Work Your Triathlon Weakness Transition

Work Your Weakness: Transition

Welcome to Week 4 of my Work Your Triathlon Weakness series. Each Tuesday this month, I have focused on one of the four sports of triathlon. Over the last three weeks, we’ve discussed the swim, the bike and the run. This week we are focusing on Transition.

There are two transitions in a triathlon – T1 and T2. T1 is the transition from Swim to Bike. T2 is the transition from Bike to Run.

T1 – Transition from Swim to Bike
Let’s discuss T1 first. Personally, I find transitioning from the swim to the bike to be the easier of the two. Your body is fairly loose coming out of the water and it’s usually just a short run to transition area. In order to minimize the amount of time you spending transitioning, it’s extremely important to setup your area strategically.

First and foremost, make sure your tires are pumped and ready when you rack your bike. Before the race starts, check them again and make sure all the nutrition, water and electrolyte you need on the course is packed on your bike. Lastly, make sure your bike is in a gear that you can get going in easily as you mount the bike.

If you’re comfortable, you can clip your shoes into the pedals and worry about putting those on as you start your ride. If you’re not at that level, like me, then make sure the toes of your shoes are facing the rack so that as you approach, you can slip your shoes on. I like to lay my helmet on top of my shoes so that I can grab it, flip it and it’s on my head. Then, my shoes are waiting for my feet. As I enter transition, I’m stripping my cap and goggles, throwing them on my towel, helmet, shoes, grab my bike, and I’m off.

T2 – Transition from Bike to Run
The transition from Bike to Run can be difficult for most triathletes. There is a heavy feeling in your legs, specifically your quads, when you leave the bike and begin the run. It can feel like you are wobbling toward falling flat on your face when you first start off. In order to get an idea as to how the transition from bike to run affects you, you should incorporate some bricks into your training. A brick consists of a somewhat long ride following immediately by a long run.

Incorporating brick workouts into your training can help your muscles adapt to that feeling so that race day isn’t the first time you are asking them to engage after a long ride. Those hill repeats you work on in your running training will also help the transition because running hills and doing hill repeats requires your quads, hamstrings and glutes to engage in much the same manner as cycling requires. So, coming off of hills into a flat will mirror that cycle-run transition. The transition between bike and run is the toughest of the two transitions so you’ll want to be sure to incorporate some cycle-run bricks into your training.

I like to mix up my bricks, so I will do combinations of all three sports in my training: Swim-Bike, Swim-Run and Bike-Run. Here are a few workouts that I do in my training.

For the Swim: Access to an Indoor/Outdoor Pool or Open Water
For the Bike: Your bike or a Spin bike. If you can do a road ride from the swim area, you’ll just need your bike. If that’s not feasible, bring your bike trainer and set up your bike as near the swim area as possible. If neither of those is an option, use a spin bike. If you use a spin bike, be sure to set it up before you begin the workout. Place a towel and water bottle on the bike to reserve it for your use.

Swim-Bike Brick with Repeats
Warm up: 10 minutes on the bike
Brick –
Swim: 600 yards/550 meters. Swim as a build with the first 200 being a slow-moderate pace. The second 200 a moderate effort. The final 200 should be fast.
Bike:  20 minutes (5 min 90RPM + 1 min 100RPM). Your effort here should be at race effort. Maintain 90 RPM. After 5 minutes, do 1 minute at 100 RPMs. Repeat cycle 3X. The last 2 minutes should be at 70- 90 RPM.
Repeat the Main Brick set 2-4 times.
Cool Down:   Swim 10 minutes easy or Bike 10 minutes easy (@70 RPM)

Swim-Bike Brick
Warm up: 10 minutes on the bike
Brick –
Swim: 1500 yards/1375 meters. Swim the first 300 easy and the remainder at moderate race effort.
Bike: 60 minutes. 30 mins in Zone 2. Every 4 min, do 00:30 at 100 RPM, followed by 00:30 standing. At 30 minutes, do a 3 minute recovery between 70-90 RPM. 25 mins in Zone 3. Every 4 min, do 00:30 at 100 RPM, followed by 00:30 standing. Finish with 2 minutes easy.
Cool Down:   Swim 10 minutes easy or Bike 10 minutes easy (@70 RPM)

Swim-Run Brick
Warm up: 200 easy swim
Brick –
  Swim: 1500 yards/1375 meters. Swim the first 300 easy and the remainder at moderate race effort.
  Run: 45-60 minutes at 5K pace
Cool Down:   Walk 10 minutes

Swim-Run Brick with Repeats
Warm up: 200 easy swim
Brick –
  Swim: 500 yards/450 meters at moderate race effort
  Run: 15 minutes at 5K pace
  Repeat 3-4 times.
Cool Down:   Walk 10 minutes
 
Bike-Run Brick
Warm up: 10 minutes on the bike
Brick –
Bike: 60 minutes. 30 mins in Zone 2. Every 4 min, do 00:30 at 100 RPM, followed by 00:30 standing. At 30 minutes, do a 3 minute recovery between 70-90 RPM. 25 mins in Zone 3. Every 4 min, do 00:30 at 100 RPM, followed by 00:30 standing. Finish with 2 minutes easy.
Run: 45-60 minutes at 5K pace
Cool Down:   Swim 10 minutes easy or Bike 10 minutes easy (@70 RPM)

Bike-Run Brick with Repeats
Warm up: 10 minutes on the bike
Brick –
  Bike: 5 miles at 90 RPM (Sprint training); 8-10 miles at 90 RPM (Olympic/Half training)
  Run: 15-20 minutes at 5K pace
  Repeat 3-4 times.
Cool Down: Walk 10 mins.
 

It’s also important come race day to know how to set your transition area up properly in order to minimize your time spent there. Setting up your transition area during brick practices will help you streamline your own process and work out the kinks.

If you’re new to the sport of triathlon, this is a great video from Training Peaks on how to setup your transition area. The video has great tips and provides a good foundational education on transition setup and etiquette. 

How do you practice transitions during your training? What advice do you have for beginner triathletes on how to navigate the transition area to minimize their time there?

 

Work Your Weakness Transition

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Cassandra Burke is a Forensic Scientist by day, and a Group Fitness Instructor, Swim Team Coordinator and Travel Agent by night. A Breast Cancer Survivor since 2010, she writes about her journey as well as her struggles – training for triathlons and races, struggling to get back her health, and balancing family life all while building her brand and finding her purpose after cancer. Subscribe to Cassandra’s newsletter for updates and follow @poweredbybling on social media! For endurance sport race travel and custom family vacation travel, visit her at pbbtravel.com.

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