For many triathletes, long before swimming and cycling, there was running. It's human nature. Right after those first tentative steps as toddlers, we lean forward and next thing you know, we're running to keep from falling.
Never has so much been written about such a natural activity. However, you still need gear. Thus, here is where we complete The Everyman Tri Gear Guide. After finishing the swim and bike legs of our gear-athlon, let's keep this ball rolling and move right to the run segment.
In the not-so-distant past I used to go to my local mall, stroll into any generic shoe store and purchase the coolest-looking and/or cheapest running shoe I could find. It would really depend on how much money I was willing to spend to look cool.
Trying out the shoe meant comparing how it looked with that day's outfit or walking around the store while the sales clerk anxiously waited to close the sale so he could take his daily Orange Julius break.
When it was all said and done, I'd shell out just under $100 for a pair of Nikes and walk out of the store wearing them. These shoes would eventually become my walking and running shoes until they wore out.
Today, I run (and only run) in my Saucony Omni something-or-other shoes and replace them every 300 to 400 miles. I do this because I finally stopped going to the mall to buy shoes.
Now, I go to a specialty running store. There, I receive a professional fitting by a sales clerk who actually looked like a runner. He had me run on a treadmill while recording my running stride with a camera. I learned all about pronation and supination (don't worry, they aren't contagious). After playing back the video, the Saucony's seemed to offer the best compromise of foot stability and support.
Are they cool? Sorta... more so now that I've learned how to correctly pronounce the brand name. What is cool is having healthy feet.
Over the last decade, running clothes have evolved from cotton T-shirts to highly technical, moister-wicking, bacteria-killing, ultra-light, non-rubbing, mega-cooling, modern marvels.
I say forget all that.
Nothing says 'force to be reckoned with' like a black concert T-shirt. Think 1970's Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or Iron Maiden -- because the more stuck-out tongues on the shirt, the better.
And yes, I am aware they make rock 'n roll cycling jerseys. The Pink Floyd -- Bike Parts jersey is pretty cool, and the Iron Maiden -- Don't Walk, Ride jersey screams two wheels of fury! But they aren't authentic. Your shirt needs to come from an actual concert (or at least a thrift store rack... you can make up something about not remembering the concert).
Of course, as with everything in the complex sport of triathlon, picking the right band is crucial. The shirt must be black; no other color will do. Showing up in a pink Lilith Fair shirt will only cause other triathletes to mistake you for a volunteer. If you can't find a Led Zeppelin shirt, you might try bands such as Def Leopard, Kiss or The Scorpions.
But beware; you don't want to fall into the trap of being perceived as a wuss. A line is crossed when you show up wearing an eighties hair band shirt. That means no Poison, no Cinderella and no Motley Crue -- no matter what you may have heard about what Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee may or may not have done on camera. Save the hair band shirt for the Memorial Day 5K.
Sports watch/GPS/Heart rate monitor
Today's top triathletes all use the latest technology for real-time distance, pace, heart rate, caloric output and even altitude measurements. The latest technology in sport watches by manufactures like Garmin, Timex, Polar and even Nike now make it possible to monitor your body and environment like an astronaut on a moon walk.
But why do you need one?
Cycling and running without a heart rate monitor is like driving a car without a fuel gage -- while you may be able to accelerate, but you don't really know how much is left in the tank. It's nearly impossible to fine tune your own endurance engine without knowing your heart rate.
Besides, nothing says "I'm a serious endurance-sports competitor" like fiddling with your watch for 15 minutes before the run so you can get it calibrated correctly. And your neighbors will surely know you're a triathlete just by looking at the massive size of your...watch.
There you have it, ladies and gentleman. The Everyman Tri Gear Guide is now complete. I suspect I'll see quite a few of you in the water and on the road, sporting your new looks. Just be sure to thank me for your newly acquired speed as you pass me by.
Roman Mica is a amateur Clydesdale triathlete who lives and races in Boulder, Colorado and has his own Web site; www.EverymanTri.com. He is also one of the founding members of www.raceAthlete.com and last year had his first book published, entitled My Training Begins Tomorrow: The Everyman's Guide to IRONFIT Swimming, Cycling & Running.