Want to shave 30 seconds off your duathlon time without training, and without spending a week’s wages on gear? Improve your transition.
Just like we train to run and ride faster, we should also train to transition faster. I know it’s boring. And people stare at you like a loon when you hop around in your driveway or in front of your apartment building. I’ve been there! But consistent practice of the simple art of putting on a bike helmet and switching from running to cycling shoes will save you precious seconds in your next race.
USA Triathlon published a comprehensive article on how to master the fast duathlon transition. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I guide you to it here.
The Clif Notes: 1) Visualize. 2) Practice. 3) Slow is smooth; smooth is fast. 4) Make sure your bike is in an easy gear. 5) In T2, after you rack your bike, don’t forget to take off your helmet!
Side Note: one common tip is to keep your cycling shoes attached to your bike. When you finish your first run, slip off your shoes, run barefoot or sock-footed to the mount line, and mount the bike cyclocross style. I’ve watched elites do this. Do I do this? Heck no. I’m clumsy and scared of biting it on the pavement.
In time, maybe I’ll get up my nerve to practice this trick, but for now, I practice changing my shoes very quickly. I invested in triathlon/duathlon-specific cycling shoes, which speeds things up because they don’t have buckles. Mine are an older model of the Sidi T4 .They’re just as comfy and sturdy as Sidi’s road shoes.
For added edge, you could invest in Pyro Platform pedals. Pyro pedals resemble toe clips, but with a longer and stiffer base. Fans say they save loads of time in transition with little to no loss of power. I’ve seen everyone from professional sprint-distance athletes to top-ranking age groupers use them. They eliminate the flying-mount-crash risk, which may be worth the investment!
For faster feet, consider tri/du-specific shoes. Pierce Footwear introduced the first laceless, sockless, tongueless running shoe for duathlon and triathlon. However, last time I checked they were out of stock.
In the alternative, try a model from Zoot or Pearl Izumi. They come with elastic laces you don’t have to tie. If you want to wear your regular running shoes, pick up a pair of Lock Laces. Bonus: my racing flats fit better on my narrow feet with elastic laces.
Do you have any speedy transition tips? Tell us in the comments below!