In a sprint triathlon, five minutes can be the difference between first and last place in your age group. But dropping your race time by that much time can seem almost impossible when you’re already swimming, biking, and running as fast as you possibly can.
However, there is an easy way to lower your triathlon sprint race time without being a world class swimmer, biker, or runner. The trick is to focus on your time outside of the actual sporting events. What do I mean by this? Well, there are a couple of times during the race when you are not swimming, biking, or running. These are called transition. By lowering your time in transition, you can easily drop those last couple of minutes of your PR.
The first area to focus on is the transition between the swim and the next event, the bike. This transition tends to take longer than the bike-to-swim transition, so there are a few things you can do to lower your time here. One thing to do is really evaluate whether or not you need a wetsuit. Getting out of a wetsuit after your swim can be a real time waster. Wetsuits are not easy to get off to begin with, but add that to the adrenaline going through you as you’re racing and sometimes it can take a lot of time to get it off. If you’re able to use do the swim without resorting to a wetsuit, you’ll definitely save some time, sometimes even up to a couple of minutes.
Another way to save time during the swim-bike transition is to have your bike facing the right way on the transition bike racks. Many triathletes like to put their bikes in front wheel first; however, this takes more time when getting your bike out. It’s faster to store your bike back wheel first and hang your bike on the transition racks using your seat instead of your handlebars.
Finally, try biking without socks. If you can get comfortable in training biking (and then running) without socks, you’ll save time by not having to fiddle with them during transition.
The bike-run transition tends to be shorter than the first transition, and sometimes will only take 10 – 15 seconds for those that really have the transition down. While there’s not as much time-saving techniques you can use in such a short period of time, there are some things you can do.
For starters, during your training sessions, practice getting your feet out of your bike shoes and riding with them on top of your shoes. As you come into transition during a race with your feet already out of your shoes, you’ll be able to save time transition to your running shoes.
Speaking of running shoes, consider using a lacing system that doesn’t require you to tie your shoes. This can be a huge time suck. Instead, install some sort of quick-lace system in your running shoes that allows you to put on your running shoes quickly without having to spend time tying them.
These few steps will help to drastically reduce your transition time and overall sprint triathlon time, getting you ever closer to that podium finish.