike etc . If you can line it up with something like a tree or a flag then that’s all the better as this gives you a good reference point.

Once you’re happy with your bike location, walk to the bike exit and look for the mount & dismount lines. Walk back the route into transition noting where your bike spot is from this direction.

HALF DISTANCE/FULL DISTANCE: Another consideration in the flow of your swim exit to bike is the location of your blue transition bag (which will hold all your bike gear you need to change into) – you will need to determine where the bag racks fit in the run up from the water and where exactly your bag will be.

Also repeat/practice this walk through for your bike to run transition – so you will know where to drop your bike and where your red bag (which will hold all your run equipment you need to change into) will be as you come into T2

Set Up
Set your bike computer to zero so you can tell at any time where you are on the course. Put the chain on the bigger chain ring. This is so the chain does not bounce off while running out of T1. Select a suitable gear so you can get going when you jump on – not to high, not too low. The only time I change this is if the bike course starts on a sharp hill – so a lower gear is preferable

Sprint/Olympic: Have your drink bottle half full for a Sprint and three quarters-fill for an Olympic Tape a gel to the cross bar. Tape it at the top so you should be able to tear off and open at the same time.

HALF DISTANCE/FULL DISTANCE: As the nutritional and hydration needs for longer races are a lot more – your set up will be a little more work. But you should have practiced this in your long rides and know the drill e.g. dual bottle holders on the back and/or front aero bottle holder on the front etc

Sprint/Olympic: Check the tyre pressure and make sure the quick release levers are closed on the wheels. Place your helmet upside down on the tri bars with the straps hanging out to the sides. Click in your cycle shoes and hold in place with elastic bands. If you do not already do this learn and practice it as it will save you a lot of time. Sprinkle talc on the insole of your cycle shoe and runners and smear Vaseline on the heel area on both shoes as well. Place your runners to the side of the bike. Position them so you can use them as a spotter to find your bike spot. As Transition clears hang back as long as possible to make sure no one moves anything.

HALF DISTANCE/FULL DISTANCE: Ensure your helmet, sunglasses, fresh socks (if required), race belt with number and any additional nutrition are all in the blue bag and likewise with your run gear are all in the red bag (runners, socks, new race belt etc).

T1
When I exit the water my system is as follows:
• Unzip the wetsuit
• Remove hat and goggles
• Pull suit off shoulders
• Pull out first arm holding hat and goggles, leaving hat and goggles in the arm of the suit as you pull through
• Remove second arm
• Push suit down to waist.

Sprint/Olympic: At this stage you will be close to the bike unless it’s a very long run in. When you get to your bike leave the wetsuit alone and get your helmet on first then remove the rest of your suit. These extra couple of seconds standing while clipping on your helmet will help before you tackle your wetsuit. Roll / push the suit down close to the knee, pull one leg up and then step on the suit and pull leg out. Repeat with the other leg. Grab your bike and go.

HALF DISTANCE/FULL DISTANCE: Very similar to above but also includes the collection of your blue bag from the rack and the option to sit down/change into your kit. Once done you stuff your wetsuit etc into the blue and throw to a volunteer/collection basket on your way out.

Pro tip: Whilst a good fast transition is a good start – for the longer distances – be calm/smooth and ensure you have everything you need. Saving a minute in t1 is not worth it if you leave all your nutrition on the bench!

Run with the bike, holding it by the saddle in one hand ( it will steer itself, if you don’t believe me try it!). Get over the mount line and hop on. If there are a lot of bikes around keep running until you have clear space. Get moving and then, when it’s safe to do so, tighten your shoes.

T2
As you approach T2 make sure you have your feet out of your shoes nice and early. Brake in a straight line while your weight is still on the saddle. When you have slowed to a suitable speed dismount well before the line and hold the bike by the saddle in one hand and run in to T2.

Sprint/Olympic: Hopefully you’ll spot your runners jutting out from everyone else’s. Rack the bike and unclip your helmet. Place your feet into your shoes and off you go. Most races will have a water station on the course so if you have taken your gel at about 2/3rds of the way through the cycle and have been sipping your drink you will not need to bring anything with you.

HALF DISTANCE/FULL DISTANCE: You will need to rack your bike and head to the transition tent. Locate your red bag from the rack and the option to sit down/change into your kit. Once done you stuff your helmet etc into the red bag and throw to a volunteer/collection basket on your way out.

Pro tip: Dry your feet and change into fresh dry socks – as nothing destroys a good HALF DISTANCE/FULL DISTANCE run split like blisters which wet foot wear tend to create