Many hours and lots of money is spent perfecting our swim time.

Every minute we knock off our swim is through serious work slogging away in the pool for months…years…decades!

Knocking off time in transition is almost free energy.

When it comes to making podium or qualifying for a world championship these seconds start to become a lot more significant.

In this article I will tell you how I approach transitions to make the most of my abilities and the to overcome my personal challenges.

As someone with dyspraxia, reaction and coordination is not my forte. I barely even remember my race number when I come out of the water.

However, I have managed to speed it all up by taking the time to plan my transitions the day before the race.

Ironman Plan

In a branded race such as Ironman, all transitions are set up the day before race day. This means that you know exactly where your bike is, exactly where your bags will be when you’re racing. You can find an object of reference point to help distinguish, from a distance, roughly where your number is. Some people even mark their bag label in a colour to make it stand out.

Here is the step by step process of how I plan my transitions in an Ironman.

T1 transitions

The day before the race, if possible, plan and walk-through the transition for T1 as follows;

  • Drop your bike off in transition and remember roughly where it is (coming back to this shortly)
  • Prepare your T1 bag with race belt on top, helmet just underneath and shoes (if you plan to put them on before mounting the bike) at the bottom. Hang up the bag
  • Walk to the swim exit and work your way through T1 towards your bag. Look for a point of reference to highlight where your bag is, such as a building or part of the rack that it’s hanging up on. You will have a wrist band with your number on in case you forget.
  • Then walk to your bike and do the same. Imagine its race day and as you run to the rack your bike is at. Think of what will make you remember roughly where it is.. floor pattern, buildings etc. It sounds obvious but when it comes to it its actually very useful.
  • Once you get to your bike, take it and practice the guided rules of exiting transition, making sure you know where the mount line is.

T2 transitions

The same process applies in T2.

Learn where to drop your bike and practice running to the bag before exiting for the run.

Be Prepared

Preparation in transition is everything and practising creates muscle memory for the actions, which is also a great idea.


Knock your socks off

Know which socks are best for comfort vs. how long they take to put on. Particularly if your hands are cold from the swim, the last thing you need is to spend 5 mins trying to put your socks on. I’ve been there and it lost me a podium spot by 20 seconds!

Mounting the Bike

In an Ironman, fly or jump mounting with shoes already on the bike isn’t as important as it would be for a sprint or Olympic triathlon. If you are not confident with either of those things it may be better to put your shoes on first, then mount.

I personally think, being extremely clumsy, I would lose more time trying to do my shoes up on the move.

Something that does save a few seconds though is learning to jump mount once your shoes are already on. You can do this by running whilst holding onto the handles and swinging your inside leg over the back of the saddle. When your weight is on the seat, clip your shoes in. For this, you need to be well practised with clipping in.

Final thought

The transitions are the easiest way to gain or lose time. It doesn’t require expertise, as such, but it can make or break your race. My key advice is to Plan, Practice, Repeat.

About the Author

Lizi Duncombe is a Triathlete and KYMIRA Sport brand athlete.

Further Reading

Training for a triathlon requires lots of planning and lots of practice. To ensure you are fit and healthy enough to compete at your best, proper nutrition and recovery is essential. Some of our previous blogs can help you ensure you have the power you need to progress

Nutrition and Hydration Planning for Triathlons

Active Recovery Ideas

Mentally Prepare for a Race

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.