- Triathlon Kit
… A Beginners Guide!
The most important thing about the gear you use for a triathlon is comfort.
Individual preferences vary. Some people feel comfortable doing an entire race in a swimsuit. Others who aren’t concerned with transition times will change clothes for the bike and run.
The Essential Gear
You do need some basic equipment for your first triathlon. This equipment doesn’t have to be expensive and it can be borrowed to save money:
- Swimsuit: Any swimsuit will work. For comfort and speed, guys should consider those tight, Speedo-type briefs. Girls, a one- or two-piece – Whatever you would usually wear to swim in will do.
- Goggles: Any, as long as they fit.
- Swim Cap: This will be provided by the race as you will get a different colour cap depending on the heat you are in. *We will also send you a special Melanoma Focus swim cap for training.
- Towel: You need something to wipe the sand or dirt off your feet before you jump on the bike. You will leave this in the transition area with your bike and a top tip is to bring a bright colour and leave it on your bike saddle to help you spot your bike quickly!
- Bike: Mountain or road bike, whatever is in your garage. If you’re riding a mountain bike, you could replace your thick tires with slicks for a little extra speed, but its not essential. A local bike shop will be able to help and give you an idea of price. Alternatively you could hire a bike just for event day (see Upgrade Options below).
- Helmet: This is essential and you won’t be allowed to ride without one, but it doesn’t need to be a fancy ‘race helmet’ and can be whatever you woud normally use.
- Water Bottle: Even in a short race, you’ll appreciate having something to drink on the bike.
- Running/Cycling top: Some people will opt for a special Tri Suit (see Upgrade Options below) but it isnt necessary – You can choose to wear a cycling top and then change in to a running vest for the last leg or choose just one to wear for both, you might want one with a pocket for energy bars but ultimately it is about what makes you feel most comfortable. *We will provide our team with one of each to choose from (although sizes may be limited and so will be issued on a first come first served basis!)
- Running Shoes: It is important to make sure your shoes fit your feet and your style of running properly, and to do this while you are training, not just before the race! Good shoes don’t have to cost a lot, but is important to train in them and to ‘break them in’ before race day.
- Wetsuit (£50+ to hire / £125+ to buy): This isn’t essential for all triathlons as it will depend on the temperature of the water but it is essential at Woburn. Our guess is this might be the only item you don’t already own and so unless you are planning on using it a lot our recommendation is to hire one. Tri UK and Zone 3 rent male and female wet suits from around £50 with options to keep it for a month or a season (a returnable deposit is also required.) This allows time to practise in it too!
- Sunglasses: Keeps the wind out of your eyes on the bike, and makes the run more comfortable when you don’t have to squint in the sun. Some studies have shown that wearing sunglasses while exercising can actually help reduce fatigue.
- Shorts: Whether for comfort or modesty, many people prefer having bike shorts or running shorts for the segments after the swim. Again, you can choose to change int he transition or to just use one type for both segments.
- Socks: Some people save a few seconds in the transition by going without socks. If you’re more concerned about blisters, take some time to put on socks for the bike and run. Whatever you do, don’t wear cotton! – They don’t absorb moisture and sweat. Once they get wet they stay wet. They make you more prone to blisters.
- Race Number Belt: (£4 – £20) These elastic belts allow you attach your race number around your waist for faster transitions.
- Lubricant: Vaseline or specialist anti-chafing products can be useful to stop chafing, especially for longer races.
- Hat: For protection from the sun during the run.
- Triathlon Suit (£45 – £100+): These are used instead of swimsuit and shorts and mean less changing is required during transitions. These suits have a small cycling pad that dries quickly, provides some comfort on the bike and doesn’t interfere with running. You can even choose between a one- or two-piece suit.
- Road bike (£50 – £300+): Buying a new one will cost from £300 upwards and is best done with the advice of a local bike shop. However you can hire any type of bike for event day through British Bike Hire from £50 – this is also a good option if you will find it hard to get your bike to the event, just make sure you don’t hire a bike type you haven’t at least ridden a few times!
- Clipless pedals and bike shoes: An easy upgrade that translates to more efficiency and speed on the bike.
- Speed Laces (£3-5): For a faster transition, replace your normal laces with elastic “speed laces” so you can skip tying your shoes. More relevant if you are using bike shoes and will be putting on new shoes twice during the race.
- Racing flats (from £40): A lighter running shoes with less cushioning than a standard trainer designed to scrape a few seconds off your time. These would not be recommended for marathon running.
- Triathlon GPS Watch (from £150+ although more basic versions can be found for less): As these tend to be very expensive it is probably not worth getting unless you will use it a lot. There are lots of reviews about the best type to get and so make sure you research if you do plan to get one. It is also worth remembering that you wont be allowed to use your phone during the race (and we don’t just mean to chat to your mates, this means no music and no tracking app.) So do some training without it so that you are comfortable this way.
Shops you can try for triathlon kit
*If you are buying new kit please consider registering with the ‘Give as you live’ website and naming us as your chosen charity, this will enable us to receive a donation on anything you buy at no cost to you!
Newitts (they have an entry level Tri suit for £45)
Rubbish bags and cooking oil – help get your wet suit on (and off!)
Crumple your race bib/number to stop it flareing around