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Triathlon Transitions: T1 for Beginners

When you think about your first race, what stresses you out the most? Likely it is the swim or the idea of doing all three events or maybe even the total distance between the start and finish lines. What will actually stress you out on race day is all the little things like packing your bag, parking, and transitioning between the sports. This article addresses those transitions:

Transition 1 (aka “T1”): Swim to Bike

– T1 begins on the last 100 to 300 meters of the swim. Increase your kick speed to get the blood moving back to your legs.

– As soon as possible, begin dolphin diving (more on that later).

– When you hit the beach, ignore the roar of the crowd and take it slow as you exit the water. Many athletes experience orthostatic hypotension, which is a fancy way of saying your heart rate rises and you get light headed. These first three tips help avoid that.

– If you are using a wetsuit, make sure that from the tops of your ankles to the middle of you shins is lubed with Body Glide. Don’t go below your ankle line because sand might stick and cause blistering once you get shoes. Also use Body Glide on the outside of the bottom 6 inches of the wetsuit to help it come off easier.

– Keep an extra water bottle with your gear. Use it to wash the sand off your feet and the lake/ocean water off your face.

– Use a little lube around the edge of your bike shoes if you don’t plan on wearing socks. If you do plan on wearing sock, put a bunch of baby powder in them and roll them up so they roll on your feet easy (think: condom).

– Have your gear arranged in T1 so that you 1) won’t forget anything, and 2) can do more on the bike and less standing around. That means your gear should be in a nice neat stack in the reverse order you’ll put things on. You won’t ride your bike without shoes, so as long as they are on the bottom of the stack, you won’t forget anything on the top of the pile. Keep food, sunglasses, and gloves tied or tape to the bike. They can be dealt with once you are moving.

– Don’t forget to have your helmet on and buckled before you remove your bike from the rack. Push your bike out of the transition area and don’t start riding until you are well past the “Mount Line” that should be clearly marked. There will be a lot of faster racers behind you ready to run you over, so stay way off to the right before you stop to mount

– Most important: Practice, practice, practice. Race day should not be the first time you fumble through the above.

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