With all the time spent working on your swimming, refining your cycling and speeding up your running, the transitions can be overlooked. Understandable; it’s only a small sliver of your total time from start to finish.

But what if you could make it even smaller? Or, at the very least, what if you could assure that your transition time doesn’t get any longer (either by accident or by a lack of preparation)?

Triathletes have tried a lot of things to keep the transition area from being a time suck. Here are three ideas to make sure your time in transition is as minimal as possible.

Make Your Area Hard to Miss

Row after row of bikes can make it hard to find your stuff in a typical triathlon.

If your transition area is at the end of a row, it’s probably fine. But what if it’s right smack in the middle of the lot, surrounded by rows and rows of bikes? The last thing you want to do coming out of the water is spend any amount of time figuring out where your bike is.

At the 2013 Encinitas Triathlon in California, the transition area was highlighted by a giant helium Angry Birds balloon tied to the rack, floating about 5 feet above the mass of bikes and other gear.

It elicited a chuckle from several spectators walking by, but it wasn’t meant to be funny. It was a way for that racer to get out of the water and head straight to the right spot. Just follow the angry bird.

If a balloon isn’t your thing (or isn’t allowed), drape a hot pink towel over your bike seat. Or something else that will be hard to miss. It could end up preventing a disastrous (and deflating) delay in the middle of your race.

Know Where to Leave

With swimmers coming in, cyclists going out, cyclists coming in and runners going out (and sometimes, runners finishing at the nearby finish line), you’d be surprised how easy it is to get discombobulated when leaving a transition area.

While you’re getting your area set up, make sure you make a mental note of where both the bike exit and run exit are located. Use mental imagery to envision yourself heading out of your transition area toward the right spot during both transitions.

Sometimes, the exits are on opposite sides of the transition area, so going to the wrong one could add up to a minute to your total time.

If all else fails, ask a volunteer; there should be one close by. Or, follow the other triathletes and hope they’re right.

Practice Running With Your Bike

Typically, you won’t be allowed to get on your bike until you’re out of the transition area. To best get out of the area, you will need to run with your bike.

The fundamental way to do this is to run alongside your bike with one hand on the seat or handlebars and the other hand free. Then, when you’re allowed to mount, get on while you’re still moving.

The best way to get good at this is to go out and practice. Go to a school parking lot on a weekend and work on it—both running with the bike and mounting on the run. Get comfortable—not only will it boost your confidence come race day, but it will cut a few seconds off your final time.

Article by Ryan Wood from Active.com