Five Ironman Triathlon transition tips


Here are five Ironman Triathlon transition tips for those who are taking on their very first Ironman.

Most new triathletes tend to focus most on swimming, biking, and running and give little thought to the importance of what goes on during the two transitions.

As a result, easily preventable mistakes that can often have a negative impact on how the day turns out are made over and over again by the novice ironman.
Here are five things to consider that will help you in your ironman transitions


During the bike check-in before race-day you will be allowed into the transition area. This is a good time to orientate yourself and learn where everything is. You will also have another opportunity on race morning if you get there early enough.

Regardless if you want to have your fastest ironman time possible, or just want to reach the finish line any time before the 17-hour mark, it’s important to have seamless, safe,  relaxed transitions.

First of all find out where you will be exiting the water after the swim on race morning. Also find out where the exit to the bike and run courses will be, where the the change tent is, and where the dismount area will be once you come into transition at the end of the bike leg.

Once you know exactly where your swim/bike and bike/run transition bags will be in relation to the end of the swim and bike, you will be able to count the rows before-hand and it will make it far easier to find your transition bags. You can’t really count on the volunteers to get them for you. This is  especially true if you are a mid-pack swimmer and biker. Often volunteers are over-whelmed and it will be up to you to get your own.

You will also be able to find your bike much easier once you know exactly where you will exit the change tent. Ironman races are getting bigger and bigger and when there are 2,500 or 3,000 triathletes in the event, it makes for lots of bikes and lots of transition bags and it’s easy to get confused when things get hectic.


It is really counter-productive to “run” as soon as you exit the water. For one thing, you have been in a horizontal position for quite some time and it takes your body a little time to adjust to being in a vertical position once you stand up.

Quite often you will notice that you are a bit dizzy when you first exit the water after a long swim regardless if it’s in training or in a triathlon. Your blood circulation has most likely been concentrated on your working muscles in the swim and when you stand up it causes a change in blood flow and it takes a little while to adjust.

Also, it will do you more good to relax and walk to the wet-suit strippers, the change tent, and your bike as it will keep your heart-rate down. For the few seconds you will save by running, it’s simply not worth it. An escalating heart-rate means a waste of vital energy that is unrecoverable once you lose it and your day is just beginning.


This is another area where your body needs to adjust to the new physical demands you are placing on it.

Drinking and eating the moment you exit the water might not be the best plan. It can be upsetting to  your digestive system and although you have used energy and can become a bit dehydrated in the long ironman swim, it’s in your best interest to wait 15 minutes or so.

The time to take that first food and drink is when you have established some sort of rhythm on the bike. Once you start eating and drinking, you will be able to eat and drink at regular intervals from that point on.


A lot of accidents happen in the bike-mounting area and it’s important to keep yourself out of trouble. If you are a mid-pack swimmer, there may well be dozens of people trying to get on their bikes the same time you are.

There are a few things you can do to make it safer for yourself. First of all before the swim start ensure that you have left your bike in the easiest gear. In every single ironman race there will be triathletes who have left their chain in the big ring and struggle to get momentum and are swerving all over the place. Sometimes they just fall over and will often take others with them.

By using a smaller gear you will have much more control of your bike and will be able to avoid others more easily. Once you get some momentum and are clear of traffic you can work your way up though the gears.

It’s also much safer to lock one of your pedals in before you mount the bike. For instance, if  you lock in your left foot you can push off with your right and at least you will have some control if it takes  you a while to get the other foot locked in.

Quite often you will notice people with neither foot locked in and they are struggling to get at least one in and they are slowed right down and often cause accidents or fall over themselves.


When  you are in the final kilometer or two of the bike it’s time to begin to prepare for the bike/run transition.

Stand up on the pedals and slowly stretch each leg out. You are sure to be stiff and sore and it’s important to do all you can to prepare for the run.

You will be instructed to slow down coming into the transition area while approaching the volunteers who will catch your bike. Once they are holding  your bike, dismount slowly and do not try and hit the ground running as some people do.

It’s really the same idea as when you go from the swim to the bike. You have to allow your body time to adjust from the constant circular motion of biking to the entirely different concept of running.

When you scout the transition area before the race, you should also have noted where the medical tent is in case you are in need of assistance before heading out on the run. You should also know exactly where to find your transition bag in the event you have to get it yourself.

You should also know there the porta-potties are. This is the time to make use of them as they are normally few and far between once you get out on the run course.

Even if you are not worried about how long it takes you to finish the race, do not make the mistake of taking too long in transition. Some people spend 25 or 30 minutes in the transitions and then miss either the combined swim-bike cut-off time or the race finish cut-off by a few minutes.

It’s not really wise, nor necessary, to run through the transitions, but just keep a steady walking pace and do what you have to do and carry on with your race.

It will help you have a much more enjoyable ironman experience if you take the time to plan a race-day strategy that will ensure you have seamless, safe, and energy-saving transitions.



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