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Transitions key for triathlon success

The secrets to mastering bricks

Experienced triathletes know that quick transitions are necessary for low race times. But, according to George Dallam, PhD, USA Triathlon's first national team coach, transitions are often difficult to master because rapid changes in movement put stress on the body. "When you stop doing one activity and begin doing another very soon afterward, your body must make adjustments in blood flow, nervous system regulation, and muscular tension," Dallam says.

The bike-to-run transition, or brick, is the most difficult to master, making the body change from a static and crouched position on the bike to an upright and dynamic position on the run. In his new book, Championship Triathlon Training, Dallam offers tips for mastering bricks.

  1. Prepare for the bike-to-run transition by flexing and extending your back on the bike and maintaining or increasing cadence to run-stride rate or above.
  2. Pull your feet out of your shoes while riding and then dismount at speed, leaving your shoes clipped into your pedals.
  3. Run with your bike.
  4. Minimize equipment you will need to put on in the transition area for the run (that is, put on only your shoes in this area).
  5. Put on your running shoes while standing.
  6. Put on any other equipment-hat, glasses, and race belt-while running.

"Once these basic skills have been established, specific transition training sessions can be instituted for continued improvement in a race-specific environment," Dallam says. "These sessions can then be timed as intervals from entry to exit and can be used as a baseline for improving performance."

Championship Triathlon Training offers advice on complex speed and endurance training, race-specific training and strategy, and training for strength.

This is adapted from Championship Triathlon Training.