Day 26 – Mastering Triathlon Transitions

148 Days until IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga

Do T1 and T2 Matter?

In my opinion, T1 and T2 matter. If you are trying to get on the podium of an olympic or sprint distance race, then you should train for and master your transitions. We hear this quite a bit from YouTubers, bloggers, podcasters, and coaches, but is there evidence to support the claim? I haven’t come across any quantifiable evidence besides theoretical considerations which mounts to little more than the assumption that cutting down time in any aspect of the race is beneficial.

I am, however, aware of one exception: me. I’m not tooting my own horn. (If I did toot my own horn it would probably sound like Taps). I take transition times seriously when I want to do well in a race and what I’ve found is that T1 and T2 times matter.

Numerifying The Process

Over the last 12 years of racing, I’ve gathered quite a bit of data. I’m a dataphile. The data set suggests that fast transitions can help boost overall race perform. Thirty two sprint races are represented Table 1 and of those 32, 21 race times were improved by overall transition time ( the sum of T1 and T2 times). Nine races were not affected by transition time and only two races were negatively affected by transition time.

On average, the slow transitions (Negative effect) reduced race rank by one full placing. In this context, a reduction of rank is a move farther away from first place. The rank for swim, bike and run, SBR rank, which does not include transition time, was 10.5 compared to 11.5 for overall average time rank.

On the other hand, transitions with a positive effect increased race rank by two full placings. In several of these cases, overall place was 3rd or better.

Table1. The effect of transition time on overall race rank for 32 races

The magnitude of rankings in the table might suggest that I’m worrying about transition when I should be more concerned about my swim, bike and run fitness. However, there are some outliers in the data such as flat tires and a wetsuit drag issue that skewed the distribution.

If you are looking to increase your ranking, take a look at your transitions. The following video gives the details behind the numbers in the table above. I hope you take a look at it, because I’d like to know your comments and if you have any tricks of your own for faster transitions.

There’s also a YouTube playlist of my tips and tricks.

Until tomorrow…