Transition Tips and Tricks

One way to know if you need practice on your transitions is to take a look at the time it takes for you to try clothes on at a store. If you are in there for a while doing a thorough evaluation of how things fit and look, there is a good chance you need to give some attention to your triathlon transitions. Triathlon transitions are basically “free time” at your race.  If you are competitive, it can be the difference between 1st and 2nd place.

The best tip for setting up your transition is GET IN, GET OUT AND GET ON WITH YOUR WARMUP AND RACE!  There is so much nervous energy in the transition area! It is really fun to give your buddy a high five before the race and it is also exhausting to check and recheck your gear – then compare your gear to how someone else set their stuff up and worry if you did it right or wrong.

I remember arriving at my first pro race and everyone was there already.  I thought I screwed something up. Then once I set up my transition area and left while everyone was still lingering around, I again thought something was wrong with me. Did I forget something? Should I have done something different? Did they know a secret that I didn’t? Was someone going to move my stuff, steal my running socks or take the air out of my tires?

Get in.  Get out.  Get onto your warm up and race!

Transition Zone

Here is Everything You Need to Know About Setting up Transition

Your transition should be marked with a large, bright towel so it is easy to see.

SWIM: When you are on your way to line up for the swim, you should have everything with you (cap, goggles, wetsuit).

BIKE: Check that you are in a gear you can easily pedal in once you get out of transition. Make sure you have air in your tires (100-120 PSI for most races) and make sure you can spin your tires without your brakes rubbing.

  • Bike shoes (Clipped to your bike if you have practiced that transition OR off your bike and laying on your towel)
  • Helmet – unclipped and sized to make sure your pony tail fits
  • Water/Nutrition – take the appropriate amount for the distance
  • Bike Computer – cleared to zero


  • Running shoes
  • Socks (I never run without socks…blister city for me otherwise)
  • Race Bib attached to a race belt. If you don’t have this, pre pin your race number to a shirt you plan to wear for the run. If you are wearing a tri suit for the race and don’t plan to change, wear your race number under your wetsuit then you don’t have to worry about it
  • Visor/Sunglasses – this is a personal preference thing
  • Nutrition – if you are doing a sprint, you need nothing.  Even if you walk a 5k, you don’t need any more nutrition at this point.

Transition Tips

TIPS: There is typically a water station as you run into transition from the swim and a water station as you run out of transition onto the run.  Dump water from the swim-in water station to clean sand off your feet/ and to swish around in your mouth to take the salt-water taste out if you swam in the ocean.

Before going down to the water for the race, know where you have set up your transition. Stand at your transition area and know the route you are going to take to get to “bike out” and “run out”. Then walk to the “bike in” sign and know the path you are going to take to get to your transition area. Lastly, walk to the “swim in” sign and know the path you are going to take to get to your bike. I suggest doing this last because out of the water most of us are still figuring out being on land again and our brains are not firing on all cylinders.

Racing is about being present with exactly where you are while also being able to prepare for what comes next; that is part of the fun of triathlon, it is always changing! When I am in the last few minutes of my swim and bike, I start to visualize my transition. Until those last few moments, be where you are – in the water focusing on your swim technique and/or on the bike focusing on the road and racing. Don’t spend any energy on what has happened already, it’s over.

Last but not least, have fun!  That’s why we signed up for this in the first place right?