Train transitions in triathlon

Triathlon is a sport composed of three very different disciplines, swimming, cycling and running. We have to take into account that there is a link between the different sections of a triathlon, the so-called transitions, or the previous step before starting the cycling sector or the running race.

Many times the triathletes do not give the transitions the importance that they really have, it can be thought that it is a moment of rest where they are equipped for the next phase of the race, but the truth is that they are often the determining factor for the result of a test, since at this point can be decisive at the time of the result in goal that often depends on the difference of a few seconds.

The objective is to achieve a "Automation" of movements in each of the transitions that will allow a correct execution and therefore efficiency in the transitions.

There are two different types of transitions for both the duathlon and the triathlon, the T1 (1 Transition) and the T2 (2 Transition). The area where they run is called the transition zone or “boxes” in English, which is the place reserved for triathletes where they will leave the necessary equipment to carry out the competition: bicycle, shoes, etc.

Below is a sequence that must be automated for the correct execution of the T1 in triathlon


Remove glasses without removing them from the head (running)

Unfasten neoprene (when its use is allowed) from behind (running)

Remove top of neoprene: arms and trunk (running)

Remove glasses and hat, leaving them in the corresponding drawer in the transition zone

Remove the bottom of the neoprene and leave it in the corresponding drawer in the transition zone

Put on and buckle helmet (in transition zone)

Lift the bike (in transition zone)

Running with the bike taking it by the top of the saddle or handlebar (running)

Jump on the bike after the riding line (running) Place feet inside the shoes and fasten (on the bike and pedaling)

Start the cycling segment with the right development (light).

Once placed in a group, it is the moment when the shoes are placed and fastened.

In the process of the T2, the following actions are carried out:


Arrive correctly placed in the bike group

Unfasten the shoes during the last leg of the bike (running and on the bike).

Remove feet from the shoes (running and on top of the bike).

Pass leg behind before dismounting (running and on the bike).

Disassemble just before the disassembly line, in the race.

Run to the box, or put to hang the bike, with the bike taking it by the top of the saddle (running).

Place the bike in the place enabled for it (in the box).

Take off your helmet and leave it in the drawer (in the box).

Put on shoes and accessories: hat, glasses, etc.

The steps outlined above have to be performed in a systematic way, and to be able to do the transitions must be integrated into our workouts.

Several studies have been carried out over the years in the practice of transitions and the best ways to train them have been investigated here we cite some:

In the year 2005, in the Peeling et al study of (Peeling, Bishop, & Landers), it was determined that if a swim was performed at 80-85% of the time of a swimming test (750m, such as triathlon swimming sprint) the cycling speed was higher than if you swam at 98-102% of the time of the same swimming test. In addition, the total triathlon time was faster at 80% than at 100% of the swim speed of the test. It was found that swimming at an intensity less than that of an isolated effort similar to the time of the test, has significant improvements on cycling and the overall performance of triathlon.

Train transitions in triathlon

In the T2 study, (O. Hue, Valluet, Blonc, & Hertogh, 2002) investigated the effect of training the transition from cycling to running on foot, through a succession of short transitions from cycling to running on foot. In the performance of cycling and the running race of a triathlon it was seen that after performing a training with short transitions and other normal training in several competitive triathletes for six weeks there was no greater improvement in the performance of cycling or the running on foot when making short transitions compared to normal training. However, it induced a significant improvement in the transition from cycling to running.

This indicates that training the short transitions from cycling to running can help the triathlete to develop greater ability and physiological adaptations during this critical period of the triathlon test

Some of the ways to train transitions can be the following:

These workouts may vary depending on the intensity at which they are performed, in this example anaerobic threshold transition workouts have been chosen,

To train the T1:

1 x (swimming: 5x400m + cycling: 1 × 15 ')

2 x (swimming: 1200 + cycling: 15 ')

1 x (swimming: 2 × 600 + cycling: 2 × 20)

To train the T2

1 x (cycling: 4x10kms + running: 4kms)

2 x (cycling: 20kms + running: 3kms)

2 x (20 bike + 15 'flat race) / Rec. 5' soft bike ride

More information:

Photo: Garmin

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