Words by Paul Newsome
Are you prepared for your next event?
Entering your first triathlon can be at first daunting and your serious preparation begins now. The longer the time you have before your event the better, it will give you time to prepare, train and if totally new then spread the costs of the numerous items you will need.
There are various distances of Triathlon, ranging from Super Sprints all the way through to Ultra. The longer the distance, the more kit you may need and you will certainly need to look nutrition during the race itself.
To get started we have created a checklist to guide you through what items you need to take to get the most out of a triathlon event.
In a large majority of races, a wetsuit is compulsory, it will aid your swim times by increasing buoyancy, reducing drag and helping you keep warm in the water. With wetsuits, they are designed to be quite tight, if they are too baggy they you will simply take on too much water and sink. To learn more about wetsuits please read our buying guide.
Make sure they fit correctly and there are some great goggles which do not fog up much – I thoroughly recommend you read the reviews before purchasing. Choose wisely, as some goggles are dark tinted to aid in bright sunlight which are useless in gloomy conditions and others not so much leading to difficulty in bright conditions.
In all of the races that I have been to, the race organiser provides you with a swim hat. I however, wear two, with the spare one underneath the race organiser’s one. This will help with warmth in cold water and also help keep your goggles in place.
This will undoubtedly be your biggest expense, so choose wisely. For me personally I use a road bike with the addition of clip on time trial bars. This has helped reduce the cost of buying two bikes and means that the road bike can be used for both training and racing. Time trial bikes are also more aggressive in their set up and can become uncomfortable the further the distance, however there are significant time gains to be had if the setup is correct. You can research more about what bike is best by having a read of our bike buying guide.
Time trial bars
As mentioned above, fitting some clip on time trial bars to your road bike can dramatically save you time over the bike course and are definitely worth investing in if you only have a road bike.
Tri road shoes
These are incredibly useful. Road bike shoes in general have multi fixings to keep your shoe on. This will be a total nightmare trying to put on in transition at the end of your swimming leg! Tri specific shoes generally are Velcro only, are easy to put on, take off and have good drainage. You can of course complete the bike and run legs in trainers, if you wish, but this will be a lot slower.
A one piece tri suit is best. These suites are quick drying, tight fitting to help with aerodynamics and have a small amount of padding in the crutch area. The smaller the padding the better because this will act like a sponge in the swim, slowing you down. The other thing to think about is nudity; all races do not allow any form of nudity, so swimming in bike shorts, then putting a top in in transition is generally banned. There was one race last year wear the unzipping of the front of the tri suit resulted in time penalties. You could swim in full cycling apparel, and I have seen it, but I would not advise it, the padding and rear pockets will fill up with water.
Will hide the pain! They also protect your eyes from sunlight, wind, rain and any debris. A good pair of performance sunglasses will come with a multitude of different lenses, enabling you to select the correct tint for any particular conditions on the day. As with all kit, make sure they are comfortable and fit securely and correctly.
All races have permit that you wear a helmet for the bike leg. It needs to be on and securely fitted before you touch your bike and you are only allowed to remove it once your bike is racked back up in transition. All new helmets will conform to the safety ratings required. You could invest in a time trial helmet and this will save you time, but it is not a necessity. Time trial helmets also lack venting, so cooling can be an issue. Also, make sure you get the correct size, to loose or too tight will lead to a lack of comfort and effectiveness. Learn more about cycle helmets by reading our buying guide.
Ensure your trainers fit and up to the task and whatever you do, do not try new trainers on race day. Get some elasticated laces too, they will save time because you will not have to do up your laces and they will never come loose! Read our run shoes buying guide to find the perfect shoe for you.