What Kit Do I Need For My Triathlon: The Beginners Guide
First things first, the most important part of the triathlon is to go out and make the most out of the swimming, cycling and running, so despite what you see at the races, you don’t need the fancy kit to get you across the finish line. We believe that it’s best to get started with minimal gear and then upgrade as your level of commitment requires. So, we’ve conducted a list of the bare essentials you’ll need as a beginner to get you through training and race day and answer that question What Kit Do I Need For My Triathlon”
When it comes to goggles we recommend purchasing two pairs. Both pairs must acquire the right fit and coverage, so you might want to try a few on first, but the most important aspects are the clarity and speed. When swimming in open water, having a pair of goggles that restrict your view, such as distorted lenses, will make it difficult to see what’s ahead of you, so it’s essential to choose a pair that will provide clearer vision. On top of this, you will also want to look for a pair that is hydrodynamically equipped, that way the water will be forced away from your eyes, giving you the opportunity to just focus on your speed.
Before purchasing a wetsuit, you should consider the temperature of the water that you’ll be most frequently training in. If you know that you’ll be training in colder temperatures then you’ll want thicker neoprene and longer sleeves, whereas if you swim in warmer temperatures then you’ll need the exact opposite.
Although, a good fit is crucial. A wetsuit that is too tight will restrict your motion and make it difficult to swim and transition, but if too big, then it could cause unwanted water to enter and clash between your body and the neoprene, which can therefore drag you down.
If you are a new swimmer you will want maximum buoyancy to help correct body position in the water. Don’t buy into the marketing hype from manufacturers, a wet suit that fits is faster than a wetsuit with the latest tech that does not!
Most race organisers will provide these, however, always have a spare in your bag!
Running shoes are one of the most important factors when performing in a triathlon. Every foot is unique, so many factors need to be considered when purchasing a pair. The weight of the shoes play a massive part; the shoe cannot be too heavy as they will reduce your overall speed in the race, however, they cannot be too light due to the lack of support. Pronation type in your triathlon shoe must be taken into account. This will maximise the support that the shoe will give you; under pronators and overpronators can reduce the stress and overall load on their feet this way. Lastly, the shoe will require the correct amount of midsole cushioning and a breathable upper sole so the foot can breathe and not cause excess moisture in the running shoe, which can cause discomfort.
Top Tip – Get some elastic laces, these will help you get your shoes on and off quickly, and easily when you have jelly legs after that bike.
The cycle is the longest portion of the race so having a bike that suits your needs is imperative, a common mistake for amateur triathlon contestants is not acquiring a fitted bike. There are many parts of the bike that can be altered and will be picked up on what the user requires during a several hour fit test. The parts of the bike include saddle height, setback, cockpit distance and crank length. These alterations to a bike along with the bike being extremely light; will allow the user for a more comfortable, efficient and aerodynamic ride allowing for maximised speed, power and agility while riding within the race.
While a race or TT bike offers the best chance of speed, you can do a triathlon on any bike, we have seen plenty of people enjoying triathlon on a mountain bike, an old commuter bike and even a London Boris Bike at the London Triathlon.
You don’t need an expensive bike to get started, a well-maintained bike will do, when you enter transition in the morning of your race, officials will check to make sure breaks work and the bike looks in good shape. You need bar ends plugged and two inflated tyres!
Having a pair of cycling shorts that contains chamois (padding) is designed to be fitted by your crotch to form a cushioning layer between your body and the bike. It may feel funny when you first put them on, but it serves a purpose and will make the cycle more bearable in the long run by preventing chafing.
As you get more into the sport a TriSuit can be worn for the whole race, you can pick up an entry level tri suit on Amazon for under £20 and you can spend up to £200 for a top end suit, the advantage of them all is you don’t need to waste time in transition changing, you can put it under your wetsuit at the start of the race, ride in it and cross the finish line in it.
You will need a race belt to hold your number, turn it to the rear while on the bike, and make sure it is facing forward when you leave T2 for the run.
As you enter transition on the morning of the race, the officials will check the helmet as it is compulsory, straps and clasp need to be fitted and the helmet needs to be in good condition and conform to safety regulations.
There is an aspect of health and safety in these races that need to be taken into account. Correct sunglasses need to be worn while running and cycling to stop excessive exposure of ultraviolet light into the eyes which will be rather uncomfortable. Also, sun cream will be needed if participating in a triathlon located within hot climates and locations with high amounts of sunlight. This is not only useful for running and cycling but also useful within the swim due to roughly 25-80% of UV rays reflecting off the water surface.
Vaseline or lubricant is always handy to take with you while competing within the triathlon to stop uncomfortable chafing and to make the transitions that little bit easier.
Lastly, you need to carry a suitable supply of water and energy supplements to stop dehydration and loss of energy.
You may be wondering how to get all this kit into transition on race day, you can buy a special transition bag that will separate al the bits of kit and store them safely, these range in price. You can also use a trusty bag from home or even a blue Ikea bag.
Once in transition, most race organisers have a bag drop so you can leave your bag out of the way.
The most important thing to remember about your first triathlon, have fun, and just enjoy it!
Written By – Kate Goodman