There is nothing so interesting yet so taxing as running your first triathlon. There are a lot of logistics to plan given that you will be combining three sports: running, cycling, and swimming.
Since you are running three sports, transitioning between the three could result in several unique challenges.
Moreover, you will need to switch gears so that you can be as comfortable and efficient as possible during each unique stage.
Gear You Need For Your First Triathlon
There are tons of gear to choose from, but as a beginner, the following items should be good as a starter pack for your first triathlon:
Depending on where you are going to be doing the triathlon, you may need to have a wetsuit.
You need to get a triathlon or swimming wetsuit and not a diving or surfing wetsuit as these may be too slick or not flexible enough.
Triathlon wetsuits provide warmth in cold waters, reduce drag, and add buoyancy, thus making you swim more effectively.
For warm water swims, you should get sleeveless wetsuits or completely free arms.
Note that the USAT will not allow you to wear a wetsuit if the water you will be competing in is warmer than 84.
The type of bike that would be suitable is up to you to decide. If you are a total newbie or are just doing the triathlon for fun, your mountain bike or beach cruiser should work fine.
But if you intend to dive into Olympic distance races right away, you had better get something like an old 10-speed bike.
If by chance you become hooked to the triathlon, then you would need to get a more specialized bike.
But if it is just a fun thing, any bike should work fine as long as you ensure the chain is well lubricated and the tires have enough air.
3. Running Shoes
Running shoes come in different shapes and sizes and you need to know just which shoe to get for an advantage of the running stretches.
The choices you have include the forefoot strike, the midsole strike, and the heel strike shoe.
If you prefer a heel strike, then you need to get shoes with a large heel drop. And if you prefer the forefoot or midsole strike, then you should buy low or zero drop shoes.
Most people prefer a zero drop shoe as it tends to be more like a natural barefoot run.
The type of running shoe that you should go for will depend on your running technique and philosophy.
You do need a helmet to participate in triathlon since you have to protect your head in case of an accident during the cycling stage.
There are several types of helmets that you could buy depends on your taste. It is always recommended that you get a helmet with more vents as these will be more comfortable in warm weather since they let in more air.
If you are going to be participating in long-distance triathlons, you may spend a lot of time in the aero position on the bike. In such an instance, you should consider getting an aero helmet, which is designed to increase cycling speed by reducing drag.
5. Digital Sport Watch
Once you are done with the first triathlon, you should get a digital sport watch, so that you can record your running, swimming and riding times.
One of the best things about a digital sport watch is that it will allow you to split your times so that you can determine which sport you are better at and which one you need to improve.
NanaDC put a guide together that reviews the best GPS watches for running the triathlon. With a GPS enabled watch you can accurately track things like elevation gains, distance traveled, and how much time you are averaging, so that you can work on improving.
Goggles are an absolute must for when you will be participating in the swimming section of the triathlon.
We recommend that you get two pairs of swimming goggles, one with a light or clear tint and a smoke-tinted pair.
The smoke-tinted goggles will protect your eyes from the sun on sunny days so that you can see the buoys better.
The light tint or clear goggles are excellent for when you are swimming on clear days or in indoor pools, where the only worry is getting something in your eye.
Always try out the goggles while you are at the store to ensure that they are a good fit.
The tri-suit is one of the essentials of the triathlon as you will be wearing it for the duration of the competition. It comes in either one or two pieces of multipurpose clothing.
The tri-suits are made to dry off quickly after your swim, they make it easy to move while running, and provide cushioning while you are riding the bike.
Just like with your other wearable gear, always try it out at the store as loose-fitting or too tight suits will interfere with your race.
8. Race Belt
One of the most frustrating things is trying to use a safety pin to stick your race number onto the top before the race starts.
It can be even more frustrating when you are transitioning from one sport to another. You will typically be pumped full of adrenaline and surrounded by other athletes, which can make the exercise even harder.
A race belt eliminates the problem in a cinch as it is an elastic strap with a buckle that lets you easily move the number from back to front and vice versa during transitions.
9. Cycling Shoes
Cycling shoes are made to provide efficient power transfer from your legs for the bike. They have a stiff sole design and clips at the bottom that attaches to the bike pedals directly.
Cycling shoes are more efficient than using toe straps on pedals as they also come with seamless interiors, which makes it possible to use them without socks for better grip on the pedals.
Triathlon specific cycling shoes will also have a loop in the back, making them easy to get the shoe off so that you can transition to the run.
You will need your sunglasses to protect you from glare, UV rays, debris, and wind when you are transitioning, running in the sun or riding your bike.
Get sports sunglasses that are the right shape and lightweight so that they can fit in your bike helmet.
Sunglasses come in all manner of photochromatic lenses and hence you should choose one that is suitable for the light conditions that will be prevalent during the race.
Triathlon is a simple sport with three disciplines: running, biking, and swimming. However, you need to get some essential equipment before you can participate in the sport.
As a beginner, you do not have to break the bank as follows the starter kit on this article should get you ready for your first triathlon.
With the items on the list, you can run in basically any triathlon and upgrade your items when you need to go professional or if you make it a hobby.