Open a 50-pound transition bag and you'll have a tough time finding something that isn't there. To make it easy for you, we've looked high and low to build a shopping list that can knock the compression socks off even the most die-hard, I-own-everything type of athlete.
1. Stuff a stocking.
Do not pass go, head directly to CLIF. This nutrition company develops innovative nutrition products faster than any other company we know. Get a mixed bag of holiday flavor CLIF Bars (try Iced Gingerbread). Also buy a handful of CLIF Bar minis—single servings that are just enough to satisfy that midnight craving.
2. Amp up the iPhone.
The mobile web has sparked a revolution in products that add new dimensions to a race or workout. The Wahoo Fitness Run/Gym pack turns an iPhone immediately into a heart rate and GPS tracking unit. The $120 pack includes a heart rate monitor and an ANT+ Key.
The best part is that the key allows you to connect your iPhone to almost any other ANT+ compatible device you use—power meters, cadence recorders, and a variety of other heart rate monitors. This can turn an iPhone (or iPad) into a master control for all the equipment your triathlete owns. It's also great for travel and works several feet from the gym machines.
3. Turn up the music.
Listening to music on a treadmill or a long run can be a challenge—either the earbuds won't stick or they get too sweaty. The wireless Jaybird Freedom earbuds for $99 solve both problems.
The three-part adaptor locks on the ears and doesn't let go—even at a 6-minute mile, and the Jaybird is sweat-proof. In addition, the wireless feature creates a sense of freedom that's hard to describe until you have worn them.
4. Record the experience.
A start-up company called Kogeto created a snap-on lens for $79 that turns the iPhone 4 and 4S into a 360-degree video recorder. Ever use Google Street View? Suddenly, your phone can record not just a picture like that, but a video that allows you to rotate the view freely in your browser.
Your triathlete can short videos using the Kogeto lens and easily posted them to Facebook. They could shoot scenes from their transition areas and finish lines and quickly share them with an entire community.
5. Speed up the swim.
Winter is the perfect time to build speed in the water. It's one of the most time consuming activities and often the hardest one to see meaningful results. FINIS continues to bring a wide range of innovative products to this market.
Giving a Swimsense performance monitor is like giving your triathlete a full-time swim coach. The watch will track time and count laps. This is a big deal because some triathletes have trouble keeping track of their laps.
Most importantly, this monitor will detect the type of stroke used and offer a number of insights into swim mechanics that will enable rapid improvement. For $200, you will actually give your triathlon more speed in the pool this winter than they have ever gained before.