Training Tips -- Transitions
Smooth transitions are the key to great races. Time in the transition zone separates veteran triathletes from novices. The secrets to efficient transitions are planning and practice. You should prepare your equipment in advance: don't wait until race weekend to make changes in your equipment or buy new running shoes or goggles.
In the weeks leading up to the transition, figure out what clothes you will wear, then exercise in them to check for any problems like chaffing or blisters. You don't need to completely change clothes for each section of the race, so look for outfits that are comfortable for each leg of the race.
To rehearse your transitions, you can practice in the comfort and privacy of your own living room. Spread your gear out on a towel and figure out the best way to arrange everything. Practice putting on and pulling off your cap and goggles. Then practice buckling your helmet and tying your shoes. Figure out the best and fastest way to do it; repeat the drill until you are comfortable. You should also practice climbing on to your bike quickly and then slowing down from race pace and dismounting.
When you arrive on race morning, place your bike in the transition zone and set out your gear. You will have just enough room to spread out a small towel. Arrange your gear on the towel for easy access. This is something you can practice in your living room. Take another look at a landmark to help you find your bike when you come up from the run.
After the swim section, you will have to run up from the lake (or pool) across the grass to transition. Remove your cap and goggles as you run up. Pull on whatever clothes you need for the bike section, buckle your helmet (you can't ride without one), grab your bike and walk it out of transition.
As you finish the bike section of the race, it is a good idea to spin your pedals in an easy gear. This will help loosen up your legs and get your ready for the run. As you approach the transition, you will be asked to hop off your bike and walk it in to your spot. Put your bike back on the rack, change shoes if necessary, grab your race number and head out for the run. As you begin running, you may need to take small shuffle steps until your legs loosen up. You can stop and stretch if you need to.
As with anything, the key to good transitions is practice, practice, practice. They are as much a part of the race as each of the segments.
Written by Marion Burch Cimbala and Heather O'Keeffe Gardner to help women prepare for the Danskin Women's Triathlon