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Now that you've done a few triathlons, you've found you like the sport. If you're starting to make some goals or considering a longer, Olympic-distance race, you're going to be more concerned with comfort and speed.
That means you'll be stepping up to some triathlon-specific gear. Here's what you'll need to get you to the finish line a little faster than before:
1. Triathlon Suit: 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.
2. Goggles: Any, as long as they fit.
3. Swim Cap: Usually provided by the race to designate which wave you'll start in.
4. Wetsuit: Any wetsuit will provide extra buoyancy and insulate you from cold water. Triathlon-specific wetsuits 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. Road Bike: Ditching your mountain bike in favor of skinny tires is one of the best ways to drop minutes off your time. Clipless pedals and clip-on aerobars are an easy upgrade for extra comfort and speed.
7. Bike Shoes: Stiff-soled cycling shoes transfer more power to the pedals than regular running shoes. 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 give your body more energy than water.
10. 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.
11. Sport Sunglasses: Sport sunglasses won't slip off while you're biking or running, and they block UV rays and wind. Some studies have shown that wearing sunglasses while exercising can actually help reduce fatigue.
12. Racing Flats and Speed Laces: Lighter racing flats are a godsend for tired legs. For a faster transition, replace your normal laces with elastic "speed laces" so you can skip tying your shoes.
- Patch Kit, Tire Levers and Pump: Some races provide support on the bike course, some don't. Being able to fix a flat without waiting for a sag wagon can add some peace of mind.
- Cycling Gloves: They aren't necessary, but they can make the bike leg more comfortable.
- Socks: If you're concerned about blisters, take the time to put on socks for the bike and run.
- Race Number Belt: These elastic belts allow you attach your race number around your waist for faster transitions.
- Lubricant: Petroleum jelly or products like BodyGlide stops chafing and hot spots before they start. Especially good for longer races.
- Hat: For protection from the sun during the run.
The biggest difference in triathlon-specific clothing is that it's made with synthetic materials that wick moisture and dry quickly to keep you comfortable on the bike and run.
As you get more competitive, you'll be more concerned with quick transitions. Small items like a race number belt and elastic shoelaces can make a big difference.
New to triathlon? Read Beginner's Triathlon Gear: No Need to Break the Bank