Preparing for a triathlon can be unnerving, especially if you are a first timer. If you’re a veteran you might be a little less stressed, but it still isn’t a walk in the park. Your training schedule, diet and triathlon gear are three major areas to focus on. In this post we’ll cover the basic triathlon gear and accessories you need from the time you begin your training until race day.
Studies have shown that using a wetsuit has a definite positive influence on the swimming speed of both men and women. For a better understanding of this, check out Swimming in long distance open-water events with and without wetsuit on biomedcentral.com. This is, however, also influenced by additional factors like the race distance. A triathlon wetsuit like the Orca Sonar full sleeve wetsuit is a must-have for all triathletes who compete in cold waters. If you’re competing in warmer waters, a sleeveless wetsuit like the Zone3 Vision Sleevless wetsuit or a simple swimskin to reduce drag will do. Just remember that some competitions, like the Ironman, are not wetsuit legal swims.
The function of a tri wetsuit is to add buoyancy and increase speed by reducing drag. During training it’s not a bad idea to use your swimming gear regularly if you’re swimming in a pool. Keep that wetsuit for swims in open water as a pool’s chlorine tends to eat away at the silicone coating many of these wetsuits have on their surface. Tri wetsuits are usually made out of neoprene rubber which loosens over time so make sure you get a good fit and always consult the sizing chart for each brand.
Swim caps are a race day tool. Most competitions offer swim caps as part of the categorization – when you are put into your group (color of the cap defines the group). So if you don’t have a swimming cap already, you don’t have to worry about it. However if you are swimming in colder water races, those categorization caps are a simple silicone and provide little to no warmth. Consider a neoprene swim cap or even a thermal one (neoprene cap lined with fleece) to keep you toasty in those chillier water temps.
Swimming goggles, on the other hand, are essential. Your swimming goggles should offer good visibility under water and in sun light, like the Blue Seventy Hydra Vision for instance. This is important because you’ll need to dip in and out of the water for course correction in open waters.
Some of the best triathletes started out on a regular bicycle. When purchasing or selecting triathlon bikes the most important things to consider are its tires and the weight of the bike. The best triathlon bikes have light frames and thin tires. You’re good to go even with a regular bicycle that fits the bill. Make sure to get your bike serviced well before race day arrives.
If you’ve got a 2-piece swim skin or racer back, then your shorts should take you through to the end of the race. It also saves you precious time that is lost while changing clothes. A good pair of shorts should fit well and absorb sweat. It’s always preferable to get a specialized pair of triathlon shorts with comfort pads that prevent chafing. They will make your bike rides comfortable and more enjoyable.
The swim goggles in your triathlon clothing kit are good only for the swim. You will need a pair of sunglasses for the bike race and run segment. They may not seem like a necessity but a small speck of dust in your eye can change that opinion quickly.
The Journal of Human Sport and Exercise reports that in triathlons “most serious acute injuries are due to falls during cycling in competition or training”. This makes sense in light of fatigue that can set in and the dangers involved when many participants race together. A bike helmet is therefore vital to prevent serious head injuries. When picking a biking helmet, remember to select one that is light, comfortable and has many vents to enhance air flow to keep your head cool.
Biking shoes would depend on the type of bicycle you plan to use. Even if you’re using a regular bicycle, it’s a good idea to get a specialized biking shoe. Apart from fit and comfort, check for breathability and a flat stiff sole. A stiff sole ensures minimum pedaling energy loss. Professional triathletes have clip on or clipless pedals and those require different kind of shoes. While these are not required for newer triathletes, they certainly help reserve energy, allowing a push-pull with each pedal stroke.
Running shoes are the final piece of triathlon gear needed. A good fit and make are necessary to maintain posture and prevent injury. You could get a gait analysis done at the local sports or running accessories store and then find the best fit. When you consider the cost of all your gear, don’t go cheap on either your running shoes or your tri wetsuit.
Running caps are necessary to prevent dehydration for races on warm days. Pick a cap that fits you well and one that is made of material that does not absorb sweat. You want to get a full mesh cap that allow the air to pass through, allowing natural evaporative cooling.
Other accessories in your triathlon transition bag can enhance your training and race day performance. You might want to consider using a digital sports competition watch that tracks time, distance and mapping, a wet suit lubricant for race ray and a race belt that holds water bottles or energy drinks.
Take a look at the triathlon gear and accessories Just Wetsuits offers. Pick up the right mix of equipment so you are ready to give that triathlon your best shot!