Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday - Transitions

Today I'm linking back up with Courtney at The Tri Girl Chronicles, Phaedra at Blisters and Black Toenails and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What?!for Tri Talk Tuesday. This month's topic? The transition!

Transition can be like a black hole for me. If you don't have a game plan going in, you can lose a lot of time. Now maybe over an iron distance race a few extra minutes on your transition don't really matter, but they definitely do on a sprint! So how do you nail your transitions?

Like the rest of your race you should have a strategy for your transition. Don't just lay everything out willy-nilly and waltz through T1. One of the best pieces of advice I've taken from Don Fink's "Be Iron Fit" (which you really should read) is the Top Down/Bottom Up method. When you go through transition take everything off from the top down, then put everything on from the bottom up. I literally say it outlaid in transition as I'm rushing.

T1: Goggles off, Cap Off, wet suit off (if no stripper), bike shoes on, nutrition in belt/pockets, sunglasses on, helmet on --> GO!
T2: Helmet off, shoes off, socks on, shoes on, race belt on, visor on --> GO!

You should also have a good checklist of what you need for the transition area. I lay mine out before the race in our spare bedroom. I have a list for 1) Before the race 2)  Race Nutrition/Hydration 3)Swim 4) Bike 5) Run 6) Post Race. The night before I lay it all out by category, then carefully pack it in my Transition bag.
From before Tri Fest
On race day, I tend to lay out my transition area with bike in the front and the run in the back. Extra nutrition and sunscreen go in the middle. I've also done it with the bike on the left and the run on the right, since my transition area was a little cramped once. It really just depends on your own mojo.

Whatever your strategy, come up with set it up, stick to it and...

Transitions, like running, swimming, and biking, are an event in the race and should be practiced just like the other three disciplines. My training plan has several workouts that require a transition-type setting. The practice of going from one discipline to another isn't just good for your body -  it's good for your brain. Put yourself through the rigors of a transition well in advance of race day. How do you practice for transitions? Early and often!

I'm of the opinion that I'd rather do something once slowly than several times quickly. For me, If i take the time to breathe and focus in transition then I may lose a few seconds, but I gain a lot in confidence. For instance, in Shelbyville this spring I threw my socks on over wet feet with the sole goal of getting on the bike as fast as possible. No Bueno. I had to fiddle with them in T2, I had to stop on the run several times and fiddle with them. During Tri Fest I decided to lose some time and actually sit down and take the time to put my socks on. Loads better. I'm also picky about my hair. I hate my hair bouncing around crazy. I hate flyaway in my face. So I take a few extra minutes to fix my braids/bun/ponytail but spend the bike/run happier.

Whatever your set up for the transition, if you plan, practice, and have patience with it it will enhance your overall race experience.

I am really enjoying the link ups and reading all of your blogs! Thanks for your comments last month - it is so nice to know people are actually reading :)

Happy Tri-ing!

Transitions: Love 'em or hate 'em? Any tricks you can share?


  1. I like the Top Down, Bottom Up method! That's the first I've ever heard of that but it totally makes sense! I'm like you with the whole hair in my face thing. I have jaw length curly hair so I wear it back in a hair band. It's not long enough for a pony tail so the hairband at least keeps it out of my face.

  2. I go sockless for Sprint and Olympic distance. I bodyglide my running shoes and haven't had a problem (other than really stinky shoes). I don't know that it saves significant time, but it works for me.

  3. I also, more or less, follow the top down bottom up rule. It makes it so easy to make sure you remembered everything when you work in a specific order like that.