The transition is an element of racing often only thought about on race day, and I remember thinking in a few of my earlier races that I wish I had spent some time practicing my transition.

Now I know that we are not all trying to get a spot on the podium, or even a spot at world championships, so you might be thinking that the time could be better spent on another aspect of the sport.

Here is what I think, for what it is worth.

The transition is a part of the sport of triathlon and as such is worth putting little time and energy into. The goal: improve your efficiency through the transition zone.

When I talk about efficiency, it is important not to confuse it with speed. There is a big difference between a fast transition and an efficient transition.

For the vast majority of triathletes, the primary goal when talking transitioning, should to be to get into and out of the transition zone with the least amount of energy expenditure and stress possible.

Having a "system" in place, that has been practiced and refined, will allow you to breeze in and out of transition, without the panic and frustration faced by many triathletes every weekend.

So here are a few ideas that I know will help you become transition dominating triathlete:

  1. Practice your swim-to-run transition: Because it is easier to get off the bike and go for a run, than it is to get out of a pool and go for a ride, the swim-to-run transition is often neglected.
  2. Develop a system: Develop a strategy of how best to lay out your equipment in the transition, and practice it in training. Repetition will make it second nature.
  3. Have a clear picture: Have a clear mental image of what you need to do next, before you enter and exit the transition area (you have practiced the transitions so often, it should almost be second nature to you).
  4. Know where to enter and exit: Before you start the race, take a few minutes to locate the entry and exit points of the transition (from the swim, and for the bike and run legs). It will also help you to better orientate yourself as to where you have set yourself up in transition.
  5. Elastic laces for your running shoes: I love these laces because after a hard bike leg, there is nothing worse than having to bend down and tie your laces, or retie your laces a few k's into the run. They are super cheap, and easy to use.
Obviously there are any number of tips and recommendations that will make your transition experience that much better, but the most important thing to take away is: you do need to practice the transition to master the transition.

It is as simple as that!


If you want more information or adice on your triathlon training and racing, feel free to contact me at or check out my page.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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