Ironman Transition Tips

By Vinnie Santana, coach, ironguides.net

The Ironman Taiwan in Kenting is a race in which many Asian based athletes will make their debut at this distance. A subject that is often overlooked at the time of training, but of great importance, is the logistics of the transitions, and how to proceed during this phase of your first Ironman.

As a general rule, the faster the athlete, the more important transition is in its general result because every minute can mean a podium place or a place to Kona. The transition can also be part of the race strategy, how to rest early in the cycling until a group goes over it at a pace that you can follow.

However, in the case of beginner athletes, the transition has an impact in the opposite direction. A quick transition can result in lost time during cycling or running, if you ever have problems with the gear used. Generally, the discomfort is a major cause of this problem. Blisters, rashes, pain, everything can be avoided with planning and care.

Check out some tips and considerations that are part of transitions 1 and 2 in an Ironman for beginners or athletes who have never considered it.


Transition 1:

Most importantly is the use or not of a wetsuit. If used, it allows the athlete to use the cycling gear underneath the wetsuit, which would not be possible without the neoprene, as the pockets in trisuits are not good for fast swimming, holding the athlete back in the water.

However, due to ambient temperature, care must be taken with the fact that swimming with a trisuit will mean being quite cold at the beginning of cycling, an important fact to consider. This is something very individual needs to consider how harmful it can be. Some athletes do not care, while others are forced to abandon the race due to hypothermia. Its unlike it will be too cold in Taiwan, but at this time of the year we can expect mid-teens celcius degrees and maybe some rain.

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In relation to what kind of gear to use, I suggest then to do what one does in practice, ie, shorts and cycling jersey, the comfort of shorts and the convenience of pockets on the shirt, are worth it in such a long race.

Transition 2:

To change into fresh clothes is extremely comfortable, and somehow makes the athlete feel much better than using the same suit for the entire race. Run with the same material that is used on your long run, even shoes, shorts and shirt, do not use anything new on race day. Dry socks are also key to prevent blisters, which literally can stop you during the race depending on the severity.

Another tip that will save you a few seconds, but does not help you in everything you need to make the transition, is to use a plastic bag in the transition bag where you can put several loose items that would be necessary in transition. Items such as petroleum jelly, gel, sunglasses, cap, salt capsules, number, and any other type of small size material, makes it possible to manage while you run.


Keep in mind exactly what you will do in the transition. Organize your bag so to facilitate the order of this process. For example, everything you will save or used first, is placed last in the bag.

Moreover, in the final minutes of the previous courses, make a preview of the transition process, once you are close to the sand in swimming, already visualize the entire process occurring naturally and efficiently, without haste, but without loss of time. Do the same in the final kilometers of cycling.

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And remember, seconds saved in transition, can mean minutes (or hours!) gained during the race.

Enjoy your training,

Vinicius Santana


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