Win Transition: Don't be a Gear Bomb!

Jan
23

Posted by Coach Clay Battin

I have a friend on the east coast whose claim to fame was “winning” the transition splits at the Philadelphia Triathlon. I used to think this was hilarious, but as I grew in the sport and became more competitive, I realized that by “winning” transition, those few seconds you gain on the competition can be crucial for successfully completing your race plan, winning your AG or hitting the podium. 

The flip side of this is another friend (no I did not coach him), who in his first race, sat down in T1 and T2, flipped his bucket over, had a snack, stretched, and relaxed a bit. He had a combined transition time of 19 minutes, not realizing the clock doesn’t stop! Transitions are truly the fourth leg of a three leg race! Yes it can be argued that nutrition is the fourth leg, but then is recovery the fifth or sixth leg?? It matters not, they are all important!

Consider transitions for an Olympic or Sprint distance tri. In its most basic form, races of these distances require your tri kit, swim cap, goggles, bike, helmet, running shoes and a bit of water.  That’s it. Yet I constantly see the gear bombs in transition – 8 pairs of socks, 20 supplements, 3 pairs of shoes, 2 goggles etc. Hopefully you see where I’m going here. 

Now for a long course event, I advise my athletes to “load for bear” the first time at that distance and never want for something they don’t have. Then on the second long course race, go more minimalist.  But for shorter events, all that gear becomes a distraction and can hinder your race and race plan. 

Think through your whole race, including transitions, at length before race day. Remember, the clock is always ticking until you cross the finish line.  Meaning, unless your race plan includes intentionally slowing down in T1 or T2 to lower your heart rate or address something else, you’re still in the race!  Have your tires inflated to the right pressure, have your helmet easily accessible on your saddle or head unit with your run gear right beside; neatly and easily organized. You have time prerace in transition for a reason!

Don’t have 50 options for gear and nutrition, in the heat of the moment, this only serves to muddy your mental waters and slow you down.  You swim, bike and run for weeks and months prior to your events, so be sure to practice transitions too!  Lay out your gear, next to your bike, and RUN to it.  Do it in the living room, the back yard or as part of a planned brick workout. 

As you grow as an endurance athlete and work to perfect you transitions, you’ll notice others around you in T1 and T2 who are losing time as you calmly run past them with your gear and plan intact.  Always move with intent, quickly and efficiently, and always move forward.  Keep things simple and your mind engaged, but don’t add more complications to your day by being the gear bomb in transition!  Make it a goal to “win” transitions!


 

Coach Clay Battin is a USAT Level I certified triathlon coach, F.I.S.T. Certified Bike Fitter and founder of Craft Coaching. He has been a multisport racer since 2003 having completed triathlons of all distances from Sprints to IRONMAN. An active coach since 2012, Clay has coached dozens of athletes of varied abilities ranging from those racing their first sprint to multiple Ironman finishers and a Boston Marathon qualifier. His coaching philosophy is that anything is truly possible in endurance sports given the proper guidance, time and dedication, and this is the mindset he brings to work everyday.  He has a competitive background in soccer and worked five years in minor league baseball as a General Manager for two different organizations. Clay holds a masters degree in athletics administration from East Carolina University. He can be reached at Clay@TeamMPI.com.

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