Swim Must-Haves1 of 10
Next Level Swimming2 of 10
Photo courtesy of Roka
When you're ready to take your training to the next level, consider getting a triathlon wetsuit. It will provide extra buoyancy and warmth when you hit the open water. If you're swimming in a pool a lot, you might want your own paddles, pull buoy and a kickboard as well.
Cycling Must-Haves3 of 10
Photo/Caitlin Guinazu, Flickr
You don't need a special bike to do a triathlon; you can use almost any bike. Get a water bottle cage and bottle to stay hydrated during long training rides. You'll also need a helmet—they are required for competing in any USA Triathlon or WTC event. You'll also need a saddle bag, with spare tubes, tire levers and CO2 cartridges. Plus, we suggest getting a durable floor pump so you don't have to keep bugging your riding buddies to use theirs.
Next Level Cycling4 of 10
If you're planning on buying a bike, we strongly recommend getting a bike fit before you buy. If you already have a bike, getting a bike fit will improve your performance on your existing ride. Add clip-on bars to a road bike to get more aero. You can also massively improve your riding efficiency with clipless pedals and cycling shoes. A bike computer is great for tracking your ride metrics while a heart rate monitor will help you measure your effort and a power meter will provide the greatest precision to your training and racing efforts. If you want to buy some speed, money is best spent on an aero helmet and form-fitting, comfortable cycling kit. For the days where outdoor riding is limited by weather, a bike trainer lets you get a bike workout checked off inside.
Running Must-Haves5 of 10
Photo/Lindsey Soulsby, Flickr
Running is so simple: shoes, shorts and a top. You don't need fancy running shoes, but to prevent injury, you will want running shoes that meet your running needs. If you're in a cooler region, you might need a long-sleeved top, tights and some gloves as well. If you're in a warm climate, a hat or visor is great for keeping the sun off of your head and out of our eyes.
Next Level Running6 of 10
Ready to ramp up those miles? Wearable GPS units are great for tracking time, pace, distance and effort. A second pair of running shoes are nice to have for those times when your primary pair are wet from a rain-run or are starting to wear down. As you run longer, you might want a fuel belt, to carry nutrition and hydration with you while keeping your hands free.
Eat, Drink and Repeat Often7 of 10
Photo courtesy of Topeak
Avoid bonking—running out of gas—during training and racing by getting yourself some sports nutrition. Fueling while you train and race is an absolute must, even for relatively short training sessions. You'll want to properly fuel so your glycogen stores will not deplete—this will also help improve recovery.
Kitchen Sink8 of 10
Although, not absolutely required to get out the door for a swim-bike-run, a few extra accessories are still nice to have. A transition bag will make carrying your gear to and from training and racing sessions easy. A race belt will allow you to forego safety pinning your number to your shirt and can also hold hydration and nutrition options. A brightly colored transition mat, such as a yoga mat cut in half, will make finding your bike in T1 a lot easier. To help speed up T2, elastic shoe laces are an inexpensive upgrade.
Find Your Race9 of 10
Photo courtesy of Delmo Sports
The most essential thing about training for and racing in a triathlon, is finding a race that suits your budget and abilities. Although some races may cost hundreds of dollars to sign up, other local races may be one-tenth the cost of that big, well-known brand and offer a friendly, try-a-tri experience. Choose a triathlon according to your strengths and what excites you. Bring a friend to race with, and share the triathlon experience together.