This week on Bike Shop Girl we are covering triathlons and the basics of getting started in this quickly growing sport. We began the series with “Talk of Triathlons” and then moved on to “Basic Things to Know About Triathlons.”
Today we are covering the essential equipment or gear I feel with get you across the finish more comfortable and confident. At the end I will also list things that aren’t essential but a good long term investment.
The outfit is almost as important as the training, in my opinion. This is also a necessary as you do not want to be caught dead swimming in your biking shorts with the padding, and biking in a swim suit can be very painful.
Normally, triathlon outfits are broken down into “tri suits” or “two piece.” Tri suits are more popular as you move up the ranks of triathletes, and you look the part. The two piece set can be mixed and matched as it is a tri short, paired with a tri specific top such as a bra, tank or jersey.
Tri suits – A great investment as things are more compressed, often have a built in shelf bra, and no shirts are riding up. They are more expensive, starting around $90-100, and some women wouldn’t be caught dead in them.
Two Piece - Tri tops can double as a cycling or running top, the shorts can be worn as a cycling short and you can buy different tops depending on your mood.
Do not buy a white or light colored outfit if you are doing open water swims. Most water will change the color of your outfit into a nasty shade of brown. For pool swims, buy something bright if you can, that way your hubby or friends can find you easily.
Goggles - Depending if you are swimming in the pool, or in open water, you’ll want a clear or tinted pair. Make sure to try them on, or borrow a couple different pairs.
Swimcap – Most races provide a swim cap but if you are training prior you’ll want your own.
A bike – Borrow a friend or even rent a bike. The bike is the biggest investment of the triathlon so make sure you’ll be doing more before the big investment. Test it out and go for a bike ride, but also make sure you have enough time to train with the bike before your race. Remember, you can use your bike for other things after a triathlon. One of my most popular “first tri bikes” is a sporty fitness hybrid. Not an upright comfort bike but not extreme like a road bike.
Padded shorts – For training these are a life saver. Most folks aren’t used to riding so sitting on a hard, very small, object isn’t very thrilling to start. Ease you and your rear into it. Cycling shorts range from $40-60 for a good pair that will last until you are ready to go more than 25 miles at a time.
Helmet - Don’t ride your bike without it.
Hydration – A basic water bottle and cage <$15. Remember to drink a bottle per hour.
Shoes – As simple as it sounds, the running shoe you bought at Dick’s Sporting Goods because they are your favorite color – probably won’t cut it. Go to a running store, ask them to watch you run, have them FIT you for shoes.
Yankz or Speed Laces – These aren’t a necessity but many triathletes swear by them. Personally I run with my shoes loose enough that Yankz do more harm than good. The other note is to make sure you start with them looser than normal, and test them before your first run. Most people will lace them too tight and cut off circulation.
Things You May Want
There are many things that I have learned over the years to need. They aren’t essentials but may help you finish your training or race a bit more comfortable.
Body Glide or Vaseline – Apply generously where you may rub. The worst is when you are still wet from the swim and everything is rubbing on everything. Not only is this causing chaffing, but mentally it messes with my head.
Baby Powder – I put this in my shoes, cycling and running, to help absorb moisture and so my feet don’t end up as prunes.
Training Partner – Have some poor sucker sign up to do the triathlon with you, then you’ll have someone to whine with at those 5am swim practices.
We will continue to chat about triathlon’s, training, motivation and tips. Tell us what you want to learn about!