Triathlon Gear Guide to Go From Beginner to Elite
Triathlon is quickly becoming one of the most popular endurance sports, and for good reason. Unlike single-discipline endurance sports like swimming, rowing, or running, triathlon combines three sports — swimming, cycling, and running — and in consecutive order.
What makes the sport of triathlon so popular is the level of variety, adventure, and challenge that it brings. The training offers greater variability, allowing athletes to get creative with their day-to-day activities. In addition to pool work, time on the bike, or tempo runs, triathletes can combine disciplines into a brick session, which helps mimic the race day experience.
The growing interest in triathlon and competitive multisport events has brought a new wave of innovation in the technology and gear used to compete. And for triathletes striving to become elite-level competitors, having the right quality gear is a must.
Whether you’re a committed beginner with a long foreseeable future in the sport or an elite athlete at the top of your game, you’ll need a proper collection of technology and gear to get the most out of your triathlon endeavors. In this post, we share some of the most fundamental gear investments to go from beginner to elite.
1. Triathlon Wetsuit
Unquestionably one of the most performance-boosting pieces of gear for the swim portion of the triathlon, a good swimming wetsuit is critical to get an edge on the competition. Available by gender with specific triathlon wetsuits for men and women, these suits are proven to help with buoyancy and enable swimmers to maintain a more streamlined position.
The standard triathlon wetsuit design is also tailored for quick removal, helping triathletes transition quicker from swimming to bike.
2. Road Bike or Triathlon Bike
With the cycling leg the longest part of the triathlon, this discipline requires the most time invested and is thereby most critical in gaining every competitive edge possible. For this reason, having a fast bike is critical to be an elite athlete.
Unlike conventional road bikes, triathlon bikes (or time-trial bikes) are engineered with a much steeper seat tube angle, enabling a more aerodynamic position. Additionally, they’re often equipped with aero bars to further improve aerodynamics and minimize drag.
3. Aero Helmet
Next to having a fast bike is having an aero helmet. Helmet technology has evolved by leaps in bounds, and today’s aero helmets are engineered to minimize wind resistance and maximize speed. There are several designs, ranging from aero-road helmets (which are more conventional-looking) to triathlon helmets (which have a more distinct, teardrop shape).
In any case, a good aero helmet will pay dividends in helping you accomplish the bike leg with greater efficiency and speed.
4. Triathlon Cycling Shoes
Even the shoes you wear on the bike leg are an important accessory in shaving seconds off your transition times. Triathlon bike shoes are made with fewer straps and easy entry and removal. This allows athletes to go from swimming to biking and biking to running more efficiently.
Triathlon cycling shoes are also crafted with greater ventilation and airflow, which helps keep your feet drier after exiting the swim portion of the races.
5. Tri Suit
Uniquely engineered as one-piece race suits, tri suits are an advanced, high-tech type of athletic apparel that’s designed to be worn throughout the entire triathlon from swim to finish. Tri suits are tailored from tight-fitting, fast-drying materials, so they can be worn underneath any standard swimming wetsuit.
Most tri suits have a small chamois pad sewn into the undercarriage to help support long bouts of cycling. They also commonly have small, sewn-in pockets to carry race nutrition. In short, tri suits are a practical form of attire that is both functional and surprisingly comfortable.
Goggles are critically important for any triathlon, but especially for long-course triathletes who participate in Ironman and half-Ironman distance races. A quality pair of swimming goggles goes a long way in supporting optimal visibility for open-water swimming for triathlon and other water sports.
And because most swim goggles have a tendency to fog up, investing in a pair with anti-fog properties is often preferred.
7. Running Shoes
Having a well-fitting, properly supportive pair of running shoes is essential to compete in a triathlon. Most elite athletes will also utilize elastic laces with a draw-string tightener versus traditional laces. This allows for fast tightening when transitioning from bike to run, allowing athletes to save seconds.
Although you can find running shoes specifically-engineered for triathlon, it’s not a requirement. Some professional triathletes stick to wearing whatever running shoes feel the best.
Start Growing as a Triathlete
To go from beginner to elite, these pieces of triathlon gear are important to succeed. Of course, having a good multisport watch, training program, and attitude go a long way. But to truly maximize your game, consider these important investments to maximize your competitive ROI in the sport.