Why Not Try a Tri (Part 3) – Transition

I’m on a mission to convince those of you on the fence to Try a Tri! Or, if you don’t want to swim, to Do a Du! In case you missed the first two posts in this series, you can find them here:

One of the questions I heard is around transitions – what do I do in transition: from swim to bike AND from bike to run?


Swim to Bike

When you get out the water, you’re probably going to feel a bit disoriented and very out of breathe. I find that switching from swimming to biking, my heart rate spikes! You’re probably really focused on breathing and trying to remember why in the world you signed up for this race. ;)

But I want to make sure that you get into transition and are out on your bike before you know it!


I set up transition in my living room to give you an idea of the layout. What do you see?

  1. Kitchen Towel
  2. Helmet
  3. Sunglasses
  4. Bike shoes
  5. Running Shoes
  6. Running Socks
  7. Visor
  8. GPS
  9. Race Belt

Let’s focus on 1 – 4 first, since those are what you need to get on your bike. I use a kitchen towel to lay my equipment on. You can use a larger towel, but please fold it down to this size. No one likes the person who brings the beach towel and takes up half the rack. That’s just rude!

In preparation for the bike, place your helmet (chinstraps open – you don’t want to fumble with that as you are moving through transition), sunglasses (inside helmet, open and ready to put on your face), and bike shoes (open, ready to slip your feet into). If you don’t have bike shoes, your running shoes that you will wear on the bike + run go here.

The key here is to have everything open and ready to go. Your brain is a little foggy and rushed when you get out of the swim, so make things very easy on yourself!

Take off your swim cap and goggles as you run up to transition from the water. Throw them down next to your stuff, as you lean over to put on your bike gear.

As you lean down to put on your bike shoes, grab your sunglasses & put them on your face. Then put the helmet on your head (you’re still leaning or sitting down).

And now you’re off on the bike, having a great ride!

Bike to Run

You’ve just worked hard on the bike and you’re coming back to transition. One more sport to go and you’re still not thinking quite clearly. Here’s how we’re going to approach the transition to the run and get you running ASAP.


From our original list of items in transition, here’s what we haven’t touched yet:

  1. Running Shoes
  2. Running Socks
  3. Visor
  4. GPS
  5. Race Belt

After racking your bike, take off your helmet (you can be disqualified/DQ’d if you remove your helmet before racking your bike) & set it down next to your stuff. While you’re bending over, take off your bike shoes and slide into your socks and shoes, grab your race belt, visor, and GPS – and start running out. I suggest having your GPS attached to your visor, so if you grab your visor you have both. You can detach the watch and put it on (and your visor) while you run.

And you’re off again!

Last Minute Thoughts

The tips above should help you move through transition a little faster than you would have. BUT…if this is your first race, you might be better off just taking your time. This is where you need to understand your goals for the race and if it makes sense to move through quickly or take your time and reduce the pressure on yourself.

Personally – I took my time for my first race, but not everyone wants to take that approach. I want to help you reach YOUR goals, not mine. :) I just want you to feel satisfied when you reach that finish line!



Time is running out to take advantage of the 20% discount on race plans & 2 months of coaching — offer expires at 10 PM EST on Sunday! Click here for full details on coaching options (starting at $50 for 8 week race schedule & $40 for monthly coaching).


Questions for you:

  • What other triathlon or duathlon questions do you have that you’d like to see me answer?
  • Do you have questions as to when is the right time to get a coach?
  • What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

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  1. says

    Great tips! I’m doing my first duathlon in 2 weeks and I have no idea what to expect! Our first triathlon is in June and that is even more daunting but these tips help. I need to practice the transition more, although we have done some brick workouts.

    • says

      Part 1 in the series covered the bare minimum, but it depends on your goals. I typically wear a pair of tri shorts, sports bra, and tri top. Would it be helpful for me to do a post going more into depth on clothing options?