Feb 16, 2009

Triathlon Buyer's Guide

I've been promising to do this for a while as a couple friends have asked me about what they need to do a triathlon. So here's your official, yet completely unscientific, essential triathlon buyer's guide!

Shorts - First thing you need is to get dressed of course! There are a lot of different tri shorts and bike shorts and other combinations out there, but the best ones for me are from Titan Wear. They have a small chamois for a little padding, but most important it doesn't get in your way for swimming and running. They are also cheaper than most! Get the ones with the gripper legs so that they stay in place.


Tri tops - These come in many different shapes and sizes, so get what you want while considering two things. Friction is not your friend! Tight fitting is more aero. While bike jersey are tight and aero, they generally have short sleeves and are painful to run in. Swinging your arms back and forth across a seam on the sleeve leads to serious issues during your run leg.

Swim Leg

Goggles - Get some that don't leak and are comfortable, as long as they work for you.

Wetsuit - Wetsuits help in two ways, they keep you warm, and more importantly they help you swim faster by keeping your legs up higher in the water. Worth the cost in my opinion! For inexpensive budgets, Promotion wetsuits work, I've had one of these for a while. http://www.wetsuit.com/ Make sure you measure carefully and get one that fits. I've also had good luck with xterra suits, they are a bit pricier than promotion, but feel a little more flexible when you're swimming. http://www.xterrawetsuits.com/ (They have coupons a lot, so search the web before you purchase)

Bike Leg

Bike - You need one :) For most Olympic or shorter distance races in New England you don't really need a tri-specific race since there are usually a lot of hills. The geometry of a road bike will help you a lot when climbing and counteract the aero benefits of a tri bike on the flat sections for the most part.

Helmet - You need one of these too! I haven't used an aero helmet since I'm not really fast enough for it to make a huge difference (They help more at higher speeds).

Shoes / Socks - I use my typical bike shoes and socks for longer distance races, anything over a sprint. Most road shoes use Velcro which is easy enough, and I try to roll my socks off my feet and leave them ready to put on easily. Sprint distance, it's probably worth trying to skip socks for both the bike and run, PRACTICE this first though.

Race Belt - I use a race belt since it makes it a lot quicker to put your number on and switch it around. I actually have an extra or two, first person to ask gets one :)

Lots of extra training tools stuff for the bike of course, I use a combination of a heart rate monitor plus the GPS on my phone and a standard bike computer. I'd love to get a power meter sometime, but it's still a bit too pricey at this point.

I try to get in most of my nutrition needs during the bike, since I digest much better than when I'm running. Again, Olympic or longer needs a pretty specific plan and some solid food. Gels, and powerbar type options work pretty well, I tape them to my top tube which lets me rip them off and open in one step.

Run Leg
Running Shoes - Doesn't really matter which brand, whatever works best for you. Get some Yankz though to help you put them on quickly. http://www.yankz.com/ If you're real cool you could try some triathlon specific running shoes. http://www.zootsports.com/race/

Other Stuff
Sunglasses - Almost a must for on the bike, I usually wear them on the run too.
Bodyglide - Apply some of this before racing, helps reduce friction to get the wetsuit off quickly plus eliminates chafing. I usually put in on my ankles and neck. http://www.bodyglide.com/#/products/anti-chafe

I'll update if I think of more stuff, but that's it for now... questions or comments welcomed.


Tim M.,  8:53 PM  

Cool blog, Dave. Some good tips.

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