Triathlon Tips: Ways To Shave Time

Triathlon Tips

Aero frames work. They reduce air resistance, which ultimately results in a considerable amount of time being saved. This applies equally to aerodynamic wheels, aerodynamic helmets and a posture that limits wind resistance. But you already know all that.

If you want to gain a competitive edge without breaking the bank, try these tips from some of the most experienced and knowledgeable speed practitioners to help you gain speed quickly and efficiently.

Transition and Footwear

2012 U.S. When competing in short-distance races, Sarah Groff (2 x USA Olympian Triathlete and Ironman) believes that if there is ever a doubt, it should be discarded. She advises identifying what is necessary for the race and getting rid of anything that is not important in the transition zone.

Effectively handling your equipment makes a more significant impact on transition times than merely having the necessary materials. Groff provides four methods to ensure a smooth shift.

1. Meet your gear halfway. The quickest ITU athletes have a tendency to bend over at the waist to put on their equipment. By doing so, the tools will cover a shorter route and your body remains more aligned and organized.

2. Practice until it becomes second nature. Before competing with fresh headgear, I drill applying and removing it systematically. I may seem silly taking five minutes to fasten and unfasten my equipment, but it’s a better option than trying to work out a new clasp and risk being left behind by the others.

3. Dress on the move. If you are prone to dropping your sunglasses at T1, it is better to leave them attached to your bike and just put them on when you have reached the desired speed. In T2, make sure to get ahold of your belt and hat and put them on while you are rushing.

4. Think it through and move slowly. You should always factor in visualizing the transition process when planning ahead for the race. Allow the layout and structure of the shift period to assist in forming your choices.

If athletes attempt to shift too rapidly, blunders are much more probable. Reducing the speed of your actions will lead to fewer mistakes and inconveniences.


Discovering the correct wetsuit is dependent on your comfort and the amount of buoyancy it provides. Genadijus Sokolovas, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree and is a senior physiologist at Global Sport Technology, discusses the importance not just of buoyancy, but also it’s positioning.

Sokolovas, who was USA Swimming’s director of physiology and sport science from 2000 to 2008, made and employs a tool which can determine how successful one swimsuit is for a given swimmer compared to another.

He has not noticed any suits that are faster than the others he has looked at, but two main developments have occurred.

Sokolovas suggests performing a straightforward examination to determine if a swimmer needs a suit with a lot of flotation in the hips and legs. Maintain a streamlined posture while floating at the surface of the water without progressing. Note down the amount of time it takes for the legs to sink to the bottom of the pool.

“Fast sinking is [going vertical] within 10 seconds. If you use a highly buoyant suit, it can help you hold a semi-upright, semi-sidelong posture for up to 30 or 40 seconds. If you sink within 10 seconds, this equipment can save you a lot of time.

Athletes that are skilled at staying close to the water can explore possibilities with less buoyancy without reducing their speed significantly.

The thickest layer of neoprene that is acceptable for USAT and WTC competitions is 5 millimetres.

If you don’t pass the buoyancy exam, make sure you only look for wetsuits with 5-millimetre panels in the hips and legs area. Neoprene with air bubbles in it can float even better than regular neoprene.

The psychological advantage of donning a sleeveless suit should not be overlooked, even though top athletes routinely opt for a full-sleeve wetsuit while competing. Sokolovas states that the higher amount of the body one covers, the less resistance one experience when swimming.

He has discovered that wearing a suit with full-length sleeves is more practical compared to one with no sleeves. Some people may not be fond of wearing clothes with sleeves, but that doesn’t mean that those sleeves wouldn’t be beneficial. It’s just a feeling they have.”

Bike Setup

Did you check Your Tyre pressures?

No amount of aerodynamic tinkering is of any use if the athlete runs out of gas or gets a puncture and has to pull over. The fact is that most bikes used for triathlon racing must be outfitted with things for longer races.

Specialized aerodynamics R&D engineer Chris Yu’s aim is to achieve the idea of a “no-loss gain”, meaning riding with additional cargo or items without increasing the amount of drag.

Positioning your essentials neatly can enable your bike to move swiftly in the wind. Even seemingly inconsequential details can have a major impact.

1. Pack behind the saddle. Yu suggests that ensuring items are well secured behind the saddle is a surefire way to guarantee that nothing is lost. Fastening/attaching/securing puncture repair materials to either side of a container is an efficient way to transport them.

2. Store between the arms. The space between the aerobar extensions is also very important. Having a bottle positioned horizontally between the arms is virtually undetectable in terms of the wind.

3. Hide your bag. Yu mentions that if you possess a bike that does not have a front-side integration, you can put things behind the stem to benefit from this situation with no disadvantages.

4. Fix your number. Yu states that a lot of triathletes can work on their positioning of numbers. Athletes competing in Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events must display their bib numbers on their bikes as well as on their running gear.

You may invest a significant amount of cash for a taut tri suit that won’t be worth it if you have loose numbers drag during the race. The amount of power needed for a cyclist travelling at 40 kilometres per hour is more than five watts. The amount of energy you save by using less power is usually the contrast between an ill-fitting shirt and a nicely tailored, form-fitting triathlon suit.

Securing the lower section of the number is allowed but not tucking the entire number into the waistband or draping it over the midsection, which goes against race regulations. It is worth taking the extra time to make sure the edge is secured, either by using two belts or Velcroing it to the suit.

Attaching bottles to the frame normally reduces the bike’s speed. According to Damon Rinard, engineer of advanced research and design at Cervélo, the implementation of standard aero bottles onto the seat tube or down tube of a bicycle has not made any of the measured bikes faster.

Despite some studies from the mid-90s claiming otherwise, when round-tube bikes without a dummy were tested, it seems there is a certain amount of drag added when using bottles such as the Bontrager Speed Bottle. However, this drag is still relatively less than that generated by round bottles.

Round bottles should be avoided when possible, and aero bottles are preferable. When adding a round bottle to the majority of aero bikes, usually it can increase the drag by about 50 grams.

An aero bottle causes roughly 25 grams of wind resistance. This amount of drag can amount to a 10-second difference throughout an Olympic-distance triathlon.


Again – Did you check Your Tyre pressures?

The tyre is an essential factor in making a bike that slices through the air efficiently since they are both the initial and final part of the bike to experience the wind. Various wheel suppliers including Zipp, Bontrager and Mavic have conducted trials which have highlighted the significance of having the right tyre for a certain rim.

The newest type of aerodynamic wheel hubs, with brake tracks ranging from 23mm to 28mm wide, usually works well with both thin and thick tyres, in contrast to older wheels fitted with narrow 19mm brake tracks, which offer superior performance with a thin tyre.

When choosing tyres, aerodynamic performance is only one of the factors to consider. The way a tyre interacts with the pavement is a key factor in terms of providing performance and comfort.

It may seem contrary to common sense, however, wider tyres on a road bike result in less rolling resistance than thinner ones.

Al Morrison, a specialist in cycling, has been running an increasing number of rolling resistance tests on numerous top-tier race tires since 2006. His studies have uncovered that, by substituting a slow-rolling tyre with a fast-rolling tyre, a rider can gain the same amount of time that they would be switching from an elite aero frame to an average one.

Morrison’s evaluations indicated that a tyre with a 25mm width has about 15% reduced rolling friction compared to an equivalent 23mm width tyre.

Before Race Day

  • Practice a dry run of each race transition to check your gear organization.
  • Make sure your bike is tuned up. Put new tubes on your tires if they’re old.
  • Make sure your fitness monitor has a battery that won’t quit during the race. (See the REI Expert Advice article, Fitness Monitors: How to Choose, for monitor options.)
  • Label all of your gear with an indelible marker. Write your name and phone number on the inside of your running and biking shoes, on the tag inside your wetsuit, inside your helmet, etc.
  • If required by race organizers, put reflective tape on your running gear.
  • Make a race-day checklist. Start with REI’s triathlon checklist and customize it.
  • Two nights before, try to get a good night of sleep—that’s when you’re most likely to get quality sleep.
  • Make sure your toenails are clipped.
  • Avoid using new gear (e.g., clip-on pedals) for the first time on race day.
  • Make sure you know the directions to the race start.
  • Study the course so you know what to expect. Where are the turns, uphills, downhills or flats? How many aid stations? Where are they located?

The Night Before

Sort through your possessions: Display all items and review your list of requirements. Put similar items in distinct containers to simplify organization. Example:

  • Swim/morning bag. What you need for the swim is in this one; put any extra clothing you will wear in the morning in it, too.
  • Bike gear bag.
  • Bike special-needs bag. This is what you’ll want out on the course for lube, food or drink.
  • Run gear bag.
  • Run special-needs bag.

Put all of these bags into your transition bag.

Maintain your regular diet: Avoid introducing any new food items; stick to eating what you usually have. Make sure to include protein sources such as chicken, fish, or turkey, some healthy sources of fat such as avocados, nuts, or olives, and lots of carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans in your diet. It is advisable to consume this style of food for three days leading up to your event.

Get some sleep: Go to bed early. If you’re anxious about arising in the morning, use multiple alarms (such as an alarm clock, the alarm on a watch, a cell phone or a wake-up call) for a more tranquil and undisturbed rest.

Morning of the Race

  • Eating: Eat something. As with the previous night’s meal, eat the same foods your body is used to eating, and eat at least 2 hours before the race so the food can digest. Oatmeal, pasta, baked potatoes, pancakes and muffins are good choices. A beverage high in carbohydrates is a good alternative if you have problems with eating and digesting foods before a race.
  • Clothing: It’ll probably be cool in the morning, so dress in layers. Swimsuit, compression clothing and/or tri suit, light shirt, sweatshirt, sweatpants and hat.
  • Arrival: Get there about an hour before the race, and remember where you parked your car. If transition spots are not pre-assigned, the earlier you get there the better choice you’ll have in selecting a spot. Plus, it can be fun talking to the other athletes.
  • Check in: Take your number with you to the officials and get marked. If it’s a USA Triathlon (USAT) sanctioned race, make sure you have your membership card and photo identification.
  • Special needs bags: These bags should contain items you may need or want; they will be placed at the halfway point of the bike and run. Contents usually include food, liquids, lubricants and clothing. Take the bags to the race volunteers who will get them to the appropriate place for you on the course.
  • Transition deadline: Make sure you know what time the transition area closes. You want to have all your gear there and set up before it does.

Setting Up the Transition Area

Become acquainted with the changing area and make sure your equipment is properly arranged. This will make sure that there is no delay when swapping from swimming to cycling in the first transition stage and then moving on to running in the second transition.


  • If you can choose your own spot, look for one at the end of a row and close to the exit. This is usually a good location for the bike exit.
  • Make your spot visually distinctive—with a balloon, bandana, flag, ribbon or funky towel—so it’s easy to find.
  • Memorize your spot by walking from the water’s edge to the T1 transition area. Take note of landmarks to help find your bike.

Set Up Your Gear for T1 and T2

  • Space is limited. Bring only what is necessary.
  • Lay your items on an open towel so you can stand on it and wipe your feet clean and dry while putting on your helmet.
  • Open the straps on your cycling shoes.
  • Clothing and socks don’t go well onto wet bodies, so roll your socks down to the toes to put them on easier. Do the same with sleeves or other clothing you might put on.
  • Set the socks in your shoes.
  • Attach the race number to the bike frame, helmet and the clothing you’ll be wearing for the bike and/or run. Don’t fold or cut it—you could get a penalty.

Tip: Use a race belt to attach race numbers. Putting it on is a breeze and it serves both your biking and running needs, not to mention that you don’t need any safety pins. Make sure that the number on the back of your cycling attire is easily visible, and then switch it to the front when you start running.

  • Place your helmet with straps out and upside down on the aero bars.
  • Put your sunglasses into the helmet with arms open so you can put the glasses on first, then the helmet.
  • Have a water bottle for rinsing your feet after the swim; you may want some sips during the transition, too.
  • If using a hydration belt, have the bottles filled and any energy food loaded.
  • If the weather is questionable, cover the gear with plastic.

A suggestion to use a 5-gallon bucket as a transition bag is offered; this bucket can be flipped upside down and used as a seat for switching shoes.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button