Tips & Tricks for a Faster Transition Time

Have you ever missed a PR or goal time by just a few minutes or even seconds? Sometimes this can happen when you go out too fast, and sometimes it comes down to the time spent in transition. "Transition" is the part of a triathlon in between swimming, biking and running; where you prepare to switch from one sport to another. Here are a few tips and tricks to help prepare and shave time off your transition.

Before the Race

  • Arrive early! Many transition areas are first come, first serve. Prepare to arrive when transition opens to snag a good location. For example, on the ends of the rack or near a sizable landmark. Bring a bright towel or balloon to mark your location. Also, GPS your drive the night before and figure out a parking plan. There is nothing more stressful than arriving late and rushing to set yourself up. 

  • Practice your plan: arriving early gives you time to set up your transition in an organized fashion and place items where you can find them. When setting up your transition, place items in order of use. For instance, bike gear up front and running gear behind it. Place items you want to use on the bike in your helmet, and running items in your running hat. 

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T1 - From Swim to Bike

  • When exiting the water, start unzipping and pulling down your wetsuit to your waist. If you have a sleeved wetsuit, place your goggles and cap in your sleeve as you pull them inside out. This will help the scattering of items that occurs in the transition area. When you get to your bike, pull down for an easy peel and go. 

  • Be a minimalist: wear what you plan to wear underneath your wetsuit. Changing clothes adds time. Ideally, an aero skinsuit is best (like this one!).
  • Roll your socks: If you plan to wear socks, roll them for easy application. Place them in front of your shoes, not inside. 

  • Once your socks and shoes are on, stuff the items you plan to use in your pockets. When at all possible, put on items while you are in motion. For example, once you are on the bike and have a flat road ahead, then carefully put on your gloves, sunglasses, and arm warmers. 

  • Clip your shoes to your bike: After you practice this a few times (DO NOT TRY THIS RACE MORNING) This method is a grab the bike and go! Once you mount and start riding, slip your feet in and buckle. 

  • Run your bike: run instead of walking your bike to the mount line. This will shave off time. 

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T2 - From Bike to Run

  • When arriving back to transition, have running items ready to go inside your hat. 

  • Have running shoes unlaced and ready to go. If possible, try speed laces. These laces lock and tie with a single pull, which saves all that time it takes tying your laces. 

  • Just like the bike, whenever possible put items on in motion. Carry your hat with your other items and put them on as your ease into your run. 


  • Use a checklist the night before and have everything ready to go by the door. I know folks who have forgotten necessary items such as their helmet, bike shoes, and even their bike! 

  • Practice: Only way to get better at anything is through practice. Practice transitions whenever possible. 

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I hope these tips and trick are useful in your next triathlon. In my first Ironman, I spent a record of sixteen minutes in T1 and fifteen minutes in T2. No, I was not napping, making oatmeal or reading the morning paper. I was clueless to how much time I was spending changing clothes and putting on items in a stationary manner. Using these tips, I have drastically cut down the time spent in transitions and I hope they are helpful for you too!

Written by Caitlin Nicholas, 2019 Siren Luminary 

Follow Caitlin on Instagram! @tri_caitlin 

Got more questions? Check out How to Survive Your First Tri

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