Training: Triathlon - what to buy
A beginner’s guide to what you might need for your first triathlon

If you are thinking about attempting a first ever triathlon, the chances are that you already enjoy one or more of the three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. And you already therefore have equipment. However there are some essentials for triathlon that you will either need, or are worth considering to ensure you get the greatest enjoyment and reward from your new challenge.

1. Wetsuit

Some introductory triathlons have the swim leg in a pool. But if you are swimming in open water then a wetsuit is a must. First and foremost it will keep you warm. But it will also help with buoyancy in the water, helping you to swim faster. There are plenty of specialist suits on the market and it’s always wise to take advice. It should be tight fitting but without restricting your range of motion, particularly around your shoulders and legs.

2. Goggles

You probably already own a pair of goggles. But open water is a different proposition to a pool and so it’s good to check that they are up to scratch. Ideally they should fit snugly to your face with the vacuum seal holding them in place without the need for the strap. It’s also worth thinking about tinted goggles in case of a sunny day.

3. Tri-Suit

Perhaps not absolutely essential, but if you have any ambition to get through the transition phases efficiently than a Triathlon Suit or Tri-Suit will make all the difference. It is the one piece of clothing that you will wear throughout, including during the swim (under your wetsuit). Made of moisture wicking material it includes a small pad in the shorts for cycling. The pad is relatively thin in comparison to dedicated cycling equipment and it’s therefore well worth practising to get used to it before the competition.

You can get a Tri-Suits for as little as £40, and so if you are dipping your toe into the sport, you can still benefit from a Tri-Suit without breaking the bank.

4. A Bike

Fairly obviously, you can’t complete a triathlon without a bike! If you enjoy the sport then this is the bit of equipment that you can spend some serious money on if you choose to. But it’s not essential for a first go. Almost any road bike will do the job, even if you borrow one. Just make sure it is set up to suit you. 

It is worth considering adding a clip on aerobar which will help with comfort and speed. 

5. Helmet

For almost all triathlons, cycling helmets are compulsory. Whilst at the elite end of the market you’ll find dedicated helmets for some eye watering amounts, you don’t need to spend a fortune. If you are investing, it is an item that is worth trying on before you buy to ensure it fits securely. If you intend to wear sunglasses (see below), make sure that your helmet still fits comfortably when you are wearing your shades.

6. Sunglasses

A good pair of sunglasses can make a huge difference in keeping wind, rain, insects, and occasionally sun out of your eyes! If the budget will stretch it is worth considering photochromic lenses, which will dynamically adapt to the lighting conditions if they change during the event.

7. Running shoes

Whilst it’s very unlikely that you don’t already own a pair of running shoes, it is worth highlighting how important they are. Running is the triathlon discipline that puts the most stress through your body, in training and during the race. Plus as the third and final leg, you will also be getting tired and at the greatest risk of injury. The last thing you need is to be worrying about your feet, ankles or knees. If you are looking to buy, it is definitely worth considering a specialist shop where they can recommend a model of shoe best suited to your running style.

Are there any other items?

This is by no means an exhaustive list. For example socks, which can be contentious subject amongst triathletes! Or cycling shoes with clips, elastic laces to speed up transitions, a race belt and so on. 

If you would like some first hand advice, it’s worth contacting your local triathlon club who will very likely have members of various levels of experience. 

Whatever you decide, good luck!

Please seek medical advice before starting any kind of intensive training or exercise plan.

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