How to Keep Triathlon Costs in Check

Endurance triathlon racing comes with a price tag that can be pretty hefty. It's taken me 12 years to craft the secret of managing family finances while supporting my triathlamate's passion and keeping some mad money for myself, too.

It all started when I wandered into the garage way back when and saw my husband, measuring tape in hand, sizing up the space to figure out where he was going to store his extra bikes.

"Yes, of course," I nodded as he explained that he needed a tri bike for racing, a road bike for training, a mountain bike for cross-training, and yet another (his old beater bike that looked pretty darned good to me) for his CompuTrainer?.

Boy was I na?ve back then.

More: Beginner's Triathlon Gear List

I now understand that triathlon investment is really about three things:

  1. The size and location of the race(s) you will be doing: Registration fees, travel costs, food and lodging for you and whoever else will be going with you.
  2. The scale (and quantity) of bikes that are purchased.
  3. The amount of zeal you have for the sport.

We needed a plan so we didn't wind up in an ugly discussion about money down the road, so I came up with five questions that I ask my husband each year. I suggest you go through this exercise, too, and ask yourself:

  1. How many races am I entering this year?
  2. Is this a bucket list item, or is it going to become a part of my long-term lifestyle?
  3. Do I want to keep races local or is this my opportunity to see the world?
  4. Do I want to qualify for the World Championship in Kona, and possibly enter the lottery each year just as a backup?
  5. Who else do I want to invite along to out-of-town races?

In addition to the costs of racing, ongoing gear upgrades are a huge deal. Take bikes, for instance. A handful of seconds could mean the difference between grabbing a spot at the World Championship race? or not.

If you don't care about finish times, I'll guarantee you care about comfort. A top-end tri-bike can make a world of difference in how well you train and feel (and recover) following a long cycling day. Whether it's shoes, helmets, wetsuits or water bottles, each technological upgrade translates into speed and comfort. And in my book, that's worth every penny.

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