Lessons from my first transition training

It’s official. I am making my debut in the world of multisport events.

Since this endeavour is more than a little nerve-racking, I’m starting out with a duathlon instead of the more traditional sprint triathlon. This particular duathlon is a run-bike-run and entails a 5 km run, a 20 km bike (4 x 5km laps) and the another 5km run. This means I have to transition from the bike to run like a normal triathlon, but I also have to transition from running to cycling.

This week I started preparing for the event in earnest, since it only two weeks away. On Friday evening I went to the venue and ran the 5 km running loop. I was ecstatic to do it in 28 minutes, despite taking one wrong turn and running with a flimsy paper map in my hand. 

Today I upped my game even more and did my first transition training. Normally I when I’m feeling tri-inspired, I do a brick training: A short run after a cycling workout.

Last week a former Ironman athlete told me that I could also do a training focused only on the transitions. So instead of a difficult workout, I do a short interval on the bike, switch to running, do a short run and switch back again. This way, the focus is on the transition and not on the cycling/running workout. 

So my training today was build up as follows:

  • 10 km cycle, 1.5 km run
  • 10 km cycle, 1.5 km run
  • 10 km cycle, 3 km run

As you can see I did a lot of transitions with relatively little mileage. Here is a short list of things I learned about transitioning; most of them embarrassingly obvious:

  1. This session is best done at home where you can leave your bike in a safe spot while you run. Just do it when you know your neighbours won’t be hanging around in the street, cheering you on as you sprint down the street, only to appear seconds later in the driveway on a bike.
  2. Your bike should be in the lightest gear before the race. You don’t want to mount outside the transition area and then not be able to make an immediate speedy getaway because of a gear miscalculation.
  3. Don’t drink too much on the bike or during the transition: You’ll regret it during the run.
  4. Laces are hard to tie and untie when you’re tired. Since I have to transition into and out of running, I am going to invest in elastic laces and spare myself the frustration (twice).
  5. On race day, your cycling shoes should be all the way open so you can just slip your feet in after the run and fasten the straps.
  6. While it was a really good session for the transitions, I would extend the runs to at least 3km next time. This time they were just too short to really feel the fatigue before I had to jump on the bike again.
  7. Simplify the accessories you need. At first, I put on and removed my cycling gloves, but during the last transitions, I decided it was something I can do without.

This week I’m awaiting my first tri-gear delivery and I’m going to check out the race’s cycling course. Do you have any other advice for a duathlon newbie? Let me know in the comments below!

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