Maybe youre considering a half-Ironman or Ironman. Maybe you just want to beat your training buddies at your local race.
Either way, youre pretty serious about the sport, and are willing to dedicate some time and resources to improving your performance. Heres what youll need:
1. Triathlon swimsuit: These suits have a small cycling pad that dries quickly, provides some comfort on the bike and doesnt interfere with running. Gals can choose between a one- or two-piece suit.
2. Goggles: Any, as long as they fit.
3. Swim cap: Usually provided by the race.
4. Wetsuit: Any wetsuit will provide extra buoyancy and insulate you from cold water. Triathlon-specific wetsuits can offer even more freedom of movement while swimming.
5. Towel: You need something to wipe the sand or dirt off your feet before you jump on the bike.
6. Triathlon bike: You said you were serious, now put your money (about $1,500 to $3,000 worth) where your mouth is.
Time trail-specific geometry and aerodynamic handlebars put you in a tucked position for speed and efficiency on the bike.
If youre really serious, upgrade to disc or carbon-spoked aero wheels at about $500 a pop.
7. Bike shoes: Stiff-soled cycling shoes transfer more power to the pedals than regular sneakers. They also help eliminate cramped or numbing feet during a ride. Look for bike shoes that are easy to put on and take off for quick transitions; velcro straps are faster than laces.
8. Helmet: A mid-to upper-range road helmet is usually more aerodynamic and has more vents for comfort.
9. Sports drink: Glucose formulas like Gatorade or Cytomax gives your body more energy than water.
10. Food and gel belts: You'll need extra energy for longer races and something to carry it in as well. Handy portage devices such as the Fuelbelt enable you to bring the grub and goo you'll need for half Ironman and Ironman-distance races.
11. Singlet: Options include mesh or cropped shirts with a small pocket for energy bars or gels. Gals can choose shirts with built-in support for the run.
12. Sport sunglasses: Sport sunglasses wont slip off while youre biking or running, and block UV rays and wind. Some studies have shown that wearing sunglasses while exercising can actually help reduce fatigue.
13. Racing flats and speed laces: Lighter racing flats are a godsend for tiring legs. For a faster transition, replace your normal laces with elastic "speed laces" so you can skip tying your shoes.
14. Race number belt: These elastic belts allow you attach your race number around your waist for faster transitions.
Quality triathlon gear will speed up your races considerably, but youll have to pay for it.
The cost difference between an entry-level and elite wetsuit can run upwards of $200. For a triathlon bike, the difference between entry-level and elite can be more than $2000.
On a budget? Dont despair. When all is said and done, youre equipment doesnt get you across the finish lineyou do. And there's nothing better than beating the guy or girl decked out with every piece of cool tri gear around.