As time inches closer and closer to my first sprint triathlon, I find myself worrying more and more about the little details of a tri. What is, for example, the fastest way to get through triathlon transitions? (Or, for me, what is any way to get through a triathlon transition?) I know I need to practice transitions, but how does one do that at home? Here are a five helpful tips I’ve found:

1. Draw a Triathlon Transition Area Plan

Hazen Kent on Tri-Newbies Online has a tip that will appeal to those people who are more visual learners. Sit down at home in front of your bike, he advises. “Draw a line down the center of the sheet of paper creating two columns. One column will be a list of those things that will be attached to the bike located in the transition area and the other will be those items you will be responsible for upon hopping on your two-wheeler for the bicycle leg.” Each side has a list. Click the link to see the whole thing.

2. Set Up a Triathlon Transition Area at Home

Joe LoPresto, the founder and head coach of Experience Triathlon LLC in Chicago, writes in the article, “Transitions: Plan and Practice” on USATriathlon.org, that triathletes should set up a small transition area on a towel at home (think carefully about where everything is placed). Run up to your transition area as if you just got done with the swim, he advises. (See tip 3 below for a way to practice the swim-to-run transition.)

“One trick I like to use is to go through the entire ‘grab and go’ sequence in very slow motion, making mental notes and taking mental video with your eyes on how it all flows,” writes LoPresto in the article. “Then as you practice it over and over again, tell your mind to re-run the video sequences you just burned into the brain. Always do the steps in the same order, like grab sunglasses, then helmet, then buckle helmet, then socks (if used), then shoes, then lift bike off rack, then run with bike to transition exit. Keep it simple and easy to repeat!”

3. How to Practice the Swim-to-Run Transition

On the PowerTri blog, triathlete David Warden has a great tip for practicing the swim-to-run transition: “Practice transitions daily for a few days before the race, including putting on your triathlon wetsuit, stepping into the shower, and taking it off wet.” Click the link for his advice on how to take off the wetsuit.

4. Triathlon Transition Details to Think About Before the Race

The Greeley Triathlon Club in Colorado, published a helpful triathlon transition tips document online. The list of questions at the end are incredibly helpful. I’m thinking of printing it out. Here are a few of them (click the link to see the tips document and the full list of questions):

  • Where is the bike, how many rows, on what side?
  • Where will I throw my wetsuit when I rip it off so I don’t get it in the way when I return and I can find it when I leave, and everyone will not trample all over it?
  • Where do I exit and renter transition? Can I walk or run?

5. Practice Triathlon Transitions at the Race Site

PowerTri’s Warden also says you should walk through the transitions as you will go through them on race day. “Go from Swim In to your spot, go to Bike Out. Go from Bike Out to your spot, and then to Run Out. Mentally and physically map out your path to and from these points.”