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Triathlon Training Essentials: Must-Have Gear for First-Time Triathletes - Part 1

Updated: Jan 15

Embarking on your journey as a first-time triathlete is an exhilarating experience filled with anticipation, excitement, and possibly a bit of nervousness. As you dive into the world of swim, bike and run having the right equipment can make a tremendous difference in your training comfort and first race. Let’s explore some of the essentials that will not only enhance your performance but also ensure a smooth and enjoyable triathlon experience.

Swim Gear

 Swimsuit: For everyday swim training in the pool, a pair of swim “jammers” for men and a one-piece suit for women. Either of these can be found on amazon for a reasonable price. I have always worn speedo; they fit well and hold up to the chlorine in the pool (I have no affiliation with speedo). The key is a snug fit that hugs your body but is not so tight as to be uncomfortable.

Race days are something different. Remember you will be swimming, biking, and running all in the same “kit.” A tri-suit, either one or two piece is the best option for race day apparel. If you’ve ever worn bike shorts, you know that they have heavy chamois padding in the seat area to make long rides more comfortable. This is great for bike only rides but would make the run of a triathlon very uncomfortable…it would be like running with a wet diaper on! A tri-suit chamois pad provides additional comfort on the bike but is thin enough to run in without getting uncomfortable or getting in the way of your run and causing chafing. I have tried several different manufacturers of tri-suits and for me, have found Zoot Sports to be the most comfortable, best fit for the sizing and longest lasting. They look great as well! (Disclaimer: I am currently racing with the Zoot Sports ambassador team).

Goggles: Everyone’s face size and shape are different and therefore different goggles fit us all differently. The key to goggles is finding a pair that fit well, is both comfortable and won’t leak. There are literally hundreds of different pairs, lens colors and shapes. The good news is that they aren’t terribly expensive so if you buy a pair that doesn’t work for your face size and shape, you can try another pair. For me, Aegend Swim Goggles fit well and do not leak (I have no affiliation with Aegend). You can buy several different lens colors, but I have always found clear lens to be the best option.

Wetsuits: This can certainly be the most expensive piece of equipment for the swim. For first time triathletes I recommend renting your first wet suit vice purchasing one. Most triathlon registration pages have a link to a website for triathlon specific wetsuit rentals or you can use Tri Wetsuit Rentals. This is VERY important! A triathlon wetsuit is thinner than a typical scuba diving wet suit. This allows for much greater arm movements during the swim. A scuba diving wetsuit is designed to provide added insulation for warmth and is therefore much thicker, they are not designed to freestyle swim in. When will you wear a wetsuit? USA Triathlon establishes the water temperatures for “wetsuit legal” triathlon. In general, the water temperatures for age group amateur triathletes are Below 53F (11.5C) – swim may be cancelled, 53-degree Fahrenheit (11.5-Celcius) – 61F (16C) wetsuit mandatory, 61F (16C) – 78F (25.5C) wetsuit allowed, 78F (25.5C) – 84F (29C) Wetsuit allowed, however users will not be eligible for awards, and above 84F (29C) wetsuits are not allowed.

Swim Cap: I have short hair so don't normally wear a swim cap during pool training, but if you have long hair, you may want to purchase a swim cap for the pool. All triathlon races issue a swim cap at check-in, so no worries about having one for the race. I have a gallon bag full of old race swim caps!

That’s it for swim essential swim gear! Please remember, no matter your race, location or distance choice, Transform Tri Coaching would love to be part of your journey! Our coaching and training plans will help you build the confidence and fitness to cross the finish line with strength at your next race. Contact us to Ignite Your Potential!

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