If you made a list on the most intense and harshest sports on the globe then a triathlon would definitely be on that list. A triathlon is a competition involving perpetual and persevering endurance contests. Meaning, a triathlon is simply a multi-level competition that commonly features contests in swimming, cycling, and running. It is an individual sports in which participants are competing for the greatest time. Originating from France in the early 1920s, this sport is certainly a unique one.
Well – how long is a piece of string? You can race a triathlon on an entry level road bike, wearing trainers – or you can spend a fortune on the best triathlon bike, wetsuit and tri-suit money can buy. Here’s a look at the key components…
Training for a triathlon is daunting in and of itself—and that’s before you realize all the gear you need for the months of training leading up to race day and, oh yeah, race day too.
What’s the best type of triathlon gear for you and does the climate/water temperature differ between where you’re training and competing? (Short answer: yes.) What are the most effective triathlon gear and accessories to keep your workouts on track so you’re constantly improving but not overtraining? What clothing will keep you most comfortable transitioning from swim to bike to run? And how do you even begin to find the right bike?
Triathlon clothing or triathlon gear comes in several shapes and sizes. At any given triathlon, you will see people wearing all kinds of different combinations, and people train for triathlons wearing any number of different garments and types of workout gear. With the growth in popularity of triathlon since about 2000, and the addition of many more women to the sport in recent years, tri clothing or triathlon gear has become more specialized and many more choices now exist. While there is no hard and fast rule on what you have to wear in a triathlon, there are a few general themes that hold true for good triathlon clothing, and a few decisions you will want to make in order to be comfortable and perform well. For purposes of offering guidance, we will provide our perspective on the best clothing choices for triathlons. Note that which options you ultimately choose may depend on your overall budget, and if your goal is simply to finish a triathlon or to be competitive in your age group.
Every race and competition has rules, but the rules of triathlon vary differently according to its governing body. Nevertheless, there is still a common rule. In a triathlon, participants are forbidden to receive help from the outside, except for aid volunteers who distribute food and drinks. Also, participants must start when prompted. Other rules in various other triathlons are varied. Moreover, aid volunteers are spread throughout given points in a race to assist competitors. They give out food, water, energy drinks, fruits, and even cookies. Also, at the end of the race there are refreshments. There are many sorts of essential triathlon gear that a participant of a triathlon must have. The assorted triathlon gear comes as follows: bodyglide, swimsuits, wetsuits, goggles, ear plugs, bike, helmet, patch kit, spare tire, wrench set (tools), pump, tri shorts, fuel belt, water bottle, and warm clothing.
Triathlon is a sport that is gaining popularity every year. One of the benefits that draw competitors into the sport of triathlon is its overall fitness. It is true that triathlons help people gain and maintain a strong and healthy body. Some people claim that it even reduces stress levels. Whatever the case may be, triathlon is a popular worldwide sport that is continuously gaining participants as the world goes on.
Cool triathlon gear is the great part of starting out in triathlons but for your first triathlon it does not need to be a costly affair. Here’s what you need to get started
The first question you may need to answer is whether to get a triathlon suit or not. Most high-end triathletes wear a triathlon suit because it offers a one-piece, all-purpose piece of gear that can be worn from the moment you arrive at the race to the post-race cool down. The majority of racers we observe, however, use a combo that is not as specialized (or expensive) as a triathlon suit.
A good triathlon suit is designed specifically for triathlon, and offers benefits that may help you race faster and be as comfortable as possible. It will be great in the water, providing a skin of sorts that fits well beneath your wetsuit or as your only garment in the water. It will be quick-drying so that by the time you are on the bike, you are dry enough to not chafe – this is very important. It also prevents the need for adding / subtracting clothing at a transition, helping you breeze through to the next leg as quickly as possible.
We have entire sections devoted to wearing triathlon wetsuits, so won’t belabor it here. Suffice it to say that if your race allows it and water temperatures aren’t above 78 or so, a wetsuit is often a good idea but you will always find some people racing without them. In addition to keeping you warm in the water, a good wetsuit will make you more buoyant and balanced as you swim, as well as assist you as you glide through the water. Most racers who use wetsuits find that their swim times decrease, more than making up for the additional time required during the first transition to remove the wetsuit.
Depending on where in the world you’re competing, a wetsuit may be compulsory for the swim leg of your triathlon. Even if it’s not required by the event organisers, beginners should still wear one. As well as keeping you warm, a wetsuit will increase your buoyancy in the water, helping you to swim faster. Look for a wetsuit that fits tightly without reducing the range of motion of your shoulders and legs.
Tip: Cut the bottom inch or two off each leg of your wetsuit. It might seem strange to take a pair of scissors to your brand new piece of kit, but this will make it far easier to remove during transition.
They might seem like an insignificant piece of kit, but get your goggles wrong and your triathlon could be ruined before it’s even really begun. If your goggles don’t fit correctly they’ll be filled with water as soon as you start the swim, and no matter how confident a swimmer you are, this will slow you down. When a pair of goggles fit correctly, the vacuum seal will be able to hold them loosely on your face without the strap. If you think the weather is going to be bright on race day, a tinted pair will help you see more clearly even if the sun is reflecting off the water.
Hugely important for both the bike and run stages, the right pair of triathlon sunglasses will do so much more than keep the sun out of your eyes. Whether it be wind, rain, or insects that are trying to find their way into your eyes, sunglasses will keep them clear and allow you to focus on racing. If possible, try to spend slightly more and get a pair with photochromic lenses, which will dynamically adapt to the lighting conditions on event day, even if they change mid-race.
Many race organisers will provide you with a swim hat which you must wear for identification
The majority of events provide swim caps, but it is advisable to come prepared with your own good quality cap to keep your head warm. Some people wear a swim cap on their head, then put their goggles on over the top, before using a second swim cap to keep it all in place on an open water swim.
While mid-range models are well worth the investment, by the time you’re spending serious money on a bike you’ll start to experience diminishing returns. If you have a decent road bike lying around it can easily be adapted for triathlon purposes by adding a clip on aerobar and taking it for a tuneup at your local bike shop. Much depends on what your triathlon goals are as a time trial bike, other things being equal, can be as much as 4kph quicker than a road bike. If you are on a budget then it might be best to spend less on the groupset and get the best frame you can as well as upgrading the wheels.
You can race a triathlon on any road worthy bike – an entry level entry level road bike will be more than adequate.
In non-drafting events, you can save a lot of time and be more competitive by riding a time trial bike – this gives you a more aerodynamic position.
The in-between option is riding a road bike with clip on aero bars – ideally when fitting these, adjust the rest of your bike, sliding the saddle forwards and dropping the front end to increase the aero gains.
Riding a triathlon bike or using clip on bars increases the amount of pressure place on soft tissue. There are triathlon specific saddles like the noseless ISM, and if you find you’re uncomfortable on a normal saddle this could be a worthwhile investment.
You’re not allowed to take your bike from the racking in transition until you’ve put on your cycling helmet – so a basic lid is a requirement.
A helmet is an absolute triathlon gear essential, and without one you won’t be allowed to compete. You don’t have to spend a fortune on this. There are staggeringly expensive helmets available with precision vents and aerodynamic mouldings, but unless you’re an elite these aren’t necessary. Helmets need to have passed certain safety tests to be triathlon-eligible, but as long as you’re purchasing from a specialist cycling store this won’t be an issue. When you’re heading to the shop to try on potential helmets, be sure to bring your triathlon sunglasses with you. There’s nothing worse than putting on a brand new helmet for its maiden ride, only to find it doesn’t fit properly over your shades.
You can slice off a little time with a long-tailed time-trial specific helmet – and if you’re going to spend cash on a bike then we’d advise you invest here, too, as the time saving can be dramatic.
Triathlon Cycling Shoes
Even if you are taking part in a short distance triathlon it is highly recommended that you use clipless pedals and bike shoes. Further, if you want to be at the sharp end of the race you’ll want to consider tri-specific shoes, because you can save minutes on your overall time with swift transitions.
Triathlon cycling shoes are designed to make it easier for you to get your feet in and out of the shoes while riding — they do this by having a single wide strap, large opening and a loop on the heel.
Triathlon shoes can range, based on your goals and overall triathlon plans. Truth be told, there is really not anything such as a “triathlon shoe”, but rather there are shoes that can work well in a traithlon.
Racers who want to turn in the fastest times always use different shoes for the bike and the run. Most racers have a favorite pair of cycling shoes with clips that they use during the bike leg, and then put on running shoes for the run at Transition 2. Some athletes, especially age-groupers who simply want to finish, don’t have clipped pedals on their bike so can use the same running shoes for the entire bike and run legs.
Unless your goal is just to do one triathlon as a leisurely pace (which is just fine!), we strongly suggest using special cycling shoes that are compatible with SPD clip pedals, and high-quality running shoes for the run. Not only will you be faster, but you will get more value from your cycling workouts. Don’t forget about triathlon speedlaces on your shoes for fast transitions.
Socks or no socks? That is the question. Many racers will choose to go sockless, making the transitions faster and reducing the risk of running in wet socks (i.e. blister-creators) if they don’t dry properly after the swim or are racing in wet conditions.
Still, most beginners tend to use socks. You should never attempt to go sockless without practicing that way several times and building up the ability to do it. Also, remember that not all socks are meant to be worn inside a running shoe during a demanding race.
Have you ever spent a frustrating couple of minutes trying to safety pin a race number to your top ahead of a running event? Now imagine trying to do that during transition when your hands are shaking with adrenaline and you’re surrounded by thousands of other triathletes. A race belt easily solves this problem. Light and elastic with a buckle strap, a race belt lets you instantly move your number from your back to your front during transition 2 by swivelling it around your body.
Fit your running shoes with elastic lock laces to speed up your transition. Instead of fumbling with standard laces, it’s simply a case of pulling them tight and locking into place. Elastic laces will fit into the vast majority of running shoes, and as soon as you’ve tried them you’ll wonder how you ever coped without. As well as speeding up transitions, the high tension spring loaded mechanism will ensure your laces stay tight throughout the run.
If you do not have a tri-suit, you will need to ensure your torso is covered for the run. You could use a bike jersey or a running vest.