When we think of triathlons, we think of the obvious three disciplines, swimming, biking and running. But transition could actually be a fourth discipline in and of itself. It’s one of the places we see a ton of mistakes happen during a race, and this isn’t limited to rookies; veteran triathletes are guilty of it too.
Today, we’re going to address four of the big mistakes we see happen in transition. (In other words, don’t be this guy/gal.)
MISTAKE #1: TAKING UP TOO MUCH SPACE
Real estate in the transition zone at almost every single race is limited. That’s the bottom line. So, resist the urge to spread your stuff out like you’re in your own backyard. Be respectful of the people parked on either side of you and don’t encroach into their space.
If you disregard this advice and regularly allow your stuff to migrate into the next person’s space, we’re not responsible for the karmic retribution that will befall you.
MISTAKE #2: SLOWPOKE TRANSITION
Obviously athletes concerned about their time will be getting in and out of transition as quickly as humanly possible. But for triathletes who are just trying to finish the race, transition might seem to be a great place to rest up for the next leg of the event. I’m here to tell you, that’s not the purpose. The point of transition is to get in and out quickly but calmly, and get onto the next portion of your race.
Yes, you can take a second to catch your breath. And yes, you can obviously get out of your wetsuit and into your appropriate clothing for biking and running.
But standing around, fidgeting with your stuff, chowing down on fuel, and stalling before you start the next part of your race is generally frowned upon. Get in and get out, that’s your number one task in transition.
If you absolutely must have some nutrition, put it in your pockets and have it in the first few minutes of the bike or run while you’re getting yourself adjusted.
MISTAKE #3: POUNDING BACK TOO MUCH FUEL
I know we just said it’s okay to have a quick gel or some fluids in transition, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to have a carb-loading session while you’re in there. In fact, taking on too many calories or too much hydration can cause a disaster while you’re on the course because your blood will be in your legs and arms, and you could have a gastric meltdown.
Plus, don’t forget, there will always be aid stations all along the course if you need hydration.
MISTAKE #4: ARRIVING TOO LATE
Newer triathletes may not realize this but there is a cut-off time before every race when transition is closed. And by closed, I mean, closed; there will be volunteers guarding the entrances and usually barricades or gates in front of the entrances/exits.
That means, if you arrive after cut-off, you can’t get into transition to fiddle with your stuff or to take a warm-up ride on your bike. Transition cut-off is non-negotiable. It varies with every race, so make sure you check your athlete information package so you know the times when you can go in and out. And I promise you, if you think you’re going to sweet-talk the volunteers to get yourself in if you’re late… you won’t. Don’t be late!
So, there you have it. Those are four of the biggest mistakes we see in transition during races. Ultimately, as long as you’re respectful of the people around you and respectful of the rules (and general customs) of transition, you should be more than okay.
And if you’d like to visually understand some of these mistakes, check out this video!