Smooth Transitions: A Triathlon Guide

Triathlons — a challenging, exhilarating test of endurance that pushes the human body to its limits, and yet, it is one of the most rewarding sports out there. Few things can match the sense of accomplishment felt when crossing that finish line after swimming, cycling, and running through miles of challenging terrain. 

At 2XU, we stand by each triathlete — beginner or veteran — with our range of high-performance gear designed to get you to the finish line and support your performance every step, pedal, and stroke of the way.

Understanding Triathlon: The Basics

A triathlon is a multi-discipline sport that combines swimming, cycling, and running in one event. Races can vary in distance, starting from sprint triathlons, which typically consist of a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride, and a 5km run, all the way up to the daunting Ironman with a 3.8km swim, 180km bike, and a 42km run. 

There's a triathlon for every fitness level, and part of the appeal is the versatility and balanced fitness it demands. As a triathlete, you are not just a swimmer, a cyclist, or a runner — you are all three.

Navigating through these three distinct disciplines requires strategic training, steadfast determination, and the right gear. And that's where 2XU comes in. 

We're committed to empowering triathletes to achieve their best through performance-supporting gear that provides muscular support, superior aerodynamics, and optimal comfort across all three stages of the race.

What Kind of Gear Is Needed?

Preparing for a triathlon isn't just about training hard; it's also about having the right gear. As a triathlete, your arsenal should include a few things:

Triathlon Suit

This is your main piece of gear. A triathlon suit — like our Core Sleeved Trisuit — is designed to be worn through all three stages of the race and to withstand the rigors of swimming, cycling, and running.

The Core Sleeved Trisuit's unique features, such as its excellent stretch and recovery memory, limit lower body muscle movement to soothe fatigue. Its premium Italian leg grippers ensure secure, breathable compression to maintain the suit's position. It's a multi-purpose companion built for endurance, transforming every stroke, pedal, and stride into a smooth transition.

Swimming Gear

While your triathlon suit is designed for the swim, additional gear is often required. This may include a wetsuit for cold water swims, a swim cap, and goggles. For those looking to further support their performance in the water, our Propel Swimskin is an excellent choice. 

Made with premium stretch-woven textiles from Italy and featuring an ergonomically engineered panel layout, this swimskin guarantees ultimate flexibility and minimal water resistance, maintaining your swim performance. 

The hydrophobic coating and high-tech bonded seam construction ensure the Propel Swimskin is water-resistant and durable, and the low profile auto-locking YKK zipper makes transitions a breeze.

Cycling Gear

Alongside your triathlon suit, you'll need a helmet for safety, cycling shoes for efficiency, and sunglasses for UV protection. A quality road or triathlon-specific bike is also crucial, and it should be professionally fitted to ensure maximum efficiency and minimize the risk of injury. 

Consider adding our Aero Short Sleeve Jersey to your gear collection to support your cycling performance and comfort. Engineered from lightweight and breathable premium Italian fabrics, this jersey is built for comfort and durability during rigorous training sessions under the sun.

Running Gear

The running portion of a triathlon demands a quality pair of running shoes that suit your gait and provide adequate support. It can be useful to have a lightweight hat, visor, and sunglasses to protect from the sun. Our Light Speed Compression Shorts are also an excellent addition to your running gear.

Equipped with our revolutionary Muscle Containment Stamping (MCS) technology, these shorts are developed with a detailed understanding of the impact running has on the legs. They work to reduce muscle movement and soothe discomfort and fatigue, ensuring your best run ever.

Nutrition and Hydration

These elements are often overlooked but are vital for success in a triathlon. You'll need a way to carry water or sports drinks, especially for longer distances, and easily accessible energy gels or bars to fuel your performance.

Transition Gear

Transition areas in a triathlon are where you switch from swimming to cycling, then from cycling to running. Essentials for these areas include a towel, an easy-to-open bag for gear, and perhaps a comfortable pair of slides to wear before and after the race.


A multisport watch can be very helpful in training and race days to track your pace, distance, and transition times. Heart rate monitors and power meters can also be instrumental in monitoring and controlling your effort throughout the race.

Choosing the right gear is crucial because it directly affects your comfort, speed, and overall performance. But remember, the best gear for you is what feels best for you, aligning with your needs, fit, and budget. 

Preparation and Training: A Comprehensive Approach

Preparing for a triathlon requires a comprehensive approach, with a training regimen that incorporates each of the three disciplines and ensures you're ready for the seamless transitions between them. Your plan should include a mix of swimming, biking, and running workouts and strength training sessions to build overall power and endurance.

Our advanced gear can aid in each training step, offering the muscle support, circulation, and mobility you need to push your boundaries. Beyond physical training, mental preparation is equally critical. Embrace the process, set realistic goals, visualize your race, and cultivate a positive mindset.

Remember, every journey starts with a single step, and every seasoned triathlete was once a beginner.

Mastering Transitions: From Swim-to-Bike (T1) and Bike-to-Run (T2)

In triathlon lingo, "T1" and "T2" refer to the two transition phases of the race. Mastering these transitions is crucial, as seamless shifts can shave off valuable time from your race.


T1, the swim-to-bike transition, involves shifting from a horizontal swimming position to an upright cycling stance, which can momentarily cause dizziness. Practice acclimating to this shift during your training. 

Once out of the water, swiftly remove your wetsuit (if applicable), don your helmet, and mount your bike. Our trisuits — designed for quick drying and optimal comfort — are ideal for this transition.


T2, the bike-to-run transition, often proves challenging due to “jelly legs” — the peculiar feeling when switching from pedaling to running. Incorporate “brick workouts” into your training routine to adapt your legs to this transition.

Dismount your bike at the marked line, rack it, switch your shoes if necessary, and begin the final leg of your triathlon.

Nutrition and Hydration: Fuelling Your Body

Fueling your body is paramount in triathlon training and racing. A balanced diet rich in lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats will provide the energy required for your workouts and recovery. 

Hydration, too, is crucial. Aim to drink water regularly throughout the day and increase your intake during long workout sessions.

On race day, have a high-carb, low-fiber meal about two to three hours before the start to ensure a steady energy supply. Hydrate well, and consider sports drinks that replenish electrolytes

Energy gels or bars can also provide a quick source of energy during the race. Post-race, consume a balanced meal with protein for muscle repair and carbs to replenish energy stores.

Common Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

As you embark on your triathlon journey, you're bound to encounter challenges. Here are some common mistakes triathletes make and our advice on how to avoid them:

  • Overtraining: Triathlon training is demanding, and the allure of pushing your limits can sometimes lead to overtraining. This can result in injuries, burnout, and a decline in performance. Listen to your body, allow rest days in your training schedule, and remember that recovery is just as important as training.
  • Neglecting Transitions: Novice triathletes often focus solely on the three disciplines and overlook the significance of the transitions. Practice your transitions during training to help make them more efficient and less stressful on race day.
  • Inadequate Fueling: Fueling your body is crucial for both training and the race itself. Ignoring nutrition and hydration can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and slower recovery. Plan your nutrition strategy well, testing it during your training to find what works best for you.
  • Skipping Gear Checks: Arriving at the race only to find a flat tire or a forgotten helmet can be devastating. Make a checklist of all the gear you need and double-check it the day before the race.
  • Ignoring the Mental Aspect: The mental game plays a pivotal role in triathlon success. Neglecting to train your mind can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and underperformance. Incorporate mental training into your preparation, focusing on positive self-talk, visualization, and relaxation techniques.
  • Inadequate Warm-Up: Failing to adequately warm up before the race can lead to a sluggish start and increased injury risk. Ensure you have a solid warm-up routine to prepare your body and mind for the exertion to come.

Tips for Smoother Transitions

Efficient transitions can significantly impact your overall triathlon performance, often shaving minutes off your race time. Here are our top tips, further expanded, to help you master your transitions:

Organize Your Gear

An organized transition area is a faster one. Lay out your gear in the order you'll use it. Keep it simple and systematic — position your helmet on your handlebars with straps open, place your cycling shoes next to your bike, ready to slip on, and keep your running shoes at the forefront for a quick change. Remember, every second counts in a triathlon.

Practice Transitions

The saying "practice makes perfect" holds particularly true for triathlon transitions. During training, make it a habit to rehearse moving from swimming to cycling and cycling to running. 

These training sets, often called brick workouts, help simulate the feeling of changing disciplines when fatigued. The more familiar you become with this sensation, the smoother and less daunting it will be on race day.

Keep It Simple

It's crucial to streamline your actions in the transition zone. Any unnecessary movement or complication can cost you precious time. For instance, consider investing in triathlon-specific gear that you can wear throughout all three race stages, eliminating the need to change outfits. Think of the most straightforward, efficient path from swim to bike and bike to run.

Mentally Prepare

Lastly, mental preparation is as important as physical training. Visualize each step of your transition before the race. 

Imagine yourself peeling off your wetsuit, donning your helmet, mounting your bike, switching to your running shoes, and every move in between. Pre-race visualization helps embed the transition processes in your memory, enabling you to execute them seamlessly under race conditions.

Triathlons are indeed demanding, but they're also deeply rewarding. With the right combination of dedicated training, meticulous preparation, and performance-enhancing gear, you're equipped to meet the challenge head-on and experience the profound sense of achievement that comes with crossing the finish line.

Conclusion: Your Triathlon Journey Begins

Embarking on your triathlon journey might seem daunting, but with the right mindset, preparation, and gear, you can embrace and enjoy the challenge. Remember, it's not about how fast you can go—it's about setting a goal, overcoming obstacles, and enjoying the process.

The road to triathlon success is built one step at a time, and with each stride, pedal, and stroke, you're not just moving forward—you're becoming a stronger, more resilient version of yourself. 

With 2XU as your trusted partner in this journey, there's no limit to what you can achieve. 

So gear up, step out, and dive into the world of triathlon. Your journey begins today!


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