Training for and completing a triathlon is not for the faint of heart.
Triathlons are an intense mental and physical test – which begins long before the race does. To enter a triathlon in the best condition possible, you need months of preparation in the gym, in the natural elements, and in the kitchen.
Not to mention, you need to invest in the best triathlon gear out there. This isn’t to say you should spend a lot of money on every single thing. But, you should be prepared to buy plenty of gear, regardless of how much one item costs versus another.
You don’t have to get everything at once. You just need to make sure you have all the essential pieces of gear ready to go on race day.
To make this easier, the following is your complete guide to triathlon gear.
Swimming, Cycling, and Running Attire
The basic breakdown of a triathlon is the three events that go into one course – swimming, cycling, and running.
Each component is just one part of the challenge as a whole, and they all require the proper equipment. The best way to think of these basics is in terms of land versus water attire.
Wetsuit, Swim Cap, and Goggles
Swimming always starts off a triathlon.
As such, you should begin the race wearing a wetsuit, swim cap, and goggles. You and many other competitors will run from the shore of wherever you’re standing, into the water, then swim to a designated spot to grab your bike.
When choosing a wetsuit, consider this: the water temperature in the winter feels much different from that in the summer. Make sure you’re prepared to face the weather that is common around your race date.
You should also have a swim cap and goggles ready.
Race with the same ones you train with. This helps you adjust to the fit of each item as you progress through your swim workouts. More importantly, it leaves no room for surprises on race day.
Shoes and Clothes for Cycling and Running
Once you finish your swim, you should have dry clothes waiting for you at your bike. Keep in mind, though, the more time you spend changing, the more race time you’re wasting. More so, you will be transitioning from water to land in a public place.
Consider wearing your cycling shorts and jersey under your wetsuit.
These items should fit snug anyway, so they shouldn’t be an issue to have on as a base layer. Since you’ll be in these clothes for a while, don’t skip out on finding the best triathlon outfit you can.
In addition to your shirt/jersey and shorts, you need a good pair of cycling and running shoes. Some triathlon competitors opt to have one pair of each, others would rather cycle and run in the same shoe. The choice is up to you.
Special Gear and Accessories
Whether you’re doing a dramatic outfit change or just sticking to the bare necessities throughout the course, there are some accessories you can’t go without.
The socks you wear for a regular workout that is roughly around an hour are not the same ones that fit the bill of best triathlon gear. At least, not necessarily.
The standard brand and cut aren’t made for comfort in all the conditions you’ll be experiencing. Invest in socks that are moisture-wicking and that fit just right – too tight or too lose of a fit can cause problems for you on the course.
Thickness doesn’t really matter, although thinner socks may feel more natural. In fact, some triathlon racers choose to not wear socks at all! If you opt for this, make sure you try it out well ahead of race day.
Sunglasses may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of training and race day essentials. But, they are actually crucial for your performance.
Sunglasses protect your eyes from having to squint every time you go out to train, or from squinting for an entire race. They prevent any damage that may happen from the sun over time and allow you to relax all the muscles in your face while on the official course.
Cycling gloves are an optional piece of triathlon equipment. If you don’t mind taking on the terrain without them, these may not be on your list of best triathlon gear.
But, make this decision after many training sessions that you’ve cycled without using gloves. You may even choose to try a basic pair of gloves while training, just to see if they improve your performance at all.
Food and Water
Just as much as all the best triathlon gear matters on the outside, it matters on the inside. Nutrition is an essential part of race day performance.
Proper nutrition for a triathlon begins months before the day-of. It’s part of how well you condition your body for the challenge ahead. More so, there are some specific nutrition changes you should make to your diet the day before the race and the morning of.
Then, while on the course, you need some fuel to keep you going every step of the way.
Bottles vs Backpacks
As far as hydration goes, you may choose to keep a water bottle on your bike and use cycling as a time to refuel.
Or, you can wear a light backpack that is meant for triathlons, which you can fill with liquid. This allows you to stay hydrated while on your bike and in mid-run.
Choosing which is the better method is a personal decision.
Each has their pros and cons, and if you can, it’s worth feeling out both before making your choice for race day. There are also cups of water available at certain points of the course, but this will add unnecessary time to your total.
Gummies, Bars, and More
Whether you wear a backpack or not, figure out a way to get some food in your system.
Some competitors tuck a sports gel pack into the leg of their shorts if they aren’t wearing a pack. Others will keep some sort of granola bar or simple energy mix in their backpack for mid-race consumption.
Again, the choice is up to you – but it’s a choice you have to make, and you’ll find better results if you take the time to educate yourself and try a few things out.
More Thoughts on the Best Triathlon Gear to Use
As important as it is to get all the basics of triathlon gear right, every detail counts. All your gear has a purpose, which you need to know and understand how to take the best advantage of.
For further insights and tips about triathlon gear, click here.